In a blessed microclimate on the Western Slope, Colorado grows a peach of unparalleled sweetness. The Palisade makes its annual appearance in August, and to celebrate we offer you 31 ways to indulge—one for each day of its fleeting season.
1. Mix organic vanilla and maple yogurt together and add sliced peaches.
2. Dress up your breakfast cereal with freshly sliced peaches and almonds (toast the nuts with a pinch of sugar in a hot skillet).
3. Combine limeade and chopped peaches in a blender. Pulse for a couple of seconds and pour over ice.
4. Plant a peach tree (or adopt a friend with one). Pluck the ripe fruit from the branches, sit against the tree trunk, take a bite, and let the juice run down your chin.
5. Drop peeled and sliced peaches into homemade ice cream—the kind you make with a hand crank and rock salt.
6. Juice a peach and shake the pulpy nectar with ice and vodka. Pour into a martini glass and add a splash of club soda.
7. Buy a box of "seconds"—slightly imperfect and much cheaper fruit—for canning, and put up a batch of peaches for winter (find canning how-tos at www. pickyourown.org).
8. Grill halved peaches (coat them lightly with olive oil first) and place on top of dressed garden-fresh greens. Sprinkle with Haystack Mountain goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.
9. Make peach salsa (dice and combine peaches, white onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño, and garlic). Eat directly from the bowl with chips, or reserve and serve over fish.
10. Poach a peach. Slice a peach in two and remove the pit. Gently heat a tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan, and add honey. When bubbling, place the peach halves in the pan. Spoon sauce over fruit to coat and heat, about 1 minute. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and fresh berries or raspberry sauce.
11. Whirl peaches, a splash of fresh-squeezed OJ, and frozen yogurt together for a summery smoothie.'
12. Treat yourself in the morning with a cinnamon-peach roll from Gaia Bistro (1551 S. Pearl St., 303-777-5699).
13. Pour heavy table cream (we love the local Wholesome Milk Products brand) over a bowl of peaches, and call it dinner on a hot day.
14. Arrange peaches in a wooden bowl and set them out as a fragrant centerpiece.
15. Wander through the heavenly scented orchards and pick your own organic fruit at Paonia's Orchard Valley Farms (15836 Black Bridge Road, Paonia, 970-527-6838). Check for other Colorado farms at www.pickyourown.org.
16. Place a row of peaches on a windowsill and let their perfume permeate the room.
17. Drizzle grilled or fresh peaches with Wen Chocolates' (www.wenchocolates.com) Black- Gold Fudge sauce or William's Wicked Caramel sauce. Local chocolate maker Will Poole whips up custom batches of these decadent sauces, but come fall eight-ounce jars can be purchased at CapuVino (728 S. University Blvd., 303-282-4914).
18. Savor each bite of executive chef Dillon Moore's summery pork with peach chutney at Deluxe (30 S. Broadway, 303-722-1550).
19. Take your cue from a cheesemonger Hugh O'Neil, owner of St. Kilian's Cheese Shop (3211 Lowell Blvd., 303-477-0374), and pair thinly sliced peaches with hunks of Brillat Savarin, a triple-cream cheese from Normandy, and Brebiou, a supersoft French sheep's milk cheese. Add a freshly baked baguette from Denver Bread Company.
20. Sit on Cucina Colore's sunny patio (3041 E. Third Ave., 303-393-6917) and order a bowl of the tomato and peach soup. Or, make it at home:
Tomato and Peach Soup
Add olive oil to pot. Over medium heat, add onions and sauté until translucent. Add peaches, water, and tomatoes. Add seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes. Purée soup and serve.
21. Relax with a 65-minute "Peaches and Cream" facial (the fruit contains alpha-hydroxy acids for healthy skin tone) at TallGrass Aveda Spa & Salon in Evergreen. Or, indulge in a "Peach Bellini" pedicure—a treatment where you sip on a nonalcoholic Bellini while having your tootsies beautified with a moisturizing peach masque and polish of your choice. 997 Upper Bear Creek Road, Evergreen, 303-670-4444
22. Treat dinner guests to homemade peach shortcake. Bake a shortcake (from scratch or a mix) and allow to cool. In a bowl, slice fresh peaches, sprinkle with sugar, toss, and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour. Just before serving, whip the whipping cream. Slice a piece of shortcake in half (so there's a top and bottom). On one half, alternate layers of whipping cream and a spoonful of peaches. Replace the top half and add more whipping cream and more peaches. Garnish with a mint leaf, slice, and serve.
23. Sip on Jack and Jenny peach brandy crafted with hand-picked, organic Colorado peaches. Stop by Peach Street Distillers in Palisade (144 South Kluge Ave., Building No. 2, Palisade, 970-464-1128) for a tasting, or find a bottle at your neighborhood liquor store.
24. Buy a bushel of peaches from Palisade's Red Fox Orchards at your neighborhood farmers' market.
25. Plan a weekend around the 39th annual Peach Festival in Palisade (Aug. 16-19). Watch fireworks, shop the fruit stands, enter recipe contests, run a five-mile race, take in a parade—and, of course, take home a box of tree-ripened peaches.
26. Make a double batch of peach pie filling, and freeze extra for winter. Line a pie plate with plastic wrap, fill, then freeze; when frozen solid, wrap tightly in foil. When ready to use, place frozen fruit in fresh crust and bake as usual.
27. Bake a peach cobbler with an old-fashioned biscuit-dough topping (or use baking mix for a shortcut). Add a handful of fresh blueberries and a few drops of almond extract.
28. Rethink the Caprese salad by substituting peaches for tomatoes. In a bowl, combine 3 or 4 ripe peaches, peeled; 1 cup of fresh basil, chopped or torn; and 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, cut into 1-inch chunks. Toss with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.
29. Burn a peach-scented candle handcrafted by artisan Jeff Schitter from Healing Glow Candle Studio (3939 W. 32nd Ave., 303-477-3972). Stop by the Highland shop and pick one up, or stay awhile and make your own.
30. Top off a meal at Vail's Restaurant Kelly Liken (12 Vail Road, Suite 100, Vail, 970-479-0175) with the baklava-crusted peaches and rosewater sorbet.
31. Raise a glass to summer with a homemade peach Bellini. Peel and purée a ripe peach, pour into a Champagne flute, and add chilled Champagne. Stir and serve on a sunny patio. Dream of next summer's harvest.