20th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival
As a chef and cheese maker, the annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival is one of my personal favorites. I love the garden tours, the taste of tomato-inspired cuisine, and the best part is the variety of over 150 estate-grown tomatoes, which you can taste, touch and enjoy.

The event has grown over the years and this year’s event is looking to be fabulous! The event starts off Friday evening, Sept. 23, with a true Farm-to-Table dinner, seated in the Kendall-Jackson Estate Gardens where guests will enjoy tastes of produce grown on the estate in the garden and then dine al fresco with the chefs and farmers. For the farm to table dinner, each course will be prepared by a different celebrity chef, including Top Chef Masters’ winner Douglas Keane, Top Chef runner-up Brooke Williamson, Williams-Sonoma Chef Partners Joshua McFadden and Ryan Pollnow, and Kendall-Jackson Executive Chef Justin Wangler.

The Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival celebrates its 20th year! This year Kendall Jackson Wine Estate and Garden has partnered with Williams-Sonoma to create a weekend of tomato-inspired festivities, with proceeds benefitting charities that fight hunger in our community.
On Saturday, Sept. 24, the festival offers tastings of more than 150 heritage varieties of tomatoes grown in Kendall-Jackson’s estate culinary gardens. Guests may walk through the gardens, enjoy tastes of tomato-inspired cuisine prepared by local chefs, including John Ash and Company, The Epicurean Connection, Jimtown Store, Taylor Maid Farms and over 50-plus more. The Chef Challenge features celebrity chefs from wine country and beyond.

This year’s festival benefits the Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB), a Sonoma County-based food bank that supports all of the county from Sea Ranch to Schellville and up to the Oregon border. Since 1987, the REFB has been helping our community through innovative programs under three strategic initiatives – Every Child, Every Day; Senior Security; and the Neighborhood Hunger Network.
The dinner benefits No Kid Hungry, working to end childhood hunger by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength.

 
Windsor Certified Farmers Market Tomato & Pepper Fest
On Sunday, Sept. 18, the Windsor Certified Farmers Market’s 15th Annual Tomato & Pepper Fest showcases the summer harvest of Sonoma County-grown tomatoes and peppers. Each year, more than 100 pounds of heirloom tomatoes have been served—and they will be again—along with salts from Sonoma Spice Company, balsamic vinegars from California Balsamic and fresh breads from Costeaux French Bakery and BurtoNZ Bakery.

At the Tomato & Pepper Fest, guests will meet and be greeted by more than 20 farmers, who will be displaying their fresh-harvested fruits and veggies, including bountiful assortments of heirloom tomatoes. Guests can taste over 40 varieties of tomatoes, as well as peppers by request. This year’s Tomato & Pepper Fest will be a feast for your eyes and appetite, we guarantee you.

A very special thank you to the Windsor High School Culinary (note deleted text) students for volunteering at monthly special events, like this one, for which they cut up and displayed tomatoes for the tasting. Windsor restaurants are supplying their best chef-made salsas for everyone to taste and enjoy. Casa Sanchez donates all the chips to sample the wide array of salsas.

You should mark your calendar to attend because this event is filled with local flavor and characters. No charge to attend the weekly markets, nor the Annual Tomato & Pepper Fest. Bring your shopping bags and be prepared to be inspired! This is truly a local event that should motivate others around the county to engage and participate with all parts of their communities.

Summer Harvest Tomato & Corno de Torro Pepper Gazpacho
Created by Sheana Davis, The Epicurean Connection

Yields 8 servings

10 cups pounds plum tomatoes, cored, scored and blanched
1 cup lemon cucumber peeled and cut into cubes
2 cups Corno de Torro peppers, stems and seeds removed and cut into small cubes
1 cup sweet red onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup Sonoma County olive Oil
4 tablespoons white balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon jalapeño pepper, stem and seeds removed
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped fine
1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped fine
2 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper

Garnishes
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
8 lemon cucumber wedges
16 cherry tomatoes
8 large basil leaves
16 slices Costeaux Bakery sourdough baguettes

Remove core from top of each tomato with a pairing knife. Score the bottom of each tomato by cutting a cross “X” one inch wide on each tomato. Heat one gallon water over medium flame, bring to a simmer and drop each whole scored tomato in the water for 30 seconds; quickly remove and place in ice water. When cool, peel off skin, cut in half, remove seeds and place tomatoes in food processor and purred until smooth. Place in large bowl while preparing additional recipe ingredients.
Puree peppers, onion, olive oil, white balsamic, jalapeño, basil, chives, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk into tomato mixture, taste and adjust seasoning. Place in refrigerator for 4 hours to chill.
Garnish: Preheat oven to 450°F. Slice Costeaux bread ½-inch thick and brush with olive oil. Place bread on rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake until golden, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and pour into a bowl to allow to cool.

Vegetable Skewers
8 each 6-inch skewers

Place cherry tomatoes and cucumbers slices on skewer and top with a basil leaf.

Service:
Place gazpacho in pint glass, garnish with skewers and serve with fresh crostini. Enjoy with a glass of Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc or Golden Ale.

Cored, Scored and Blanched:
Remove core from top of each tomato with a pairing knife. Score the bottom of each tomato by cutting a cross “X” one inch wide on each tomato. Heat one-gallon water over medium flame, bring to a simmer and drop each whole scored tomato in the water for 30 seconds, quickly remove and place in ice water. When cool, peel off skin, cut in half, remove seeds and place tomatoes in food processor and puree until smooth. SD

 

EVENTS
20th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival
Sept. 24 • 11 a.m-4 p.m.

Farm-to-Table Charity Dinner
Sept. 23 • 4:30-7 p.m.
kj.com/visit-tomato-festival

Windsor’s Tomato & Pepper Fest
Sept. 18 • 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
windsorfarmersmarket.co