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san juan mountains Trekking the San Juans to bring you the story of local food, season by season.

Member of Edible Communities

No. 3 Winter 2010

MER 2079 Edible OS 4c NP.qxd


2:25 PM

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Minimally invasive procedures. Maximum outcomes. The Orthopedic & Spine Center of Excellence. At your Mercy. Mercy’s Orthopedic & Spine Center of Excellence is focused on patient results. Chronic hip, knee and spine conditions require specialized care. Our fellowship-trained orthopedic and spine surgeons and their skilled teams have years of experience performing advanced surgeries, including minimally invasive total joint replacement and complex spinal procedures. Offering advanced orthopedic and spine services is one more way we serve the region. That’s your Mercy.

1010 Three Springs Blvd., Durango, CO 81301 phone: (970) 247-4311 web:

Joint Replacement & Spine Procedures


Fellowship-trained Surgeons


Patient Focused Care

Contents 2

Publisher’s Letter

4 notable edibles

Mead-Making from the Ground Up

New Book Reveals Motivations of Organic Movement Activists Hot Chocolate Profile: Josh Galloway of Silverton Chocolates A Green Fix: Winter Sprouting 11 Back of the House

Destination Rico: The food is that good By Rick Scibelli, Jr. 15 Back of the House

Rum, with Altitude By Jess Kelley

18 Back of the House

Telluride’s Top Chef: Eliza Gavin

By Eileen Burns 21 Libation

The Complexities of Crafting Good Beer

By Kris Oyler 24 IN THE KITCHEN (and out on the slopes)

Après ski

By Lauren Slaff 27

Memoirs of a Winter Gardener

By Kris Holstrom 28

The Gauntlet of Gluten

By Anna Riling 31 A

Guide to Winter Community Events

32 outtakes  1  

Publisher’s Letter One thing I have quickly learned in publishing this magazine is that I am not a born salesman. I am not a salesman anymore than I am an Olympic figure skater. Yes, I could learn to sell, but technically I could also learn to figure skate. (Neither one, in my opinion, being easier than the other.) The equation doesn’t go both ways. While I struggle to sell, I can’t not buy. I have spent a lifetime as a mark for aggressive sales people. By saying no, I have that feeling I am taking food out of their child’s mouth (therapy is helping). This only results in their quota being met and one more brick of resentment being placed onto the Monument-To-UnwantedItems being built deep in my gut. Mind you, I am not about to crack, or implode. I have learned to embrace this part of me. It manifests itself in ways that range from a general state of bewilderment to a growing preference for animals. My dogs are not trying to sell me anything—unless it is after five, then they are trying to sell me on the fact that they are starving to death. And yes, I always buy it. Do you want dinner? What do you want? Dog food? Wag, wag, wag. Pant, pant, pant. Smile, smile, smile. It’s always worth the price. But now that I have been on the other side of this give and take (selling ad space), I have to say, in no uncertain terms, it is an art. I have a newfound respect for sales and the people who do it—and not like the respect one has for a guy who robs a bank and gets away with it without firing a shot; a deep-seated respect. Sales keeps the wheels of commerce going. It’s lonely, it’s taxing, it’s uncertain, it’s incredibly demanding, and it is absolutely integral to every nook and cranny of our way of life. Look around you. Everything—everything—was brought to you by a salesperson. The chair you are sitting in? Salesperson. There was one to sell it to the store, and one to sell it to you. The parts that make up the chair? Salesperson. The flooring on which the chair rests? Salesperson. The table, your coffee cup, your coffee, your cream, your sugar, your spoon? You get it. People produce things, salespeople sell it. Otherwise nothing would ever leave the factory floor, the farm, or the ranch. But when it is my turn to sell I tend to project myself into the place of the person in front of me, and I think: I don’t even want to be talking to me about this. Folks, this way of thinking is not good. It is actually really bad, especially if your very survival depends on SELLING SOMETHING. Here is how it goes: As soon as I see somebody struggling with the decision (should I or shouldn’t I?) I want to take their hand and say: It’s okay ... I understand ... you don’t have to do this. Now, I am here to tell you that if the Toyota sales dude had taken my hand and said, ‘it’s ok, you don’t have to do this,’ I would not be driving a yolk-yellow SUV—no offense to my fellow yolk-yellow-Toyota-SUV-driving brethren (and I do see you out there.) It is a great vehicle, but it does come in other colors. Like white. We must have had the same sales associate. I am just wondering if that associate is interested in selling advertising. I couldn’t sell yellow Toyotas. I couldn’t give away yellow Toyotas. What we do have to and want to do is build a magazine that people simply want to read. (It is a “we” thanks to a team of near-volunteer writers dedicated to the mission of this magazine. Read some of their bios in this issue). We want to be the connector between the consumer and the producer. We want to be educational without being preachy. Most of all, we want to be relevant and entertaining. Because if you read it, then you will see our advertisers’ beautiful ads. And then it all becomes rather symbiotic. Thanks to the writers, the readers, and our advertisers who are making it all possible. Enjoy issue 3. Rick Scibelli, Jr. Publisher and Editor in Chief 2  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2010


san juan mountains Editor & Publisher Rick Scibelli, Jr.


DESIGNER Bambi Edlund

Writers Molly Anderson-Childers Eileen Burns Kris Holstrom Joe Lewandowski Anna Riling Kris Oyler Lauren Slaff Rachel Turiel

Copy Editor Michelle G. McRuiz

Photographer Rick Scibelli, Jr.


advertising Eileen Burns, Telluride, Montrose, Ouray and Northern San Juan Account Manager, Rick Scibelli, Jr., Durango, Pagosa Springs and Southern San Juan Account Manager, Jess Kelley,

contact us edible San Juan Mountains 361 Camino del Rio Suite 127 Durango, CO 81303 To send a letter to the editor, email us at rick@ For advertising inquiries, email eileen@ediblesanjuanmountains. com or For home delivery of edible San Juan mountains, email; the rate is $32 per year. edible San Juan mountains is published quarterly by Sunny Boy Publications. All rights reserved. Distribution is throughout southwest Colorado and nationally by subscription. No part of this publication may be used without written permission of the publisher. © 2010. Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspelling and omissions. If, however, an error comes to your attention, please accept our sincere apologies and do notify us. Thank you.

t e l l u R i d e

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offering burgers, pizza, steak & lobster Now locally owned and operated. Proprietors chef Chris Crowl and manager James Allred



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OUR WRITERS Anna Riling is an amateur cook with a chronic aversion to recipes. Sometimes this works out great. Sometimes the dogs get an extra treat in their bowl that night. She lives in Durango with her husband and two well-fed heelers. Get your fill at Eileen Burns is a freelance writer and owner of Burns Publications. She has lived in Telluride for the past 11 years and is an outdoor enthusiast who loves to hike, bike and ski in the magnificent San Juan Mountains. Eileen celebrates the sustainable food movement and is happy to be able to share wonderful stories about local growers and chefs with you. Jess Higgins Kelley is a Master Nutrition Therapist and the Managing Editor for Edible San Juan Mountains. In between cooking food, teaching the nutrition science of food, eating food and writing about food—she’s drinking (see Rum story pg. XX). Jess’s nutrition practice, Durango Nutrition, focuses on food allergies and hormone balance. She lives in a straw bale home with her husband, two heelers, and sprouts. Kris Holstrom owns Tomten Farm, a high-altitude, off-grid organic farm at 9000’ near Telluride. She is the regional sustainability coordinator for San Miguel County and through SW IRL —the Southwest Institute for Relocalization umbrellas local community gardens and the Telluride Farmers’ Market.


A native New Yorker and grateful transplant to Southwest Colorado, Lauren Slaff brings the ideal combination of high-end professional training and heartfelt passion for the fruits of the earth to the region. A devout localvore, she celebrates the farm-to-table concept with her students, clients and the community as chef/ proprietor of verypersonal*chef. Visit Molly Anderson-Childers is a writer, artist and creativity consultant in Durango. She survived on ramen noodles as a college student at FLC, and is currently expanding her palate with the best local grub she can find. You can find her work online at and, or get in touch via email at stealingplums@ Rachel Turiel raises children, chicken, honeybees and a large garden on her Durango city lot. Find more of her writing on her blog: 6512 and growing (

new years eve 2010

main avenue celebration Collaborate with us in frivolous merry making, in downtown Durango for a New Year’s Eve celebration. · All Ages Event · Snowboard Demonstration · Live Music & Dancers

Edible Did YouFacts Know? Pigs produce vitamin D from the sun when raised on pasture and store it in their fat. This is one of man’s few food sources for vitamin D. Love that pork!

