Peachy Weekend Coming Up

Peach festivals in Lafayette and Palisade.

LafayettePeachFest-logoThe 15th annual Lafayette Peach Festival turns South Public Road, the town’s main street, into one peachy carnival on Saturday, August 16 from  9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You’ll find truckloads of peaches from Morton’s Orchards, Red Fox Run Orchard, Tate Orchards and Aloha Organic Frui, which among them bring in more than 30,000 pounds of certified organic peaches from Palisade. Head to Festival Plaza for 500 fresh whole peach pies, 100 large trays of peach cobbler that are sold in individual portions and more than 2,500 peach smoothies — while supplies last. Don’t dawdle, because the baked goods do sell out. In addition to a farmers’ market vendors, you’ll find artists, antique dealers and crafters from all over the Front Range, plus entertainment with top local performers on the main stage in front of Lafayette Florist, and free kids’ entertainment on the Festival Plaza Stage (at Chester Street) and for kids, free face painting and balloon sculpting all day.

PalisadePeachFest-logoFor a full weekend of peaches, head to Palisade in far western Colorado where the fruit is truly local. The 46th annual Palisade Peach Festival kicks off on Thursday, August 14 with an evening downtown ice cream social and street dance and features feasts in the fields at several area orchards; agri-tours of orchards, farms and vineyards; chef demonstrations; recipe contest; demonstrations; historic walk tours; parade; kids’ activities and more. It winds down on Sunday, August 17. Click here for a schedule. Last year’s festival attracted some 14,000 visitors. Adult admission is $5 for one day, $8 for two days; kid’s, $3 for one day, $5 for two days. Palisade is a small town with limited lodging, so your best bet is in nearby Grand Junction. FoMoInfo on area accommodations, click here.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch Hosting Beard Dinner

New York-style haute foodie-ism plus the highest manifestation of Colorado hospitality.

JamesBeardFoundation-logoDevil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa, along with five top Denver chefs, host the third Annual James Beard Foundation Dinner on Saturday, October 18. This worthwhile splurge is a fundraising benefit for the James Beard Foundation and its scholarship program. Each of the participating chefs brings a storied background of talent, expertise and passion for the craft to what promises to be a sublime feast.

By raising 100 percent purebred Colorado Wagyu Beef, making their own charcuterie, cheeses, pastas and pastry and other efforts at doing the right thing, these standout chefs set the standard for giving back, setting trends and defining culinary techniques by which others follow. Of course, they are passionate too in their advocacy for sourcing sustainable and locally grown products to elevate guests’ dining experiences while also supporting important causes. The seven culinary masters for this year’s JBF event include:

  • Alex Seidel, Fruition. Best New Chefs in America, 2010 (Food & Wine). Top 25 Best New Restaurants and Chef of the Year (5280 magazine). Chef and restaurant honors from Gourmet, The New York Times and Travel + Leisure and more.
  • Justin Brunson, Old MajorBest Chefs America2013. Exceptional Newcomer Signature Dish Award, Colorado Restaurant Association, 2013. Best New Restaurant & Top of the Town, 5280, 2008 and 2009. Specialty Chef of the Year, 2009. Westword’s Best of Denver Awards, 2011 and 2012.
  • Brandon Foster, Vesta Dipping Grill“Best of Denver” honors as a place for a first date and beyond. Active partner in such culinary fundraisers as  50 Top Denver, Plates for the Peak, and Denver Harvest Week and others.
  • Paul Reilly, Beast + Bottle. Denver’s highly regarded restaurant newcomer (opened 2013) and former chef/owner of Denver’s Encore Restaurant, where he was selected as one of the Denver FIVE cooking at the James Beard House in New York. Also won prestigious Jean-Louis Palladin Professional Work/Study Grant (given to just chefs from around the world).
  • Jeff OsakaTWELVE (closing August 23). semifinalist in the Best Chef Southwest 2014 category, James Beard Foundation. 2014. Denver Magazine, Chef of the Year (runner-up), 2010. 5280 Best Bites, Top Denver dining spot. Also in American Way, Denver Post, Westword, StarChefs.com and others. This coming winter, Osaka is opening Osaka Ramen in RiNo, so this Beard event is the rare between-restaurants to have his food.
  • Evan Treadwell, Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa. Central Coast Magazine’s Iron Chef Award, 2008. Sante’s Culinary Award for “Innovative Regional Cuisine,” 2007. Former Executive Chef, AAA Four Diamond Dolphin Bay Resort in California.
  • Benjie Puga, Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa. European trained pastry chef. Assistant pastry chef, Enchante French Cuisine and Pastries. Studied with Dominique Douvenir. Former Pastry Chef/Instructor of France’s prestigious Cordon Bleu. Stateside, Linn’s Bakery and Diamond Lido & Dolphin Bay Resort, both in California.

