The Bridge Dinner-A Perfectly Peared Event

By Danielle Ball

Danielle Ball
Danielle Ball

I recently had the pleasure of attending a bridge dinner thrown by the California Pear Advisory Board to celebrate local farmers and build community in Sacramento. The dinner was held on a bridge to a private island in the Delta, and the setting could not have been more perfect.

Dead Horse Island is located about thirty minutes outside of Sacramento and is home to Dixie Wilson, who has made it her home since 1968. The bridge to the island overlooks the water and was the perfect place to view an early Fall sunset.

Dinner was prepared by Mark and Linda Morais, the current owners of Giusti’s Place in Walnut Grove, along with chefs Baranek, Cercatore, and Rainwater. The team used locally raised meats, along with pears, corn, endive, and tomatoes grown by local farmers.

The result was spectacular. Fresh flavors from the vegetables melded perfectly with the savory barrel-roasted pork rib roast. Pear martinis helped tie everything together and the night was topped off with dessert pears and Bogle Port.

I had the opportunity to meet several local farmers and to hear more about life in the Delta Region. Although I pass this area often on my way to visit family, I had never given it much thought. The conversations I had that night, and the passionate stories of those who live there helped me to see the region in a whole new light.

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10 Things I Learned at the Pear Grower’s Dinner:

  1. Many of the pear farmers in the Delta have been working the land for generations.
  2. Bartlett pears get their name from Enoch Bartlett who began distributing the variety under his own name in 1812.
  3. California is one of the leading suppliers of pears in the world.
  4. Pears ripen best off the tree. After purchasing, leave them at room temperature for a few days to allow them to soften and to get the best flavor.
  5. Pears are native to Asia and Europe. The first pear tree in America is thought to have been planted in the 1600’s.
  6. Many of the original California pear farmers came to the area during the Gold Rush.
  7. Dead Horse Island got its name by serving as a pasture for retired work horses at the turn of the century. The island provided a place for the horses to live out their final days in peace.
  8. There are approximately sixty main islands in the Delta region, though most are not privately owned.
  9. Giusti’s is an area landmark that has been supplying residents with food and camaraderie for four generations. The location was originally a toll station for the ferry and served as a gathering place for local workers. Legend has it that Irene Giusti would cook for those she liked and invite them to lunch. As word spread about the great cooking, the Giustis decided to start charging and the restaurant was born.
  10. Bogle’s Petite Sirah Port is a perfect way to wrap up the evening. It pairs great with chocolate, dessert pears, and great company.

I’m looking forward to more events in the future, and can’t wait to see what’s coming for the Delta region!

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