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san juan mountains

Traversing the San Juans to bring you the story of local food, season by season.

No. 7 Winter 2011/12


Member of Edible Communities

Southwest Colorado

sitting next to the person who grew your lunch.


Fabulous Coffee Shop Tour


Hw y


lion Dollar Highwa l i M y he

At The Farm lunch bistro, you’re likely to be


Hwy 550



Homegrown and homemade food for eat-in or take-out, community farm stand, books and locally made products. Lunch mon-sat 11-3, farm stand open until 5:30 34 West Main in Cortez • 970 565 3834

Hwy 1


Photo of mama chicken at the owners’ Seven Meadows Farm, by Deste Relyea


Durango wine





Spruce Tree Coffeehouse

318 E. Main St Cortez, CO 81321 970.565.6789



baked goods


Avalanche Brewing Co. 1067 Notorious Blair St. Silverton, CO 81433 970.317.0321



Steaming Bean Coffee

Steaming Bean Coffee

221 W. Colorado Ave Telluride, CO 81435 800.230.2326

The Steaming Bean Telluride


915 Main Ave Durango, CO 81301 970.385.7901


Cimarron Books & Coffee House

Absolute Bakery and Cafe

380 W. Sherman Ridgway, CO 81432 970.626.5858

110 S. Main St Mancos, CO 81328 970.533.1200

Births at

Mercy Regional Medical Center

A ll pain relief options ~ including epidural. Offering waterbirths, prenatal care, breastfeeding support, yearly checkups & paps, birth control

Durango #1 Mercado St, St 145 Aztec 604 S. Rio Grande Ave 970-247-5543 Toll Free 877-371-2011

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Our Request for The Best


With Love, From Telluride

By D. Dion


Braise The Roof

By Lauren Slaff


Edibles for the Epidermis

By Jess Kelley


Austin Lashley: Interview


EE-I-EE-I-YUM! – The Farm Bistro

By Lauren Slaff


The Dark Winter


By Kris Oyler

The Gastronomy of Giving By Jess Kelley


Lynn Tilyou - Localizing The Peaks By Emily Brendler Shoff


The Art, Love and Chemistry of Fermentation By Rachel Turiel


Michael Williams, a general maintenance worker at Ska, finds himself a little compromised – jammed between the old and the new as the crew prepares a system for a fresh batch of winter brew




have a cleaning lady. Yes, I admit it. We have used her for years. Once a month she cleans our house. She has become a friend. We care about her like a family member. I have loaned her money which she always pays back. I have loaned her my car and would again. In turn, although she has little in the way of things, she would do anything for us. I know this. Aracely lives with real fear every day that she will be deported (she is somewhat obsessed by the possibility despite having lived in the States for decades). Her son already was. Ask about him and she silently wells up and looks away. It feels like a palpable mourning. He lives in Juarez now. She prays while she works. I am never sure she has enough money to get to next week. Her Pontiac has two hubcaps, one in back, one in front, and a deep gash across the entire back seat that makes me wonder just how it got there. The white paint is burnt a crusty yellowish-brown from the engine overheating. A crucifix dangles on a red string from the rear-view mirror. Maybe I don’t have to say it, but Aracely doesn’t source her food locally. We pooh-pooh the big-box-discount anything, the national chain restaurant, the processed chicken nuggets. Meanwhile, a gigantic portion of the population (not just immigrant) has never had the luxury to even consider the question. Yes, the luxury. There, I said it. I am not saying that locally-sourced food is still too expensive. I don’t believe that is the issue. I am also not necessarily saying that it is still too inaccessible, although that might play into the theory. What I am saying is that the whole idea of eating locally is an idea that falls far down on the list of priorities (if it exists at all) for a person who isn’t even sure where the next dollar is coming from or if the family is fed or if the car is going to start. To say that this notion of mine has nagged at me would be an understatement. But this issue of Edible San Juan Mountains has given me hope. My perspective has shifted ever so slightly, but shifted nonetheless. Durango has a soup kitchen run by a chef who, I think it is safe to say, had a past that didn’t afford him the luxury to think about anything much other than survival. I won’t spoil the story, but Warren Smith is a biker (motor, not pedal). He was a substance abuser. He served time. Now he is serving locally-sourced food – good fresh and healthy food – to his customers, for free (thanks to a battalion of volunteers and generous farmers across the region, including James Ranch and Food for All Farm in Mancos). And people, this is a soup kitchen. Food doesn’t get any more accessible than that.

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Then two former professional snowboarders-turned-farmers in Cortez expand their once-tiny farm-to-table restaurant. There they serve locally-sourced meals that will cost you less than a sack of snacks from the convenience store. How Rusty and Laurie Hall do it, I and the writer of this issue’s profile haven’t a clue. But they do it. To say the food is good would be doing it a disservice. And the place is busy – really busy with all kinds of people – including the writer, who I sense has booked reservations into the next millennium. I don’t know about you, but I am painfully aware of my lot in life. When it comes to quality of life, I won the lottery due to nothing but the luck of the cosmic draw. I was born in the richest country in the world. I had and have loving parents. And despite a mediocre performance in high school, I went on to college (where, again, I was mediocre at best). I have lived my life with a safety net that had little to do with money and everything to do with the cards I was dealt. I have had the time and luxury to think about seemingly simple things like, what do I want to do with my life? Who do I want to be? Where do I want to go? And, of course, what and how do I want to eat? But access to healthy food shouldn’t be a luxury. Two farmers in Cortez believe that. A biker in Durango does too. Not to mention Lynne Killey in Durango, who will teach you how to improve the health of your skin with half & half and cocoa powder (page 10). Having access to fresh, healthy (and local) food shouldn’t require one to subscribe to a lifestyle. It shouldn’t require additional resources, thought, and special trips. It should just be. Let’s hope for that. (One more thought. It’s about volunteering. I never have been much of a volunteer. Sure, I will donate money, help you jump your car, hold the door open for you, give you my seat, but I don’t often volunteer my time. A shift at Manna Soup Kitchen exposed a hard truth to me: besides food, what Manna needs is a person’s time. Consider this, during this holiday season and beyond. Give some time to something you care about. It is the most valuable asset we possess. I will be.)

Rick Scibelli, Jr., Editor&Publisher


san juan mountains PUBLISHER Rick Scibelli, Jr.


COPY EDITOR Chris Brussat

WRITERS Lauren Slaff Rachel Turiel Emily Brendler Shoff D. Dion Kris Oyler




ON THE COVER: Robert Wasserman is known as “Villain” in his motorcycle club “Survivors, Clean and Sober.” Normally, a nickname like Villain might be cause for some concern. But not only is Wasserman clean – and sober – he and his fellow bikers are active volunteers. In fact, they were the crew in charge when Manna Soup Kitchen recently served its inaugural Wednesday night dinner, which kicked off dinners now served every Wednesday night. Along with the Survivors, Manna has a group Warren Smith, the uforgettable kitchen manager, calls “The Grandmas” (pretty self explanatory). Manna also has “The Lovelys,” (again, Warren) a group of young Durango moms who keep the lunches coming during a regular monthly shift. Read about this special place, and these special people, on page 18.

