Category Archives: Festival

Boulder Enhances Support of Local Foods & Farms

Boulder is stepping up its support of local, sustainable agriculture in a big way. At yesterday’s Boulder County Farmers Market, the new “Eat Local! Celebration” was launched to further encourage local diners and cooks to support area growers and community resources.

The meatiest part of the of the new 32-page Eat Local! Resource Guide is the list of natural and organic produce, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, honey and wines, as well as spring water. Restaurants and caterers that use Colorado foods are also listed, as are gardens and greenhouses for those who like to grow their own. And of course, 18 organizations that promote such culinary and environmental agendas as sustainability, reducing the carbon footprint, zero waste, relocalization (a new buzzword to me) and just plain good, fresh food on the table. The publication is free.

Yesterday, several participants in the Restaurant Fresh Connection promotion, including as The Kitchen, Organic Orbit and the Dushanbe Tea House, offered free samples of house specialties that use farmers’ market products.

My husband and I walked home loaded down with baby lettuce, heirloom and “regular” tomatoes, corn, apples, peaches, garlic, shallots, mushrooms, chicken, cheese, bread, crackers and probably some other stuff that I can’t remember. It was easy to prepare a delicious dinner when even the simplest preparation suffices for such succulent ingredients. It is the best time of year for food-lovers and community supporters. It is certainly the best time of year for enjoying these foods.

Renaissance of Local! (planned for September 28-30 in Lyons) will be a county-wide festival, conference and expo to promote local foods, energy, economic vitality, culture and more. There will be a juried art show, music, family activities and the Slow Food Feast featuring the best of Colorado produce, paired with biodynamic wines. Adult admission is $20 a day at the gate, $15 in advance or for cyclists who ride to the event, $35 for three days. Students with ID pay $10 a day. Under 12 are admitted free. The Slow Food Feast is an additional $25. And oh yes, parking is $5. Let’s hope it doesn’t snow.

Upcoming Boulder Restaurant Fest

When he’s not roaming around the yard, supervising my neighbor’s gardening efforts or sleeping in the sun, Johnny Cash, The Cat in Black, sometimes sits on the window sill next to my desk, strolls across the keyboard, curls up next to my husband or me, follows me around the house and lets out a communicative meow when spoken to. We adopted him from the Boulder Valley Humane Society.

Therefore, the First Annual Boulder Food & Wine Festival benefiting the local Humane Society has my name all over it. I love good food and good wine, and I’m for anything that supports the animal shelter. The festival will take place on Sunday, August 12, from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. in Boulder’s Central Park (Broadway and Canyon).

Twenty of Boulder’s top restaurants (including Aji, Frasca Food and Wine, The Flagstaff House, Jill’s, Laudisio, The Kitchen, Trattoria on Pearl and Q’s Restaurant) will take part, as will 25 of Colorado’s 60 wineries pouring something on the order of 100 wines and meads. Colorado ingredients will also be emphasized in all of the restaurants’ dishes. The organizers believe that the festival will be the first time that Colorado’s produce, meat and wine have been offered all together on such a large scale.

From 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., instructors from the Culinary School of the Rockies’ will put on cooking demonstrations, and such experts as Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Board, will conduct classes on subjects such as food and wine pairing.

It wouldn’t be Boulder with a physical competition. The Waiter’s Race at 2:00 will pit waiters and waitresses against each other in skill, speed and “most entertaining performance.” Musical entertainment will be provided by The Swingin’ Seven Dance Orchestra, an eight-piece big band, and Bill Kopper’s band, Ginja, playing Brazilian bossa, samba and chorinho.

Tickets are modestly priced at $35 each in advance from the festival’s website or $40 at the event itself. The tickets include a $5 coupon valid toward the purchase of a bottle of wine, as well as food and wine samples, a keepsake wine glass and buffet plate, and a Colorado wine canvas tote. Wine sample bracelets are available only to those 21 and older.

Humane Society of Boulder Valley volunteers will bring adoptable pets, so you might come home with your own wonderful equivalent to our Johnny Cash.

