Food Lover's Guide to Denver
“Local first, sustainable second, organic third.” Celebrity chef Hugh Acheson’s simple food philosophy can, and should, be a guiding light for all of us. Here in Denver, we’re lucky to have a devoted group of people dedicated to local, sustainable, organic—and just plain good—food. Dig into the stories on the following pages, then get out there and taste the difference community makes.
To Market, To Market
A step-by-step insider’s guide to the Boulder County Farmers’ Market. By Andra Zeppelin
- Be prepared
Arrive early for the best selection and easy parking. Bring your dull knives for sharpening, plenty of cash, reusable bags, and coolers (leave these in the car). If you forget cash, use a credit card to buy market bucks ($5 vouchers that can be used at any vendor) at the Boulder Market booth.
- Shop like a pro
Drop off your knives at Johnson Sharpening (johnsonsharpening.com), get your caffeine fix from Conscious Coffees (consciouscoffees.com), and veer left for the best variety of Colorado lamb from Leistikow Farms (leistikowfarms.com). Select a shank or rack along with a goat shoulder (which makes great tacos—see recipe on page 62). Walk quickly to the north end of the market for a bag or box of organic Palisade peaches from the giant Morton’s Orchards truck (mortonsorchards.com). The lamb and peaches are always hot items, so now you can coast. To the right of the peach truck, pick up farm-raised chicken from Wisdom’s Natural Poultry (wisdomsnaturalpoultry.com). Make your way to the Isabelle Farm stand (isabellefarm.com) for the sweetest watermelons and fresh chiles. Cross over to Colorado’s Best Beef (naturalbeef.com) for an excellent selection of organic beef. Zigzag back to the other side for Munson Farms’ (munsonfarms.com) fragrant cantaloupes and the irresistible peaches-and-cream corn. Then, stop over at Toohey & Sons for a small but flawless selection of tomatoes.
Even a seasoned shopper needs a break. Snack on a bag of popcorn from Boulder Popcorn (boulderpopcorn.com), entertain little ones with balloons and face painting, and do not miss Tres Pupusas’ (trespupusas.com) cooler of popsicles. These outrageous treats range from classic strawberry or watermelon to chamomile-infused apricot or basil lemonade.
- After the break
Continue your journey with a stop at Black Cat Organic Farm (blackcatfarm.org), where you’ll find fresh mâche, lively mizuna greens, and tender arugula. (Also check out chef-owner-farmer Eric Skokan’s whole ducks and his line of organic frozen soups.) Cross over to the market’s most stunning display of Colorado produce, the Red Wagon Organic Farm stand (redwagonorganicfarm.com). A paradise for the eyes, Red Wagon is the best source for rainbow carrots, Hakurei turnips, and lovage—a stunning, difficult-to-find herb that tastes similar to celery. Just a couple of booths over, Cure Organic Farm (cureorganicfarm.com) always has lovely beets and parsnips, as well as a selection of heritage Berkshire pork—some fresh and some cured in collaboration with Il Mondo Vecchio (ilmondovecchio.net). Finally, if mushrooms are on your grocery list, stop off at the Hazel Dell Mushrooms stand (hazeldellmushrooms.com) for exotic offerings.
A Matter of Taste
How a baby reminded me to find delight in each bite.
Determined not to be left behind by her siblings, my youngest daughter, Caroline, learned letters at three, ditched training wheels at four, and joined the swim team at five. But she wasn’t always so eager to keep up. As an infant, Caroline would sit in her high chair, yanking at her bib and throwing her food off the tray like the baby in the Capital One commercial. Fifty percent more cash? I couldn’t have cared less. All I wanted was for her to eat her frozen peas. • She refused. Kids in her playgroup lapped up rice cereal and Gerber oatmeal like they were sundaes. Not Caroline. She’d consent to a spoonful or two, then pinch her lips so tightly that no amount of foolish antics (“Here comes the airplane!”) could con her into opening them. I wasn’t worried. Caroline was still happily nursing, and my freelance writing schedule gave me the flexibility to accommodate her quirks. • But as six months turned into nine and her interest in solids remained almost nonexistent, her weight dropped off the chart. So I did what any mother would do: I panicked. Trips to the pediatrician and feeding therapist ensued, but they found no underlying physical or sensory issues. She’ll do it in her own time, they said. In the meantime, make eating fun. • I complied, experimenting with baby food flavors, smiling exaggeratedly as I modeled how to eat, and clapping when a stray Cheerio made it to her lips. I even tried Graduates Puffs, those easily dissolvable cereal snacks dubbed by a friend of mine as “baby crack.” No dice. • The turning point came one Sunday after a trip to the farmers’ market. Slicing organic pears for my other kids, I gave a few baby-size chunks to Caroline. She picked one up, turned its slippery white flesh over in her fingers, and put it in her mouth. Then she picked up the rest and devoured them, before giving the baby sign for “more.” As adults, we often take the pleasure of consuming fruits and vegetables in their purest form for granted. Somehow I’d forgotten that. All those months, all that stress—and all my little girl really wanted was the taste of real food. —Gretchen Kurtz