· Alpine Warming Huts · Hot Chocolate, Beer & Wine · Snowflake Drop at10pm & Midnight

7:00 pm - 1:00 am Main Street, Durango between 10th & 11th Streets FREE TO ALL or, for those aspiring individuals preferring a more effervescent event, sipping sparkling libations, lounging & listening to music, we offer you Durango’s First

Ages 21+

Ticket price is $50 For a chance to win tickets go to Kindly visit us online for event particulars

FI RSTN IG HTDU RANG O.COM At the James Ranch all our livestock are on green grass, in the sun, and live a good life. We offer organic, grass-based pork, beef, cheese and eggs. Find a full selection of our products at our James Ranch Market located 10 miles N. of Durango, just past Honeyville

Winter hours: Saturday 11am-4:30pm

Learn more about your food source at


notable edibles

Mead-Making from the Ground Up I first experienced mead while reading a friend’s novel, and was struck by its special vocabulary. Words and phrases like “carboy,” “wine-thief,” “pitching the yeast” … sheer poetry. Once I sampled a glass of my friend’s home-brewed mead, I was hooked. Mead-making is an ancient art, practiced in cultures all over the world. It is a simple fermented beverage made from honey, yeast and water. Time and nature do the rest, fermenting the sugars to create a heady, sweet brew. Yet this is only the beginning, as I soon learned. Many mead-makers add fruits, spices, flowers—even ingredients like chilies and chocolate—to make each batch unique. When I became friends with a group of local mead-makers, I soon realized that sipping an occasional tasty glass wasn’t enough. I wanted to begin to learn the process from the ground up and create my own brew. Luckily, they welcomed a rank novice into their circle, and I’ve been working as an apprentice to learn the craft. In choosing ingredients to enhance the basic, or “show” mead, make sure the flavors complement one another and use the highest quality ingredients available. For a tasty, spicy fall mead, try adding apples and pears with a cinnamon stick; cranberries and ginger; or orange and clove. Mead-making has experienced a recent surge in popularity as enterprising home brewers branch out into new arenas. Access to Internet suppliers has helped promote this art form in areas where brewing equipment isn’t readily available. This has resulted in a wealth of new recipes and ideas—and, of course, many new bottles to uncork. Bottoms up! 

—Molly Anderson-Childers

Make Your Own Mead! You can find many Internet resources on mead with great recipes and brewing supplies. Here are some of my favorite resources. Cheers!

• Storm the Castle. A user-friendly site for beginners.

• Got Mead? A website that covers the basics.

• Old West Brew. This company specializes in mead-making supplies and equipment.

• The Pagan Arts. Check out the mead-making page for techniques, recipes, and more by Durango mead-maker Alane Brown.

• Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. Check out the mead and wine supplies page for all your home-brewing needs.


notable edibles

New Book Reveals Motivations of Organic Movement Activists OK, you shop at the local farmers’ market and you know where your food comes from. But do you know who actually grows your food? A new book, written by part-time D u r a n g o re side nt Katherine Leiner, provides insights into the personalities, motivations and trials and tribulations of organic farmers and others who play supporting roles in the organic movement throughout the United States. Growing Roots: The New Generation of Sustainable Farmers, Cooks, and Food Activists, presents fifty-four stories of those involved in the movement. Leiner traveled the country for more than two years to compile the interviews. Her partner, Andrew Lipton, took the lush photographs for the 308-page book. The stories are presented as verbatim interviews.Those interviewed do represent a refreshing variety of those involved with the movement. The best stories are from those who are grounded in the business of agriculture, and from those who express deep philosophic commitment. Nate Pirogowicz never heard about organic production while growing up on a 40-acre farm in Ohio. He got his first taste in college, where he saw the intense cultivation techniques as folly. But then he went to work for an organic soybean farmer who was making big profits in specialty markets at a time when conventional farmers were barely breaking even. Pirogowicz admits to being seduced by the profit potential, but he soon fell in love with the farming methods that nurture the soil. Shannon Hayes is a writer and small-time farmer in upstate New York who sells at local markets. She is deeply committed, but her family scrapes by financially and the workload is often overwhelming. A few years ago she broke down under the pressure. Later she wrote an essay about it that was circulated among many small-time growers. She soon learned that she wasn’t the

only organic farmer under duress. But she won’t stop farming and she won’t leave the land or the way of life she loves. The best interview in the book may be with Daniel Salatin who with his father, Joel, runs Polyface Farm, in Swoope, Virginia. Joel Salatin was made famous in the book Omnivore’s Dilemma that explained the innovative organic grazing techniques and local marketing methods he’s developed at the farm where he raises chickens, cattle and pigs. Daniel, who is gradually taking over operation of the farm, speaks eloquently of his father’s methods and his own work. But he also makes clear that the farm is a business that must provide for his family. Embedded in many of the interviews are fascinating tidbits of information: how oysters are grown, how flame cultivation is used to destroy the roots of pesky weeds, how bees pollinate, almond groves, and more. Sprinkled throughout the book are dozens of fabulous recipes including Wicked Hot Chocolate, Sunset Sweet Potato Bisque, Green Revolution Ice Dream, and many more. Growing Roots is not the type of book to read cover-to-cover in one evening. Rather, for those interested in this subject, these stories can be savored in many small bites. —By Joe Lewandowski Lewandowski, who lives in Durango, has been a writer and editor in Colorado since 1977.  7  

notable edibles

CHEF LAUREN’S “HOT CHAI-COLATE” At the end of a snowy play day, nothing brings a warm smile to a ruddy face like a steaming cup of hot chocolate. (Alright, that may not be totally true but this is a bit about hot cocoa, so let’s just agree.) I’m not talkin’ about the kind dumped out of a packet into a sad mug of nuked water. I mean the real deal. Over the years, I’ve indulged in a plethora of tantalizing variations on this classic the likes of aromatic ancient elixirs, hot and spicy south-of-the-border steamers and uber-rich concoctions the consistency of cooked pudding. Though I consider myself a purist, I messed around with a little alchemy of my own, embracing America’s passion for the exotic flavors of the East. This recipe is merely a guideline. I encourage you to play around with the proportions to suite your own palette. Using whole spices and fresh ginger root yields far better results than ground; and there is just no substitute for high quality chocolate. It is, after all, the star of the show.  —Lauren Slaff 8  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2010

Ingredients 1 quart milk or half & half 1 tablespoon sugar, white or brown 1 stick cinnamon 2-3 cardamom pods, bruised (that means give ‘em a smash to release flavor) ½ piece ginger root, peeled and bruised ½ teaspoon whole peppercorns ¼ teaspoon cloves 4 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate, shaved pinch sea salt Method Combine all ingredients except chocolate and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil then IMMEDIATELY lower heat, bringing mixture to a simmer. Gently simmer 5 minutes then remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate and salt, then cover and steep for 10-20 minutes. Strain and serve piping hot or refrigerate for up to a week and reheat as desired. Also delicious iced. And for you grown-ups, I suggest a splash of our own San Juan Mountains Montanya Oro Rum, or Mancos Valley Distillery’s Colorado Coffee Liqueur.


Josh Galloway of Silverton Chocolates

Josh Galloway is a chocolatier with the mind of an alchemist and the soul of a poet. His eco-conscious creations are made using the finest chocolates in the world. “The new organic is local, and the new fair trade is direct trade,” Josh said, explaining that in the beginning, he used only organic fair trade chocolate. But he soon began to discover higherquality chocolate grown in small batches by sustainable, eco-conscious growers all over the world. Now he buys most of his chocolate from bean-to-bar makers who source directly from growers. We met at Silverton Chocolates’ Durango headquarters in the basement of the Smiley Building. Some might see this as a strange location for chocolate-making, but it’s perfect for Josh. He wanted a basement environment in order to have a constant temperature— fluctuations can damage the product. He chose the Smiley Building because of its low carbon footprint and green building status. Josh started his journey as a chef in Crested Butte, and noticed that he loved making desserts. After migrating to Silverton, he was dismayed by the lack of fresh local produce and other organic foods available, and started his own business delivering goods from local bakeries, organic farms and ranches to other foodies in the area. One day, he got an order for truffles. There was no local source, so he and his grandfather concocted their own, with a recipe from the French Laundry. They became so popular that he soon devoted most of his energy to chocolate-making. “I had to feed the habit,” he grinned. Using single-batch chocolate from small, sustainable cacao farms is paramount in creating the signature treats Galloway has become known for. “It’s all about the quality of the chocolate,” Josh said. He also brings to the table a vast knowledge of the culinary, medicinal and spiritual properties of a wide variety of plants, herbs and spices. This gives him a unique edge in the field—he has the knowledge necessary to create fabulous-tasting chocolates with medicinal properties. What’s next for this talented chocolatier? Josh has many plans for the future. He wants to write, teach, and travel. One of his dreams is to lead culinary travel adventures to top chocolate-producing regions, intertwining chocolate-making with the culture and history of the region to give travelers an up-close-and-personal look at cacao farming, harvesting and manufacturing. He’s also interested in the medicinal and spiritual uses of foods and plants. “A little square of chocolate helps the medicine go down.”  —Molly Anderson-Childers

