Since 2007, Peggy Markel has acquired more than 160 passport stamps. And already this year—the 25th anniversary of her Boulder-based tourism company, Peggy Markel’s Culinary Adventures—she’s visited Sri Lanka and Argentina on her own and led clients through India, Spain, Morocco, and Italy. Her tours celebrate slow living and the sensual pleasures of shopping, fishing, farming, cooking, and eating with others (all capped off with sunset cocktails). But even though she’s dined in many of the world’s most fabulous culinary destinations, Boulder has a special appeal. “There’s always been an energy to Boulder,” Markel says. “Sharing the farms, markets, and talent that this city has attracted over the years starts a conversation that brings us back to the table, back to what’s basic in the best sense of the word.”

Join Markel on a fantasy exploration of her own home town—no passport necessary.

“We’d begin our tour with late afternoon shopping at the Boulder farmers’ market, picking up fresh arugula and spinach from Oxford Gardens and maybe potatoes and pork from Cure Organic Farm for a meal we’d cook together on Thursday afternoon. Then we’d take a walk along the bike path to the Kitchen for a dinner featuring ingredients from area producers at the community table. My friend and inspiration, Hugo Matheson, who co-founded the Kitchen restaurants, could speak to us about local food in a no-nonsense way.”

“Our morning would begin with coffee and brioche at Boxcar Coffee Roaster on Pearl Street, and we’d continue our conversation about how the food culture of Boulder has changed over the past 25 years. Then we’d visit Thea Tenenbaum and Raffaele ‘Lele’ Malferrari at their Longmont pottery studio, Potters Ceramisti. A walk through their biodynamic garden and a tour of their studio, located in a goat barn on the property, would work up our appetites for Oxford Gardens, where we’d have a lesson in wood-fire cooking using an outdoor oven and our farmers’ market finds. We’d cook lunch—maybe a Spanish spiced lamb and lentil stew, a fall salad with our greens, and roasted pork with herbed salt—and explore the farm. Later (since I can’t live without sitting down around sunset for a good chat and an aperitivo), we’d head to Arcana for a cider tasting and snacks. We could finish the day with a lecture or concert at Chautauqua.” 

“Our group would start the day by hiking the Mt. Sanitas Trail; it’s one of my favorites because of the great views of Boulder you can see from Hogback Ridge. After, we would go to Wonder Press for fresh juice. Savory Spice Shop on Broadway would come next, where we could talk to owner Dan Hayward about the Spice Route and the culinary and healing properties of spices, herbs, and salts. I could connect that to the spice markets my tours visit in India and Morocco. Lunch would be at Cafe Aion; chef Dakota Soifer and I could give a class on Moroccan tagine using local ingredients. In the late afternoon, we’d head to Trident Booksellers and Café to talk with Waylon Lewis, the founder and editor of Elephant Journal, a Boulder-based online publication devoted to living a mindful life. Then there’d be time to rest or shop at Cedar & Hyde and the Boulder Bookstore before dinner: pizza and shared plates at Pizzeria Locale.” 

“It’d be back to the farmers’ market in the morning; we’d bring our ingredients to the Food Lab culinary school for a hands-on North Indian cooking class and lunch. Then a bike ride, and maybe a food film at the Dairy Arts Center,before traveling to Cure Organic Farm for a farewell Meadow Lark farm dinner under the stars.”

This article was originally published in 5280 October 2017.
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.