ACCOUNT MANAGERS Durango, Cortez and Pagosa Tamlin Klutinis 970-769-1781 Telluride/Montrose/Ridgway/Ouray Laura Thomas 970-946-7475

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 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. © 2011. 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.


Edible San Juan Mountains Magazine



300 South Camino Del Rio Durango . Colorado Inside Nature's Oasis 970.403.1517

he staff at Edible San Juan Mountains Magazine is thrilled to announce the categories for this year’s regional “Best Of ” Awards. This is a voter-driven competition, offering you, the lover of local food, drink, and what lies between, the chance to sing the praises of the venues you frequent to find said comestibles. Here’s how it works: vote for your favorite establishment and dish/beverage (if applicable) for one or more of the categories. For example: Betty Lou’s Diner: Pecan Pie. Establishments must be within our distribution area: Durango, Bayfield, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, Mancos, Rico, Dolores, Telluride, Ridgway and Ouray, and must be locally-owned. Businesses are allowed to vote for themselves. All votes must be made on our Facebook page (, and must be posted by March 1, 2012. Winners will be announced in the spring issue, and on our Facebook page and blog. The first place winners for each category will receive a framed, wall-mountable award, and the bragging rights that go along with it. So business owners, spread the word, and voters, get to thinking about what venues, dishes, and beverage makers deserve the title of “Best Of.”

drum roll please ... here are your categories:

Home of the Pink Box Visit us on Facebook for more details.

[Best Coffee] [Best Burger] [Best Gluten Free] [Best Brewery] [Best Baked Goods] [Best Cocktail] [Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant] [Best Chef]


1485 Florida Road C-201 1140-A Main Avenue Durango, CO 81301 4  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2011/12

[Best Food Cart] [Best Dessert] [Best Après Ski Appetizer]




Can you see?

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Local Awareness


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connected, and savvy consumers.

edible readers are concerned, connected, and savvy. Our targeted distribution reaches these highly motivated consumers.

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Reach both local and tourist communiteies. edible san juan is mission driven. Awareness of environmental concerns is the new mainstream. edible

Awareness of environmental concerns is the new mainstream Awareness of environmental concerns is the new mainstream reach both local and tourist communities. Targeted distribution reaches a highly motivated consumer. e readers are concerned, connected, savvy, edible readers

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Chocolate chef Colleen Carey, left, and her holiday helper (and 221 Bistro pastry chef), Carly Kunselman.


here’s no such thing as “bad” chocolate. But if you want good chocolate – really, really good chocolate – then it has to be fresh. When it comes to confections, the opposite of fresh isn’t stale, it’s preserved. Almost all of the chocolate we eat is preserved with chemical additives or coated with wax to make it last longer on the shelves. That’s what makes fresh chocolate like Telluride Truffles so unique – it has no preservatives. “I don’t use preservatives or waxes, which coat the tongue and the palate so you can’t pick up the flavors,” says Patty Denny, owner and head chef at Telluride Truffles. “Our truffles have a short shelf life.” Not that her truffles spend much time on a shelf. They are bought and eaten just as quickly as she can make them. But for long-distance orders, Denny ships by FedEx two-day air with ice packs to make sure they arrive fresh. With the holiday season coming, her workshop at Lawson Hill is buzzing with activity as two of her young, female chefs measure, pour, heat and cool the ingredients, making 35,000 truffles. Denny and her staff use the finest ingredients such as organic cream and designer flavors such as hazelnut, banana and mint from Savory Spice. They finish the ganache truffle filling with special liqueurs: bittersweet chocolate with Cabernet Sauvignon; dark and milk chocolate with Gran Marnier, Chambord or Jack Daniel’s; white chocolate with Amaretto; dark and white chocolate with Myers’s Rum; milk chocolate with Kahlúa. Denny got her start in confections as assistant pastry chef at The Peaks in Telluride, but struck out on her own in 1997. She says that every time she brought her homemade truffles to potluck parties, people would rave, until finally, she rented her own commercial kitchen and started her career as a chocolatier. The Telluride Truffles studio is a miniature chocolate factory, but there is no troupe of green-haired Oompa Loompas dancing. Instead, two of Denny’s chefs are practicing a painstaking pas de deux around the modest

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workspace as they carefully temper the chocolate, then mold, fill and cap each truffle. Tempering the chocolate is the secret to making it look and taste great, says Denny. Tempering is a meticulous process of heating and cooling to exact temperatures so that the cocoa butter hardens in a uniform crystal structure, giving fine chocolate its glossy shine and smooth, crisp texture. Even the temperature of the workshop itself is regulated with an air conditioner to counter the heat of the kitchen. Some of the chocolate is tempered by hand but some is run through a gleaming steel machine where one of the chefs holds a triangle mold underneath the river of chocolate streaming out the machine’s spout and then lays it on top of a vigorously shaking panel to help the air bubbles escape. A single batch takes hours to make. Denny truly appreciates her staff and cultivates a happy working environment. She jokes that everyone she hires signs a “no drama” clause. She considers all her employees to be business partners and smart, inspired people. New flavors are created by all the chefs and chosen democratically. If someone doesn’t like it, it doesn’t get sold. “Everyone has to be behind it,” says Denny. “It’s that ring-my-bell thing. We have a small shop, so everything has to be amazing, or there’s not room for it.” To make everything amazing, she concocts her truffles with the finest and most complementary flavors. But the most important of all the ingredients, she believes, is the love that goes into them. Denny’s friend, a French chef, told her that the difference between superb food and okay food is love. “I went back to New York and visited all the high-end chocolate shops to taste their products. I was surprised to find that our truffles held up … and I wonder if that’s part of it. I really do believe it’s the feeling you have in your heart when you make the food.”



BRAISE THE (WINTER) ROOF the simple art of saving a tough cut BY LAUREN SLAFF


fter a day in the snow, nothing beats lingering in a hot bath allowing tight muscles to relax. Not you, silly! I’m talking about the gentle art of braising. Like the summer tradition of barbecuing “low and slow,” braising takes budget-friendly yet tough cuts of meat (think lamb shank, chicken thighs, pork shoulder, elk…well, anything elk beside the tenderloin) and through a slow steamy simmer, renders them fall-off-the-bone tender. And if done right, the braising technique creates robust layers of f lavor in both the meat and the braising liquid, perfect for dunking a slice of crusty bread procured from one of the San Juan’s beloved artisan bakeries.

