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

No. 5 Summer 2011

LAWN TO LETTUCE About Trout San Juan Al Fresco Success With The Excess The Black Market Cow

Member of Edible Communities


t e l l u R i d e

y5

Fabulous Coffee Shop Tour

Ridgway

50

Southwest Colorado

Hw

Telluride

Silverton Rico Hwy 550

Cortez

Hwy 1

Mancos

60

green trees: dk 151-7 dk bright 160-8 lt bright 160-5 background beige: 25-11 box 24-9 C r e at i v e C o n tblue e m pedge: orary 116-5 seasonal fare Lake Proprietor116-8, chef Chad Scothorn 116-2 Pink: 71-8 Gray: 175-12 in the Hotel Columbia

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

BAR

dining

970.728.1292

919 Historic Main Avenue 970.259.2898

make your online reservation at www.cosmotelluride.com

make your online reservation at www.cosmodurango.com

Durango wine

books

cocktails

art

beer

baked goods eats

Cortez

Spruce Tree Coffee House

318 E. Main St Cortez, CO 81321 970.565.6789

380 W. Sherman Ridgway, CO 81432 970.626.5858 www.cimarronbooks.com

Silverton

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

232 S. Argentine

(S. of town, next to Conoco)

Rico, CO 81332 970.967.4444

Telluride

Steaming Bean Coffee

The Steaming Bean Telluride

221 W. Colorado Ave Telluride, CO 81435 800.230.2326 www.thebean.com

Durango

Steaming Bean Coffee 915 Main Ave Durango, CO 81301 970.385.7901 www.thebean.com

Mancos

Absolute Bakery and Cafe

110 S. Main St Mancos, CO 81328 970.533.1200 www.absolutebakery.com

Come get it fresh! Direct from our farm to your table!

EATat Serving delicious food harvested from James Ranch

FEED our

the

Ranch

Kid Goats

Rico

Ranch Market

Cimarron Books & Coffee House

www.sprucetreecoffeehouse.com

High Ground Coffee Shack

SHOP the

Ridgway

TOUR

T

lion Dollar Highwa l i M y he

d u R A n g o

33846 Hwy 550→Located 10 miles N of Durango, just past Honeyville

Summer Hours Mon.-Sat. 11am to 7pm

Our families believe in grass-based, organically grown food that nourishes the land, our family ...and yours. Learn more: www. jamesranch.net  BuzzTown.com (970) 385-6858


Contents 2

Letter from the editor

4 notable edibles

James Ranch

Fox Fire Farms

Montanya Rum

Edible San Juan Mountains (yes, us)

6 High

Altitude Tricks

An Edible Inteview

8

Success with the Excess

By Anna Riling

10

Baseball and Gardening

By Darrin Parmenter

14

A Trout Story

By Rachel Turiel

18

The Freelance Farmer

By Anna Riling

22 Shrooming

By Art Goodtimes

24

Find a Cow (helps to know a dealer)

by Deb Dion

26

The diva dines

by Lauren Slaff

29

San Juan Al Fresco Libation

The Grapes rival the Peaches

By Eric Allen

30 Regional Food Event Calendar 32 outtakes

Breck Stremmel, of Pura Vida, tops off a Key Lime Pie martini ediblesanjuanmountains.com  1  


I am sitting in the Edible office, which is also our garage, sitting in my office chair, which used to be our kitchen chair, perched at my desk that used to be a door - building a blog. Let’s just say it’s a work in progress. Like a sculpture. Or a really bad child. For you see, this blog building process has brought me face to face with the future ... and people, it doesn’t look familiar. Not even remotely. I feel like my mom with a cell phone. She still thinks that by picking up her ringing phone, she has actually answered her phone. Everytime it escapes her that there is still work to be done. Like pushing “talk.” My slow, nearly inperceptable slide from “getting it” to “not getting it,” and from being cool ... to being called ‘sir’ on a regular basis ... could have been easily noted long before this experience if I chose to see the warning signs. But instead, it feels like I went to bed last night in one reality and woke up in another (a recent birthday doesn’t help). Take for instance starting a print magazine in 2010 (a pay phone repair franchise was No. 2 on my list ... but this venture won out after hours of thoughtful deliberation). My favorite comment came from Meghann, a 20-something owner of a bustling coffee house in Telluride. Her hip space distributes our hip publication yet she had never heard of our magazine. This girl is sharp too. She owns her own coffee house – in the heart of Telluride. It’s good and it’s gangbusters-busy. “My friends and I don’t read magazines. We get our stuff from the web.” This, needless to say, was not exactly a comforting moment. I wanted to ask her when was the last time she used a payphone but I was afraid of the answer (‘yesterday !!’ ... or ... ‘a what-phone?’ Do you see my point? Neither would sit well with a guy already teeter-tottering through the work week). It was blog-building lingo like ‘widgets,’ and ‘readomattic’ and ‘tag surfer’ and ‘akismet stats’ and the difference between pages and posts, users and authors, tags and categories that left me feeling, well, like gently picking up my laptop, carefully placing it on the ground, and backing my car over it. Once again I found myself in that coffee house. You see, it is these cruel reminders that seem to be the clearest reminders that one is no longer officially young. (I guess, for the sake of this post, I have to reveal my age: 26+ p ( 2 - 5 + 10) / 3.14159265 + a handful years give or take. More like, give.). I am learning that you never really stop feeling young. But I run into friends I haven’t seen in 20 years and I think: man ... you look old. That’s right. They all look old. It’s not until somebody subtly reminds me with a “my friends don’t read magazines,” or drop a sir-bomb on me, or, I run into a widget or a post tag that I realize I (gulp) must be getting older too. Flash back 40 years and this is your grandfather when he first encountered the microwave oven. Not only couldn’t he use it ... he probably, in some abstract way, couldn’t even comprehend it (and I would argue that I still can’t). And while the digital revolution makes our lives, oh-so-everything ... cool ... connected ... easier, it is scaring the living hell out of a whole forgotten segment of the population. All of these widgets, posts and tags (and microwaves) are just superficial watermarks that remind you clearly and succinctly (and quite bluntly), life goes on with or without you. I have to point out here that Rosie Carter and Chuck Barry of Stone Free Farm have a rotary phone in their house. It is not for decoration. It is their phone. I know this phone. (For those under 30, a rotary phone is a phone with a dial. Kind of like the Wheel of Fortune. Wait. Bad example. Um. Kind of like ... well ... not buttons.) I grew up with this phone. I miss this phone. But man, it looks old. I am depressing myself. Life goes on. Here it is ... our new blog (www.ediblesanjuanmountains. wordpress.com). We want it to be interactive ... and helpful. We want it to serve as a guide to what is going on in the food community, from Durango to Telluride, from Montrose to Pagosa to Cortez. So help us out. Send us your posts. Send us your comments. Send us information on your foodrelated events. And thank you for all of your support through this first year. Thank you, thank you. Rick Scibelli, Jr. Editor & Publisher 2  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011

edible

san juan mountains Editor & Publisher Rick Scibelli, Jr.

MANAGING EDITOR Jess Kelley

DESIGNER Rick Scibelli, Jr.

Writers Deb Dion Lauren Slaff Rachel Turiel Art Goodtimes Anna Riling Darrin Parmenter Eric Allen

Photographer

Rick Scibelli, Jr.

Food Styling Lauren Slaff

ADVERTISING

Durango, Pagosa and Cortez Jess Kelley jess@ediblesanjuanmountains.com Rick Scibelli rick@ediblesanjuanmountains.com Telluride, Montrose, Ridgeway and Ouray Dale McCurry and Jennifer Mandaville, WellSpring Publishing, Marketing and Public Relations wellspring@ediblesanjuanmountains.com

contact us info@ediblesanjuanmountains.com edible San Juan Mountains 361 Camino del Rio Suite 127 Durango, CO 81303 To send a letter to the editor, email us at rick@ ediblesanjuanmountains.com. For home delivery of edible San Juan Mountains, email info@ ediblesanjuanmountains.com; 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.


