The Slow Food Movement is alive and well in the Temecula Valley, proven by the sold out Fourth Annual 100 Mile Dinner at Ponte Winery on February 5th. One hundred and ten delighted diners feasted on a menu composed of ingredients that had traveled less than 100 miles to the table. The menu was a collaborative masterpiece, designed by Chef Leah Di Bernardo of Delyte’s Catering, E.A.T. and Slow Food Temecula Valley, Chef Greg Stillman of the Smokehouse at Ponte Winery, Chef Mike Henry of Meritage at Callaway Winery and Chef Sara Huston of Delyte’s Catering.
As we arrived at the beautiful Ponte tasting room and boutique, exceptional passed hors d’ oeuvres and a variety of tasting choices from Middle Ridge Winery greeted us. We soon moved into the beautiful barrel room where wine and conversation continued to flow as we greeted our follow “locavores” and settled in.
As we enjoyed each course, the chefs described the dishes and the amazing ingredients used to create them. They each spoke on why local matters to them and the echoing themes were: quality, flavor, support for the local farmer, connection to our food, sustainability and living responsibly by diminishing our carbon foot print.
Winemaker Nick Palumbo from Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery, winemaker Chris Johnston from Middle Ridge, Mike Rennie, owner of Leonesse Cellars all spoke about their process and commitment to 100% local, estate wines. They believe that the quality of product is far more vital than the quantity of product that is produced. Local brewmaster Black Market Brewery served up a wonderful Intermezzo pairing of three beers to compliment three cheeses from Winchester Cheese Company before we moved on to dessert.
As the evening progressed, Slow Food Temecula Valley super star, Leah Di Bernardo spoke passionately about why local matters to her. She pointed out that the difference between most of the food we as Americans eat and what was served at the 100 Mile Dinner is travel of around 1100 miles. What does that mean, really? That 1100 miles compromises almost everything about the food we eat: the quality, freshness and sustainability of our food as well as our connection to it are lost in those miles.
For example, I was at the Old Town Temecula Farmer’s Market with the kids one morning and one of them asked me why there was a chicken on the outside of the egg carton. I explained to her that eggs come from chickens and she was flat out shocked! We cook from scratch a lot in our home, but we clearly have a long way to go to teach our children about real food. This is the gap that Slow Food is committed to close. By establishing gardens in local schools, they are increasing each child’s “food literacy.” Where does food come from, what should it taste like, how much work is involved in growing food? These are questions that Temecula Valley Slow Food believes that all children should be able to answer.
Thanks to all those in attendance and many more, Slow Food Temecula Valley has been able install and sustain 14 gardens in our local schools. To find out how you can volunteer or support their noble cause, please visit:temeculaslowfood.org