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Braising is also the perfect opportunity to bust out those aromatic, harvest goodies you saved for winter, like canned tomatoes or root cellar favorites including potatoes, hearty winter squashes, garlic, onions and sweet carrots. It’s always a good idea to take the protein you are preparing out of the fridge 20 minutes or so before cooking to bring it to room temperature. And if you learn nothing else from this passage, always begin by seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Next, get your big ol’ pot blazing over a mediumhigh f lame before you begin the most important step in developing f lavor in your braise: the sear. I prefer a wide, heavy stockpot over an electric slow cooker so I can sear stovetop

and subsequently simmer without having to transfer and, heaven forbid, wash an extra pot. When your cooking vessel is hot, add your fat (oil, butter, or if you are a real hedonist and taking Lipitor, lard) and sear away. Each side should be patiently browned, forming a tasty crust while leaving behind what is called “fond.” Maybe they called it that because we are so fond of the f lavor packed into that brown stuff stuck to bottom of the pot. Remove the meat and toss in those aromatic and starchy veggies we talked about, letting them soak up remnants and release their own juices. Return the meat to the pot to “de-

glaze” all that fond with some McElmo Canyon wine, your favorite Four Corners microbrew, or stock. Add just enough liquid to partially submerge the ingredients, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer for its long soothing soak ahead. Coming in from the cold, you’ll be welcomed by the wafting scent of hours of simmering transformation where tough fibers have given way to tender morsels of comfort. Heap into bowls, and douse with plenty of the rich, fragrant nectar it has been bathing in. Pour yourselves a glass of that locally crafted wine or beer, tear off a hunk of that bread and have at it.

LAUREN’S ORANGE-TOMATO SPICED CHICKEN Serves 4 INGREDIENTS 4 chicken thighs 4 chicken legs 1 ounce canola oil Salt and pepper, to taste 2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced 1 cup orange juice 1 tablespoon orange zest 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon tomato paste 1 cup canned tomatoes, diced 1 ½ cups chicken stock 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon cumin seeds 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon paprika ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup chickpeas, cooked 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

METHOD Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. In a heavy bottomed stockpot over medium/high heat, sear chicken in canola oil on both sides until golden brown and remove. Pour off excess fat from pan and add onions. Sauté over medium heat until caramelized and rich brown. Add tomato paste and cook 1-2 minutes until it turns from red to brown. Stir in cumin, cumin seeds, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne and orange zest. Quickly cook until fragrant and dry. Add juices, simmering until liquid is reduced in half. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and stock. Return chicken to pot, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through and tender (at least 1 hour). Remove chicken and lid. Raise heat and bring to boil, reducing sauce until it achieves a thick consistency. Stir in extra virgin olive oil and season to taste. Divide chicken and sauce into four bowls.

¼ teaspoon cinnamon ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Garnish with parsley and toasted almonds. Serve with couscous, bread and a green salad.




(it’s hungry too) BY JESS KELLEY


ere at Edible San Juan Mountains, we focus mainly on gut gastronomy. But we’ve been missing a mouth. The skin consists of millions of two-way membranes that absorb anywhere from 60-100% of what’s applied to them. How else could a nicotine or estrogen patch work? The skin eats, therefore it deserves to be fed, and fed well. Especially at altitude. At or above 5,000 feet, the San Juan air is dry, the sun is close, and the skin can take a beating. (We’ve seen the weathered few wandering ski area parking lots. Happy, sure, but plastered in fathomless wrinkles). In my private nutrition therapy practice, I stress that labels on skin care products must be given the same attention as labels on packaged foods. Products applied to the skin can be just as – if not more – laden with preservatives, toxins, and artificial ingredients as certain “foods.” A coat of grocery-store-aisle sunscreen or petroleum-based lotion is the skin cuisine equivalent of fast food. Pay attention. Winter, especially, is when the skin is hungriest. The climate change creates more skin that needs to be sloughed off, like a snake’s, and if it’s not shed, topical applications of even the finest quality skin food is going onto dead skin. So how then to best serve your skin the same culinary delights the stomach gets?

“In real estate, it’s location, location, location. In skin, it’s exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate,” explains Lynne Killey, skin product formulator at Pagosa Springsbased Queen Bee Skin Care. Killey suggests edible exfoliants like cornmeal or oatmeal. That’s right – one needn’t look farther than their pantry for ingredients like poppy seeds, sugar, salt, almond meal, or coffee grounds for an exfoliant that can effectively remove the outer layer of dead skin. (For an easy one, mix together 1 cup organic coffee grounds with 1/2 cup sea salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil, rub the mixture over your face lightly, then rinse). This would be step one, the appetizer. Next is protection from environmental elements, or step two: the entrée. “The sun breaks tiny capillaries and that is what causes redness – especially on the nose and cheeks,” says Killey. But when it comes to sunscreen, last June, when the Food and Drug Administration announced new labeling requirements for over the counter sunscreens, it failed to address two hazardous ingredients commonly used in sunscreen. Oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate (a vitamin A derivative) are known for their endocrine disrupting and photocarcinogenic potential according to a 2011 Environmental Working Group report and a 2010 National Toxicology Program study, respectively. For safe sun protection, Killey suggests people use the powdered form of zinc oxide (which, she notes, is safe enough to eat). Also,

10  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2011/12



applying a barrier of raw shea butter underneath provides a layer of natural sun and wind protection, while also helping the skin recover faster following exposure to harsh elements. The good news is these ingredients can be easily purchased online or in specialty food shops. Debra Swanson, Certified Clinical Herbalist and proprietor of Durango’s Dancing Willow Herbs, covers the final course of a balanced high altitude skin meal: the drink. “For healthy skin, it’s

hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Essential fatty acids are so important for skin elasticity. People are so afraid of putting oil on, but things like carrot seed oil, hemp oil, rosehip seed oil, pure sesame oil, evening primrose oil (pictured pg. 10), or coconut oil can be so regulating, moisturizing, and healing for the skin.” Talking with Swanson, the concept of “kitchen cosmetics” is used throughout her descriptions of safe and effective skin food ingredients. She adds, “If you can’t eat it, I wouldn’t buy it.” A sensible concept, especially for foodies.





2 teaspoons whipping cream or half & half

1 cup local raw honey

1 teaspoon cocoa powder (cocoa bean pictured above)

1/4 cup green clay (found at Dancing Willow Herbs) 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar


10 drops lavender essential oil

Using a small whisk or fork, combine two parts whipping cream or half & half and one part powdered chocolate (any brand or raw cacao). We made a tiny bath by using a dollop of leftover whipping cream and stirring in the cacao.

10 drops rose essential oil

Apply mask with a pastry brush or your fingers. Apply a thick layer. Remove just before it dries. You will notice your skin feels super clean and tighter and looks slightly bronzed. The lactic acid in the cream eats away dead skin. The caffeine in the cocoa tightens and firms the skin leaving a slightly bronzed appearance from the brown color.


Mix all ingredients together until the mixture starts foaming. Apply just enough to cover the face, leave on for 1-20 minutes. Store the remainder in a jar. It will last up to six months and makes a great Christmas gift.