On the Cover: Brooke Frazer of Durango, CO seems to be the master at adapting to her environment. A native of North Carolina, she and her husband moved to the San Juans not knowing the first thing about high altitude gardening. Now three years later, Frazer has not only learned about it, she has managed to turn her knowledge into a business. As our writer, Anna Riling explains on page 18 here’s how it works: Homeowners allow Brooke Frazer to convert their land into garden space in return for a share of the spoils. Frazer has acquired eight urban plots ranging in size from 1,000 to 2,500 square feet. In all, she works about 10,000 square feet of land – enough to feed 50 families. – RS

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notable edibles

James R anch: Has opened Harvest Grill & Greens an on-site, ranch-style eatery. The brain-child of one of James’ five children, Cynthia Stewart, the Harvest Grill & Greens only serves food that is grown on the ranch, is local, or is 100-percent organic. Serious Delights and Wildflour Bakery are baking the breads and gluten-free options to accompany burgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, smoked roast beef, and grilled artisan cheese. Literally, the “garden salads” come with house-made black currant vinegrette, and Stewart has commissioned the Chip Peddelar to make organic russet chips for the Grill. Beyond totally local and organic food, the eatery is a zero waste zone. There is complete composting of everything inside and out (worm bin and all). Stewart’s mission is to bring people to the land, to their food source, and to create an experience that goes well beyond a typical burger shack. The Harvest Grill & Greens is open Monday through Saturday 11 am to 7 pm.

Fox Fire Farms: This Spring, Fox Fire Farms located in Ignacio, became contract growers of organic livestock for Whole Foods. Whole Foods now picks up live animals on site, and the meat is featured in Rocky Mountain stores. According to their marketing department, Fox Fire Farms will continue to supply eggs to Durango Natural Foods, but direct marketing of livestock became too cost prohibitive for Fox Fire to continue supplying to local retailers. Rather, they’ve turned their attention to events, dinners, weddings, and wine. All events feature foods grown at the farm and sourced from other local farms and ranches. A new crop of grapes was planted this spring, and they’ve added a chardonnay, pino noir, and cabernet to their wine list this year. Farm tours and wine tasting is done on site through October, and Thursday through Saturday, Fox Fire Farms has a tasting room located at Durango Coffee Company from 3 to 8 pm.

4  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011

Montanya Rum: During the 2011 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival this past spring, Montaya took the Gold Medal for their Montanya Platino rum, and a silver medal for the Oro rum. The culimating event for the week-long festival is the Rum XP Competition, a world famous competition that determines the best rums from around the world. This year, rums were scored by 24 judges, and 70 rums from all over the world were tasted. In other Montanya news, the distiller will be opening a new location on Elk Avenue in Crested Butte this summer, while the tasting room in Silverton will remain open.

Edible San Juan Mountains: Edible Communities Publications including Edible San Juan Mountains received the 2011 James Beard Foundation “Publication of the Year” Award. This year, the Journalism Committee of the James Beard Foundation Awards decided (for the first time) to present a special award for Publication of the Year. The Publication of the Year Award recognizes a publication—in magazine, newspaper, or digital format—that demonstrates fresh directions, worthy ambitions, and a forward-looking approach to food journalism. Considered the “the Oscars of the food world” by Time, the James Beard Foundation Awards are the country’s most coveted honor for chefs; food and beverage professionals; broadcast media, print journalists, and food authors as well as restaurant architects and designers.


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notable edibles Tricks of the

Trade: High Altitude Gardening

an Edible Interview with John Wickman If you want the skinny on edible gardening in the southwest, spend a few minutes with John Wickman. He’s been gardening for over 30 years in Colorado and is the owner/operator of Native Roots Gardening Center in Durango. Our plot of paradise here in the Southwest is a far cry from the throw-a-seed-in- theground-and-it-will-grow-like-crazy climate of other regions. But those with a bright green thumb like Wickman manage to grow vegetables and beyond in this harsher climate. His skills have even rubbed off on family members. His daughter grew hundreds of pounds of produce last year for a school project—then donated it all to the Manna Soup Kitchen. Here John shares some insight on gardening at high altitude.

pH is, we give recommendations on how to amend the land for growing certain crops with organic matter based on those results. Are there certain pests gardeners in the area need to contend with? JW: By far the most complaints we get are deer and elk. Build a fence. Or you can get repellants that are organic and made out of eggs, or some made from blood, which instills fear in the animal rather than stinks them out. By far the biggest pest is aphids. But the good news with climate change is the predatory insects that never used to be here like praying mantis, lacewings, parasitic wasps, now over-winter here. These beneficial insects help keep the insect pest population down.

What actually constitutes “ high altitude”? JW: Anything above 6,500 feet. Even the difference between Durango and Denver is huge. High-altitude gardeners have to contend with a much shorter growing season; we have three months here whereas Farmington has five months, Denver has five months. What do you think is the biggest challenge of high altitude gardening, and how can we overcome it? JW: The nighttime temperatures. They are in the 40s, and even though daytime temps are high, the soil still cools down a lot at night. Soil temperature drives a lot of plant metabolism; when soil temps drops below 55 degrees, plants stops growing. I suggest frost guard, which is a white fabric that helps a lot with maintaining nighttime temps. Basically you put it over the top of soil and plants grow underneath. It’s really lightweight, and as plants grow they push it up, then you can pull it off mid-July. The other option is to build a cold frame, or some type of greenhouse, which would obviously extend the season. Is the soil here problematic and how can a new gardener work with it? JW: The soil above us is high in minerals, like in Silverton and Telluride. Down here (in Durango) we have fairly fine clays because of the sediments coming out of the mountains, so the pH is going to be different depending on where you are. Because plants are sensitive to the pH, it’s good to get your levels tested. You can pick up soil sample kits at the extension office in Durango (2500 Main Avenue) or at most gardening centers. Once you know what your

6  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011

Are there certain seeds or plant breeds to look for that are specific to the growing season in high-altitude areas? JW:Yes. There are all different vegetable gardening plants that have varying days to harvest. Some tomatoes you can get to mature in 60 to 120 days, while most heirlooms take 100 to 120 days, which is unfortunate because heirlooms are better. Fast-maturing tomato breeds include Siberian, Early Girl or Celebrity—there are quite a few that have been bred to ripen in a shorter amount of time. There are also some beans, squash varieties, and even cabbage (that mature quickly). What are some specific edible plants that might be considered “no-fail” and easy to grow for someone who is looking to get into gardening in our area? JW: The easiest would be some of the lettuces, beets, broccoli, Swiss chard, zucchini. Hard ones would be watermelon and cantaloupe because nights are too cool, so they produce fruit but the fruit is too small. They grow terrific cantaloupe out in La Junta, so I say buy those at the store and save garden space for what is productive. My advice is always to be patient, experiment and don’t get discouraged because it’s difficult. * According to the Colorado State University Extenstion Office: “ pH can be described as the measure of acidity or alkalinity of soil. pH is measured on a scale of 1 to 14 where 7, which is neutral, is the optimal level for most plants. Numbers lower than 7 are considered acidic and numbers higher than 7 are considered alkaline or calcareous (high in calcium carbonate). Garden soils in Colorado that have never had amendments added may have a pH value of up to 8.5, which is higher than most plants can tolerate.”


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Success with the Excess

‘T

By Anna Riling

is the season for seasonal dishes! That’s the glass-is-halffull way of saying, “What the heck do I do with all this (fill-in-the-blank)?” I’m guilty of avoiding a farmer’s market or two for fear of coming home with yet another fistful of irresistible veggies for which I’ve exhausted my culinary repertoire. That, and forcing bags of greens and zucchini the size of a healthy baby on unsuspecting friends and family. However, necessity is the mother of invention. Never more does that ring true when you’re staring down a five-gallon bucket of apples, ten pounds of roma tomatoes or, for that matter, a full stringer of fresh-caught trout. There’s more than one way to skin a cat; I’ve just found I had to dig a little deeper.

Off the “Beeten” Path If you ask Tom Robbins, the path to immortality is paved with beets (and hot tubs). That “muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies” figures prominently and prolifically at southwest Colorado farmer’s markets. Anything with such a murderous hue provides an interesting culinary challenge. Of course, you can roast them, use them in salads—hot or cold—or try borscht. I don’t know many kids (or husbands for that matter) that, of their own voli8  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011

tion, will mow down a heaping dish of bloody tubers. This recipe is a simple, healthy take on the time-honored potato chip. If the color still throws ‘em off just tell them to give it a try—they just might live forever.

BEET CHIPS Ingredients 3 medium beets, peeled Sea salt

Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350°. 2. Slice the beets very thinly (about one millimeter) using a mandolin. 3. Lay the slices onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt. 4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Remove from oven and cool.