The event costs $200 per person, $150 for JBF members. It’s a donation, because ticket proceeds will be donated to James Beard Foundation. Of course, advance are reservations understandably required by calling 970-726-7004 or emailing to kcollins@devilsthumbranch.com.  Special JBF guest lodging rates start at $119/night are also available with advance reservation, space available, and by requesting the James Beard Foundation dinner rate at time of reservation.

Crave Wins Denver Burger Battle

Crave took first and Acorn took second in both categories.

DenverBurgerBattle-logoThe 2014 Denver Burger Battle is history, and Crave Real Burgers swept the August 7 competition, earning both the People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice awards. The double win is a first for the celebrated annual charity event, which this year took place in Sculpture Park in downtown Denver. Crave had won the People’s Choice award in 2012 and was the runner-up in 2013.

The winning burger, Love Stinks, Crave’s signature, is made of a Colorado Proud chuck patty topped with roasted garlic cream cheese, more roasted garlic, fried onion strings, roasted red pepper, candied bacon and red pepper aioli. A Crave-branded mint was offered with each Love Stinks sample to combat the effect of the garlic. The first Crave opened Castle Rock in 2010, and it has since expanded to Highlands Ranch and Colorado Springs.

Now in its fifth year, the sold-out Denver Burger Battle was attended by roughly 1,200 people, who each had a vote in the People’s Choice category. Twelve of the best burger eateries in the Denver area were invited to compete. Four top Denver  chefs (Jeff Osaka, Paul Reilly, Justin Cucci and Theo Adley) formed the judges’ panel. Proceeds from the Denver Burger Battle are distributed to hunger and child welfare charities.

“The people and the judges were definitely on the same page this year,” Jeremy Kossler, co-founder the Denver Burger Battle with his wife, Kelly was quoted as saying. Acorn, another of the 12 restaurants invited to compete at the event, swept the  runner-up spot in both categories.

Zagat Pushes Vail as Foodie Day Trip from Denver

National food site gives nod to Vail Valley as top getaway.

Zagat-logoWhen I saw the E-mail promoting Zagat.com’s “11 Awesome Foodie Day Trips Across the U.S.,” my first thought was to wonder whether Denver was in the mix and if so, whether Boulder would be the day trip of choice. Yes on the first and no on the second. Here’s what Zagat published:

“From DenverVail Valley

“Technically, you can scoot from Denver to the Vail area and back in a day. But with four food-and-booze festivals scheduled in the next few weeks, we’re tempted to hang out all month long. The Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival runs August 8-10. Flavors of Colorado in Avon is happening August 15-17, while Edwards craft-beer and music bonanza Ed Fest occurs August 16. Gourmet on Gore wraps it all up in Vail Village on Labor Day Weekend.

“What to Eat & Drink: For some of the most innovative, upscale takes on Colorado cuisine going these days, check out Beano’s Cabin in Beaver Creek and Mountain Standard in Vail Village. Meanwhile, The Rose in Edwards couldn’t be more charmingly funky, from the smartly crafted cocktails to globally influenced shareables like avocado fries with soy aioli and chiles rellenos en nogada.

“While You’re There: If you can’t figure out how to enjoy Vail Mountain at a glance, you need to get out more. Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is a good place to start.

“Transportation Time: Two hours in optimal conditions. In reality, give it three.”

Sky-High Spirits at Beaver Creek Event This Weekend

Premium wines & spirits featured at pre-eminent mountain resort.