Courtesy of Debra Swanson, Dancing Willow Herbs Courtesy of Lynne Killey, Queen Bee Skin Care



AUSTIN LASHLEY the new Avalanche


attling thin air and mountain pass-only access, Austin Lashley, 26, is crafting the new Avalanche Brewing Company in an early 1900s building in historic Silverton. Edible wanted to know why a brewery? And why not just go skiing like the rest of the 26-year-olds who live in the mountains? ESJM: Of all places in the world, why start a brewery in Silverton, a town of 500 year round residents and nine months of winter? I grew up in Durango, and spent a lot of time backpacking and skiing around Silverton. We always said the San Juans are our front yard. Since I was 17, I wanted to start a brewery. In high school, I started home brewing with some friends. For me, it was a hobby that quickly turned into an obsession. The building you’re in has been an iconic Silverton locale (the Avalanche Café on Blair Street) for a lot of years and changed hands lots of times. How did you end up there? When I used to come up [to Silverton] and go skiing, I’d go to the Avalanche – it was a great place to meet people. Two years ago I was working up in Alaska, and I had talked with my parents [Doug and Teresa Lashley], and they had the idea to start a brewery and they had bought the space. Joking, I said, ‘I hope I don’t have to come home and run it.’ Three months later, there I was. Silverton is tropical compared to Alaska. What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve encountered so far that you weren’t expecting? Federal permitting. I expected to have it in four to six months, and it took nine months to get. This actually might be a tie though; I ordered all stainless steel fermenters and tanks from China and I 12  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2011/12

dealt with them direct. I had to be on the phone for hours dealing with them getting through customs. I know there are going to be more equipment failures. Every brewer has to be part MacGyver. There are, ballpark, 120 breweries in Colorado. What is going to set yours apart? A lot of Colorado breweries make very standout or eccentric beers – ridiculous IPAs or weird spiced beer. For our small brewpub, it’s all about flavor. The Tractor Attack IPA uses 100% Coloradogrown organic hops. We are following the model of starting off as basic as you can get, and getting bigger as things progress. We are hoping to keep four of our beers on six of the total taps. We have 25 seats, and pizza, coffee, breakfast burritos. Brewing beer is a lifetime learning process. You make your first batch and it’s good, but not quite where you want it to be, so you’re never done, you play with recipes. What are you scared of? A bad winter, if no one comes to go skiing, no one will come to drink…or maybe if there is no snow, it’s a good thing, and more people will drink. What’s the best part of brewing beer? The end product. What’s the worst part? Cleaning – and that’s the majority of it. I read a quote once that said ‘75% of good brewing is cleaning,’ and that’s absolutely true. It’s like being a glorified janitor. If you could have only one style of beer for the rest of your life what would it be? An American-style pale ale.

t e l l u R i d e

Spend the night in historic C r e at i v e downtown Durango and enjoy ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★C★o n t e m p o r a r y an intimate cocktail in the seasonal fare Rochester Hotel Lounge Proprietor chef Chad Scothorn

d u R A n g o

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

BAR (970) 385-1920 • (800) 664-1920 721 East Second Ave., Durango, CO 81301


in the Hotel Columbia 970.728.1292

919 Historic Main Avenue 970.259.2898

make your online reservation at

make your online reservation at

James Ranch:

where producing organic, pure, flavorful meats cheeses, vegetables, and eggs is a way of life, not just an outcome of production.

Come taste it! Eat at the Harvest Grill & Greens or shop at our Ranch Market 33846 Hwy 550→Located 10 miles N of Durango, just past Honeyville

Winter Hours: Grill & Market  Saturdays 11am-5pm

Visit us: www.  or call our market (970) 385-6858   13  




hen was the last time you ate a meal where each bite evoked facial expressions and primal noises usually reserved for the privacy of home? Well, mine was November 19 at the monthly Supper Club at Rusty and Laurie Hall’s The Farm Bistro in humble downtown Cortez. Former Angel Fire, NM, pro snowboarders and seasonal landscapers, the couple purchased the property now known as Seven Meadows Farm in 2005. Two and a half years ago, to “solve” the conundrum of an overproduction of lettuce, they employed Rusty’s CIA training (the prestigious culinary school, not the intelligence agency) and opened the original cozy-would-be-an-understatement The Farm Bistro. Folks fell in love with the (literally) farm-to-table salad and sammie joint. This past August, the bistro moved into its stylish new venue just down the road, upping capacity from 16 to 60. And, like their homemade local Bluebird Flour pizza dough,

14  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2011/12

they are rising to the occasion. With the help of talented “young guns” Cordon Bleu grad Chef Nicholas West and NYC wunderkind Sous Chef Duaine Clements, and the rest of his enthusiastic team, Rusty turns out scrumptious local fare (80-90% local ingredients during harvest season and an impressive 40% off-season) at almost obscenely low prices. The Halls credit the kindness of the Cortez real estate market, self farming including winter greenhouse production, relationships with other local growers, waste-free food prep and thoughtful off-season storage for the menu’s amazing eight-and-a-half-buck ceiling. And while Rusty mans the kitchen, Laurie seamlessly runs the front of the house, the year round farm stand and Seven Meadows operations. Local faves include classics like green chile stew with a cowboysized kick, a hefty Farm Club and juicy burgers (sourced from Seven Meadows as well as a variety of local organic producers including

Durango’s James Ranch and Burke’s of Mancos) served with handcut Seven Meadows red potato fries. Where else are you gonna find a yak Cubano sandwich? This inventive special is layered with slow-cooked Mesa View yak (Dolores), house-roasted turkey and ham and farm grown pickled lemon cukes (made with their own McElmo canyon wine vinegars) and slathered in San Juan Mountain mustard (Durango). You gotta try the daily grilled Farm Pizza adorned with toppings like garlicky roast tomato tapenade. The tapenade is one of the concoctions they “put up” for winter – that means canning, freezing and root storage for you city types – along with a bazillion other goodies from pear sauce to pickles to pesto, crumbled feta, tart apples and Farm radish sprouts. While the home-baked desserts are worthy of both belly room and mention, the sweet star for me was the quenelle (that’s French for a schmancy football shaped scoop) of house-made sorbet. Through the magic of “molecular gastronomy,” nifty ingredients like local red wine and beet juice-poached pears and Seven Meadows’ sweet corn are frozen instantly with liquid nitrogen, then churned through some crazy machine producing the smoothest, creamiest sorbet I’ve ever had. This leads us back to the aforementioned food-gasm-inducing meal. On the third Saturday night of each month, a limited number of lucky locavores gather for the Bistro Supper Club. The five-course menu boasts nearly all local ingredients (save unavoidable imports like salt and spices), demonstrating dazzling culinary prowess and offered at a recession friendly price tag of $40 per guest. I’d gladly pay more, but don’t tell them that! The glow of modern pendants replaces the soft natural light of daytime, illuminating the restored original tin ceilings and rustic stone walls festooned with bold, oversized farm photos. Perfectly mismatched antique wood tables are formally set and dressed up in