Rocket: Don’t Knock It There’s a reason arugula is also called rocket—as in, plant it and it’s off like one. When my friend gave me a baggie with some


arugula seeds a couple of years ago, I had no idea I’d create a monster. I stuffed a whole row full of the deceptively innocuous tiny brown seeds. A few weeks later, I had enough arugula to generate some serious revenue at any farmer’s market. I couldn’t give the stuff away fast enough. This year, I was more modest with my sowing, but those plants have a love affair with Colorado soil. It’s hard to muster enthusiasm for its pungency and spice every day, but that same tang is a surprisingly sublime substitute for the traditional basil in this pesto.

Arugula and Toasted Walnut Pesto Ingredients 2 cups packed arugula leaves 1/2 cup walnuts 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded 1/2 cup olive oil 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled 1/2 garlic clove, peeled and minced 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions 1. Brown six garlic cloves with peels on in skillet over medium high heat until garlic is lightly browned in places, about 10 minutes. Remove garlic from pan, cool, and remove skins. 2. Toast nuts in toaster oven on high for about four minutes, being careful not to burn them. 3. Combine the arugula, salt, walnuts and roasted and raw garlic into a food processor. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Place mixture in a bowl and add the Parmesan cheese.

Trout: Go Coastal Two things happened to bring this recipe to fruition. The first involved a couple of cutthroat trout, an ill-timed monsoon, a doused campfire and a lunch of unintentional and utterly unappetizing mountain sushi. The second was a trip to the north coast of Peru and a heavenly week of three square meals a day of ceviche. Fresh seafood in southwest Colorado is, to put it mildly, hard to come by. But fresh trout? Walk out your door with a four-weight and a Parachute Adams and you’ve got yourself a meal. Instead of the tried-and-true lemon-butter-salt-foil method, subject to errant weather, why not go coastal? Let the limes do the work, and leave the campfires to the Boy Scouts.

Trout Ceviche Ingredients 2 whole trout, filleted and skinned* Juice of 5-6 limes 1/4 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped 1/4 cucumber, seeded, peeled and diced 1 whole red pepper, finely diced 1/2 red onion, minced 1/4 teaspoon cayenne Salt and pepper to taste

Directions 1. Dice fish into half-inch pieces. 2. Combine everything into a non-reactive (stainless steel, glass or ceramic) bowl. 3. Refrigerate for one hour. 4. Garnish with sliced limes or sprigs of cilantro.

*Intimidated by all those bones? Self described “fishmonger” Tim Staehler of Sunnyside Meats in Durango will graciously and expertly do the legwork of filleting for you. He’ ll even show you how it’s done. ediblesanjuanmountains.com  9  


What Baseball Taught Me About Gardening By Darrin Parmenter As a kid, my memories of a backyard garden are somewhat vague, and honestly, none too pleasant. For me, summer was meant for baseball. Every day in June and July, the script was already written: wake up, grab the glove, bike to the baseball fields at the old Fairgrounds in Durango, then play, practice and pull weeds (this was pre-child labor laws, apparently). After the game, I’d go to a buddy’s house for a good two hours of wiffle ball, and be home by evening for a round of catch with dad. That was it. My world consisted of a ball, bat and glove. The garden was merely an obstacle to the game. If the batted ball reached the tomato plants, then it was a ground-rule double; the makeshift greenhouse was a foul ball; and if it was wacked to the raspberries, well, then the game was usually over and it was time to find a new ball. But in 1981, it all changed. The family took a vacation to grandma and grandpa’s house in Beulah, Colorado. Not too long after the fluids had cooled in the Oldsmobile Omega my parents kissed our foreheads, waved and headed back to Durango. Maybe they wanted to subject us to a week of “granny boot camp,” or maybe they needed a vacation from my sister and me, or perhaps it was simply them wanting us to experience something new during our summer break. Regardless, I was not too happy about being away from my friends or baseball. The thought of drinking grandma’s diluted Kool-Aid from an aluminum glass for a full week still makes my teeth hurt.   After my sister and I got settled, I soon learned that a) Grandpa knew how to play baseball (what a relief!), and b) behind the house, next to the tire swing,

10  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011

was grandpa’s garden. Man, that garden was big, and that soil was black. As children, the dirt was best used to paint our clothes, but as a gardener it was pure gold, and grandpa knew it. It was in this garden where he was always happiest. He was proud—proud of his space behind the house that he bought, in the town he helped support. He would talk while the kids darted in and out of the two-story corn. Not sure what he was talking about, or whom he was talking to, but I still remember the excitement in his voice. I recall sitting on his knee, shucking beans, him smiling and kidding me about my (lack of) technique. And for once, baseball sat in the dugout while vegetables took to the field. Baseball continued to be there every summer until I was 17, and I am pretty sure that the week away when I was 9 didn’t set my skills back that far. Grandpa Mickey died a number of years later, and if my memory serves me, so did the garden. There are no photos or journal detailing the crops behind the house. For all I know, the garden may not have been big at all. But to be honest, I don’t really care. It was there I saw him laugh and talk—things he didn’t do all that often. For a week that summer, I was able to learn what taking pride in something was all about. Those memories still make me smile. Thirty years later, as I sit in my small garden, I silently watch my kids dig up roly-polys and millipedes. This is our space, and for what it is worth, it’s our own secret garden. With summer activities, vacations and way too much work, the garden does get neglected. But you know what? Among those weeds, I see that the beans will be ready in a couple of weeks, and I will definitely have the kids help shuck them. And I will smile.


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Libation

Pura Vallecito By Jess Kelley I spent a little time in Costa Rica. Most of it I shouldn’t write about, and most of the rest I can’t remember. One speakable memory is the food. The gallo pinto, specifically. Gallo pinto translates into painted rooster, but it tastes like rice and beans and cilantro and red bell peppers. And lard, but you can’t really taste that, you just see on your hips after months of concentrated mastication. Gallo pinto is one of those dishes you fall for while living abroad, then attempt to resuscitate at home without luck. Like romances that surface overseas yet out of context are - how-do-yousay - no bueno. The best gallo pinto I had in Costa Rica was at this surfside joint in Puerto Viejo called the Bambu. This bloke from Canada named Bill ran it. You could say he was a mess. He’d take your order then ask diners at the next table over for money so he could jet to the store to buy the beans or whatnot. He had spent his money on, well, other things. Mess aside, his gallo pinto was magical, even if it took two hours to reach the table. That’s why I almost sold my passport on the black market the first time I saw gallo pinto on a stateside menu. In Vallecito of all places. But there it was, at the Pura Vida Cafe, located twenty miles northeast of Durango, overlooking the lake. The Pura Vida is a place you go for breakfast, have the Costa Rican coffee or the “Hot Mary” Bloody Mary (“she’ll pucker your pecker”), and come back later for tacos and boat drinks. Or never leave. That’s what happens in Costa Rica. Time dissolves and next thing you know you’ve got a beard or hairy legs and your plane has left without you. But at least the gallo pinto still tastes good. Pura Vida. Pure Life. Pura Vida Cafe owner and chef, Gary Peach is a South-

12  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011

Breck Stemmel, left, and Jenn Wray get the part rolling on the deck at the Pura Vida

west Colorado native, with a great smile, reddish stubble, light brown eyes, and a master of grandiose statements. A self proclaimed Parrot head (“I’m the biggest one in Colorado”), and snowbird (“As soon as I see a snowflake I run”), Peach opens the Pura Vida for about ninety days every summer. The closing date hinges on Jimmy Buffet’s October tour date in Vegas. Then he and half the gypsy staff close up shop and make their way south of the boarder to squander their seasonal winnings. Peach goes to Playas Del Coco, which is thirty minutes or so to the Nicaraguan boarder and, “the seediest fishing village in all of Costa Rica.” During reverse migration in the spring, he hand carries espresso (which he drinks all day long), in addition to several Central American culinary themes that pepper the mainly New Mexican menu. For example, The Tico Breakfast (Tico means native Costa Rican) includes two eggs, gallo pinto, sour


cream, fried banana, bacon or sausage, and tortillas. Once a week Peach drives to the Sundown Bakery on Goddard Street in Ignacio for all of his baked goods. Rich Pinkham, the bakery owner, makes the fresh hoagie rolls, sliced sourdough, and all other baked goods for the Pura Vida menu. For dinner, the steak portion of “My Mom’s Chicken Fried Steak” hails from Greely, Colorado. “I’m the only one on the planet who makes chicken fried steak like this - cut it all by hand, hand pound the heck out of it, hand bread it, and grill it.”

