Residents prepare for annual Avocado Fest
By Jane Williams
La Habra Journal
Three women who grew up in La Habra are convinced they can make guacamole better than the chefs in La Habra Heights.
Josie Anderson, who is in charge of social and senior services for the City of La Habra, and her sister Georgina Lewis, who recently retired from the city’s finance department will each make their own special guacamole and dare the judges at the La Habra Heights Avocado Festival not to pick one of theirs on May 17 at The Park, located on Hacienda Boulevard.
Joining them in this mission is Debra Sadro, wife of La Habra’s interim city manager Jim Sadro.
In the gym at The Park, three avocado experts will be happy to give you advice on the planting, caring and feeding of avocados and other fruit trees. The Frinks will once again bring the collection of avocados in a variety of sizes and colors. Experts on growing native plants that can cope with drought conditions will be there. And Mr. Tomato Man, Gary Delk, will tell visitors everything they ever wanted to know about tomatoes, modern and heirlooms.
Outside, there will be vendors selling crafts for gardening and gardens, as well as many other creations. Guacamole, jams and jelly, honey, and avocado oil will also be for sale.
The FFA members of Sonora, with some help from those at La Habra High School, will set up a petting zoo of their farm animals. Various dog rescue groups will also be on hand.
The Avocado Fun and Games area will feature an Avocado Raceway where those interested can construct and race their own avocado racecar. There will be two ways of judging the created vehicle: speed and distance. Now that La Habra Heights Councilman Roy Francis is no longer occupied with the duties of mayor, he has agreed to challenge all attendees to a custom avocado car race, which will take place at 2:45 p.m. The car must have an avocado body, but everything else can be customized. We’ve heard a few will be redesigned cars previously used in Pine Wood Derby Races.
There will be other games, like Whack-A-Gopher, and Toss the Avocado through the Tree, plus face painting and a photography booth. Also, all ages are urged to enter the Best Decorated Avocado contest. Again, people can bring their own avocado or decorate one provided. Jewels, yarn, wiggly eyes, an assortment of materials, sequins and tons of glue will be provided. Judging for that contest will take place at 3:30 p.m.
Let’s return to the Guacamole Challenge of the three La Habra ladies now. Once again, there will be a Best Guacamole Contest, and the La Habrans felt it was time they showed what they could do. Anyone is welcome to enter. Bring at least two cups of your guacamole to the gym’s information booth at The Park on Saturday, May 17, between 9 and 11 a.m. It will be refrigerated after being transferred to a bowl with your name and phone number. You can supply your own chips or vegetables, but tortilla chips will be provided. Professional restaurateurs will judge entries based on taste, freshness, texture and overall appeal.
A second contest for the recipe with the best use of avocado will be held at the same time. This is for an unusual recipe using avocados in a dessert, salad, soup, entree or an ingredient in baked goods.
For those who would like to enter, bring enough for eight small servings to the gym at The Park between 9 and 11 a.m. on May 17 and take it to the information booth where it will be labeled name and phone number. Please include your recipe and bring any accompanying condiments you would like used with the recipe. Entries will be judged the same basis as the guacamole, with the additional factor of presentation being considered.
Lewis was more than willing to provide her guacamole recipe, but not the proportions. It includes cilantro, diced red onion, squeezed (not bottled) lime juice, diced Roma tomatoes, as well as diced fire-roasted hot Jalapenos, salt and all the avocados you want to add. Sadro uses three large avocados, also red onion, lime juice, three tablespoons of cilantro and a jalapeno and Serrano pepper chopped fine. After everything is mashed and stirred together both ladies recommend leaving an avocado pit in the resulting mix so it doesn’t brown.
Anderson didn’t want to divulge her secrets.
One entry from the Heights will be from Lisa Schirmeister, who intensely farms her acre of land. All the ingredients for guacamole will come from her yard. First, she’ll pick some avocados in her yard. Then she’ll roast some jalapenos, also from her yard. When they ‘re done, she’ll pick as many tomatoes as she needs and throw them in the same pan and add the garlic she also grew.
Next, she’ll juice some limes, then put them in the blender with cilantro, salt, some onion powder and white pepper flakes as well as the tomato mixture. When that is fully pureed, the blender’s contents will be added slowly to the mashed avocado with several taste tests until it tastes just right. If it’s too bland, some pepper flakes will heat it up.
Schirmeister said, “I can’t give you amounts because avocados and tomatoes are different sizes. It’s a visual and taste thing.”
So, mix up your own batch of unique ingredients, add lots of avocados, and bring two cups of it to the Avocado Festival before 11 a.m. Be there or be square.