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EATS: Ventura County | TIDBITS

A Tour of Local Tastes

Books detail state food festivals--from garlic in Gilroy to tamales in Indio.


Oxnard's Bob Carter has spent the last three years eating food from one end of California to the other. He's eaten salmon in Klamath and fresh fruit in Reedley; beans in Tracy and tamales in Indio.

All of that tasting has been in the name of research for his two recently published softcover books, "Food Festivals of Southern California" and "Food Festivals of Northern California."

Each book contains a guide to about 45 annual food festivals throughout its geographical region. For each festival, Carter has included at least two recipes from participants.

"I wanted to have a variety of festivals," said Carter, a travel writer by profession. "I wanted really top-notch, popular well-known festivals such as the Garlic Festival (in Gilroy) and Oxnard's Strawberry Festival. And I also wanted festivals more rural in nature."

For the most part, Carter said, he wanted to pay tribute to the contributions made by the state's agriculture industry and to the different cultures of California.

Among the celebrations in the culinary compendiums are the International Tamale Festival in Indio held the first weekend in December, the Solar Cook-Off in Taylorsville the first Saturday following the Fourth of July, the Chocolate Festival in Oakdale the weekend after Mother's Day, and the Lambstown, USA Festival in Dixon, a tribute to the area's sheep and wool industry held the first weekend in August.

Locally, along with Oxnard's California Strawberry Festival, Carter included the annual Taste of Ventura County at Channel Islands Harbor, the Swedish Festival in Thousand Oaks, the French Festival (Saturday and Sunday) in Santa Barbara, the Taste of Solvang and the Olivas Adobe Fiesta.

"It was really an eclectic combination I found intriguing," Carter said. "I didn't know there was a pie festival in Malibu in October."

The books retail for $14.95 each. They're available at Ralphs supermarkets, Target stores and Barnes & Noble bookstores.

Carter will sign the books at 2 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble in Santa Clarita, 23630 Valencia Blvd. He will be at the Santa Barbara Barnes & Noble, 829 State St., at 2:30 p.m. July 19, and at the Ventura Barnes & Noble, 4360 E. Main St., at 12:30 p.m. July 26.

Carter also will be at the Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., in the Promenade at Westlake, at 3 p.m. July 26.


Restaurateur Giovanni Tromba will host a pair of wine-tasting dinners in the coming week, one at his Pastabilities Restaurant in Ojai and the other at his Pastabilities in Camarillo.

Tromba's Ojai dinner is set for Monday, with the Camarillo dinner on Tuesday. Both meals will feature the same multi-course menus and a variety of European wines.

The meals will open with a bruschetta appetizer followed by a serving of pasta fagioli and Caesar salad. Next will be rigatoni sauteed in a light cream sauce and served with prosciutto and mushrooms, and penne prepared in a spicy tomato sauce.

For the main course, both restaurants will serve pork loin in a reduction of Cabernet Sauvignon and demi-glace, cooked with shallots, mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese. Dessert and coffee will conclude the evening.

Both dinners will begin at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $45 each, tax and tip included. Ojai Pastabilities is at 397 E. Ojai Ave.; Camarillo Pastabilities is at 4910 Verdugo Way. Reservations: 640-1451 (Ojai), 383-3388 (Camarillo).

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