Italian Love Cake Ingredients  1 batch Cake Mix: 12 ounces 80 % chopped bittersweet chocolate, 8 ounces cream, 2 ounces coconut oil, 1 cup chestnut flour, 2 eggs 2 pounds ricotta cheese 3 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla 1/2 cup agave nectar Fresh whipped cream Method Mix chopped chocolate into hot cream (do not boil), slowly stir together. Stop stirring when mixed. Reserve 1/2 cup for topping. Add coconut oil, flour and eggs. Pour cake mix into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan. Blend together ricotta, eggs, vanilla and agave until smooth. Pour evenly over chocolate cake mix. Bake for 45 minutes–1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool cake completely, but leave in pan. Blend together extra chocolate and then fold into whipped cream. Spread on top of cake. Chill before serving.  9  

notable edibles

A Green Fix: Winter Sprouting Once the ground is covered in white I start thinking about green. As a greenhouse-less nutrition therapist and vegetable addict, the throes of winter—despite the abundance of root vegetables—can cause intense cravings. Enter the quick fix: sprouts. Lovers of green vegetables will be pleased to know that most any kind of seed, nut, grain or legume can easily be sprouted at home. My sprouts of choice are sunflower and lentil for their nutrition content, price and other edible applications. However, mung beans, red clover, radish, barley, wheat, buckwheat, oat groats, mustard, adzuki, garbanzo, almond, lima bean, chia and pumpkin are all equally sprout-worthy options. Flax is one exception, however, as it becomes too mucilaginous once soaked. The process of germination (sprouting) morphs the composition of the original seed to contain higher nutrient content and also makes it also easier to digest. The Chinese originally discovered the benefit of germinating mung beans to prevent scurvy on long sea voyages, as sprouts are a good source of vitamin C. The germination process increases the B vitamin and carotene content. But what really puts sprouts on a nutrition pedestal is that germination neutralizes phytic acid (present in all grains) that inhibits the absorption of minerals including calcium. Sprouting also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, which can paralyze the already present enzymes in our digestive tract that we need to break down food. Sprouts are a welcome addition to salads, stir-frys, soups, breakfast cereals or baked goods, are an excellent lettuce replacement on sandwiches and can even be blended into smoothies. Not to mention they are a breeze to grow and an entertaining project for kids (they grow so fast you can almost watch them)—ready,

most times, for consumption in seven days or less. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, know that the start-up costs and equipment needs for the home sprouter are pretty minimal. In fact, growing sprouts can be accomplished for a fraction of the price of buying them at the store. Raw unhulled seeds, water, a wide-mouth glass jar, a screened lid, a plastic seedling tray, and some organic soil are all you’ll need. (Health food stores often carry sprouting starter kits.) Many sprouts can be grown in jars without the trays, like lentil sprouts, but sunflower sprouts do much better in trays with soil. The method of sprouting all grains and seeds is the same; however, times may vary depending on the size. Start by filling a mason jar one-third full with desired sprout-to-be contents. Fill to the top with filtered water and screw on the screened top. Soak overnight and then pour off the water. Rinse the seeds well (with the top on), and invert the jar at an angle so excess water can drain. Rinse the seeds at least twice a day and return to drain at an angle. In one to four days the sprouts should be ready and can be stored in the refrigerator or, in the case of sunflower sprouts, transferred to a plastic seeding tray, covered with a thin layer of soil and watered daily until a two-leafed sprout emerges. Then it’s time to get your green fix on! —Jess Kelley

Sprouted Oatmeal Ingredients 2 cups raw sproutable oat groats 1 large peach or pear 5 dates, pitted 1/4 cup dried apples 1/4 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 cup date soaking water Pinch of cinnamon Dash of allspice 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional) Raisins (optional) Method Soak oat groats for 10 hours. Drain and rinse, and then place jar mouth down at a 45 degree angle. Rinse and drain daily for two days. Soak dates for 1 hour. Place soaked dates, sprouted oats, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, maple syrup and chopped fruit in a food processor and blend. Place in a bowl and stir in raisins. Place in bowls, garnish with cinnamon, and serve.


Back of the House

Destination Rico: The food is that good By Rick Scibelli, Jr. It is that down time in the San Juans that wedges itself between the aspens’ encore and the winter season’s first, first tracks, and Eamonn O’Hara’s inn and restaurant is open, but empty. For many, the thought of running a small inn in a quaint town in the middle of the Rockies feels like a dream job, the perfect escape from the crummy cards we firmly believe we have been dealt. But the reality, more often than not, proves different. No grocery store or doctor’s office, no movie theater, questionable cell service, snow drifts and, well, the difficult neighbor that happens to be your only neighbor and quite possibly your only acquaintance. And good, interesting food? Forget it. The best restaurants always lie in the next town over—on the other side of the mountain. Unless, of course, you are in Rico, CO, a historic blip on the map wedged between Telluride and Dolores, where the best res-

taurant may just sit right across the street. And if you’re Eamonn, veteran chef and innkeeper of the Argentine Grille and the Rico Hotel Mountain Lodge, there is no place that you would rather be. Yes, his restaurant is empty tonight, but despite his salt-andpepper hair being a little tousled and his posture hinting toward a lifetime of looking down upon a stovetop, Eamonn’s eyes aren’t showing a modicum of worry. You could almost paint the picture of the 19th-century immigrant innkeeper—lantern and all, meeting you at the front door after a long day of wet travel through wicked winter weather—the frosted windows, a roaring aspen wood fire, a warm drink, hot food, and a bed. Come in. I have been expecting you. There is no person I would rather see than you. That is how Eamonn can make you feel.  11  

Italian Heirloom Winter Squash Ingredients 5 pounds winter squash (preferably Marina di Chioggia— winter heirloom Italian squash), quartered and seeds removed 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 2 tablespoons olive oil ¼ cup balsamic vinegar 1/8 cup maple syrup 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1 tablespoon kosher salt 2 leeks, white part only, chopped ¼ red onion, chopped 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 gallon chicken stock 4 ounces crème fraiche

Method Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large non-reactive bowl, toss squash with garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, brown sugar and salt. Place on a baking sheet completely wrapped in foil and bake until soft, approximately 21⁄2 hours. In a large saucepan over low heat, sweat leeks and red onion until softened, approximately 10 minutes. Do not brown. Add chicken stock and bring to boil. Scoop out squash and add to the stock. Boil for further 5 minutes. Place ingredients in a bar blender (or use a hand blender) and add crème fraiche blend. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Serve immediately.

Except while there is an immigrant, an Irish immigrant at that, there is no lantern. Rico has electricity (but no emergency room). And unlike our turn-of-the-century daydream, the food, while warm, and welcomed, will most certainly blow you away. “We prefer to put things on our plates that can tell a story. Any other way wouldn’t feel right. It wouldn’t be in my soul,” says the 51-year-old Eamonn. And his customers speak with their cars. According to his careful calculations, more than 80 percent of them drive to Rico simply to eat at the Argentine Grille. Yes, they leave the culinary haven of Telluride to drive 30 miles further into the mountains. It is that good. It isn’t unusual too that they would make an overnight trip out of it, electing to cozy up in one of the inn’s guest rooms rather than tackle the pass on full and satiated stomachs. “Chuck and I go up there for dinner every chance we get,” remarks Rosie Carter of Stone Free Farm in Cortez, CO. “Sometimes we stay the night. It is like a mini-vacation.” The Argentine Grille survives on that kind of loyalty. For Eamonn, every night is a performance. His troupe includes a sous chef, a dishwasher, a waiter or two and an army of invisible farm hands that include Rosie and Chuck and just about every James (the farmer, the rancher and the cheese maker) from James Ranch. “You get the true flavor of somebody’s effort,” Eamonn says. This evening’s fare includes Italian Heirloom winter squash soup (see recipe on page 13). Kay James hand-picked the squash for Eamonn that morning. Warm, earthy and salty-sweet. Eamonn claims that a bag of greens sourced locally will last twice as long: “It has a better flavor profile and looks better.” 12  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2010

It is hard to argue with this proclamation. The roasted carrot and beet strudel (see recipe on page 13), filled with late-season Stone Free root veggies, tangy-sweet goat cheese and balsamic vinegar, pleased all my senses with the elegant simplicity of its taste, texture and color.” Right then and there, I thought: Well worth the drive from Durango (which I had just tackled). Want more? Local organic mixed greens with duck confit, apples, oranges, candied walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette is a good start. Homemade sour cream apple pie (with local apples) would be a good finish. “We tend to be a from-scratch restaurant,” Todd Webster, Eamonn’s sous chef, said. Here is a secret. It is common practice in any kitchen to double and triple the recipes. Pesto? It easily lasts a few days in the refrigerator when carefully sealed. Hummus? Ditto. “Not here. We make things fresh every day,” Todd said. Todd, who moved to Rico just to learn from Eamonn, thinks this is the best gig he has ever had. And he has had a few. It wasn’t until sometime during the middle of the last century that miners were still calling the dining room home. The building, whose low ceilings and waxy timber window frames melding into thick, woody walls provide a visual warmth, was originally built by the Argentine Mining Company. You feel this too, just sitting there, that these walls and windows are older than you—older than your parents’ parents. Certainly Eamonn is not the only Irish guy that found work in Rico; the others were just here long before he was—Irish miners seeking their fortune. The history leading up to the building’s latest incarnation is muddled at best. It was a restaurant sometime around 1950. But that is all that is certain until 1999, when an Oklahoman named Peter Kinnick came to Rico with an idea: Create a place that peo-

