Category Archives: Locavore and farm-to-table

Brown Palace Installs Rooftop Beehives

Honey from above to be served at high tea in the lobby

A colony of honey bees has checked into Denver’s landmark Brown Palace Hotel and Spa — or rather checked onto its roof. The colony‘s mission is the production honey for the traditional, elegant afternoon tea and hopefully in the future toward signature spa treatments. While past Brown Palace guests have included crowned royalty, the hotel started with its own two resident queen bees supported by a court of 20,000 worker bees that are expected to grow to 140,000 by the end of the summer. The hotel has named this “the Bee Royalty Initiative.”

 

The Brown has long had its own historian, and now it also has hired a dedicated beekeeper, Matt Kentner of Kentner Farms. He removes bees for people who don’t want them and sources beehives to local farmers and ranchers who do want them for essential pollination of their crops. He’s also a “personal beekeeper” and now is working with the Brown’s colony. In the city, the bees buzz around landscaped city avenues and parks dipping into the pollan of flowering trees, bushes and other fblossoms to make honey out of their haul.

Colony collapse, unexpected decrease in bee communities, has been a real concern to growers, and the Brown is doing its part to improve the situation. As Kentner reminds people, “Unfortunately there are a lot of misconceptions about the nature of bees and what crucial roles they play in our food supply and environment. The affects of the decline in bees is extremely alarming and it’s important that we build awareness and do our part to help,”

Toward that held, the Brown Palace has donated two beehives to the Denver Beekeepers Association to assist in establishing hives in the Denver community and has also partnered with Denver Parks & Recreation to plant bee-friendly flowers in the nearby Civic Center Park.

“We’ve worked for years to bring urban beekeeping to fruition in Denver and The Brown Palace has demonstrated a true commitment to fostering these efforts in our community,”  according to Marygael Meister, president of the Denver Beekeepers Association.

The hotel is running a “Name the Hives Contest,” with contributors of the two winning names rewarded with a weekend getaway at The Brown Palace. Enter by going to the Brown’s dedicated Facebook page.

Saturday is Farmers’ Market Day in B-Towns

Boulder and Boise both boast great famers’ markets

Last week, I played hooky from a meeting in Boise and skipped out of the convention center for a couple of hours to explore the city’s fantastic Capital City Public Market. It stretches along North Eighth Street between Bannock Street and the Grove Plaza in front of the convention center and also half-a-block or so in either direction on the cross-streets. The plaza itself invites lingering. A band plays, kids splash in a fountain and it is an upbeat scene. Because I live within a short walk of the Boulder County Farmers’ Market, my farmers’ markets are pretty high, and Boise more than meets them.

It’s a fantastic farmers’ market with fresh produce, flowers and plants, wines, food carts, breads and other baked goods, artisanal cheeses, prepared foods and an outstanding selection of artisans. Among the fruits, berries are sublime right now (or were last week, anyway), and among the many vegetable stands, I was touched by those staffed by refugees from troubled lands. I spoke to a young man from Somalia who made his way to the US via Kenya. His must be a heart-wrenching story, and I hope that it has a happy ending in the fine agriculatural land of western Idaho or eastern Oregon.

The market operates Saturdays from 9:30:a.m. to 1:30 p.m. until sometime in September. Contact information: Capital City Public Market, P.O. Box 2019, Boise, Idaho 83701; 208-345-5928.

Some Farmers’ Market Fotos

Here’s a selection of images from this excellent market:

Back to the Future at Historic Rhode Island Inn

Grand oceanview hotel serves fresh local food — like in the old days

When the Ocean House opened 136 years ago, eating locally grown and harvested foods was what people did. Now, this grand hotel in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, has reopened following a $140 million restoration and expansion. I haven’t been anywhere near Watch Hill in a long, long time, but I cheer the Ocean Inn’s rebirth and am happy that it is committed to farm-to-table cuisine and celebrating what it calls “the true flavors of the Atlantic Northeast.” That’s a big part of the fare of my Connecticut childhood.

The Ocean House boasts five dining venues, including Seasons, the fine-dining restaurant. Executive chef Albert Cannito utilizes local, estate-grown ingredients from the resort’s own farm, traditional native foraging, local organic produce and ethical use of the seafood for super-fresh naturally prepared and exquisite yet simple cuisine. Chef Cannito tends to his own on-site herb garden for fresh-cut, seasonal flavors both for the restaurants but also as inspiration for the property’s signature spa treatments.

In addition to its own and locally sourced ingredients, the Ocean House has a full-time food forager on its culinary team. That would be Pamela Stone, who serves as liaison between the resort and local purveyors. She is also a Master Gardener, responsible for maintaining the Ocean House’s private gardens, and is a crucial part of the resort’s Culinary Education programming. She escorts guests to the resort’s gardens, to regional farms, to the port to meet local fishermen as they bring in their daily catch and to visit local cheese and wine makers. There were no cheese or wine makers when I was growing up in New England, other than Italian families who made their own wines and the occasional Italian deli that still made its own mozzarella.

Ocean House, 1 Bluff Avenue, Watch Hill, RI 02891; 401-584-7000 or 888-552-2588 (reservations).

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