Omni Interlocken Chefs’ Competition.

The Omni Interlocken Hotel down the pike in Broomfield was the setting for another chef’s competition — this year called Sonoma Meets the Rocky Mountains, featuring four teams from mountain resorts who prepared meals to pair with Sonoma wines. Like television’s “Iron Chef,” the contestants were presented with a secret ingedients: mushrooms from Hazel Dell. The Omni’s own chefs set out hors d’oeuvres to hold the guests/judges (one and the same) while the four chefs and their sous-chefs toiled at four cooking stations to create small plates. Of course, there were paired wines. Of course, there were sweets afterwards. And of course, my note-taking and photographing deteriorated as the evening wore on.
The contestants and their dishes:
  • Bob Burden (above left), Beaver Run Restaurant, Breckenridge – Sautéed herb-rubbed lamb loin topped with micro greens and enoki mushroom salad tossed in pinot noir dressing, with Bing cherry and pomegranate demi-glace and forest mushroom bulgur risotto.
  • Jake Linzinmeier, Chair 8, Telluride – Wild mushroom consomme, cappuccino-style topped with a celery root and potato foam, with goat cheese biscotti.
  • Tim McCaw, Zach’s Cabin, Beaver Creek – Coquille St. Jacques (above right, seared scallop and brandied curry cream atop puff potato, which one of the Zach’s crew described to me as duchesse potatoes and five different mushrooms — lion’s head, shiitaki, baby portabello king oyster and oyster).
  • Aaron Taylor, Keystone Ranch Restaurant – Venison strip loin with mushroom duxelles, stuffed with mushrooms and foie gras, with wild ramp potato risotto, huckleberry compote and mushrooms.

I had a heck of a time marking my ballot from four excellent dishes. Burden’s lamb was super-flavorful, and the demi-glace was sensational. Linzinmeier’s “drinkable” soup was imaginative to the max. McCaw’s scallop was perfectly seared, brown-crusted on top and delicate in the center were a straightforward flavor that worked beautifully with the subtly complex mushroom mix. The stuffing for Taylor’s venison was a rich counterpoint to the venison, and the mushrooms and compote tamed it all down a tad. In the end, Linzinmeier took “Best Dish” honors, and McCaw was voted the “Best Food & Wine Pairing.”

Speaking of pairings, the chefs created their mushroom dishes to pair with the following wines:

  • 2005 Buena Vista EVS Pinot Noir for Burden (tied for “Best Wine” honors)
  • 2004 Wattle Creek Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for Linzinmeier
  • 2005 Clos du Bois Reserve Chardonnay Russian River Valley for McCaw
  • 2004 Geyser Peak Reserve Alexander Valley Meritage for Taylor (Geyser Peak’s 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, served during the reception, tied for “Best Wine”)
Even as the the competing chefs were preapring their dishes, the Omni’s own chefs prepared the following appetizers for the reception (and I hope I got them right):
  • Crab cakes with Meyer lemon relish and tarragon aioli
  • Cocoa seared pork tenderloin
  • Heirloom tomato and California artichoke on puff pastry, with opal basil pesto
  • Sesame seared ahi tuna, with wakame salad and pickled ginger, crisp lotus root and wasabi-scented soy sauce
  • Tempura calamari “lollipops”
  • Tomato-lemongrass coulis shooters
  • Duck confit spring rolls with California raisin chutney
  • Niman Ranch steak tartar on crisp potato gallettes
  • Citrus-scented lobster and jicama salad with vanilla Anglaise
  • Spicy Baja ceviche and taro chips
  • Niman Ranch tri-tip with warm tortillas

Then there were the desserts. I thought I’d died an gone to heaven when I ate Wen Chocolates’ offerings. The Mission Fig chocolates were great. Then there were pecans in chocolate that were even greater. Then there were the several teas in dark chocolate — a formula for the longevity if ever there was one, especially with red wine — that were so good that I think I ate myself into a coma!