By Rick Barlupi

There is a hidden treasure in Chico that is one of the largest U.S. producers of Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil.  Mooney Farms is built on a basis of using quality ingredients to create a line of gourmet healthy Mediterranean inspired Bella Sun Luci products at their plant in the Chico Airport business park.  They won first place 2011 Innovation Award by the Food & Beverage Executive Magazine for their sun-dried tomato Bruschetta with fresh basil.

In 1994, Mooney Farms moved from Sonoma County to a larger production facility in Chico to meet the growing demand for their products. Recently remodeled and expanded, the 100,000 square foot rustic Italian style building surrounded by 200 year old olive trees offers visitors a beautiful tasting room and storefront. Sun dried tomatoes and olive oil have become their mainstream and the Mooney Family has winning recipes for their products on their website,  There are over thirty authentic and easy to prepare recipes, my favorites are Stuffed Eggplant and Sun Dried Tomato Risotto.

In addition to having fantastic gourmet products, Mooney Farms is a great place to pick up gift baskets.  For example, the Mediterranean Pantry includes their Bella Sun Luci Classic, Pesto, Ready to Eat Sun Dried Tomato Halves, California Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sun Dried Tomato Risotto, Dulcetto Chocolate Pastry, Pinot Grigio Salami, and Tuscan Olive Oil soap.  Need a few ideas for Christmas?  Visit their company store and the friendly staff will create your own custom baskets and ship them UPS or order on-line. Taste the award winning products and pickup holiday gifts at 1220 Fortress Street, Chico, (530) 899-2661.  Store hours are Monday-Friday 10a.m. to 4p.m. year round.