colorful linens. While patrons eagerly await dinner, a gracious guest table hops, offering homemade hard cider crafted from the fruits of his orchard. Bottles of bring-your-own wine are ceremoniously opened and glasses filled while our hosts regale us with details of the evening’s menu. It was the kind of refined yet soulful food that incited my passion for seasonable, sustainable dining. The first course, a Picassoesque “Composition of Beets and Carrots,” showcased the sweet earthy roots in roasted, raw and pureed executions complete with spiced chicory “dirt” and goat cheese. Delicate yak loin carpaccio was followed by one of the most ethereal dishes I’ve ever tasted. By some miracle of modern kitchen science, a farm egg is soft cooked to a uniformly supple consistency throughout yolk and white, nestled atop blue corn polenta and garnished with a paper-thin focaccia crisp and smoky ham foam. More oohs and aahs. Savory courses culminated with sous-vide Colorado lamb over a Tuscan stew of Dove Creek beans. (Sous-vide is a trendy gentle poaching method using more nifty new age gadgets.) Completing the meal, Mancos’ Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters’ java and organic teas were offered along with playful mason jars stuffed full of brandy-laced “Farm (local Empire apple) Trifle.” Applause filled the room as credit was given to all who collaboratively created this five-act masterpiece. I was shocked to realize that 3 ½ blissful hours had passed in what seemed like a heartbeat. Total satisfaction. In a brutal business where a local focus often conflicts with financial survival, the Halls are clearly not daunted by the challenge. Their incredible work ethic, knack for team and relationship building and ingenuity create the perfect recipe for sustainable success. Whether you drop in for a casual lunch or nab a coveted seat at the Supper Club (I’ve already made my reservation), you will be nourished on every level.

ina de Lu c o C a mExiCan z r E s ta u r a n t

BrEakfast, LunCH & DinnEr OpEn DaiLy 7am–9pm

123 E. COLOraDO avE.


• Organic & whole food ingredients • Handmade tortillas, chips & salsa bar • Coffee, Espressos, Cappuccinos & Lattes • Casual atmosphere, family-friendly

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Three different samples of the malted barley used this winter at Ska Brewing.

The Dark Winter BY KRIS OYLER


ew beverages, particularly beverages generally served cold, can warm the body and soul like a stout beer. As fallen leaves are covered in snow, ale aficionados turn to these dark beers, leaving behind the pale-colored lagers that quenched their thirst in the summer heat. The origins of stout beer, according to author Michael J. Lewis, who literally wrote the book on Stout, date back to the late 1600s in Great Britain. While beers of this time were likely very different than those being brewed today, the term “stout” became analogous to “strong” and “black” beer. Porter, a close cousin to stout, tended to be more robust and bitter. Stouts over time generally assumed a smoother, creamier profile that could include notes of coffee and chocolate without being overly bitter from the addition of hops. Erik Maxson, of Carver Brewing Co. in Durango, brews Iron Horse Stout each winter. For Erik, who got his brewing start in 1996 at Phantom Canyon in Colorado Springs, stout beer is about the malt, the body and the sense of fullness or substance being tempered by the earthy quality of the hop presence. “Brewing stout at Carver’s for me is a great chance to switch gears,” says Erik, explaining that the color of his stout adds a bit of mystery to the early process points in the brewhouse. Barley that is kilned longer during the malting process takes on darker colors which are imparted into the beer. In addition to color, these malts drive the flavor of roasted nuts, coffee, toffee and chocolate. “Lately, the brewing world seems to focus on the lighter side of the flavor experience – west coast IPAs and the dearth of citrusy and floral hops – that it’s nice to be grounded by such an honest beer,” 16  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2011/12

adds Erik. “Honest in terms of its straightforward representation of the ingredients.” Years ago, Tom Hennessy of Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery in Ridgway was on a hiking trip with his wife, Sandy, in the highlands of Scotland. It was cool and wet when they found their way into a small pub as dusk was approaching. Tom ordered a steak and ale pie, and a pint of hand-pulled cask stout from the local brewery. “That first sip, with a dense creamy head and the silkiness of the stout itself, lent richness to the experience of being inside this pub in Scotland,” he says. Tom has been brewing in Colorado and New Mexico since 1993, and opened Colorado Boy in 2008. His stout is richer and thicker, which complements the warmth of the pub atmosphere, in contrast to the cold outside. Tom likes to pair his stout with Colorado Boy’s Home Pie Pizza which employs a slightly sweet tomato sauce, light mozzarella, roasted bell pepper, capicollo ham cooked with a local farm egg with fresh arugula. The slightly sweet and roast of the stout, plus the crispness of the stout’s acidity, goes perfectly with the smokiness of the ham, richness of the egg, and nutty flavor of the arugula, according this brewer. “Sipping a stout in the winter is like putting a warm comforter around your shoulders,” he adds. Indeed, a stout’s body and texture lend themselves to a heightened cold weather experience, the beer equivalent of comfort food for chilly days. The rich malt character is “filling” and the warmth of the alcohol reinforces this “cozying” feeling, furthering the enjoyment of that warm and wonderful place where you chose to savor a pint of stout.


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Warren Smith, kitchen manager at Manna Soup Kitchen, comes out from the kitchen to warmly greet his friend, Nicole Zufelt.

18  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS  WINTER 2011/12

The Gastronomy of Giving lunch at Manna Soup Kitchen BY JESS KELLEY

Warren said something to me once, something like, ‘we are all one medical emergency away from being here – it’s that fragile,’” recalls Miles Gallagher of Food For All Farm, one recent morning at the Manna Soup Kitchen in Durango. Since one in every six Americans doesn’t know where tomorrow’s food will come from, this is a bona fide statement. Maybe that’s why Gallagher dedicates one third of his Mancos farm to growing organic food for Manna as well as Grace’s Soup Kitchen in Cortez. “I believe the health of society is based on how you treat everybody in it,” he says. These days, with financial situations changing drastically and rapidly, it appears so are soup kitchen stereotypes. Case in point: today, those eating lunch prepared by Manna kitchen manager Warren Smith and a slew of volunteers are eating just as well as, if not better than, anyone at a restaurant on Main Avenue. This particular morning, Gallagher is dropping off 40 pounds of beets, 25 pounds of carrots, and 40 pounds of greens. “Someone gave me Warren’s number and said these guys can move as much produce as I can bring. If I have 80 pounds of bok choy, these guys can use it,” he says. This is probably why Smith has dubbed Gallagher “Señor Lechuga.”


Volunteer dishwasher, Isadore “Izzy” Tucson 20  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2011/12

(clockwise from the top) Joey “Mojo” Meuller gives a warm welcome to a fellow volunteer and Survivors member; the artful arms of Rob “Villain” Wasserman; “The Lovely’s” (Warren Smith’s own term of endearment), a group of close friends from Durango, work their regular monthly shift.


Warren Smith and Manna executive director, Sarah Comerford

In the Bible, the name Manna refers to the food that miraculously fell from the sky and fed the Israelites during their 40-year journey. At Durango’s Manna, all morning long, Monday through Friday, more farmers and local proprietors than you could shake a corn stalk at are delivering things like local pumpkins, onions, Hermosa apples, grass-fed beef, a goat, artisan bread, organic Thomcord grapes, squash, green chiles, and heaps more. When Ralph, the potato delivery guy for Durango Diner, comes in with ten 50-pound bags of San Luis Valley potatoes, Smith, with piercing brown eyes and a booming laugh so contagious you want to come back and volunteer every day, lights up. He has nicknames, a story, or fat to chew with just about everyone and every product that comes through the back door.