Needless to say, it’s a local favorite. The “Big Kahuna Tuna” is fresh ahi—so fresh you’d think they caught it right there in the lake—and is served with a soy, ginger and wasabi sauce. And gallo pinto, of course. Peach’s gallo pinto has those perfectly opaque onions that don’t disappear, and tiny diced red bell peppers for color. It’s so good that for a moment after that first bite, I often consider booking a flight back to do it all again. But when you can get drinks like a Key Lime Pie martini, or a Jack and Coke float—yes, exactly how it sounds, Jack Daniels, Coke and vanilla ice cream—why go? Breck Stremmel’s drink menu (she’s the head waitress and cocktail wizard) is dynamic enough to make a teetotaler memorize the 12-step program. The straws are so wide half a pineapple can travel through it, and the piña coladas can be served in glasses larger than a middle seat in coach. And if you’ve never, do have a Horchata colada, which is a Mexican cinnamon rice drink with rum and fresh pineapple. Consider this in tandem with the setting. The open-air, lakefront deck is complete with tiki bar; Buffet tunes stream 80 percent of the time; and bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers are abundant (rated by one diner as a 57 on a 1-to-10 scale). Now a certified executive chef and master cake maker, Peach got his culinary start when “I was too little to reach the tabletop.” Since then, he’s worked for over 80 restaurants worldwide. He says he knew he wanted to work in the food business forever when he was 15 years old, working at Burger King, and had to call an ambulance because a co-worker became affixed to the walk-in floor while having, ahem, relations. “Truth is so much stranger than fiction,” muses Peach one evening while sitting at a booth, recuperating after a slammin’ evening rush. Until five years ago, Pura Vida was known to locals as the Shoreline. Since the original owners, Peach says he watched it fail five times, so he changed the name and took up seasonal residence downstairs. This makes it convenient to reach him, since “I’m the only one in the world without a cell phone,” he says. Most of the locals don’t seem to mind the name change, especially those who come in during off hours for his peanut-butter bars or house-made barbeque sauce. One recent evening a frequent, semi-intoxicated diner proclaimed: “This is the greatest place in the world.” He almost looked like Bill, but I can’t really remember. Pura Vida is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can be reached at (970) 884-2766.

Key Lime Pie martini

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14  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011


A Trout Story By Rachel Turiel

T

he kids are reliving every wild trout meal they’ve eaten in their short, collective lives as we drive out to my husband Dan’s honey-hole in the mountains to fish for

trout. I don’t mention the oodles of butter-crisped trout Dan and I ate over campfires pre-parenthood, including on our honeymoon where we dined like royalty straight from the creeks of the San Juan Mountains. Dan interrupts the revelry. “Guys, what we love about fishing is the unknown. The lure of adventure. How you never know what’s under the blue depths.” This is a little like telling kids that what we love about birthdays is neither the cake nor the presents, but the suspense of how many smothery kisses they’ll receive from wizened and strange-smelling relatives. And even though we do love the mysteries of the rollicking creeks—the way the sun glints off the water like a floating display case of diamonds; the surprise of water ouzels disappearing into the shockingly cold water; the reflections of the whole wild world—the notion of forking a flaky bite of trout into our mouths is, well, a tangible motivation. The kids schlep their own fishing poles down to the creek, giving themselves kudos along the way. “It’s not easy carrying a fishing pole down a steep, steep mountain,” says four-year-old Rose, while I channel Ma Ingalls, who couldn’t have dedicated much mental space to fears over her children tripping on rocks, falling into a thorny patch of wild roses, and nailing their own eyeballs with a fish hook.

The creek is in full summer splendor. Every blue, green and silver in a 64-pack of Crayolas is represented. The water is low enough that if you’re lucky, you can spot trout waiting below the surface for an insect morsel to skitter above. Dozens of swallows skim and flash above the water, synchronized, like kites launched from a celestial hand. We find a small sandy crescent of beach and set the kids up with their cheap, quirky poles. After a few casts, Rose is called away to the sensory pleasures of warm sand and cold water. But Col, age six, throws his line out a hundred times at least. “I like how you keep fishing, kid; that’s the way to catch fish—to keep fishing,” Dan says to Col’s stalwart figure on the banks. This is the simple kind of wisdom I imagine fathers have been saying to sons in Minnesota for the past 10,000 years. Dan flicks open his fly box, and like a street vendor matching a watch to his customer, he selects a “muddler minnow,” a white, feathery torpedo tied with local mountain goat hair. We bid Dan adieu and good luck as he ducks into the willows and disappears upstream in search of dinner. The kids splash and cast while I stand by, ready to detangle lines, re-skewer worms and extract hooks from snagged willows. It’s not a bad gig. The clouds wash the sky clean, the sun dips, the shadows stretch, the creek gurgles and Dan returns like a hero. His legs are tattered and pink from frigid creek water sloshing against willow-scraped skin, and he totes a string of trout. The dangling slabs of spotted silver hang off an alder branch pushed through their gaping mouths.

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“I got beetles! I got beetles and you only got little wings, Col ey!” Rose shouts, proving sibling rivalry is alive and well even in the thin air of 9,000 feet. We toss the entrails back in the creek, hopeful that a mink or maybe a river otter will also feast on trout tonight.

“This is a cut-bow,” Dan explains, “a cross between a rainbow trout and a native cutthroat. See how it has the pink rainbow stripe on its sides but the orange slash on the throat?” Col and Rose are more interested in the gift inside the wrapping, but I know they’re storing these words in some unknowable place in their mental files.

The sun is slicing through the pointy spruce trees to the west as we set up our camp stove and unwrap a stick of butter. There is always something green and edible nearby to throw in the pan for a well-balanced meal, among them wild onions, stinging nettles, dandelion greens, and watercress. Tonight, the stinging hairs of creek-side nettles are disarmed with a peace treaty of hot butter and salt. Dan clears a space in the pan for the fish, which he lays in the nest of crisping greens, heads and tails still attached. It’s like we’re contestants on the new reality show, The Freshest Meal. In less than 10 minutes Dan is spooning bites of pink trout flesh, crispy fish skin, and wilted green nettles straight in our mouths.

Next, following tradition, Dan slices open the stomach and intestines to see what our dinner ate for dinner. He sloshes some creek water into the kids’ cupped hands and sprinkles in the sludgy stomach contents. Like a crystal ball, everything becomes clear as the water separates the undigested bits, revealing hard beetle shells, mayfly nymphs, soggy ants and grasshopper wings. Turns out, onmay not want to ponder too deeply what their dinner ate for dinner.

The kids go crazy for the wild trout, flashing baby bird mouths every time a loaded fork flies off the frying pan. The trout and nettles are the marriage of mountains and creeks distilled at the alter of butter; the perfect San Juan meal; the original surf and turf. “Who wants an eyeball?” Dan asks these kids, who aren’t old enough to be squeamish like their mother. Col pushes the first trout eye around his mouth, and Rose, not to be outdone ever, signs up for the next peeper that an hour ago was used to spot ants, mayfly nymphs, beetles, and lucky for us, Dan’s goat-hair fly.

Original artwork by Dan Hinds

The kids mob their father like coyote pups whose canine papa has returned to the den with a rabbit clenched in his jaws. They want to touch the slimy skin, poke at the rosy gills, press their fingers up against the white row of saw-blade teeth. But first there is work to be done. Dan flicks open a blade on his Leatherman and slices a slippery trout from anus to gills, opening its body like a book. With a finger he pushes the innards out from along the spine in one firm swoop. In one minute and with two tools—knife and finger—the fish is gutted and ready for the frying pan.


Colorado cutthroatedibles trout, of which there are three subspecies (Colonotable

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rado River cutthroat, Green River cutthroat and Rio Grande cutthroat), are the only native trout species remaining in Colorado. All three have either been petitioned to be listed or are currently listed under the Endangered Species Act. Cutthroat trout have lost habitat to more aggressive and successfully introduced trout species, and therefore are mainly a catch-and-release species. However, the Division of Wildlife (DOW) has partnered with other conservation agencies to preserve the legacy of these fish. The DOW stocks many high-elevation, wilderness lakes with only cutthroats, from which you can currently take four per day. The fish populations are closely monitored by the DOW, and the daily bag limits reflect the health of the species in a particular creek or lake. “Don’t feel bad about catching fish,” says Jim White, aquatic biologist for the DOW. “Many fish don’t survive the winter, or are extremely successful like the brook trout.” (You can keep up to 10 brook trout per day, eight inches long or less). An annual fishing license is $36 for residents or $9 for one day of fishing. Before fishing in Colorado, be sure to check out the local fishing regulations, available on the DOW website (www.wildlife.co.us). – Rachel Turiel

(one time use, please)

The Turiels’ Trout Recipe Fresh trout needs little tinkering and just a quick flash of heat in a pan. This recipe works at home or in the field. Don’t remove the skin; it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids and crispy-licious.

