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Thursday, April 10,2014

Tidbites | Week of April 10, 2014

Courtesy of Denver Art Museum

BOULDER VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT SERVES UP PRAISE-WORTHY LUNCHES

The Daily Meal announced its top 10 school lunches in the U.S. and just barely sneaking onto the list at No. 10 is Boulder Valley School District.

It’s an accomplishment considering that BVSD was competing against private schools with limitless budgets, which allows them to even afford high tooting celebrity chefs in some cases.

Boulder Valley School District earned their place among the ranks by overhauling a preexisting system that didn’t have nutritional value at the top of its must-have list. According to Ann Cooper, director of food service for the Boulder Valley School District, the overhaul began five years ago when she signed on with the district. Cooper says the biggest improvements are that more lunch offerings are made from scratch, such as lasagna, Szechuan beef and broccoli stir-fry. Nutrition has become a priority with all hormone- and antibiotic-free beef and chicken being used in dishes like nachos and burgers. Local farms and producers are also getting a boost because locally sourced items, such as bratwurst, tamales, fruits and vegetables, are now incorporated into Boulder Valley School District lunches.

Cooper might have the magic touch when it comes to getting school lunches up to par because three of the schools or districts included in the top 10 list she either worked for previously or continues to improve. She was the previous director of the seventh-place finisher Berkeley Unified School District and the former executive chef and director of wellness and nutrition for the fourth-ranked Ross School in East Hampton, New York.

LEARNING ABOUT EDIBLE PLANTS, NOT OF THE CANNABIS KIND

Weeds usually seen as nuisances, such as dandelions, are actually edible, down to the root that can be roasted and used to make New Orleans inspired chicory coffee. That’s just one of the many beneficial and enlightening details to be shared during the Wild, Edible and Medicinal Herb Walks on April 11.

Susan Evans, a certified herbalist who has dedicated 20 years to cultivating and working with herbs, will be leading the walks, which are being hosted by the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. Evans plans to take the group walks — the first to occur at 11 a.m. and the second at 2 p.m. — through the University of Colorado Boulder campus, identifying edible plants and informing attendees which ones to stay away from, like hemlock, which is prevalent in the Denver and Boulder metro areas and lethal. According to Evans, nature provides a bounty of wild plants that, when properly identified as ingestible, can provide a lot of nourishment because they are filled with vitamins and minerals.

“I’ve always been fascinated with wild edibles and medicinal plants. It’s just something very helpful to know because there are just so many different uses for them in the home,” says Evans. “I think it makes us all a little bit more self-reliant.”

DAM UNCORKS FOR THE 14TH TIME

Raise your glass to the chance to taste more than 300 wines in a single evening at the Denver Art Museum’s “Uncorked” event. This annual event, the 14th installation of one of the museum’s largest fundraisers, kicks off on Friday, April 11 at 6 p.m. with a wine tasting that includes hors d’oeuvres from Kevin Taylor Catering.

Beer and spirits will be available, too, as will tasting guides to help you navigate the options.

Guests may also attend the DAM Uncorked Dinner and Auction on April 12, which features cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a seated dinner and live auction for rare bottles of wine, tours of the DAM with its curators, access to private collections and original artworks. Put your cocktail-lubricated purchasing power to good use with the purchase of an original artwork in the Salon du Musée portion of the silent auction — proceeds go directly toward new acquisitions for the museum’s permanent collection. Last year’s weekend of events raised more than $500,000 for the museum.

Dress for this schmoozapalooza is business casual. Tickets to the tasting are $90 for DAM members, $125 for nonmembers and $45 for designated drivers. You can also get in early at 5 p.m. for an extra $35.

Tickets can be purchased at denverartmuseum.org/uncorked.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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