22  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2011/12

“Oh, man, Gary from the Durango Diner is the only guy in town who makes hash browns so fresh. I love those hash browns. What a good guy. He’s so good to us. We’d have to pay $78 a bag for these potatoes from a distributor, and Gary sells them to us for $6!” Smith creates the daily lunch menu based on whatever is donated or whatever can be bought at a decent cost. It’s a good thing he’s a heck of a creative chef. “So many people give, it’s just incredible, amazing food – a dynamite product. We don’t do anything canned. This is raw product. It takes a lot of work, it’s all from scratch, it’s all homemade. There aren’t many casseroles here,” he jokes, then quickly disappears in his white chef ’s coat to check a text, or help a volunteer make salad dressing.

Manna Soup Kitchen will serve close to 60,000 meals in 2011. Last June, they did 7,000 meals, and some days there can be close to 150 people for lunch. Luckily, Smith has help. Audrey Werner, the Volunteer and Client Services Coordinator (whose dad helped found the soup kitchen in 1985), has a schedule on her office wall of volunteers scheduled for the standard 9 am to 1 pm shift. The list is largely comprised of church groups, but there are also local businesses like Mercury Payment Systems, retired schoolteachers, chefs and foodies, those on probation, and those who simply believe in service. One crisp autumn morning, I was cubing piles of those huge San Luis Valley potatoes with service-minded Jackie Morlan, a retired schoolteacher and obvious foodie. It was her first day, but she was planning to make volunteering a weekly habit. During this particular shift, we were helping with the menu comprised of braised beef with fresh vegetables, roasted potatoes, onions, and green chiles, Gallagher’s fresh organic greens, with organic grapes, apples and cheese, garlic herb bread (from Bread) and cheesecake. While people chopped and listened, Smith told a story about filling his Jeep with potatoes and driving over Wolf Creek Pass. The hum and smell of the kitchen was intoxicating. Rather than throwing lettuce scraps into the trash, volunteers toss produce remnants into “the pig bucket,” which is taken to Fraser Ranch on county road 250. Nothing is thrown away, which keeps the bears away from the dumpster while feeding heritage pigs. Other frequent Manna faces include 91-year-old Leo Maloney. He wears a plaid shirt with suspenders and you can still hear his New Jersey accent. He makes sack lunches for clients. Then, every morning “like clockwork,” you have Len, a fellow in his 70s who comes to make muffins. One morning when I was there, he made a batch of pumpkin cashew. There are also a group of ladies who Smith calls “the grandmas.” The grandmas come once a month from Sacred Heart church. “When they come, we stay out of their way. These ladies have been coming for years, and they always have

a plan,” Smith proclaims. Meanwhile, another person in the kitchen defrosting huge blocks of shrimp is Joe St. Ours. “I’m doing this for community service, but I feel good about it because I’m helping homeless people, and helping God.” While lunch is being assembled, executive director Sarah Comerford is researching other ways to help clients beyond providing a hot meal. She’s just returned from a conference and is researching various non-profit social enterprise models that start cafes or catering businesses. These businesses allow those who need it most to obtain work skills and experience. Sarah is tall, thin, blond and thoughtful. We walk through the two on-site gardens talking about other ways Manna is working to serve its clients. Last summer she hired Teresa Stone, who comes from an organic farming background (Dad has a farm in Montezuma County) to help build and maintain the gardens. “We thought we’d create something that was therapeutic for our clients. Make it a space for people to get away, like a sanctuary. Once Teresa started harvesting and weeding, lots of guys were coming down to help out,” said Comerford. The Ho’oponopono Manna Garden is shaped like a labyrinth with raised beds, most of which were built by kids’ groups. Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian word which means reconciliation, forgiveness, and the release of resistance and negativity to allow space for healing. Last summer, Comerford says, the gardens had high yields. “We had thousands of tomatoes; kids were able to take pumpkins home for Halloween. We had a strawberry patch, carrots, onions, mustard greens, peppers, and peas. You know, if you’re walking down the road and you’re hungry, come in and pick something. I don’t care. The garden has become something clients can take home with them because we have so many local farmers dropping off produce.” Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Smith’s focus is always on the clients. On Veterans Day, he prepared a special lunch just for those who had served: rib eye steak with a green peppercorn sauce, Caesar salad, and twice-baked potatoes with bacon and roasted bell peppers. Before every meal, he makes announcements followed by a prayer. This day, he asked all the vets to stand at the front of the room, say their names, and where they served. “We want to recognize the incredible things these people have done,” Smith announced. Everybody in the kitchen clapped for each one of them, and then ate.




Chef Lynn Tilyou comes out of The Peaks’ Palmyra Restaurant kitchen giggling to meet me for the interview. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I’ve just had a makeover, and no one recognizes me.” Lynn does a spin for me, modeling her new layered shoulderlength haircut with copper highlights. She’s lost about 30 pounds since I’ve seen her last and is wearing a new pair of white capris with a light blue Indian tunic. She looks amazing. I’m wondering if I can get in The Peaks’ spa to work out, soak, and get a makeover too. “They’re going to have to drag me away from these mountains,” Lynn adds. “I get to mountain bike all the time, and they throw me in the spa whenever they can. I’m never leaving.” Not that anyone at The Peaks Resort would ever dream of doing so. Chef Lynn has been there only since June and is already loved around town for her inspired and eclectic fare.

The Peaks Resort, perched above Telluride in Mountain Village, is known for its luxury accommodations and sleek spa. Going to The Peaks for a soak after skiing is the Taj Mahal of all Telluride days. The women’s kiva has cucumber slices for you to place over your eyes while you steam. The Peaks’ Palmyra Restaurant only complements that luxury, complete with white table cloths, rustic wood floors, and grand windows overlooking the mountains that stretch out in every direction. Yet the prices at Palmyra are reasonable. Indeed, you could call an après-ski date at The Peaks one of the best kept secrets in town – the views from the dining room will make a lasting impression on your heart, not your wallet. The food is upscale yet comforting. This summer, Lynn connected with local venders at the Telluride Farmers’ Market and was able to shift to local sources for many

of the restaurant’s meats. She also sources most of her fruit and vegetables locally. Almost all of her peaches, plums, and tomatoes come from Abundant Life Farms in Hotchkiss. “Today, with the world getting smaller through air freight, you can get almost anything you want in a day’s time. That is why I try to stay local and keep the integrity of the local regional cuisine and to support the local economy.” Lynn’s cooking is Classic-American and French based, but has Southern influences. Although she grew up in Long Island – something you know the minute you hear her – she’s cooked all over the South, including La Tourelle in Memphis where she was voted as one of the top three chefs in the city. Lynn’s American Regional menu is full of surprising combinations. She’ll do a foie gras appetizer just as easily as she’ll do a batch of ribs in a root beer barbecue sauce. “I never got into confusion fusion – it wasn’t my style. But big, braised lamb shanks with a sweet potato velvet? Yum.” Telluride’s Dining Guide describes Palmyra Restaurant as Creative American, a fitting name for food that gets you guessing what ingredients are in a dish and always leaves you wanting more. Take breakfast for example. My husband, Andy, and I found ourselves debating between a chocolate chip and Danish French toast or a bacon waffle topped with duck confit and apple cider syrup. We couldn’t decide and so ended up ordering both. We also ordered squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese and an heirloom tomato and watermelon salad. Everything was fresh and different, yet somehow it all tasted like some great meal we’d had as a child and never forgotten. And all of it was from local farms. Lynn likes cooking classic American fare with a twist. She takes generic ski fare such as nachos, chili, and soup and translates them into something that gets you talking around the table. Nachos aren’t just nachos; they’re duck confit nachos. Her chili is made with wild game. The squash bisque comes with candied pecans. The lunch and dinner menus are filled with elegant choices as well. A goat cheese tart served with a ruby red port sauce. Lemonscented scallops in a brioche with truffle aioli. Coriander dusted chicken breast. A charcuterie platter filled with prosciutto and

