United tastes

Global foodies converge on the Front Range for Slow Food Nations

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Foodies, chefs, culinary artists and food justice advocates from around the globe are making a beeline to Denver this weekend. Slow Food Nations (SFN) is the coolest, most prestigious food gathering in the United States. Even though it has been anchored here for three years, locals still seem unaware. We haven’t really discovered the festival’s discrete and tasty charms yet, or we think SFN is a pricey affair like the annual Aspen Food & Wine. 

I hear a lot of reasons why people haven’t attended the first two years of SFN. Here is why you should get a taste of the events in Larimer Square July 19-21. 

SFN is a food festival featuring cooking demos, tastings, free family activities, one-of-a-kind food block parties and speakers like culinary legend Alice Waters, fermentation star Sandor Katz and local notables like chefs Caroline Glover and Alex Seidel. The focus is squarely on providing sustainable fare for everyone everywhere. 

If you love sampling new foods, hang out at the free Taste Marketplace July 20-21 spanning four blocks. More than 80 makers are sampling their goods, including local producers such as Picaflor and Teakoe. There are also beverage stations and spots selling international bites. 

Do you want to delve deeper? There are discussions about how to combat the exploitation of farm workers, lack of access to land and healthy food, and issues involving race, class and gender disparities in the food industry. 

You can attend discussions on saving indigenous traditional foods, guerrilla gardens, school-supported agriculture, and how cooking seasonally can create environmental change. There are ticketed sampling events that explore local cider, bean-to-bar chocolate and coastal Mexican cuisine. 

For instance, Flavors of the African Diaspora on July 20 with historian Adrian Miller and chef Kevin Mitchell looks at ingredients and dishes that traveled to the new world.

Want to party? Our state gets to show off Friday night at the ticketed Colorado Fare Block Party with unlimited bites from 15 chefs, ranchers and artisan food purveyors across the state with local craft beer, wine and cider.

By all means, bring the kids to SFN. The Garden to Tacos event teaches children how to chop and toss fresh vegetables into salsas and slaws and roll out their own fresh tortillas. 

The whole festival concludes with the Zero-Waste Family Meal cooked by chefs using “leftovers.” It is SFN’s hottest ticket. Information: slowfoodnations.org. 

By the Organic Numbers

More than 52 percent of the customers who buy organic food are millennials. Gen X’ers account for 35 percent, according to the Organic Trade Association’s most recent survey. Their parents, the baby boomers, are not unexpectedly conventional. Only 14 percent of organic food buyers are boomers. Younger shoppers look for label claims like free-range, gluten-free and certified humane. Boomers look for low claims: low-sugar, low-fat, low-salt and low-carb.

Local Food News

The original folks behind the Rocky Flats Lounge are not involved, but the Friday night fish fry is back at the renamed Rocky Flats Bar & Grill, recently reopened on Highway 93 south of Boulder. For newcomers, the establishment is situated across the street from the former Rocky Flats plutonium bomb trigger factory. It was the site of massive protests and is now called the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge. … This is the year to attend the Eagle Mushroom & Wild Food Festival, Aug 2-4, since wet weather is spawning a bumper crop of fungi across Colorado. Featured are forays, a nine-course wild foods dinner, Mushrooming 101 and classes with experts including Eugenia Bone. eaglemushroomfest.com. … Hands-on barbecue classes are taught at Denver’s Proud Souls BBQ & Provisions. proudsoulsbbq.com. … Plan ahead: The next scheduled local pie contest is Aug. 24 in Hygiene at the United Methodist Church. hygienecommunityassociation.org. … Pueblo’s Chile & Frijoles Festival is Sept. 20-22. pueblochamber.org

culinary correspondence

     In a recent Taste of the Week item I praised the chicken chicharrones served at The Post. A reader noted that fried chicken skin is an ancient Jewish tradition. 

“Good Jewish cooks render chicken fat (schmaltz) from raw chicken skin by placing it in a cast-iron pan and heating till the fat runs out and the skin turns brown and crispy. The rendered fat is poured into a jar and used in matzoh balls and chopped liver. Fried chicken skin or gribens (pronounced gree-bens), is best eaten hot from the pan, sprinkled with salt.” 

On the Menu: Watermelon Juice

Now is the time when the watermelons get big, cheap and sweet. Get one and turn the whole thing into one of summer’s transcendent joys: Fresh watermelon juice. Just run melon chunks through your blender, strain out the pulp, and chill. Fresh watermelon juice is great with spicy Indian or Thai fare. Needless to say, it makes a lovely cocktail with local gin. I freeze watermelon juice cubes and then pour lemon seltzer over them.

Taste of the Week

The best pan-fried paht kee-mao or “drunken noodles” I have tasted in ages are served at Dancing Noodle Thai Restaurant, a tiny strip mall eatery in Parker. The charming staff craft something rare from scratch: thick, wide rice noodles that soak up the Thai basil-accented sauce like a dumpling. Fair warning: You’ll just hurt yourself ordering this dish or any of the curries at their Thai Fire or Burning Inferno heat levels. 

Words to Chew On

“The integration of the various animals and crops into a relatively small acreage becomes a formal problem that is just as interesting and just as demanding as the arrangement of the parts of a novel. … And if they’re ordered properly on a farm, something even more miraculous than most art happens: you have sustainability.” — Wendell Berry 

John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles, 8:25 a.m. Thursdays on KGNU, 88.5 FM, news.kgnu.org/category/radio-nibbles