Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Second Annual Stone Fruit Feastival and Tournament

[Before we begin, a wildly exciting announcement: this post contains an animated gif!  That I made!  You'll have to get to the bottom of the post to get your treat, by ohhh boy will it be worth it.  Now then.]

Though the temperature in LA is going to peak at over 90 degrees this week, I can finally feel a bit of autumn chill in the air, and I'm excited about it.  Last night I wore long pants to bed for the first time in months, and after this year's unprecedented heat wave, it felt pretty amazing.

I'll always be a summer girl though, and I can proudly say that I did summer right this year.  So many meals were had outside -- under twinkly lights, preceding concerts at the Bowl, at Echo Park lake, on the roof of the Ace (ok, by 'meal' I mean piƱa colada on that one). I witnessed two gorgeous weddings and sang in one of them (!!), had amazing beach days, just sucked out every juicy bit of summeriness I could.

Fortunately, I have friends who are equally as crazy about summer as I am, specifically about summer fruit.  Last year, some of the same awesome characters who brought us Club Sandwich decided that summer stone fruit is so monumentally important that it deems its own celebration, and thus the Stone Fruit Feastival and Tournament came to be. The grounds are simple: we get together in a shady spot in Griffith Park, people bring food that features stone fruit, we eat and eat, then vote for our favorite savory and sweet dish.

Rachel and I show up early in the morning (she spares me the early shift) to stake out a spot.  It's nice to spend a few quiet minutes in the park setting up, surrounded by trees, as sparse sets of hikers walk by.

Eventually the friends start rolling in.  One of the fun things about the Feastival is that it's an opportunity to mix old friends with new, meet friends of friends I've only heard about, and take some time away from cars and buildings and laptops to slow things down, listen to some stone-fruit themed tunes (oh yes), and enjoy some simple good times.  A lot of these friends happen to be toddlers, and several, like this heartbreaker, have only come to exist since last year's tournament.

People take the competition quite seriously, and this year's offerings were a true feast(ival) of diverse and creative stone fruit dishes.  They included peach pulled pork sliders, a roasted peach and tomatillo salsa and a plum one, a ricotta apricot pie, a nectarine slab pie, two different kinds of paletas, two different chilled stone fruit soups, fudgy cherry brownies (the sweet winner), a Syrian dish of orzo and chicken with apricot sauce (the savory winner), and tons more.  

Oh, and there was a three-legged race.

For my part, I made a sandwich.  I have been dreaming of making Martha Stewart's pressed picnic sandwich for at least 7 years.  I finally realized it'd only happen if I doctor it (like I do every recipe), and fit it to this rare picnic opportunity.  I started by layering some sandwich ingredients inside a ciabatta, veering Italian -- creamy goat cheese, salty prosciutto, peppery salami, and some bright arugula.  But, I added complexity in two stone fruit ways.  First, thin slices of white nectarine added crisp texture and some subtle sweetness.  Then a plum mostarda upped the ante: this tangy-sweet condiment really elevated the sandwich's flavor.

Images 7-11: Michelle Stark

I didn't win this year, but I'm telling you now that third annual is all mine.  For that, I'd appreciate your stone fruit suggestions.  Competition is steep, and I can use all the help I can get.

Pressed Picnic Sandwich with Plum Mostarda
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 10 servings

4 plums
1-3 tsp sugar
2-4 Tbs red wine vinegar
1-3 Tbs whole grain mustard
salt, to taste

1 ciabatta loaf
6 oz goat cheese
3 oz arugula (about half a typical supermarket bag)
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 white nectarine, thinly sliced
6 oz prosciutto, thinly sliced
1/4 lb peppered salami

To make mostarda, peel plums and cut into chunks (to make peeling easier, you can cut a small 'x' into the end of the plum and put it in boiling water for about 20 seconds).  Place plums in a small saucepan over medium heat with 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp sugar, 2 Tbs red wine vinegar, and 1 Tbs mustard.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until plums have fallen apart.  Taste, and adjust sugar, vinegar, and mustard as necessary to create a balanced, tangy, and not-too-sweet condiment.  Add salt to taste.

To construct sandwich, slice ciabatta horizontally in half.  Remove soft crumb.  Place bottom crust in the center of a piece of plastic wrap large enough to wrap around entire sandwich.  Spread half of mostarda on bottom crust.  Dot with goat cheese.  In a bowl, toss arugula with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and layer over goat cheese.  Add a layer of nectarine slices, then prosciutto, then salami.  Spread top crust with remaining mostarda and place on top of sandwich.

Wrap sandwich tightly with plastic wrap and press by placing under a stack of plates or heavy skillet, or at the bottom of a full picnic basket, for at least an hour.  Cut into ten slices to serve.


  1. Replies
    1. your perfectly synchronized three-legged racing is magical!

  2. Love the gif. The event sounds like so much fun! What about khoresht-e aloo for next year? SO delicious.