sausages from Columbus Meats based in Denver. The cheese plate has a smoked apple walnut and salt hive cheese from Beehive Dairy just over the border in Utah. Lynn’s diverse menu in some ways reflects the circuitous route she took getting to Telluride. She’s lived in dozens of places in almost as many years and has had the opportunity to cook in all kinds of restaurants up and down the East Coast: Atrium 1844 in Taneytown, Maryland, and Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida. But until now, she’s struggled to find a place that felt like home. At Ocean Reef Club, her commute to work was over an hour. “Now,” Lynn tells me, “I can see my house from The Peaks’ dining room.” “I want it to be the best restaurant in Telluride and take it from there,” she says. Someday she hopes even to be the best in the state. She wants to be the top of readers’ polls, the name that keeps coming up in food critic circles, the works. Given that, at age 16, Lynn had her own successful chocolate business with enough money to buy her own car, it’s not hard to imagine her succeeding at anything she decides. Her father was a fireman; her mother, a pastry chef. She’s got courage and cooking in her blood. Whether her goal is as small as learning how to mountain bike or as grand as striving to create one of the premier restaurants of Colorado, Chef Durango Colorado Lynn seeks out the best in life. Tasteful food that warms the soul And if the praise she’s received after only a few months shows anything, we can all look forward to watching Lynn Tilyou and Palmyra Restaurant climb to the top of the charts.

Open 7 Days a Week 11:00 am - 8:00 pm for Lunch & Dinner

3101 Main Avenue Durango, Colorado 970.247.3355


W fa



In the off season, Lynn Tilyou finds she wears all the hats

PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE ROOT BEER BBQ SAUCE (Serves 8) Lynn’s infamous sauce is delicious over James Ranch pork ribs. INGREDIENTS ¼ onion, chopped fine 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine 2 cups root beer ¾ cup ketchup ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

(serves 9) This simple dessert is perfect after a dinner with a little spice. INGREDIENTS 1 ½ pounds cream cheese 2 cups powdered sugar 1 ½ cups peanut butter 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste 2 cups heavy cream, whipped 1 cup candied pecans

1 cup brown sugar ½ cup sugar ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 ½ teaspoons hot sauce

METHOD Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat and stir occasionally to keep from scorching. When sauce is reduced by half, remove from heat and strain. Cool and pour over your favorite grilled meat just before it comes off the fire.

26  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2011/12

METHOD Place cream cheese in a medium-size mixer with the paddle attachment. Whip until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix a few more minutes. Stop, add powdered sugar and, on low speed, whip once again. Add peanut butter and vanilla. Whip cream in a separate bowl. Fold half the cream into the peanut mix. Add the candied pecans, then fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Pipe into small serving containers such as ramekins or custard cups and chill until set.


(... and ice) BY D. DION


hen Jesus walked on water, it was a miracle. But people who love ice fishing do it all the time, without any fanfare. Ice fishing on the Miramonte Reservoir in Norwood, however, does take a little bit of faith. It’s not like ice fishing in Wisconsin or Minnesota, where sub-zero temperatures freeze a super-thick layer on top of lakes and ponds. Norwood is relatively balmy; it’s another six and a half latitudinal degrees closer to the equator and boasts about 300 days of sunshine a year. But because Miramonte Reservoir is 7,500 feet in elevation, it gets coated with just enough ice to support the weight of a fisherman dressed to his gills in thermal wear and carrying all his gear. “It doesn’t ice over until December and it starts to thaw by March,” says Ross Dupuis, a Norwood resident who likes to fish on the Miramonte during the winter. Dupuis moved to Colorado from Wisconsin, where ice fishing means dragging a shanty behind your pickup truck onto the lake, along with a cooler of beer and a barbecue. “You don’t drive your car out onto the ice here.” Dupuis’ buddy, Jeff Hebert, found out about the limits of the season the hard way, trying to slide his gear across the thin threshold between the ice and the shore in mid-March. He still has a scar across his forehead from the stitches, and he spent most of the spring without one eyebrow. Hebert concedes that he had a few beers that day on the ice, but his intentions were pure: he just wanted a few rainbow trout to put in his freezer, he says, wincing as he touches his scar. That’s the same reason all these brave souls shuffle out onto the ice – the fish at Miramonte are legendary. The reservoir produces better-than-average sized rainbow trout, with firm, pinkish-orange flesh. Fish connoisseurs agree that it’s the best place to pluck your dinner from a cold, hand-augured hole. Dan Kowalski is an aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (formerly known as the Colorado Division of Wildlife) and he says the secret is their diet: the reservoir has bountiful plankton and crawdads for the fish to feast on, fattening them up for intrepid anglers. The bag limit for trout in Colorado is four and some people buy a second fishing license for $26 so that they can put another rod into a hole in the ice, doubling their odds. The Miramonte is what is known as a “put and grow” fishery, and is stocked annually

with rainbow and brown trout fingerlings, which are small starter fish. “The Miramonte is very productive because it’s at a good elevation, there’s a good food base and the water has a good natural chemistry,” says Kowalski. “The quality of the fish is renowned. A lot of anglers target them just because of how good tasting they are.” There’s also the sport of it. Okay, ice fishing doesn’t require the same athleticism as other winter activities like skiing or skating, and it doesn’t have the same macho factor as hunting, but it’s still a sport. If Hebert’s scars aren’t proof enough, there’s the suffering. Even if it’s not as cold here as it is in the Great White North, sitting holding a rod and reel over a hole in the ice, with the wind whipping away your body heat, is at least a little unpleasant. Even if the pain, suffering and lost eyebrows aren’t enough to convince you that ice fishing is a legitimate sport, there’s the gear. Dupuis may not drive out to the middle of the reservoir, but he doesn’t travel light, either. In addition to the multiple layers of warm clothes that make him look like a contestant on The Biggest Loser, he’s carrying an auger to hand-crank multiple holes in the ice, a couple of rods and reels with winter-weight line, bait, a bucket for his take and another bucket to sit on. He’s also got a couple of Thermos bottles full of soup or chili and a hot drink, and a mat to put beneath his feet to insulate them from the ice. It can be a long wait in the cold, admits Dupuis, until he feels that familiar tug, just a gentle bit of play in the line, barely noticeable against his cold finger. “The fish are not as hungry in the winter. They’re in a sort of dormancy, so you need to entice them with some color.” And just like the delicate, almost imperceptible bite of the trout, ice fishing in winter has a subtle but definite appeal. It’s an opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoors and some contemplative, peaceful time. Most of the time, anglers will have the whole 420-acre Miramonte Reservoir all to themselves. “It’s nice and quiet and there’s nobody there, and it’s a good way to break up the long winter. I’ve been doing it since I was six and I really like it,” says Dupuis. “And do I eat the fish? Hell, yeah.”   27  


