Hi friends! I had promised a recap post last week but alas time got ahead of me and I didn’t get around to it. I also had planned on creating a recipe to go along but yet, again, time slipped by! Ack! I ordered a Day Designer yesterday so I’m hoping I’ll be able to better stay on top of my to-do lists.
Anyway! Today you’re in for a super over-sharing of pictures. I am a very visual person so I love sharing pictures rather than words. I’m recapping my trip to Lodi, California for the Almond Orchard Experience, sponsored by the Almond Board of California. Disclosure: All expenses relating to the California Almond Orchard Experience were paid for by the Almond Board of California. All opinions expressed on this site are my own.
The whole experience was so awesome. This was my first sponsored trip so I was a little nervous (and I hadn’t flown on a plane in over 3 years). The group consisted of about 25 dietitians, bloggers and recipe developers. We were all invited out to Lodi- CA for the three day Almond Orchard Experience, all dedicated to almonds.
On Monday, I flew into Sacramento and rode with a few other girls down to Lodi, which was about an hour south of Sacramento, in the northern central valley of California. The driver dropped us off at the Wine & Roses Hotel. This is where most of our activities took place and was absolutely beautiful.
I got to stay in a Spa double queen room. I was wondering if I had a roomie and actually asked the front desk! But I had it all to myself. It was super nice. My room had a large bathtub and after a long day of traveling, you bet I took a bubble bath.
The picture below is (left) the view off my balcony. I had a gorgeous view of palm trees and the trickling sound of a waterfall. I was pretty impressed. The top right is a picture of our tables for the first night’s dinner. It was outside under a tent surrounded by luscious greenery. Dinner is bottom left. A delicious salmon, wild rice pilaf (with almonds!), salad and a dinner roll.
Before dinner, we had a reception in the wine cellar. Chef Greg Hozinsky lead an almond cooking demo– he made grape-stuffed candied almond goat cheese balls (amazing). Then, he showed us how to make almond cheese (double amazing). I had never even heard of almond cheese before. The chef paired the almond cheese with grilled peach halves topped with the cheese, arugula, chopped almonds, and a balsamic vinegar and almond oil dressing. Let me tell you. Almond cheese is now on my to do list.
I shared a dinner with Kylie, Abbey, McKenzie, Meme, Alex, Rachel (whose IG I stole this photo from), and Megan! We had a great chat about all areas of nutrition, blogging, dietetics and our personal lives. It was so cool to meet these bloggers in real life!
The next day was spent attending education sessions all about almonds. We learned about the history, production, environmental concerns, nutrition profile,
A few interesting facts:
- The Almond Board of California consists of over 6,800 almond growers, and California grows 100% of the almonds produced commercially in the US.
- For those wondering how almond production have been affected by California’s extreme drought, The California Almond community has funded over 91 irrigation research projects and over the past 20 years, almond growers have improved their water use efficiency by 33%, producing more crop per drop.
- Almonds are grown on 13% of California’s irrigated farmland, but use less than 9% of the state’s agricultural water.
- Almonds are grown on a tree, and are related to the peach. They have three parts: the outer hull, the inner shell, and the innermost kernel. We eat the kernel, and the hull and shell actually do not go to waste! They’re used for cattle feed/bedding and alternative energy.
- One serving on almonds = 23 almonds = 1/4 cup and contain 6g of protein, 4g of fiber, heart healthy fats and important vitamins and minerals.
We created and almond snack bar with chopped dried pineapple, cayenne pepper, pumpkin seeds, drizzled with milk chocolate. It turned out delicious but didn’t win. We thought it was a winner :)
A yummy lunch on the outdoor patio: the mac n cheese was so good.
A few pictures of the gorgeous grounds:
On night of Day 2, we took a bus to the Lange Twins Winery. We toured their production facility (which was huge) and tasted a few of their best in the wine tasting room.
Dinner is served! Let me tell you, the best place setting is one with 4 wine glasses. Each course was paired with a different type of wine. Loved it. The almond cake, in particular, was amazing. I’m not usually a cake fan, but this was sweet, smooth, creamy, and the fresh fruit and whip really took it to the next level.
Day 3: We took a tour of the Travaille & Phippen Almond Orchard and almond production facility. This was so eye opening! This was my first time to see an almond tree, and an almond right off that almond tree. I didn’t know that almonds had three layers!
A machine called the almond shaker goes through the orchard and literally shakes off the almonds. Watch my video on Instagram to see it in action. It was pretty amazing. When the shaker moves the branches, sunlight drifts through the trees and it looks like a beautiful almond rain storm.
The almonds are then swept up and taken through production, where they’re shelled, hulled, and packaged.
Afterward, we had a picnic lunch complete with cute wrapped sandwiches, a farro salad, Greek salad, macaroons and mini peach cobblers in mason jars. They knew who they were catering to. The perfect lunch for a bunch of foodies!
Here’s a group picture of all the attendees and hosts.
After lunch, I headed back to the airport for the flight back to Dallas. It was a wonderful time. Huge thank you to the Almond Board of California for inviting me and sponsoring the trip! I learned so much and it was so neat to meet some of my favorite RD bloggers in person!