Local cookbook author Georgeanne Brennan was living in France when she attended her first grand aioli, an outdoor feast at which villagers gather at long tables to break bread and drink wine together. The menu traditionally features poached seafood, seasonal vegetables and large quantities of aioli—a garlicky mayonnaise—for spreading on everything. Back in the early 2000s, Brennan teamed up with former Davis mayor Ann Evans to put on an American grand aioli, dubbed the Village Feast, in Davis’s Central Park. It was, for years, a popular event on the local social calendar, until the pandemic brought it to a temporary halt.
But the Village Feast is back this year on Sunday, Oct. 16, with the return of some old traditions and the introduction of a few new twists. The menu remains the same: grilled lamb and vegetables, served family style with heaping bowls of aioli. And as in the past, diners will eat at communal tables. But this year’s feast takes place in two locations—Great Bear Vineyards in Davis and Mulvaney’s B&L in midtown Sacramento—to make it more accessible to people from all over the greater Sacramento region.
As in previous years, participants are instructed to bring their own table settings: plates, eating utensils and napkins. That’s how they do it in France, explains Brennan, who used to live in a medieval village in Haute Provence and has written numerous books on French cooking. She suggests bringing your “good stuff”—china, table linens and silver—to show a French-like respect for the food.
The feast is a fundraiser for Davis Farm to School and Les Dames d’Escoffier. Tickets for the lunchtime event (noon–3 p.m.) are $165. There will be a digital silent auction of items donated by local chefs, restaurateurs and others. Anyone, not just ticketholders, can bid. For tickets or more information, go to thevillagefeast2022.eventbrite.com.