28  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   WINTER 2011/12



like to imagine the discovery of mead, which is simply fermented honey and water, the first alcoholic beverage on the historical timeline of booze. Say you’re this African nomad, wandering amongst the baobab trees, steering clear of stampeding elephants and spear-wielding neighbors when you hear this bubbling sound coming from a tree cavity. Hmm, smells good too, like honey that stayed up way too late at the cave-painting party. You stick your finger in for a taste, perhaps even fill your clay cup and guzzle. Soon your chest feels warm and your head light, and that elephant herd thundering your way seems awfully quaint and funny. Since that ancient discovery of mead, 20,000 - 40,000 years ago, fermentation has become a contract binding together humans and microorganisms. The fine print reads: You cultivate us and we’ll help you survive winter and throw really good parties. If you think eating fermented foods is for people who live in school buses and smell faintly of curry powder, you’re right. But also, if you enjoy coffee, chocolate, beer, yogurt, wine, cheese, bread or black tea, then you, too, have signed the contract. Any food can be fermented and every culture has a staple ferment. Native Alaskans bury fish underground until it’s the consistency of ice cream. Koreans eat, on average, 40 pounds of kimchi per person annually. And tribes in the tropics have learned that fermenting cassava transforms the root from poisonous to nutritious. What a nifty trick! Fermentation happens when, through the addition of salt or bacterial cultures, the lactobacilli – a family of bacteria found on the surface of every living thing – are encouraged to proliferate while putrefying bacteria are shut out. Fermented foods are teeming with enzymes, vitamins, minerals and beneficial live cultures which replenish and diversify the bacteria in our digestive system. Through these bacteria and specialized micronutrients, fermented foods improve immune function while decreasing inflammation and preventing cancer and other diseases.


“Oh. Is that all?” I’m tempted to say while spooning a heap of sauerkraut onto my plate. It’s not that health factoids don’t excite me, but I love fermented foods because they’re delicious, inexpensive and fun to make. And in a world of warp-speed technogadgetry, it’s comforting to use the same basic recipe for yogurt as did, say, Jesus. When you make ferments, it’s like having a trillion backup singers on your kitchen counter gurgling fizzy doo-wops to your good health. I love holding a jar of bubbling kimchi to my children’s ears. It’s even more compelling than sticking their ear in a seashell. “It’s alive!” I tell them, lauding my own biochemistry skills, finally redeemed from being placed in the high school remedial chemistry class. I felt a little like that African nomad last week when, in the middle of teaching a group of homeschool children at my house, I downed a half pint of fermented ginger ale, which had (whoops!) gone alcoholic. (Yeasts eat sugar and burp out alcohol. The more sugar consumed, the more alcoholic the brew). This was not an unwelcome error, although my 4-year-old daughter, who had been helping me feed the bubbly jar fresh ginger and sugar daily, parked her hands on her hips when she heard the news and said, “That’s teasing me, Mama.” We made this boozy ginger ale in the “you build it they will

come” model, trusting that if we left a sweet treat of ginger, sugar and water on the counter, the wild yeasts surfing the air would touch down, like Santa Claus to a plate of cookies. There are innumerable mysteries to fermentation, like “who were those masked yeasts anyway?” And then, there is hard science. Lactic acid is a byproduct of fermentation, which lowers pH. This increases acidity, inhibiting harmful bacteria and transforming, for example, quickly-spoiling milk into long-lasting yogurt. This discovery, like that of mead, was probably made accidentally. Perhaps a shepherd toting sheep milk in a handy-dandy animal stomach through the desert discovered that the rennet, present in the lining of young ruminants’ stomachs, curdled the milk into a tasty cheese that lasted for weeks. This impressive trick of extending the shelf life of highly-

In Dur ango, you can find both Turtle Lake Refuge’s sauerkr aut and Gr andma Chung’s kimchi at Dur ango Natur al Foods and Nature’s Oasis. Both are r aw and alive with bacterial cultures.

30  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS  WINTER 2011/12

perishable foods is, as Stephen Harrod Buhner writes in his book, Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, “intimately bound up with our development as a species.” Preserving the harvest from times of plenty via fermentation (sauerkraut, kefir, sour pickles, miso and an encyclopedia of other cultural staples) allowed populations to expand into colder climates and fend off many medical scourges of pre-industrialized society. The 60 barrels of sauerkraut that lasted for 27 months on Captain Cook’s second voyage around the world, during which (finally!) no crew member died, earned him the Royal Society’s recognition of having conquered scurvy. Despite fermentation’s humble beginnings, when each bowl of fermented porridge tasted of nothing fancier than survival, today, every foodie hipster seems to have a kombucha mushroom sipping sugar and burping out lactic acid on a kitchen counter. (Kombucha is a tea-based fermented drink made from a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Entire blogs, with followers in the tens of thousands, are devoted to preaching fermentation to the choir. People swear that the addition of fermented foods to their diet has cured every ailment large and small. Whatever the latest health craze, I’ll always prefer eating a pile of kimchi laced with red chile powder like a vein of subterranean rubies, to taking a powdered probiotic supplement. Especially if that kimchi was bubbling in the laboratory of my own kitchen amongst other fizzy jars that I tend like a mad scientist.

Fermenting is like parenting (or gardening, or sewing or many things). It’s intimidating and strange at first, and you need to learn the rules before you can start breaking them. I hovered over my first batch of kraut like I did my first newborn, peeking under its kitchen-towel swaddling blanket every fifteen minutes. And now, a decade later, there’s a 3-gallon crock of cabbage fermenting on the kitchen table, parked like geological time itself. Art projects, messy meals and scattered newspapers come and go all day long, while billions of microorganisms exhale their healthful magic into the air.

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GINGER CARROTS Makes 1 quart This is a delicious and easy ferment to start with. INGREDIENTS 4 cups grated carrots 2 tablespoons sea salt 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger METHOD Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Pound mixture with a wooden mallet, potato masher or other tool to release juices.

Pack tightly into wide mouth quart glass jar. Press carrot mix down in jar until juices rise above. (If you are not getting liquid, liquefy 1/4 cup of carrot mix in blender to release juices and then add back to jar. Or add 1/4 cup water). Leave 1 inch of room between carrots and top of jar. Cover tightly with lid and leave at room temperature for 3-5 days. Transfer to refrigerator, where it will last for 4-6 months.





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Edible San Juan Mountains Winter 2011/12  
Edible San Juan Mountains Winter 2011/12  

Edible San Juan Mountains Winter 2011/12