INGREDIENTS 3 tablespoons butter or oil 1 clove garlic, crushed ½ lemon, squeezed 1-2 cups chopped spinach, nettles or chard Fresh herbs, chopped (optional) Salt to taste

Trout DIRECTIONS: Sauté the garlic in 2 tablespoons butter or oil in pan for five minutes. Add the spinach or other greens and cook

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briefly. Clear a spot in pan for fish, add remaining butter or oil and place your cleaned trout (skin side down) in the pan. Cook for approximately three to five minutes, flip and cook the other side for slightly less time. One minute before removing from heat, add salt to taste, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

Calm your waters with Riesling and smoked trout after a long cutthroat day – Lainie Maxson

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Back of the House

The Freelance Farmer By Anna Riling

I

park behind a rusting blue Ford with a “biodiesel” bumper sticker, the official fleet vehicle of Your Backyard Harvest, a Durango-based multi-plot farming venture. Armed with a sack lunch and gloves, I’m ready to spend the day helping the owner, Brooke Frazer, till, rake, weed and water. Frazer meets me at the gate, introduces herself and thrusts a box of unruly sprouting potatoes my way, their salmon-hued tentacles reaching up and over the edge of the cardboard. “I thought we’d start with these!” she exclaims merrily. We sit down right there in the dirt of her front yard, snipping off chunks of potato to be planted later. Clad in pink plaid and carpenter pants, with wild hair and a quick laugh, Frazer is immediately likeable, calling to mind a cross between Lucille Ball and a tiny Rosie the Riveter. I learn that she’s the “pivot” on Durango’s roller derby team. When I ask what that entails, she replies cheerily, “I hit people!” In between body checks and running her own business, she also

Brooke Frazer looks over one of her more expansive backyard plots, near Junction Creek in Durango

serves as a vegetable gardener at Elk Park Ranch, dabbles in environmental research analysis and moonlights as a waitress. She explains how her haphazard resume led to urban agriculture. “Appropriate energy puts a value on energy consumption,” she says of her master’s degree, “and fits a particular community’s needs to it.” Whereas agriculture in a rural setting may capitalize on vast amounts of land, urban agriculture adapts to its own attributes, namely vast amounts of land spread out into many small pieces. Here’s how it works: homeowners allow Frazer to convert their land into garden space in return for a share of the spoils. Frazer has acquired eight urban plots ranging in size from 1,000 to 2,500 square feet. In all, she works about 10,000 square feet of land, enough to feed 50 families. She has sold three Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares and has set aside more shares for the owners of the properties she uses. In addition to the CSAs, she sells produce weekly at the Durango Farmers’ Market.

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Brooke Frazer and her husband (and part-time free laborer), Andrew, work near Junction Creek Frazer’s model of urban agriculture aligns closely with that of a method of small scale, multi-plot farming called SPIN, or Small Plot Intensive Farming. The SPIN method seeks to mitigate costs to small scale farmers in ways unfathomable to large scale conventional farms. Because of the small plot size, farmers can save money by working the land themselves instead of hiring laborers. They can construct an inexpensive irrigation system using simple plastic irrigation tubing and garden hoses. Local sources of fertilizer from a ranch or stable mean that the use of toxic and expensive chemicals can be eliminated. We walk over to a mutual friend’s house, the yard of which she’s converted to a 1,000-square-foot garden. The yard I remember as a dog poop land mine is now occupied by five 20-foot-long “hoop houses” and four neatly raked rows. We remove the plastic from the hoop houses, revealing row upon row of tentative green sprouts. Mustard, arugula, lettuce, radishes, spinach, carrots, onions, beets and peas all poke hesitant green heads out into the crisp morning air. I wonder aloud if this would feed a whole family. Frazer says, “More like five to six families.” Later that morning in a sun-bathed Junction Creek field, as Frazer gets tossed around by a temperamental rototiller, I lean on my shovel and survey the newly tamed ground of this basketball court sized field. I consider how much work I put into the two tiny raised beds in my backyard. I ask 20  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011

her if she plans to partner with anyone. “Oh yeah!” she replies, excited. “I want to create a whole network of urban farmers—more yards, fruit trees, eggs, honey … ” If she has her way, first generation farmers would crop up all around us, and a true cooperative venture would take root. Bees from a neighbor’s hive would pollinate a smattering of apricot trees down the street. Backyard chicken coops would provide meals for people and their gardens, in the form of eggs and compost. Eventually, a local and renewable source of farming income would provide a welcome economic boost for the community. “I want it to be economically sustainable for me, so that it can be my main job,” says Frazer. “Also so that it won’t benefit just me, but provide jobs for others.” Using low-cost, biointensive farming practices such as strategic planting of closely spaced rows, low pressure drip irrigation and locally sourced fertilizer (she uses composted horse manure from Elk Park Ranch, where she works), Frazer’s one-woman show breathes new life into southwest Colorado’s already vibrant farming community. On the way back into town, Frazer’s enthusiasm colors my vision. I start to see the neighborhood through her eyes: lawns become lettuce, grass becomes greens, and the meaning of “local food” becomes a simple stroll in the backyard.


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Shrooming in the San Juans by Art Goodtimes

M

ushrooming used to be a bit on the stuffy side. The complexity of fungal forms and identifying characteristics, plus the use of unpronounceable Latin names, tended to separate the cognoscenti from myco-rookies and amateur collectors. While hiking alone in the Santa Cruz Mountains, on a sixties weekend hitchhike away from the Outer Sunset, just finishing up college and my Conscientious Objector job driving patrons to and fro the Recreation Center for the Handicapped, I came upon this brilliant crimson mushroom. It was rimmed with gold highlights and spotlighted on a bench of a Coast Range creek in the early morning post-fog sunlight. I fell hard, joined the San Francisco Mycological Society, and found choice oyster mushroom spots north of the city with a Rec Center aide helping on my van runs. Not only was it a fun hobby, it was a chance to exercise my six years of Latin training in the seminary. Amanita. Cantherellus. Coprinus. Emetica. But you don’t have to learn Latin to join the ranks of amateur fungophiles. Enter the mushroom clubs, annual festivals in and around Telluride, Buena Vista, Creede, and Crested Butte, North American Mycological As-

22  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011

sociation (NAMA) forays in Colorado, a raft of new mushroom books and field guides, online gourmet providers, and medical breakthroughs that have all changed the face of the game. Wild crafted species of all manner of exotic size and shape have begun appearing on upscale restaurant menus and even in many supermarkets. The absolute hands-down best guide for newbies wanting to learn how to gather wild ‘shrooms in the field has to be Gary Lincoff’s The Complete Mushroom Hunter: An Illustrated guide to Finding, Harvesting, and Enjoying Wild Mushrooms (Query Books, Massachusetts, 2010). Certainly an expert, Lincoff is one of the founding faculty of the Telluride Mushroom Festival, a former NAMA president and a resident mycologist at the New York Botanical Gardens. Now a few tips for those of us lucky enough to be living or spending time in the Southern Rockies who want to pick their own. First, the mushroom hunting season in the mountains is short. At 10,000 feet in the spruce-fir forests is where some of the best edibles thrive. The ‘shrooms come with the summer monsoon rains and last no more than a month’s window—from mid-August to mid-September. The harvesting time is variable and dependant on a variety of con-