ple would travel to just for the food. Two years later, Eamonn became the final piece needed to complete that vision. Kinnick, who lives out of state but still owns the inn, happily affords his star chef complete autonomy. O’Hara, along with his wife of 23 years, Lynda Hackleton, arrived in Rico following two years of kitchen duties in the überrural town of Dunton, CO. Prior to that it was four years as a chef at The Peaks in Telluride. Before that, it was LA, where, in 1981, what was supposed to be a vacation to the West Coast turned into something fateful after Eamonn landed a position at the prestigious Hotel Bel Air in Beverly Hills. “It has been one hell of a vacation,” he said, adding that while he loves the small-town lifestyle of Rico and has no plans to leave, he still has a fondness for Southern California. “I showed up in Telluride for my interview and people were thinking, ‘Who is this guy in this three-piece suit? He must be from the IRS.’” But that is what people did in those days; they dressed up, at least in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, it was in kitchens in Liverpool (not exactly a culinary destination) where as a young child Eamonn moved with his parents from the west coast of Ireland and began his career. But sourcing his career choice to an exact point and time is not that easy. Back in the day, Eamonn likes to remind you, cooks either came from the military or were just blokes trying to stay out of jail. (And which one is he? Well, he didn’t serve in the military.) “And it wasn’t my mother who influenced me. She was an awful cook. Except for her soda bread,” he said, his eyes softening, returning to that kitchen table in Liverpool. I can see it, at that moment; he can taste that soda bread. I am convinced that it is good. I want to try it. But it wasn’t until the Hotel Bel Air that his real culinary education took root. Fast forward to Rico: Eamonn in front of the stove at the Argentine Grille, seasoning mashed potatoes and whipping up a chimichurri sauce for fall-off-the-bone James Ranch short ribs. He is not sure how many guests to expect tonight: Two? Ten? It is the dead time of year. “What more can I want?” Eamonn says. “I have a roof over my head, a warm place to work, and food.” Unbelievable food. Start your car. At 6:00, two regulars show up. They drove over from Dolores, not a short haul. Nothing is close to Rico. But then, nothing is really too far.

Beet and Carrot Strudel Ingredients 8 baby carrots, cut in half lengthwise 8 baby beets, tops removed 2 teaspoons olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper ½ cup goat cheese 4 sheets phyllo dough 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted Pumpkin seeds, toasted Method Preheat oven to 400°. Drizzle beets with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. In a large bowl, toss the carrots with olive oil until each piece is coated, then sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer carrots and beets to a baking sheet and roast until tender. Allow vegetables to cool, then peel and finely chop the beets. Mix with the carrots and goat cheese. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a small pan and set aside. Unfold 1 sheet of the phyllo dough. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds. Repeat the process by laying a second sheet of phyllo dough over the first sheet and brush it with melted butter until 4 sheets have been used. Spoon a 1-inch-wide row of the vegetable mixture along one edge of the phyllo dough. Roll it up and tuck in the sides to make a strudel. Brush the top with butter and place the strudel on a sheet pan. Cover with parchment paper and bake for 12 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Slice and serve.  13  


Back of the House

Rum, with Altitude By Jess Kelley Rum. First thought. Go. Rum and Coke? Mojito? Pina Colada? A drink or a place. Maybe Jamaica, Puerto Rico or Barbados. Maybe a person. One insane night in San Francisco with the bachelor, the Christmas Party in ’98 and uncle Ron, that girl. Rum. For most, the first thought is not likely Silverton, Colorado, or any other mountainous region for that matter. It’s simply not the right setting for a planter’s punch. But at 9,308 feet, beer can taste flat, wine just doesn’t sound right, and whiskey, cliché. Rum, dear drinkers, tastes spectacular. In the afternoon sun in the yard outside of Montanya Distillers, after one or two or seven cocktails, it’s almost as if Ernest Hemmingway could be at the next table over, demolishing daiquiris. The August setting outside Montanya (“montaña” is Spanish for mountain) is brightly colored umbrella-topped wooden tables, chairs sitting about haphazardly, a bench constructed of a Venture snowboard, and a chimenea, all dwarfed by mountains. Local politicians, educators, snappy tourists, jeepers, dogs and kids all drink here (well, not the kids). Bartenders sling drinks with names like The Wrath of Grapes and Maharaja Martini through a window into the yard. Afternoons melt into evenings and the chairs form a circle—everyone drinks together. “I didn’t think I liked rum, but I like rum here because it’s combined with thoughtful flavors—it’s not high-school Captain and Coke,” remarks one patron one afternoon in the yard (and, by the way, Captain Henry Morgan was a far cry from a stand-up guy). When a Montanya rum drink is served with a blueberry-and-basil or a chai infusion in it, there’s something else happening (aside from getting a buzz on). Something that makes a drink go from boring to buckle-up. And for the thoughtful drinker, going back to a rum and Coke after having a Wrath of Grapes is like serving a coffee drinker tea in the morning. No bueno. In the winter, the party moves inside, near the still and the popcorn machine. The yard and tables and chimenea are buried under eight feet of snow. The snow is where the rum comes from. “The main ingredient in rum is water,” says Karen Hoskin, who, with her husband of 18 years, Brice, brought to fruition the award-winning, artesian, and “obsessively crafted” Platino (platinum) and Oro (gold) Montanya rums two years ago. The Hoskins are what you consider a Midas couple. They both have blue eyes, smile easily, and will stop everything for a hug from one of their two blond boys. Karen has one of those personalities that makes you want to curl up and stay—and keep drinking. And trust me, it’s not hard. Every time you ask them a question about why they started making rum, you get an entrancing story that includes a far-off place, a book reference or two, historical information and some kind of an economic twist. Rum has always had a distinctly American swagger. It is untutored and proud of it, raffish, often unkempt, and a little bit out of control,” writes Wayne Curtis in And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails. He has just also summed up Silverton, Colorado, and the unshaven entrepreneurs-in-jeans it attracts, like Scotty Bob, the Brills, or the Branners. The concept of Montanya had been in the mind for years before the making for Karen and Bryce Hoskins, he from Grand Junction, she from Maine. And their stories make the drinks taste even better. It was a sip of Old Monk Rum in India with two yoga teachers from Liverpool that began Karen’s lifelong exploration of good rum. For her, rum is about place. “This rum appealed to my physiology, made me so happy, and when a cocktail makes you happy, you don’t need a lot,” she says. (Originally from Maine, Karen grew up in a house with a surplus of “sh!##y Chardonnay.”)  15  

Meanwhile, Brice always had a hand for home-brewing— inspired in part from watching “M.A.S.H.” Like a true pirate, Brice—a self-proclaimed martini guy from Grand Junction— “stole” Karen from his best friend in the Badlands of South Dakota one summer. The couple began small spirit operations, which included 17 custom cases of “Matrimony Ale” for his brother’s wedding. Karen, a graphic designer, made the funky labels, and together they tossed around the idea of opening a brew pub before life’s other plans began. “Wherever I go, I hope there’s rum!” —Jimmy Buffet April, 2008. Tobacco Caye, Belize. Hoskin family vacation. Daily, from 5 p.m. on at a tiki bar, the couple sat drinking rum, mulling over what was next for them (Brice had begun the very successful Mountain Boy Sled Works, and Karen was a jamming graphic designer.) Looking around at bottles of Marie Sharp’s hot sauces on every table uncorked a theme. Capitalizing on two of Belize’s cash crops, carrots and chilies, Ms. Sharp looked at what was abundant locally and profit began to grow in her kitchen. Next the Hoskins started to stew over what was being shipped into Silverton from far away. The answer was booze (main ingredient: Water). What’s abundant in Silverton? Snow, man. H20. In a book by Nobel Prize-winning Muhammad Yunus, the concept of doing business to “address a social problem is designed to complement capi16  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2010

talism while addressing humanity’s critical issues.” In the instance of Silverton, the critical issue was twofold. First, the environmental impact of shipping adult beverages from thousands of miles away to the ravenously thirsty 500 Silverton residents is significant. Second, the economy of this former mining boomtown had slowly dwindled until the last large mine closed in 1991. Most businesses today open only in the summer to accommodate tourists trained-in from Durango. Year-round jobs are as scarce as bathing suits. “Rum’s genius has always been its keen ability to make something from nothing.” —Wayne Curtis Okay, but wait, rum above 9,000 feet? You know it. Rum has mysterious origins: It’s much more than dreadlocks and Appleton’s. Distilled from the juice of a sugarcane plant, rum was invented maybe in Barbados, or perhaps on the islands of Hispaniola or Cuba, or by chance Portuguese colonists on the coast of Brazil. No one really knows. But what really slipped the Hoskins the mickey was the South American traditions of rum distillation. For example, Ron Zacapa Centenario, a popular premium rum produced in Guatemala, claims that part of its success lies in the fact that the barrels are stored 2,300 meters above sea level in the mountains and volcanoes of Guatemala. Spanish traditions. Altitude. Mountains. Snow. Water. Rum in the mountains with a dash of Spanish. Montanya. With a bigger bar tab than food and lodging combined, the