BeaverCreekFWine-logoThe eighth annual Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival this weekend offers opportunities to learn about and taste premium spirits and wines, and food to match presented by local chefs. The event kicks off with Manhattans in the Mountains on Friday, August 8, sponsored by Maker’s Mark, where the focus will be on four handmade premium Kentucky Bourbon Whiskeys. Later Also that evening, a spectacular four-course dinner paired with exceptional wines at Splendido at the Chateau benefits the Vail Valley’s Bright future Foundation.

Outdoor and indoor events highlight this weekend's Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival.
Outdoor and indoor events highlight this weekend’s Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival.

On Saturday, August 9, the new Tacos & Tequila event elevates down-to-earth street taco to dishes inspired by Beaver Creek’s rarefied elevation and high culinary standards, along with Herradura Tequila and cocktails. Two other new events in the village, the Premium Port and Cheese Pairing, and Hooked on Sushi & Sake, showcasing tips and techniques for the chef’s dishes paired with the perfect sake. As always with such events, the Walk-Around Grand Tasting on Saturday evening is a highlight, with samplings of wines, spirits and gourmet cuisine in a delightful mountain setting.

Sunday, August 10 features the Four X Fun High Mountain Adventure Tour. Attendees take a scenic chairlift ride followed by an open-air canopied Jeep tour of the mountain and culminating with wine samplings and a picnic lunch with breathtaking views and an impressive lunch. Individual event pricing is à la carte, with tickets ranging from $30 to $90, plus $130 for the Friday dinner at Splendido, available online. Some events are already sold out.

Caffeine Crawl in Boulder & Fort Collins

Car-free, carefree café-to-café tours for coffee-lovers.

CaffeineCrawl-logoBoulder and Fort Collins, two Front Range communities with a number of find independent coffee shops are the settings for Caffeine Crawl  on Saturday, August 9 in Boulder and Sunday, August 10. No Starbucks on this itinerary. Denver and Boulder have previous hosted Crawls, and their success resulted in this year’s versions. New this year is that both are car-free, with café-crawlers either walking or biking from venue to venue.

Stops are scheduled on five “routes” in Boulder ($27 per person), either from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Participants in the Boulder event start at Buchanan’s Coffee Pub  (1301 Pennsylvania Avenue) and Innisfree Poetry Bookstore and Café (1203 13th Street), both On The Hill. There, they pick up packets and programs before continuing downtown to Boxcar Coffee, The Cup, Ozo Coffee; Piece, Love and Chocolate; Precision Pours and the Unseen Bean Cafe. In Fort Collins ($22; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), the Caffeine Crawl starts at Old Town Square for visits to The Bean Cycle, Happy Lucky’s Teahouse, Harbinger Coffee, The Kitchen and The Starry Night Café.

Each café offers a coffee sample and a presentation about what they do. At the Boulder’s Unseen Bean, that includes the story of the café’s name — which alone is worth the price of the ticket. At The Starry Night in Fort Collins, that includes an Irish Cream Toddy with a mini scone. Interestingly, even with the Front Range’s coffee-centered-ness, an out-of-state business, The Lab from Kansas City, MO, organizes these Crawls to help companies market their coffees and other beverages.  FoMoInfo or to purchase tickets, click here.

Boulder Farmers’ Market in Nation’s Top 100

Still time to cast a vote & move Boulder up in the rankings.

LoveMyFarmersMarket-logoWhen I read the headline, “The Top 100 Most Celebrated Farmers Markets,” I knew that the Boulder County Farmers’ Market had to be there someplace. Indeed it was, at #44. The ranking is part of the American Farmland Trust’s 2014 I Love My Farmers Market Celebrationdeveloped to raise the national awareness about our farmers markets that provide the vital link between eaters and producers, and highlight the importance of protecting farmland.

Since 1980, the Trust has championed family farmers and helped to permanently protect more than 5 million acres of farmland. It’s shocking to think that the country has been losing more than an acre of farmland every minute to development. The Celebration promotion started on June 13 and closes September 13, 2013 at midnight EST. Supporters have more than a month left to pledge the dollars they that intend to spend at their farmers’ markets each week. Click here to enter your pledge. The Top 100 Most Celebrated Markets will receive a special logo honoring their achievement, “No Farms, No Food” gear and recognition on the celebration’s website.

Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.