ditions. Last year was one of the biggest fruitings in the three decades I’ve been pot hunting (what amateur mycologists like to call gathering baskets of edibles) in the mountains. The year before that was probably the worst. Hundreds of people on forays came back with less than one tabletop of mushrooms, most of them inedible. Each year is a different adventure. Of course, as with all statements, there are exceptions. Morels appear in benches along rivers and up in the forested mountains after fires during the spring (May through June). Western giant puffballs (Calvatia booniana) come in July or August. They can be as big as basketballs, and they’re a delicious edible … with the right kitchen prepping. There are a couple important principles I like to uphold in preparing mushrooms for the dinner table. First, field-clean all edibles. That means when you’re gathering ‘shrooms in the wild, stop when you find a meadow of choice edibles, take out your pocket knife (and toothbrush) and remove all dirt and duff, insects and damaged flesh. That helps spread the spores— the fungal “seeds” that make more ‘shrooms—so the species you’ve collected will continue to grow on that site. And it means you don’t need to wash the ones you’ve collected, as some species lose volatile oils and flavors when washed. Second, cook all ‘shrooms thoroughly. Never eat them raw. Some common edible species are even carcinogenic if not cooked when eaten. I like most wild mushrooms sautéed in a light oil as a complement to almost any dish. The bugaboo of amateur ‘shrooms are lookalikes—mushrooms that are similar, one being edible and the other toxic enough to make you sick. Colorado is lucky to have only one or two deadly mushrooms that can, in sufficient doses, kill you. The most deadly is a little brown mushroom (Galerina spp.). So we always warn newcomers away from LBMs. But there are also false morels and beautiful looking toadstools that will make you quite sick to your stomach, or in need of a very accessible restroom. One has to be alert and knowledgeable, which is why mushroom hunting has always been a niche activity. But there are also a number of great edible species that I’ve hunted regularly over the last 30 years—King Bolete, Chanterelles, Hawkswings— and prize edibles that are rarer, harder to identify and especially choice: Matsutake and Russula xerampelina. No question, the best way to learn about mushrooms is to take a hike into the fields or slopes with an experienced guide and identify the ‘shrooms one finds in situ. We call those “forays.” The Telluride Mushroom Festival has numerous forays for ‘shroomers of all ages and experience levels. Lincoff himself will lead some of those hikes, as well as other experts, including recent Fort Lewis College grad, Ruby Siegel, who has been coming to the festival since she was a toddler. For more information about the Shroomfest, held August 18-21 in Telluride, visit the website: www.shroomfest.com, and happy shrooming in the San Juans this summer.

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Grilled and Until last year, if my husband Blake wanted to eat locally-

Black Market Beef (... sort of) by Deb Dion

Until last year, if my husband Blake wanted to eat locally raised, grass-fed beef, he had two choices: either spend a big chunk of his paycheck at the Telluride Farmers’ Market or go without. That was before he hooked up with his “dealer.” We live in Norwood, the rural, ranching community at the opposite end of San Miguel County as Telluride, and most of our neighbors here have tracts of land instead of cramped city lots. Some of them have enough room for a few goats, sheep, chicken, or cows—yet for most of our friends, raising animals is just a hobby. If they produce meat it’s just for their family and a few other people. But if you know someone, or if you know someone who knows someone, you might be able to get your hands on some home-grown, all-natural meat. Even some of the restaurants in Telluride rely on these small-scale ranchers for special, locally grown items. And it is a little like buying drugs: to get the best product you need to cut out the middleman and score large quantities direct from the source. Typically that large quantity means a few cuts or a quarter of an animal … and usually it has already been butchered. Not this time. Blake had done a few favors around the ranch for a friend of ours who was grateful enough to offer us a cow at cost—a whole cow. A living, young “feeder” calf that would graze and feed at his ranch until it was ready to be processed. The hitch? Blake would have to help him rustle it and haul it to the butcher. (He would also have to buy a full-size freezer to hold the meat until he could divvy it up between friends and family. An entire cow amounts to about 600 pounds of beef.) You might think that raising a cow a few blocks away at someone else’s ranch is not really getting acquainted with your food source, but for Blake, it was a two-year-long revelation. The way he looks

24  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011


at burgers or steak has changed forever. He didn’t name his cow and he tried not to get too friendly with it … but he did like to visit him. One evening, when he was bringing scraps of food to the herd of cattle, he drove out onto the field and right into their midst. The cows were expecting him and the food, and the throng surrounded Blake’s car in what must have seemed like a menacing way. He froze, unable to open the door. This was not like being stuck on a rural road in the middle of a cattle drive. It was more like being stuck in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, only there was no squawking, just mooing. Luckily, he had his cell phone with him and after much heckling he was rescued. Someone who is too frightened to push their way out of a Subaru and past a few cows is probably not suited to slaughter one. And even though the animal’s actual blood would be on the hands of the processor in Delta, the day that Blake got the call to help wrangle the animal and bring it to the butcher he felt a mixture of guilt and relief. But unlike the mindless trips he used to make to the meat aisle of a grocery store, he felt something. On some visceral level he had made the connection between animal and food, between the living, breathing calf he’d watched grow and the white paper packages of beef cuts. This is not a connection that everyone makes. In Norwood, there are still people living and working on ranches and 4-H kids raising their own pigs, sheep or cows, but for so many of us, the industrial food complex has taken away all the messiness and reality of animal products like beef. One of the best things to come out of the local food movement is that it is bringing some of that reality back. For Blake, it was a lesson in the true value of local, grass-fed beef, and he will never again question the cost.

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the diva dines

Photo by Anneliese Zemp

San Juan Al Fresco by Lauren Slaff There is little question of the driving reason the good folks in our corner of paradise choose to live here. The natural beauty of our surroundings, complete with trademark sunny skies, rugged peaks, rushing rivers and lush Aspen groves call us out for the long awaited summer months. We’ve finally peeled off our winter layers and endured the muddy spring, ready to rejoice in the bustle of summer farmers’ markets, lively festivals and the commencement of my favorite warm weather sport—dining al fresco. Isn’t everything more delicious, quenching and intoxicating enjoyed in fresh air? When I’m not getting my hands dirty cook-

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ing over a campfire, packing the perfect picnic or celebrating the season around the backyard barbeque, I’m heading out for summer’s tastiest refreshments served by someone else with a view of the San Juans. Cosmo Bar & Dining Durango diners are blessed with a glut of fabulous outdoor venues offering ambling patios, backyard gardens and sprawling decks around every corner. But the spot that literally rises above the others is the elegant, lofty rooftop patio at Cosmo Bar & Dining in the heart of historic downtown. Through the chic dining room and up the top of the stairs,


arrive just a bit closer to heaven. Whether aglow under the setting sun or the rising moon, our LaPlatas take center stage surrounding the tasteful backdrop of muted colors and natural textures of the patio décor. Just steps through the entry adorned with builtin planters hosting fresh herbs plucked daily, you can choose to perch at the bistro-style seating punctuated by a handsome locally crafted concrete and Durango-recycled, crushed-glass bartop. Or allow the congenial hostess to lead you to a shaded “picnic” table on the dining deck, kept misty-cool in the harsh heat of summer and toasty when the high-altitude chill sets in. If you love open-air dining, then you gotta love open-air drinking. Cool off with a namesake Cosmo or sample a Mountain Mojo, Cosmo’s exotic rendition of a perennial favorite infused with local basil, a hint of ginger and the San Juan’s own Montanya Rum. Or celebrate summer Provençal style, sipping a glass of crisp 2010 Sutcliffe Rose. Locavore Chef Chris Crowl requisitions an abundance of locally grown and sustainable products. Begin with salads of delicate greens, fragrant herbs, roasted ruby beets, stacks of juicy tomatoes and Crowl’s succulent house-smoked bacon. Nothing says summer quite like a great burger, and nothing says great burger like Cosmo’s James Ranch “Patio Burger.” Grassfinished beef nestled on a homemade sesame bun, smothered in caramelized onions, gooey Fontina and a ripe slice of Stone Free Farm’s tomato is served with a pile of truffle or sweet potato fries and best accompanied by a frosty local draft. And if you come between 5 and 6 p.m., this perfect pairing will set you back only 10 bucks. Dishes extracting and celebrating the flavors of summer and our local bounty can include a perfectly grilled soy-butter-basted Mahi-Mahi (a super-sustainable fish) atop a pool of sweet corn risotto, complimented by smoky ancho chile vinaigrette and the crunch of Banga’s Farm sugar snap peas. Dig into a side of Ancient Future’s spicy braising greens studded with house bacon and look for old-fashioned summer accompaniments like Crowl’s latest passion, tangy house made pickles and fermented veggies. Even if you think you couldn’t eat another bite, treat yourself to a batch of piping made-to-order beignets with lemon-passionfruit curd or seasonal delights the likes of ripe strawberry shortcake (available gluten-free), a local peach trio or a daily assortment of seasonal house-made ice creams and sorbets. Good thing the lovely weather enhances a nice après-dinner digestive stroll along historic Main Street. Appetizers and salads from $9 to $12 Pizzas and burgers from $10 to $25 (this one is topped with a lobster tail!) Entrees from $12 to $36 (yep, there’s that Maine lobster tail again) 919 Main Avenue, Durango/Open daily 5 to 9 p.m. cosmodurango.com