Hoskins left Belize in the first week of April, and had permits in to start Montanya Distillers by the first week of May. When their artisan copper alembic still (deeply rooted in Moorish Spanish tradition) arrived from Portugal, Montanya felt real to them. The smooth flavor, which they’ve apparently mastered after nabbing silver and gold medals in competitions, including the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the 2009 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition in Miami, is remarkable. So remarkable that it recently was nominated for the “Best Rum in North America” title. Montanya is Colorado rum. It is fermented, distilled, aged, bottled, packaged, and shipped in Silverton. The number-one ingredient—water—comes from high mountains springs in Bear and Boulder Creeks (Silverton averages around 400 inches of snowfall annually). There is a touch of caramelized San Juan mountain honey in the rum, which then ages in whiskey barrels from Stranahan’s in Denver. The sugarcane, imported from Hawaii, travels the most distance, aside, maybe, from some of the employees who have come from across the country. On most days, Washington lawyer-turned-Head-Distiller Kyle Tisdale is hand-picking and hand-crafting the rum at the Montanya world headquarters (formerly the Explorer’s Club) on Blair Street. The number-one by-product of the fermentation process is heat, which is certainly welcome in this shockingly crisp town, and is used to heat the tasting room. One autumn afternoon, leaf peepers from Durango, a couple from Grand Junction and some college students from Durango all wandered into the distillery. Though Montanya was not open for drinks yet, Tisdale still cheerily entertained redundant questions and poured sample shots. Later, just before the bar opened for signature cocktails, Karen came in to start experimenting with next week’s market-fresh drink special. Something with an almond rim. “A maraschino cherry is not supposed to be Day-Glo red,” she says, showing me a picture of a true, dark-plum-colored fruit inside a cocktail recipe book. “What you drink is just as important as what you eat.” From bottle to glass, what happens behind the bar at Montanya is just as obsessively crafted as everything else that went into the whole deal. Sourced from the western slope alone are Palisade peaches, cherries, rhubarb from the yard, pumpkins, apricots, heirloom grapes, basil, mint, Steaming Bean coffee and honey. These ingredients are for the drinks. Artesian, creative, thoughtful, damn-tasty drinks. One Thai Boxer probably packs more nutrition from blueberries than most Americans get in a day, so you can feel better about ordering multiple drinks. The tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday, 4 to 7 p.m. 970.799.3206.

Green River Martini (To infuse one bottle of Montanya Platino, slice 1 cucumber into the rum and allow to infuse for 2 days. For 1/2 a bottle, use 1/2 a cucumber and so on) Ingredients 3 oz Cucumber Platino Infusion 3 mint leaves 1-2 ounces Lavender Simple Syrup (see below) ½ fresh squeezed lime Method Shake vigorously and strain into a martini or champagne glass. Garnish with lime slice and mint leaf on top.

Honey Lavender Simple Syrup (This syrup also makes a delicious addition to hot tea, hot cocoa, fresh lemonade and iced tea. It keeps in the fridge for up to a month.) Ingredients 4 cups water 1½ cups sugar 2 cups dry lavender flowers 2 cups honey (our favorite is Honeyville!) Method In a saucepan, bring to light simmer, stirring often. Remove from heat. Add honey. Pour into a jar and refrigerate (without lid) until cool and ready. (Lavender may stay in the jar infusing for up to 4 days for a stronger lavender flavor) Pour through fine strainer.  17  

Back of the House

Telluride’s Top Chef: Eliza Gavin By Eileen Burns • Photo by Carmel Zucker

At first glance, chef and cookbook author Eliza Gavin’s beguiling bistro, 221 South Oak, appears to have been transported from a Left Bank neighborhood in Paris to its equally quaint location in the heart of downtown Telluride. Warm, earthy tones emanate throughout the 44-seat restaurant. The walls showcase vibrant landscapes brushed by contemporary expressionist Mar-


shall Noice. Crisp white tablecloths and fresh flowers dress each table. A garden patio offers summer guests a sunny location for Sunday brunch or an alternative to indoor dining. The intimate bar features a considerable wine selection, spotlighting wines from around the world, including several from Sutcliffe Vinyards of Cortez, Colorado. Eliza’s culinary influences are woven into a thoughtfully crafted menu that reflects a unique take on New American cuisine. Her culinary combinations draw on traditional flavors, reminiscent of down-home Southern cooking, provincial French fusion, New Orleans hodgepodge, and classic California cuisine. “I cook with seasonal, fresh vegetables and fruits that I buy from several local growers,” says Eliza, “as well as local cheeses and the finest seafood, game, and poultry available in the region.” Her menu features Rocky Mountain elk chops, Colorado striped bass, New-Orleans-style barbequed shrimp, braised Colorado lamb shank, seared rare ahi tuna, filet mignon and duck breast. A fresh-faced mountain woman with an athletic build and an infectious smile, Eliza has a penchant for travel, which has given her an appetite for exotic foods. Her website boasts, “On her 21st birthday she ate a camel burger for lunch, emu paté for tea, and kangaroo steak for dinner.” Raised in Richmond, Virginia, Eliza attended the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, where she received a degree in psychology. “While in school I needed a distraction,” she says, “so I applied to fine-dining restaurants and ended up the kitchen manager. I loved the creativity I was given to come up with new ideas.” Following graduation, Eliza moved to New Orleans, where she honed her cooking skills at Galatoire’s, a 100-year old, familyowned Bourbon Street mainstay that features authentic French Creole cuisine. She also worked at Mr. B’s Bistro, a popular lunch spot in the French Quarter. With a thirst for knowledge, Eliza soon moved on to Napa Valley and the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). After the CIA, she traveled to France and enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, considered by many to be the world’s

premier culinary arts institute. Eliza eventually settled in Telluride, and in 1999 began working at 221 South Oak. October marked her tenth year owning the restaurant. Last August, Eliza won the World Wine Tasting & Telluride Top Chef Competition, which raised funds for Telluride’s One to One San Miguel Mentoring Program for youth. Four local chefs went head-to-head in two grueling 30-minute rounds, using an ingredient that until game time was unknown to them. The first round’s secret ingredient was halibut. Eliza presented the judges with four dishes—her favorite among them the halibut and foie gras ravioli with a corn, mushroom and sweet potato reduction. In the final round, featuring Colorado lamb, she continued to showcase her creativity with four more winning dishes, including a lamb tartare with capers, lemon zest and Serrano ham with a shallot, garlic, blood orange and yuzu reduction. As if traveling, cooking and running a restaurant weren’t enough to keep Eliza busy, she has also authored two cookbooks. In 2006 she published Foreplay, A Book of Appeteasers, with 100 recipes for appetizers, canapés, and finger foods. Her second book, Recipes from 221 South Oak Bistro, was published in 2008.

Spicy Carrot Soup with Ginger The carrots, jalapeño, and ginger work together here to make a fabulous soup. If you really like the spice, add another jalapeño. Feel free to use this to steam open some clams or mussels and finish the dish with a bit of cilantro and chopped scallions. Serves 8 Ingredients 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 yellow onions, chopped 2 leeks, light green and white parts only, washed free of dirt and chopped 1 large red pepper, cored, seeded and chopped 7 carrots, peeled and chopped 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed 1 2-inch knob of ginger, peeled and chopped 1 fresh jalapeño, chopped

Method Heat a wide pot over high heat. Add the olive oil and reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the onion with a pinch of kosher salt. Sauté the onion until it is translucent, about 7 to 9 minutes. Add the leeks, red pepper, carrots, garlic, and jalapeño. Cook the vegetables until they are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the sake or wine to the vegetables. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce by half. Add the chicken stock to the pot and reduce by half. Add the cream to the pot and reduce by a third.

1 quart chicken stock

Working in batches, blend the soup until it is smooth. Reheat the soup in a pot and ladle into 8 warm bowls.

2 cups heavy whipping cream

See more 221 recipes at

2 cups sake or dry white wine  19  


The Complexities of Crafting

Good Beer By Kris Oyler


any of us jump in our cars, start the engines, and head to our destinations. But how many of us, outside of mechanics, understand just how the car works to get us where we’re going? The same can be said for beer. Millions of people worldwide have experienced beer or fermented malt beverages. But how many know the intricacies behind crafting this delicious beverage?

