Head east to discover County’s best new food

Susan France

When Boulder’s 2018 food season reaches its grand finale this weekend, the celebration will actually take place, appropriately, in Longmont.

The 12th annual Winter Market, Dec. 1 and 2 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, is the concluding gathering of the Boulder County Farmers Markets for the year. The huge hall, packed with more than 70 local food growers and producers (besides crafts and gifts), is an impressive sight for foodie eyes and a great place to grab lunch during those two days.

This is the last chance to stock the larder with local winter vegetables from Aspen Moon Farm, Ela Family Farms, Ollin Farms, Toohey & Sons Organic Farm and other farmers. Besides crafts and gift shopping, it’s a great taste-sampling opportunity with purveyors like Cultura Craft Chocolate, Corner Post Meats, Carmen’s Salsas and Moles, Baba & Pop’s Handmade Pierogi, Chiporro Sauce Company, Hazel Dell Mushrooms, Highland Honey, Hinman’s Bakery, Medovina Meadery and Tungsten Toffee.

When you are standing in the midst of the hubbub and aromas at the Winter Market, you can’t help but wonder when there will be some kind of permanent, all-year food and farm hall showcasing the best tastes of the area. 

My guess is that when a permanent market opens it won’t be in Boulder… simply for lack of affordable real estate with parking. It makes sense to place it out in East County. That’s where more of the County’s new restaurants, breweries, food businesses and farms are located. That’s where the local center of culinary gravity is shifting.

New view from Cider Hill

Boulder County is regarded as craft brew heaven, but Stem Ciders is changing the way ale-headed locals think about going out for a drink. Colorado’s first true cider house opened this year in Lafayette. The busy two-acre restaurant (Acreage), production cidery and beer-free taproom is set on a west-facing hillside that gives it a rare panoramic Front Range view. Chef Daniel Asher (River and Woods) and chef Kelly Whitaker (Basta) helm Acreage and dish homey, wood-cooked fare including cast-iron cornbread with honey butter, mussels cooked in cider, grilled potato salad with prosciutto aioli and glazed cider doughnuts.

A six-letter word for…

During the holiday season you might find yourself playing Scrabble with your relatives and friends. You’ll be happy to know that more weird food words are officially sanctioned since Scrabble updated its official word list for the first time since 2014. Allowed words now include macaron (French cookie), aquafaba (the liquid in canned garbanzo beans), bibimbap (Korean egg-topped rice bowl) and sriracha.

Meanwhile, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary has added new foodie words including iftar, the meal eaten by Muslims to break the fast after sunset during Ramadan; zoodles, low-carb zucchini noodles, available at places like Noodles & Co.; gochujang, a Korean hot chile paste; and mise en place, the French culinary term for having your act together: ingredients prepped, spices measured, before you cook. The dictionary also added some stupid, unnecessary terms like “marg” (short for “margarita”) and “hangry.”

Local food news

A tip of the hat to local agricultural pioneer Chuck Waneka. Before he died recently at 97 years old, he saw 83 harvests at 119th Street and Baseline Road where his family has farmed since 1883. … Lots of folks want your donations for Colorado Gives Day on Dec. 4, but consider directing a few dollars toward local food justice by supporting Boulder Food Rescue, Community Food Share, Emergency Family Assistance Association and the Sister Carmen Center. … Fate Ale House has closed in Lafayette. … Coabana, a Cuban eatery, has closed at 701 Main St. in Louisville.

The ‘American Idol’ of tasty foods

The Good Food Awards honors the nation’s top food artisans who offer exceptional taste and meet environmental and social responsibility standards. The just-announced roster of 401 finalists is chockablock with great Boulder and Colorado food makers, and it happens to serve as a handy tool for assembling an all-Colorado gift basket. Boulder-based finalists are Cocktailpunk Oak Aromatic Bitters and The Farmer’s Porch Ghost Pepper Heirloom Pumpkin Seeds. Other locally made finalists include Colorado Green Chili Potato Chips (Morgan Handmade Rations), Smoked Buffalo and Pork Jalapeno Cheddar Bratwurst (CharcutNuvo), Somerset Cider (Big B’s), Carmen Estate Washed Geisha (Commonwealth Coffee) and Honey Salted Caramel (Bee Ranch). Details: goodfoodfdn.org

Taste of the week

Far from its starting point at Chautauqua Park, Baseline Road — the 40th parallel — wends its way through Boulder County into Erie, where I found myself meeting an old friend for dinner at Injoy. Open less than a year, the comfortable, modern bistro has a Mediterranean-influenced menu and an entertaining wine list. My tastes of the night were a salad of roasted local beets dished with baby beet greens, orange and feta cheese and a first-class, fresh-ground, medium-rare burger on a brioche bun spread with creamy ricotta.

Words to Chew On

“There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles 8:25 a.m. Thursdays on KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM, kgnu.org).