Kip’s Grille & Cantina Once you step into the cozy brick house, through the kitschy bar and onto the wrapping deck, you’ve stepped into a scene whose characters run the gamut from rugged cowboys, carefree river rats and hikers, bright-eyed, mineral-soaked tourists and friendly locals of all ages. Kip’s is a local joint offering a variety of cold local microbrews and enlivened with entertainment performed by talented musicians from ‘round these parts. Casual fare focuses on Baja-style tacos, including the “El Diablo,” “Dynamite Diablo” and “Esteban Special” loaded with local “Buckstop” grilled top sirloin, as well as some of the best fish tacos this side of the border. Let your appetite decide which “Real Big” burger you can handle—from ¼- to ¾-pound monsters. Featuring buffalo and elk raised in neighboring Del Norte and served on freshly baked buns from Pagosa’s own Floured Apron, these babies can be accompanied a side of Kip’s roasted, stuffed green chiles for under a buck. Splurge on a slice of Pagosa Baking Company’s daily pie selections including rhubarb concoctions made from the farms and backyard harvests of Archuleta County friends and neighbors. 121 Pagosa St., Pagosa Springs / Open daily 11am-10pm http://kipsgrill.squarespace.com

eat fresh & local all year long

www.stonefreefarm.com

stone free farm

Four Corners Fresh Produce Since 1995 ~ Arriola, Colorado ediblesanjuanmountains.com  27  


notable edibles The Lounge at the Far View Lodge Having one of the most historic national parks in our backyard is one good reason for hanging around. Tucked among Mesa Verde’s sprawling acres of ancient sites and breathtaking vistas is an all-too-well-kept secret. Perched atop the award-winning Metate Room restaurant at the Far View Lodge, you can soak up the unmatched views of Shiprock and the LaPlatas while treating yourself to a tribute to the Southwest. Slurp a vivid prickly pear margarita from the creative cocktail menu paired with an order of bubbling “Mesa Queso” laden with Dove Creek black beans, roasted sweet corn and Hatch chiles. The Lounge menu offers indigenously focused, imaginative appetizers, soups, salads and sweets to indulge in while basking in the views and sipping a glass of neighboring McElmo Canyon vintner, Guy Drew’s signature un-oaked Chardonnay, an aptly named Metate Red Blend or a cold Colorado microbrew. Mesa Verde National Park/ Open daily from 4-10pm www. visitmesaverde.com/dining Dolores River Brewery The tiny river town of Dolores is quietly sheltered amongst the bluffs between Mancos and Cortez, the sprawling McPhee Reservoir and the picturesque stretch of byway heading to Telluride. But this little village is anything but sleepy, and nothing reflects the contagious energy like the vibrant scene at the Dolores River Brewery. Quench your thirst with a pint or, heck, a pitcher of one of DRB’s own world-class microbrews—my summer fave is the classic “Pale”—and grab a seat among flagstone and foliage on DRB’s newly renovated backyard patio, where devoted table-hopping patrons and newcomers alike indulge in flavorful pizzas, creative salads, sammies and the locals’ favorite, fresh guacamole. Sourcing garden-fresh herbs from Mancos’ Seven Meadows Farm as well as locally crafted goat cheese and locally raised buffalo brings their tasty fare up another notch. With the draw of live music on Saturdays (and some Wednesdays) come thirsty and patient … this popular venue makes everything to order and is worth the wait. Kick back with a frothy brew, place your order and mingle among happy mountain peeps. 100 S. 4th St., Dolores/ Open Tuesday – Sunday 4pm doloresriverbrewery.com

28  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011

Bulow’s BistrO When in Rome, or rather Ouray, “The Switzerland of America”, do as the Europeans do. Tucked discreetly along the 125-year old brick walls of the Beaumont Hotel you’ll find the elegantly appointed terraced Courtyard at Bulow’s Bistro. Wrought iron, umbrellas, antique fountains and meticulously cultivated fauna and flora set the stage for an oasis against the backdrop of Ouray’s Cascade Falls and the surrounding13K ft. peaks. Throughout its history, the hotel has hosted presidents and kings, most recently our own royalty, Oprah. You don’t have to be among the elite to treat yourself to a signature, Chambord spiked Voodoo Cosmo or a brew from local Ourayle House, affectionately known as “the Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewing Company.” The Bistro menu is well-priced with a true “Continental” flair. Nibble on classically prepared escargot or an order of crisp risotto fritters topped with garlic aioli. Lighter fare focuses on salads and sandwiches while refined entrees include a Colorado rack of lamb fit for a king. Luxuriate in the mountain air over a cuppa locally-roasted joe from Montrose’s Coffee Trader while indulging in French market-style Beignets. 505 Main St., Ouray/Open 7 days 11am-9pm http://www.beaumonthotel.com/dine.html

www.

Photo Courtesy of Bulow’s


McElmo Canyon: The Peaches are Great (... the grapes may be better) by Eric Allen Winemaking in southwest Colorado? Mostly that means McElmo Canyon, the place and its two producers, John Sutcliffe and Guy Drew. Blessed by isolation, tranquility and some would say most important, the climate to ripen wine grapes. McElmo Canyon is secreted away in southwest Colorado’s archeology-rich Montezuma County, close to the imposing Sleeping Ute Mountain, fascinating Sand Canyon and the vast canyons of the Ancients National Monument. John Sutcliffe

Scrawled on a crudely made sign along dusty McElmo Canyon Road were the words, “Peaches, Melons, Chiles, Ranch.” He pulled over, and as he told me, “I bought all four.” The year was 1990, and John Sutcliffe was exploring a sleepy back road in what turned out to be the middle reaches of McElmo Canyon. So began the wine business in southwest Colorado. Sutcliffe planted vines in 1995 with aesthetics as the primary objective (grape vines are beautiful), but as the vines matured, the quality of fruit also proved to be very good. No less an authority than Patrick Elliot-Smith of cult-wine favorite Elan Vineyards in Napa pronounced Sutcliffe’s luscious ripe Merlot the best he had ever tasted. No surprise, really, as McElmo Canyon and surrounding Montezuma County had been known for fabulous fruits and vegetables for a long time. Montezuma County history is rich with accounts of abundant apple, peach, melon and pepper harvests. Prizes were even awarded at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair—but that’s another story. Guy Drew

The other half of this story is about Guy Drew and his wife, Ruth, long-time Front Range residents, who made frequent visits to southwest Colorado over the years. In 1999, they established vineyards near the upper end of McElmo Canyon; construction of a winery and home followed shortly. Their early wines were produced from fruit purchased in Colorado’s Grand Valley. The Drew vineyard site, as it turns out, is not quite right for vitus vinifera, the traditional noble European grape varieties, and is currently being replanted with cold-hardier hybrid vines. Look for wines from Baco Noir, Traminette, and Chambourcin in three to four years.

Currently Guy Drew wines are produced primarily from purchased Montezuma County fruit, making Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Syrah, Rosé and a delicious red proprietary blend of Cabernet and Merlot called “Metate.” They can be purchased at numerous retail stores in Colorado and are poured in selected restaurants. Sutcliffe Vineyards, meanwhile, produces estate wines from 26 acres planted to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Chardonnay—with Pinot Noir and Viognier on the way. Various blended reds, produced in minute quantities, are available occasionally and well worth seeking out. Sutcliffe wines are available at selected retail locations around Colorado and are on restaurant wine lists far and wide: Durango, Aspen, Denver, Santa Fe, New York, San Francisco, London—even Beijing. The wines from both producers offer taste experiences that are uniquely Colorado. And while at this point many other Colorado wines need to be tasted with an apologetic, “This is pretty good for a Colorado wine,” that is definitely not the case with either of these producers. Sutcliffe’s 2010 production, with winemaker Joe Buckle (from Flowers Vineyards in Sonoma) in charge, was about 3,600 cases. The same vintage saw Guy Drew produce about 4,500 cases, so there isn’t much wine to go around in a world thirsty for unique, quality wines. McElmo Canyon wines, while not the secret they once were, are still not widely recognized, but with their quality and distinctive, delicious flavors, that will soon change. Seek them out, taste them, and decide for yourself. Then you can tell people you tasted these wines at the beginning of something very, very good. Eric Allen got his start in the wine business in California’s Bay Area in the mid 1970s. Since that time, he has pulled corks in restaurants, has pounded the pavement for a wine distributor, and has taught Fort Lewis College’s World of Wine class. He opened The Wine Merchant in Durango with Ron Greene in 2002.


Regional Food Event Calendar June 25 June 22-26th Telluride Wine Festival www.telluridewinefestival.com

June 23 Ignacio Farmers Market 4:30 to sellout Shoshone Park

June 24 Telluride Farmers Market 11 a.m.–4 p.m. S. Oak St. Pagosa Farmers and Flea Market 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 2839 Cornerstone Dr.