The basic ingredients are simple and date back more than 4,000 years: Sugar, water and some form of yeast. Today’s beers use primarily four main ingredients: Water, malted barley, hops and yeast. Water is the largest single ingredient in beer. The more pure the water source, the better. Many brewers will add minerals to aid in achieving a particular style of beer. Regardless of this, if the water tastes good, it is good to brew with. Barley, from which the carbohydrates are derived, must be malted for use and provides the sweet character in beer. Malting facilities steep the grains in water, allowing for germination to begin in the seed. Before the seed can sprout, the barley is dried and kilned. The process allows for complex chains of carbohydrates to be formed. The degree to which the barley is malted and/or kilned also imparts different flavors in beer. Barley kilned longer and used in the brewhouse will darken the color of beer and impart a wide range of flavors that can range from malty sweet to chocolaty to coffee. Hops are the spice of beer and have been used for over 200 years. Typically grown in cooler, damper and more northerly climates, hops are vinous plants that produce a cone used in the brewing process. The bittering nature of hops balances the malty sweetness of the barley. Their makeup also acts as a natural preservative to beer and aids in head retention. Different varieties of hops will lend different amounts of bitterness, flavor and aroma to beer. The final ingredient is yeast, and this is where the magic happens. Yeast cells are living micro-organisms that, in essence, eat sugars. The byproduct of their hunger is alcohol and carbon dioxide. There are generally two different types of yeast: Ale (top-fermenting) and lager (bottom-fermenting). Ale yeast usually works at higher temperatures during fermentation, and conditioning times are generally shorter to arrive at finished beer. The results lend themselves to more full-bodied flavors, often including fruity esters that strike both the nose and pallet. Lager yeast, conversely, generally works at lower temperatures during fermentation. Lager yeast derives crisper, cleaner flavors than its ale counterpart.  21  

Now that we know the ingredients, let’s move to process. Malted barley is milled slightly to crack the husk or outer shell. The barley, now known as grist, is then “mashed” or added to hot water, usually around 150 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Enzymatic reactions turn the complex carbohydrates into simple sugars for the yeast cells to consume. The liquid is strained to remove as many of the grain solids as possible and transferred to the brew kettle. This liquid, now called wort, is brought to a boil and remains so for 90 minutes. During the boil, hops are added. Hops added early in the boil produce bitterness in the beer. Hops added during the middle of the boil will impart flavor. Hops added at the end of the boil will contribute to aroma. Once the boil is complete, the liquid wort is cooled below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and transferred into a container for fermentation—one where excess gasses can escape while not allowing air or contaminants back into the liquid. Sanitation is critical at this time to keep yeast cells healthy. Yeast is “pitched” into the wort and fermentation begins. Controlling the temperature of the fermentation is important since a great deal of heat is generated from the process. Small-batch home brewers typically use a cool basement or cellar, while larger craft and commercial brewers use 22  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2010

refrigerants to this end. Fermentation can take between one and two weeks depending upon the yeast. Once the yeast has consumed the sugars, they become dormant and drop from the liquid. Beer may be held at cold temperatures to further clarify the beer. For small-batch brewers, this is where the tasting and drinking of beer begins! Larger brewers may choose to filter beer at this point to achieve more clarity and extend shelf life. Carbonation may also be added. Beer is packaged into bottles, cans or kegs. All told, beer is ready to drink anywhere from ten days to six weeks, depending upon the yeast used and the style of beer desired. While beer can vary greatly in flavor, color, texture and aroma, the basic process remains the same. Brewers are highly skilled in their craft and can make small changes to the process that make a world of difference in taste and style of the beer. So now that you know the basics, head to your local brewery and enjoy a craft beer! Kris Oyler is Co-Founder and CTO (Chief Tasting Officer) of the award-winning Steamworks Brewing Co. in Durango, Colorado, which has been crafting beer in the San Juan Mountains since 1996.

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in Historic Downtown Durango


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IN THE KITCHEN (and out on the slopes)

Après ski By Lauren Slaff Après ski: a·près-ski [ah-prey-skee] n. the period of relaxation that follows skiing: menus suitable for après-ski. Origin: 1950–55; < F, equiv. to après (after) + ski (ski, skiing)

The only thing nearly as titillating as the excitement of a day on the slopes is the reward of arriving upon the time-honored ritual that follows: Après ski. Ah, the familiar crackle of a roaring fire in a rustic lodge; the din of conversation while bonding over the day’s accomplishments; the endless hovering in crowded lines while donned in soggy gear and clunky boots; the anticipation of overpriced cocktails in flimsy plastic cups partnered with mediocre, questionable food … uh, hang on a sec … something is seriously wrong with this picture. There must be a more relaxing and deserved way to end a blissful powder day. Fortunately, there is. Bring it home. Whether yours is a slope-side rental or simply your own little place in the woods, après ski is best served at home. Kick off your shoes, put on your dry, cozy duds, and chillax home-style. And the biggest plus? Once you’ve wound down and filled up, there is no dragging your tired butt back out into the cold to gather up your cumbersome equipment for the long slog back to the parking lot for the long drive home. These days so many of us are conscious of both how we spend our money and what we put in our bodies. But honestly, who feels like whipping vittles together when they just want to sink into the sofa and enjoy? Me neither, but with a little strategic insight, it can all come together easily. The key is to take a little time in the kitchen before you are irreversibly exhausted. Maybe it’s a day off from the slopes or while sipping morning coffee, anticipating being whisked off on that first chair or hiking up on your skins. The Snacking Life Step one of this pre-après-ski game plan includes the snack segment of the evening. Who can wait for dinner after hours of bashing the bumps and cruising the groomers? To begin, mix up a double—heck—a triple batch of your favorite homemade cookie 24  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2010

recipe, cover it up, and refrigerate. Have your ice cream scoop handy to readily bake off your own warm gooey version of those giant disks that tempt you at the concession stand (the dough, tightly wrapped and refrigerated, should last at least a week). Freshly popped corn is another easy and satisfying munchie. Forgo the microwave bags and pop organic kernels stovetop, drenching the hot, fluffy kernels with sweet butter and sea salt right in the pot. Cocktail Hour Step two is devoted to libations. Be certain to stock up on your favorite local microbrews and full-bodied reds; whip up a vat of my ski lodge favorite, spicy Bloody Mary mix, to keep in the fridge. My own twist on this classic celebrates the Southwest with the flavors of smokey chilies, tart lime and fragrant cilantro, forgoing vodka for premium silver tequila. Ditto for the hot chocolate (see our Hot Chocolate recipe in this issue) to keep the kids happy. Now, while cookies are baking and popcorn popping, you can dispense at will, spike, garnish generously and slurp away. With the edge deliciously removed, we ease from cocktail hour into dinnertime. My approach is to keep it simple and very comforting. There are a couple of ways to go; both produce minimum mess and maximum satisfaction. Stew into Dinnertime The first requires definite forethought but little labor upon arrival. Before you start your day, get the basic chopping, seasoning and searing completed for your favorite slow-cooked stew, spicy chili or succulent braise (see the recipe for Colorado Braised Beef Short Ribs on the next page). Throw this into the slow cooker or a 225-degree oven to transform while you are off gallivanting. Don’t be shy! This is another opportunity to double it up for prolonged return on your culinary investment. When you arrive home, the

intoxicating aromas will be wafting and a meal simmering. Pair with a simple green salad and crusty bread. Voilà. Another angle is to take simple ingredients and cook them in a way that requires little cleanup. This means skipping the pots and pans. Keep that outdoor grill clear of snow ready to fire up, toss on a simple grass-finished skirt steak, generously seasoned with good sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Rest and slice against the grain, then wrap in soft, warm tortillas or on buttery grilled garlic bread. Scatter a dressed green salad right on top for a cool, crunchy contrast. Comfort food aficionado? Forget the frying pan and take out the iron. Yes, that iron. Just layer up your favorite grilled cheese sandwich, slather it in butter or good olive oil, and wrap it in foil. Now set the iron (even the most minimally equipped rentals seem to have them) to its highest setting and go at it. When you hear it sizzle and it wafts that toasty aroma, it’s time to flip and brown the other side. The result will be ooey-gooey and mess-free. And you can reuse the foil to scorch up another one to pack for lunch the next day. That leads us to the sequel to our après ski extravaganza: Lunch. After such a scrumptious experience the eve before, why spoil it the next day when we’ve got everything we need? If ironed grilled cheese isn’t your thing, those yummy leftovers from our crock-pots or grills just may be. When shopping for the week, procure an extra loaf of ubiquitous crusty baguette. Slice lengthwise and hollow the soft, pillowy center (you have permission to consume the doughy remnants as you go, therefore eliminating waste and fueling up on essential carbs) and stuff with flavorful, saucy stew or grilled delights. Though the bread will absorb the juices, don’t overstuff because you want the crust to completely envelop the filling, which will avoid puddles forming in your pocket or backpack while keeping the contents warm and yummy. And so one day cycles into the next. The snow continues to blanket our little corner of the Rockies; we continue to embrace our inner Warren Millers and Sean Whites; and we nourish our bodies and souls with the bounty we ourselves create. So c’mon, pour me another Bloody and let’s toast to the glistening slopes of the San Juans and the celebrations we share both indoors and out.

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Visit to see our Restaurant and Catering menus  25  

Colorado Braised Beef Short Ribs Ingredients 2 bottles Sutcliffe Vineyards 2008 Field Blend wine 2 tablespoons olive oil 8 grass-finished James Ranch beef short ribs Salt and fresh ground pepper 2 onions, peeled and diced (large) 2 carrots, peeled and diced (large) 2 stalks celery, diced (large) 1 leek, white part, cleaned and diced (large) 12 garlic cloves 3 sprigs fresh thyme 3 sprigs fresh rosemary 1 teaspoon black peppercorns 2 quarts chicken stock

When you are ready to serve, carefully set aside short ribs (they will be so super-tender they can fall apart) and strain to remove both fat and solids. Reserve veggies for serving if you like. Return to heat and reduce liquid to a nice thickened sauce consistency, add beef short ribs and heat gently.

Method Preheat oven to 225°.*

Transfer directly to warmed serving bowls with plenty of sauce for dunking!

Pour wine into a large saucepan, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until reduced by half.

