Culinary sophistication meets rural charm during this annual Fallon event
By Charlie Johnston
The farm-to-table movement has swept the restaurant world like a delicious deluge in recent years. The concept is simple: locally produced food delivered to local consumers. The benefits are numerous: transporting locally produced food is cheaper and requires less fuel, customers can learn more about—and have more control over—what they eat, and local farmers benefit from increased demand for their products. And the results are revolutionary: mouth-watering food that is remarkably fresh, satisfyingly sustainable, and surprisingly affordable.
Fallon’s annual Tractors & Truffles, September 22, is a celebration of local food and the rural town’s thriving agriculture community. Perhaps better described as tables-to-farm, Tractors & Truffles brings guests to their food during a day of culinary exploration with some of the region’s most revered chefs and restaurateurs.
Reno chef Mark Estee heads the 2012 lineup and is best known for his successful Reno eatery, Campo. Estee is joined by fellow farm-to-table forefather and executive chef and owner of Fallon’s own The Slanted Porch, Steve Hernandez, and Chef Director at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of California, San Francisco, Mark Davis.
The event starts with a shuttle ride from Oats Park to Lattin Farms for lunch and a tour hosted by Rick Lattin. The Lattin family has been farming in the Lahontan Valley for five generations and is one of Nevada’s most popular purveyors of vine-ripened fruit and fresh produce. Lunch will be prepared on the farm by the chefs and will include cooking demonstrations.
Following lunch, guests will attend a wine tasting and tour at Churchill Vineyards on the historic Frey Ranch. One of just a handful of wineries in the state, it is the only Nevada winery that produces Nevada grown, produced, and bottled estate white wines. According to Colby Frey, a fifth-generation Nevada farmer and winemaker at the vineyard, the award-winning wines get their intricate flavors and delicate aromas courtesy of the drastic temperature shifts of Fallon’s high-desert climate.
Guests are returned to Oats Park following the winery tour and tasting for a music workshop with the Defibulators, described on the band’s website as “one of the most engaging live acts from the thriving roots scene in Brooklyn, New York; melding bluegrass, rockabilly, classic country, and punk into their own eclectic indie honky-tonk sound.”
Cocktails at Oats Park lead up to the main event of Tractors & Truffles: dinner. Prepared by Estee, Hernandez, Davis, and a host of sous-chefs and kitchen staff, the multi-course gourmet meal features local and sustainable foods—many from farms and ranches within the Lahontan Valley—for a truly unforgettable dining experience.
New to this year’s event, dinner will be served family-style, with seating along long tables to provide for greater guest interaction and participation, and the kitchen will be located so that guests can see the meticulous assembly of each course. “The farmers who grow the food will be invited to attend to help make the connection between farm and dinner more meaningful,” says Rick Gray, executive director of the Fallon Convention & Tourism Authority.
After dinner, the Defibulators return to perform at the Barkley Theater inside the Oats Park Art Center.