Interspersed with grapevines throughout Napa Valley, a carpet of vibrant yellow mustard blooms from February through March. As the legend is told, Spanish missionary Father Junipero Serra, with Indians as his guides, ventured from Mexico north into California in the late 18th century. Along the way, he scattered the mustard seeds he had brought from his homeland of Spain. A year later, when he returned to the region, “a ribbon of gold” led him from San Diego to Sonoma.
This blooming mustard is celebrated throughout Napa Valley during an annual festival that involves a multitude of restaurants, caterers, wineries and artists who raise money for arts, culture, historic, educational and service organizations. The Napa Valley Mustard Festival include food, music, wine and dancing at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, a mustard marketplace at COPIA, The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa, and gourmet dinners—at Meadowood Napa Valley and Etoile Restaurant. One of the most popular events is The Awards, where revelers taste and vote for the most creative mustard recipe of the year prepared by area chefs. Below are two of our favorites from years past.
By Charlene Peters, a food writer in Marblehead, Mass.
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