*Note: This cooking temperature and time are specifically geared toward all-day cooking. If you prefer, you can raise the temperature to 350° and reduce cooking time to 2½ to 3 hours.

Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottom sauté or roasting pan. Season


short ribs generously with salt and pepper. Brown well on all sides, remove and set aside. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of oil. Add vegetables, garlic, herbs and peppercorns and cook until browned around the edges. Return the short ribs to the pan, add the reduced wine and cover with chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 4½ to 5 hours or until tender*. Remove from heat and cool.

Memoirs of a Winter Gardener By Kris Holstrom

When winter activities frost our noses, there’s nothing like coming inside to feast on the preserved bounty of summer. Here on Tomten Farm (on Hastings Mesa above Placerville) our best aprèsadventure (from skiing to snow angels) potluck dinners center on tastes of summers past. They started with a quick tromp to the root cellar, where the abundance of summer is laid before me once again. Choices have to be made—tomato based? I pull jars of red luscious tomatoes grown by White Buffalo Farm off the shelf. The hours of peeling, packing, and sealing are now paying off. I grab some dried mushrooms and take a moment to remember forays, shared adventures—the orange carpets of chanterelles and solid, stalwart boletes, cut, dried and now enjoyed. Perhaps I’ll pick out a few stored onions and potatoes for the hearty fare. If you’re doing the choosing, maybe you’ll have some treats from your winter CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery. It is heartening to have not one, but several farms/orchards in our area that will deliver through the winter (or nearly so)— White Buffalo Farm, Buckhorn Gardens, and Circle A to name a few in the northern San Juans (see more from around the region listed at the bottom). As I split wood and fill the stove, those folks pull together a box of goodies for delivery. Those boxes will contain winter vegetables, hardy greens, occasional meat from the freezer and maybe some fresh eggs from lower elevations. The joys of the CSA box—a gift every week—and not just for the holidays! We’ve been producing greens through the winter for many years at Tomten Farm. Our original greenhouse is long and low, tucked into the Gambel oaks that tough out our long winters. One time, years back when my daughter was 6 or 7 years old, she accompanied me to the greenhouse. Once it’s planted, the chores consist of watering and checking for pests, but mostly harvesting. It was a sunny day when we cruised into our covered space. Before long we’d stripped down to a thin layer—then practically nothing as the sun’s rays warmed the air, the soil, and us. We harvested to happy tunes when we heard a change in the weather. Sun gave way to clouds, the wind picked up and the rattling stttsss of snow on the plastic glazing drowned out the radio. But it was still warm inside, nearly tropical, with snow coming down hard outside—a delightful confusion on a winter day. I contrast that with a bitterly cold day not long ago. It was

harvest day again, but we’d had big winds and lots of snow the day before. The first task was access—snow boots on—but it was way deeper than that, so I slogged my way through thigh-deep snow toward the greenhouse. The drift right in front of the door was massive and took several tries to break through. Harvesting was okay, cold though even in the protected environment of the greenhouse, my fingers frequently seeking warm spaces to hide. (It’s nearly impossible to harvest greens with gloves on!) Eventually the five-gallon bucket was full of goodness: Our winter greens mix of hardy lettuces, Asian greens and a few slightly secret ingredients, ready to take to the house for a quick wash, spin and packaging. As I geared up to bash through the re-forming drift I slipped and fell. My hands instantly froze, but worse, a layer of precious greens was strewn on the snow. I picked up what I could before losing all feeling in my fingers and hoped the now-frozen salad greens splayed across the drift would appease the snow gods. Today is different, cold and gray, one might even say bleak. Though Tomten isn’t large enough for a full-scale CSA, we do have a core group of folks that get greens delivered in the winter. Our greens are not your average “spring mix.” They shine with at least a dozen shades of green. Then there’s the deep purple of the mustards, and glowing red, gold, and chartreuse in the chard veins, more purple and green with mizuna, and edible flowers to top it off. We use a cellulose bag (so it can be composted), and the colors shout through. I was making my last delivery at the courthouse and had four of these jewels in hand. A stranger stopped me on the street with an eager question, “Where did you GET those?!” It was wonderful to clue him in, to let him know that even here, in the high San Juans, in the dead of winter, the edibles grow. Other winter CSAs: Paradox Valley CSA, HIgh Wire Ranch, High Desert Foods. Web resources:, naturallygrown. org,, and Kris Holstrom owns Tomten Farm, a high-altitude, off-grid organic farm at 9000’ near Telluride. She is the regional sustainability coordinator for San Miguel County and through SWIRL—the Southwest Institute for Relocalization umbrellas local community gardens and the Telluride Farmers’ Market.  27  

The Gauntlet of Gluten By Anna Riling

Reactions run the gamut when I tell people I’m gluten-intolerant. Not long ago a friend introduced me to a woman who runs the local gluten intolerance support group. Within minutes, this stranger and I were sharing stories of epic flatulence like “rock bottom” stories at an AA meeting. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum. A while back, I was at a Durango watering hole talking to the sous chef of a prominent Main Street restaurant. When I mentioned that I had issues with gluten, his bearing turned as frosty as my non-grain-based vodka and soda. “Oh, please. Everyone is gluten intolerant nowadays,” he said 28  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2010

with barely veiled rage. Keeping my cool, I told him that I couldn’t speak for everyone, but give me a sandwich and I could clear a room. What is it about the gluten issue that elicits such passion? To be fair, I can see this chef’s point of view. Maybe he sees the gluten issue as just another food fad, à la Atkins. Those of us who know that pasta spells disaster know that this is no fad. Here’s a cold, hard fact: When someone with celiac disease ingests gluten, the microvilli of the small intestine are damaged. As a result, the body cannot effectively absorb nutrients, which leads to malnourishment.

The selfsame stranger with whom I shared tales of gastrointestinal gore does more than run a 12-step program for odiferous unfortunates. Jess Kelley, MNT, runs Durango Nutrition, a nutritional consulting company. She tells the story of her mother’s reaction: “When I told her I was gluten-free, she said, ‘Oh vegetarian, gluten-free—it’s always something with you.’” Kristen Lum, a Durango-based naturopathic doctor, says that for every ten clients she tests for food allergies, seven have a gluten sensitivity. “Just a decade ago gluten intolerance and celiac disease was uncommon,” says Lum. She points to a recent University of Maryland study that found that 1 in 133 Americans has celiac disease. A recent Mayo Clinic study found that celiac disease is four times more common than it was 50 years ago, due to genetic modification and the use of chemicals in food production. According to Lum, the wheat gene has been genetically modified to contain 60 percent more gluten than it did a century ago, ostensibly to give freakish longevity to the chewy texture of a Chips Ahoy cookie. Even people who are not genetically predisposed to have celiac disease can fall prey to the overmarketing of wheat based products, according to some studies. “We are inundated with gluten all the time,” says Kelley. “It’s overconsumption that’s becoming the problem.” Basically, if you don’t have symptoms now, you can get it later. Which leads me to, well, me. I am not a celiac. I have what you’d call a gluten sensitivity. It started, as most epics do, with a love story. Actually, the end of a love story. I called off my wedding to a man I had known since I had to use a fake ID to buy beer. I replaced sleep and food with Ambien and exercise. What I did manage to cram down consisted of low-maintenance wheat products: cereal, bread, pasta. After a while, I began to have severe abdominal pain coupled with extreme bloating (read: basketball). I decided to do an experiment and cut out wheat from my diet. Once I added it back in, the carefree days of doing, well, anything else besides lying on my bed moaning in pain were gone. I’d never had a problem eating wheat before. My staggering consumption of Thanksgiving stuffing was legendary. This was both confusing and daunting at the same time. I took the new diet wrinkle on as a challenge. This resulted in quite possibly some of the most horrid dishes ever to disgrace my kitchen table. Like when I substituted soy for wheat flour for sugar cookies, for which even the dog had a hard time mustering up enthusiasm. Or the time I desecrated one of my (now) husband’s favorite dishes with a gluten-free calzone bearing a striking resemblance in taste and texture to plaster of Paris. In my darkest days, I felt a hopeless longing to be “normal.” I remember the puzzled disappointment on my brother’s face when

he took me to the best Italian restaurant in Las Vegas and I said I’d just have a salad. Or the self-pitying frustration I’d felt when I went to a friend’s house for dinner who served delicious-looking flour enchiladas. Kelley points out that eating as a social activity has been so woven into our culture as to become canon—the literal act of breaking bread. “The key is not to be afraid of food,” says Kelley. She points out that because celiacs can’t eat many processed foods, they have to focus on whole foods. “You’re not deprived, you’re blessed.” I kept trying, and eventually, I began to succeed. I redeemed myself for the calzone incident with a gluten-free zucchini bread that my husband declared better than his mother’s. I learned that non-gluten flours had to be substituted in certain proportions so your sugar cookie doesn’t taste like a shot of wheatgrass. I’ve only recently put two and two together: I started with a broken heart and ended up with a broken gut. The stress of roiling emotions coupled with a lazy diet pushed my body over the edge. Last Mother’s Day I held a brunch at my house, where I announced an irrepressible craving for crepes. Stifling a quiet sense of dread, I closed my eyes and wolfed down a whole wheat crepe the size of a paper plate. Then I sat back and waited for the inevitable outcome—the basketball—but it never came. Unbeknownst to me, by limiting my gluten intake, I had been taking part in what nutritionists call a rotation diet. For a nonceliac with gluten sensitivity, this means only having wheat every four days. In this way, it is possible to “outgrow” being gluten intolerant. “It depends on the person,” says Lum, “But if you remove the stressors, the body can heal itself.” I am able now to eat a little bread at dinner or give in to a crepe craving with nary an intestinal hiccup. Intrinsically, my body knows that afterwards, it needs time to catch its breath. Giving hope to bread addicts like me, Kelley says, “It doesn’t have to be a forever thing.” Since discovering my body’s aversion to gluten, I’ve wasted a lot of garbanzo bean flour and enough natural gas to heat a small country. My loved ones, canine and otherwise, were cruelly subjected to my stove-top tinkerings (sometimes literally). And yes, I do miss Thanksgiving stuffing. However, if not for the impetus of necessity, I would never have created a gluten-free raw apple pie, which can make converts of grandmothers. I wouldn’t have had an excuse to swell my already obese collection of cookbooks with volumes of gluten-free versions. Most importantly, I restored a lost connection with food. To paraphrase a really smart old Greek guy, I let food be my medicine.

Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread

Not Your Gr andma’s­—R aw—Apple Pie

Ingredients ½ cup butter or vegetable oil 1 cup sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour 1 cup garbanzo and fava bean flour (mixed) 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon xantham gum powder 2 teaspoons cinnamon ¼ cup ground flax seed 1 cup zucchini, shredded ¾ cup chopped walnuts Extra sugar

Ingredients Crust: 2 cups almonds, dry 1 teaspoon sea salt 2 cups pitted dates

Method Preheat oven to 375°.

Syrup: ½ cup pitted dates 1 orange, peeled and seeded Water, as needed Filling: 5 cups apples, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced (about 6 apples) 1 cup raisins 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon nutmeg ½ teaspoon cloves

In a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, salt, xantham gum and cinnamon. Stir in flax.

Method To make crust, pulse almonds and salt in food processor until nuts are in small pieces, but don’t over-process. Use some of the finer almond powder to “flour” the bottom of a pie pan. Add the dates a few at a time to the processor until well mixed with almonds. Press almond-date dough into the bottom and sides of the pie pan.

Add dry ingredients to batter and mix thoroughly. Fold in zucchini and walnuts.

To make the syrup, place the orange in a blender and blend to a pulp. Add dates and small amounts of water as needed until well mixed.

Pour into a greased bread pan and sprinkle the top with sugar.

For filling, place sliced apples and raisins in a bowl. Toss with spices and orange-date syrup. Spoon the filling into the pie crust.

Bake for one hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. For muffins, bake for 25 minutes.

Serve to skeptical family at Thanksgiving and watch their faces light up when they try it.

In a large bowl, cream butter or oil and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.


A Guide to Winter Community Events Chocolate Fantasia’s Twenty-Fifth Anniversary: Wild, Wild West Chocolate Date: Friday, February 18th, 2011 Time: 5:30–8:00 p.m. Location: La Plata County Fairgrounds Details: This event is sponsored by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and First National Bank, and local restaurants and caterers. Proceeds will benefit Volunteers of America, Southwest Safehouse and the Community Shelter. Ticket Prices: Adults, $18; Students with valid I.D., $15; Children under 10, $10. Contact: Volunteers of America at 970.259.1021 for details. Dave Spencer Ski Classic Date: February 25–28th, 2011 Time: Fabulous events occurring throughout the weekend—check website for details. Location: Durango Mountain Resort Details: A fun ski race in costumes. This event is a fundraiser for the Adaptive Sports Association. They’ll be serving up local food, wine and beer, including lunch by Zia Taqueria. Events will end with an awards party at Mutu’s Italian Kitchen. Local brews and beverages will be provided by Southwestern Beverage Company, local microbreweries and Coca-Cola. Contact: Participants please contact or visit their website: Call Karen Effer at 970.259.0374 for further details. Turtle Lake Refuge’s Local Wild Life Lunches Date: Tuesdays and Fridays, ongoing Time: 11:11 a.m.–2:22 p.m. Location: Turtle Lake Refuge, 848 E. Third Ave., Durango, CO Details: Proceeds from Local Wild Life Lunches benefit Turtle Lake Refuge. Enjoy a locally grown, organic wild harvested living foods lunch. Suggested donation is $10-$15 and includes a drink, soup and salad, an entrée and dessert! Contact: Call 970.247.8395 or visit their website for details, directions and a calendar of events: www.

Sk a Brewing Winter Events Official Release Date for Ska’s 15th Snowdown Brew, One-Eyed Monster Black IPA. Date: January 1, 2011 Location: One-Eyed Monster Black IPA will be available throughout January and during our Snowdown festivities, wherever Ska beers are sold. Or come down to Ska World Headquarters at 225 Girard Street in Durango and taste a freshie straight from the tap. Details: Lip Up, Fatty! 10% of all sales will be donated to Snowdown. Contact: Dave Thibodeau at 970.247.5792, extension 12, or visit the Ska website at Release Date for DIFF, the Official Beer of the Durango Independent Film Festival Date: April 1, 2011 Time: DIFF will be available for a month preceding the film festival.

Location: You can find DIFF wherever Ska beers are sold, or on tap at Ska World Headquarters, 225 Girard St., Durango, CO. Details: 10% of all DIFF sales will be donated to the Durango Independent Film Festival. Contact: Dave Thibodeau for details at 970.247.5792, extension 12, or visit the Ska site at

physical illness of any kind. This workshop will be facilitated by Blair Wiles M.A, L.P.C., and Kristen Lum N.D., L.A.c, Contact: For more information call Blair Wiles at 970.247.9228 or Kristen Lum at 970.382.9100 or visit

Soup for the Soul—Durango Date: Thursday, March 17, 2011 Time: 5:30–8:00 p.m. Location: La Plata County Fairgrounds Details: Benefits Mercy Home Health/Hospice. Tickets are $35. Enjoy local beers and wines, appetizers, all-you-can-eat soups and desserts donated by local restaurants, breweries and vineyards. Contact: Mercy Home Health and Hospice at 970.382.2000.

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Twelfth Annual Taste of the Seasons Date: Thursday, December 2, 2010 Time: 5:00–9:00 p.m. Location: Four Seasons Greenhouse and Nursery, 26650 Rd. P, Dolores, CO Details: This fabulous wine and food tasting kicks off the holiday season with a bang. Local restaurants and chefs feature their hottest new dishes. Sample a variety of local cuisine from 30–40 local restaurants. Great silent auction for your holiday shopping. Hosted and sponsored by Four Seasons Greenhouse and Nursery and West Slope Liquors of Cortez. West Slope Liquors generously provides local and imported wines for the tasting. Proceeds benefit United Way, which supports many nonprofits in Montezuma and Dolores counties, including the American Red Cross—Southwest Colorado Chapter, Pinon Project, Incredible Years Parenting Program, Tree House Learning Center, Renew, Crisis Intervention Support Services, Preventative Therapy to Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault, San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging, Dolores County Nutrition Program, Montezuma County Nutrition Program, Southwest Open School (SWOS), School Based Health Center, Volunteers of America and Southwest Safehouse. Tickets cost $25.00 and include unlimited food and wine tasting. Contact: Tickets are available in advance by calling Four Seasons Greenhouse & Nursery at 970.565.8274. For more information, visit and

        

 

 

Physical Healing: Using Energy Medicine to Heal the Physical Body from the Inside Out Date: Jan 22–23, 2011 Cost: $385.00 Location: Durango, CO Details: This 2-day weekend workshop will be an emersion experience, combining the synergistic modalities of EFT, Energy Psychology, Nutritional Therapy, Naturopathic and Chinese medicine. Participants will identify and release limiting beliefs about illness and healing, learn how to use food as medicine, receive acupuncture and discover how this ancient practice can unblock qi or energy flow in the body for optimal vitality and health. This workshop is open to those with  31  



Animas River Frontage

· · · ·

1440 SF Barn with Finished Upper Level 10 Acres · 14 Shares of Citizens Animas Irrigation Pasture Currently Planted With Smooth Broam Utilities To Barn & To Future Building Site

· · · ·

Majestic Custom Home 3 Bedrooms, 3 Baths, 4055 SF, 6.51 Acres Soaring Cathedral Ceiling In Great Room Stained Concrete Floors Throughout 15x60 Loafing Shed · 18 Big Gun Sprinklers

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· · · ·

3 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths, 2905 SF Model Unit With Upper End Finishes Borders Hillcrest Golf Course Green-Built, High-Efficiency Home

219 Tierra Vista MLS# 631293 · $429,900

Don Ricedorff 970-375-7014

Profile for Edible Southwest Colorado

Edible San Juan Mountains Winter 2010  

Telling the story of local food throughout Southwest Colorado and The Four Corners.

Edible San Juan Mountains Winter 2010  

Telling the story of local food throughout Southwest Colorado and The Four Corners.