Durango Farmers Market First National Bank Parking Lot 8 a.m.–noon www.durangofarmersmarket.org Cortez Farmers Market Downtown 7:30 a.m.–sellout

June 25 Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

June 26

Ridgway Farmers Market ouray county fairgrounds 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

JULY 1 Band Aids and Barb-B-Que Telluride Medical Center 5 -7

July 2

Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

JULY 2 Durango Farmers Market 8 a.m.–noon Cortez Farmers Market Downtown 7:30 a.m.–sellout Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

June 29

Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

June 30 Ignacio Farmers Market 4:30 to sellout Shoshone Park Ouray Farmers Market 2 p.m.–6 p.m.

JULY 1 Telluride Farmers Market 11 a.m.–4 p.m. S. Oak St. Pagosa Farmers and Flea Market 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 2839 Cornerstone Dr.

July 3

Ridgway Farmers Market ouray county fairgrounds 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

July 7

Ignacio Farmers Market 4:30 to sellout Shoshone Park Ouray Farmers Market 2 p.m.–6 p.m. www.ourayfarmersmarket.org

JULY 8 Telluride Farmers Market 11 a.m.–4 p.m. S. Oak St. Pagosa Farmers and Flea Market 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 2839 Cornerstone Dr.

JULY16 Durango Farmers Market 8 a.m.–noon Cortez Farmers Market Downtown 7:30 a.m.–sellout Bayfield Farmers Market Roadside Park 8:30-Noon Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

July17

Ridgway Farmers Market ouray county fairgrounds 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

July 19

Silverton Farmers Market 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

30  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011

July 12 JULY 9 Durango Farmers Market 8 a.m.–noon Cortez Farmers Market Downtown 7:30 a.m.–sellout Bayfield Farmers Market Roadside Park 8:30-Noon Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

July 10

Ridgway Farmers Market ouray county fairgrounds 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

July21 Ignacio Farmers Market 4:30 to sellout Shoshone Park Ouray Farmers Market 2 p.m.–6 p.m.

JULY 22 Telluride Farmers Market 11 a.m.–4 p.m. S. Oak St. Pagosa Farmers and Flea Market 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 2839 Cornerstone Dr.

JULY 23 Durango Farmers Market 8 a.m.–noon Cortez Farmers Market Downtown 7:30 a.m.–sellout Bayfield Farmers Market Roadside Park 8:30-Noon

Silverton Farmers Market 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

July 14 Ignacio Farmers Market 4:30 to sellout Shoshone Park Ouray Farmers Market 2 p.m.–6 p.m.

JULY 15 Telluride Farmers Market 11 a.m.–4 p.m. S. Oak St. Pagosa Farmers and Flea Market 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 2839 Cornerstone Dr.

JULY 23 Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

July 24

Ridgway Farmers Market ouray county fairgrounds 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

July 26

Silverton Farmers Market 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

July 28 Ignacio Farmers Market 4:30 to sellout Shoshone Park

JULY 29 Telluride Farmers Market 11 a.m.–4 p.m. S. Oak St.


Summer 2011 June • July • August

JULY 30 Durango Farmers Market 8 a.m.–noon Cortez Farmers Market Downtown 7:30 a.m.–sellout Bayfield Farmers Market Roadside Park 8:30-Noon Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

July 31

Ridgway Farmers Market fairgrounds 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

august 2

Silverton Farmers Market 2 - 5.

August 4 Ouray Farmers Market 2 p.m.–6 p.m.

August 4 Ignacio Farmers Market 4:30 to sellout Shoshone Park

August 5 Telluride Farmers Market 11 a.m.–4 p.m. S. Oak St. Pagosa Farmers and Flea Market 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 2839 Cornerstone Dr.

August 6 Durango Farmers Market 8 a.m.–noon Cortez Farmers Market Downtown 7:30 a.m.–sellout Bayfield Farmers Market Roadside Park 8:30-Noon Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

AUGUST 7

Ridgway Farmers Market ouray county fairgrounds 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

august 9

Silverton Farmers Market 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

AUGUST 11 Ignacio Farmers Market 4:30 to sellout Shoshone Park Ouray Farmers Market 2 p.m.–6 p.m.

August 12 Telluride Farmers Market 11 a.m.–4 p.m. S. Oak St. Pagosa Farmers and Flea Market 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 2839 Cornerstone Dr.

August 18-21 August13 Durango Farmers Market 8 a.m.–noon Cortez Farmers Market Downtown 7:30 a.m.–sellout Bayfield Farmers Market Roadside Park 8:30-Noon Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

AUGUST 14

Ridgway Farmers Market ouray county fairgrounds 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

august 16

Silverton Farmers Market 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

September 1 August 27 Durango Farmers Market 8 a.m.–noon Cortez Farmers Market Downtown 7:30 a.m.–sellout Bayfield Farmers Market Roadside Park 8:30-Noon Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

august 27 San Juan Brewfest www.cookmanfood.com/brewfest

august 30 Silverton Farmers Market 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Ignacio Farmers Market 4:30 to sellout Shoshone Park

September 2 Telluride Farmers Market 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Pagosa Farmers and Flea Market 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 2839 Cornerstone Dr.

September 3 Durango Farmers Market 8 a.m.–noon Cortez Farmers Market Downtown 7:30 a.m.–sellout Bayfield Farmers Market Roadside Park 8:30-Noon Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

Shroomfest 31 - Telluride www.shroomfest.com

August 19 Telluride Farmers Market 11 a.m.–4 p.m. S. Oak St. Pagosa Farmers and Flea Market 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 2839 Cornerstone Dr.

August 20 Durango Farmers Market 8 a.m.–noon Cortez Farmers Market Downtown 7:30 a.m.–sellout Bayfield Farmers Market Roadside Park 8:30-Noon Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

SEPTEMBER 4

Ridgway Farmers Market fairgrounds 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

September 5

Silverton Farmers Market 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

September 8 Ignacio Farmers Market 4:30 to sellout Shoshone Park

September 9 Telluride Farmers Market 11 a.m.–4 p.m. S. Oak St. Pagosa Farmers and Flea Market 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 2839 Cornerstone Dr.

September 10 Durango Farmers Market 8 a.m.–noon

AUGUST 20

Ridgway Farmers Market Ouray county fairgrounds 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

august 23

Silverton Farmers Market 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

August 25 Ignacio Farmers Market 4:30 to sellout Shoshone Park

AUGUST 26 Telluride Farmers Market 11 a.m.–4 p.m. S. Oak St. Pagosa Farmers and Flea Market 9 a.m.–4 p.m. 2839 Cornerstone Dr.

September 10 Cortez Farmers Market Downtown 7:30 a.m.–sellout Bayfield Farmers Market Roadside Park 8:30-Noon Montrose Farmers Market Downtown 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

SEPTEMBER 11

Ridgway Farmers Market 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

September 11

San Juan Brewfest 12 p.m.–6 p.m. Buckley Park

sept 12 Silverton Farmers Market 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

ediblesanjuanmountains.com  31  


outtakes

Clockwise from the top: Brooke Frazer of Your Backyard Harvest, Ray and Nickie Miller outside of Pura Vida, on their 50th anniversary. It is the same place they celebrated their first anniversary. Anna Riling and Lauren Slaff prepare prepare the food that can be found on Anna’s Success with the Excess story (pg. 8). A smart raccoon knows 32  edible SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS   SUMMER 2011

exactly where the eating is good: The DOW hatchery in Durango.


Hand picked and fresh for you!

Fridays @ S. Oak St 11-4pm June 10th until mid-Oct

Join us for our 9th season of

fresh & regional everything... fruit, vegtables, flowers, potted plants, herbs, chicken, eggs, elk, buffalo, beef, cheese, drinks, baked goods, jewlery, soaps, essential oils, clothes, furniture, pottery, prepared foods, music, presentations & more!

Get a taste of our community.

www.thetelluridefarmersmarket.com 415.728.2509

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. Our fellowship-trained orthopedic and spine surgeons and their skilled teams have years of experience performing minimally invasive total joint replacement and complex spinal procedures. Offering advanced services is one more way we serve the region. That’s your Mercy. 1010 Three Springs Blvd. Durango, CO 81301 (970) 247-4311 | mercydurango.org Centura Health complies with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and no person shall be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination in the provision of any care or service on the grounds of race, religion, color, sex, national origin, sexual preference, ancestry, age, familial status, disability or handicap.

Edible San Juan Mountains Summer 2011  

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