I grew up in Sacramento and San Francisco, and I still love discovering hidden towns in Northern California. Capay Valley – one of the IFBC tours I did this year – is a hidden rustic gem of a farming community.
Capay Valley, about 45 miles west of downtown Sacramento, offers a rural day trip escape. Filled with small farms and rolling hills, Capay Valley also has extensive hiking trails and camping opportunities. And with a Mediterranean-like climate, it’s the perfect environment for growing olives, almonds and walnuts, as we learned on our Capay Valley Ranches (CVR) tour.
IFBC Capay Valley Tour
The ranch, Taber Ranch Vineyard and Event Center, is owned by the family of a high school friend. With more than 500 acres of olive, almond and walnut trees, it’s a gorgeous spot for a wedding or other special event, with an extensive catering menu featuring many of Capay Valley Ranches’ specialty olive oils.
How to Use Specialty Olive Oils
Sacramento is known as the nation’s farm to fork capital, and at Taber Ranch, we were treated to a locally sourced lunch showcasing Capay Valley Ranches olive oils and vinegars. If you’ve seen speciality olive oils and vinegars in shops and weren’t sure what to do with them, this mouthwatering menu should give you a few ideas.
To start, we had Capay Canyon Ranch almonds roasted in CVR Rosemary Olive Oil and fresh herbs, along with Full Belly Farms melons tossed with fresh mint and CVR Honey.
Lunch was Fully Belly Farms heirloom tomoatoes and roasted beets drizzled with Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive oil and fresh basil. Then we moved on to a tangy grilled chicken marinated in CVR’s Mango Sriracha White Balsamic Vinegar and Manas Ranch peach salsa. A side quinoa salad was tossed with CVR Meyer Lemon olive oil and balsamic dressing, along with Taber Ranch tiger-stripe figs and kale.
And for dessert, we had CVR Basil extra virgin olive oil cake parfait with roasted strawberries and mascarpone cream. All of CVR’s fabulous olive oils are available to order through their website.
After lunch, we toured the almond, walnut and olive groves surrounding Taber Valley Ranch and were treated to a specialty CVR olive oil, before heading to Seka Hills Tasting Room, the mill where CVR mills its olives. And to learn more about the groves, head over to my friend Ani’s blog Confessions of a Foodie – her gorgeous photography will make you want to go to Capay Valley this minute!
Seka Hills Tasting Room
Seka Hills, a medium-sized mill, produces close to 50,000 gallons a year thanks to a 24/7 operation that is busiest in the fall months of October and November. Seka mills only high-quality olive oils, and advises shoppers to use their oils within 18 months of the harvest date, found on the bottle of higher-end oils.
Seka Hills also has an amazing little shop. This alone would be a draw for a fun day trip from Sacramento. The textiles, specialty kitchen gadgets and well curated cookbooks on offer would make idea hostess gifts along with a bottle of CVR olive oil.
As a long-time food blogger, I’ve found IFBC to be one of my favorite conferences. The breakout sessions are great, but for me, the local excursions and the friendly bloggers are really a huge draw. Just check out this crowd!
If you’re an active food blogger, definitely check out IFBC 2017, which is returning to Sacramento. And if you live in Northern California, be sure to visit Capay Valley for a taste of rural farm life that will inspire you in the kitchen.
Disclosure : As an IFBC Citizen Blogger, I received a reduced conference rate in exchange for sharing three posts about my experience. As always, content, photos and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links meaning I may receive compensation if you use those links.