Woodstock for foodies

Slow Food Nations focuses on climate change and great authentic tastes

Slow Food Nations

It’s not happening quickly, but the greatest minds and tastes in the world are once again coming to Denver this weekend for Slow Food Nations.

It’s one of those good-news-bad-news jokes.

The good news is that the prestigious event, July 13-15, features unprecedented opportunities for local food lovers to taste and learn about an array of remarkable foods and beverages from Colorado and the globe. We are lucky it is so accessible.

The bad news is that many of those tastes may soon become extinct unless we deal with climate change and its impact on whether we will — or won’t — feed ourselves.

Slow Food Nations brings hundreds of chefs and Slow Food delegates (and up to 20,000 foodies) to Denver. Luminaries attending include Massimo Bottura, chef at one of the world’s top restaurants, Osteria Francescana.

As chefs rapidly assume a social consciousness leadership role in many areas, Bottura’s two public events reflect his larger mission: The Waste Not, Want Not summit and tasting, and the Zero Waste Family Meal made from waste food from various festival events.

Slow Food Nations includes a marketplace, workshops, signings and summits, as well as ticketed culinary events including the Colorado Fare dinner outside in Larimer Square. There are many free public events, cooking demos and activities for kids.

Eight free talks and discussions are scheduled, including such subjects as “The Impact of Capitalism on Food,” “Food Waste 101,” “A Table for #MeToo,” “Seed Saving to Save the World” and “Becoming Conscious Carnivores.”

The free Taste Marketplace, July 14-15 in Larimer Square, will feature over 80 artisan exhibitors offering samples and sales of kombucha, hot sauces, Kona coffee, olive oil, gelato, pickles and insect cuisine.

Speaking of bugs, one tasting event boasts authentic Oaxacan insect dishes paired with agave-based cocktails. Other tastings guide you through the wide world of salumi and the subtleties of craft sake, and the art of tortilla-making with Michoacán cook Benedicta Alejo Vargas, Alfonso Rocha Robles of Slow Foods Mexico plus chef Jamey Fader of Denver’s Lola, and returning celebrity chef Rick Bayless.

“There’s so much excitement the event has stirred up in Boulder and Denver. Slow Food Nations really highlights the food in this part of the U.S. and a great opportunity to get to know the farmers, ranchers and food maker,” says Rebecca Waterhouse of Slow Food Boulder County and a delegate to Slow Food Nations.

Slow Food Boulder County is hosting two celebrations this weekend showcasing local ingredients and talent. Local Slow Food pioneer Peggy Markel hosts a July 14 dinner and tour at Boulder’s Cure Organic Farm. The menu from Cured chef Rebecca Sosvielle Duane includes cheese and charcuterie, an heirloom tomato salad, chargrilled broccoli with radish blossoms and lemon aioli, and pork roulade stuffed with greens, ricotta and pine nuts.

Share the Table, an outdoor local food luncheon, is July 15 at Niwot’s Oxford Gardens. “It’s about dining but it’s also really about sitting down to eat with the people who grow the food,” Waterhouse says. Family-style vegetables from local farms, a heritage grain course from Basta chef Kelly Whitaker, Hosea Rosenberg’s Boulder lamb asado-style, and Fortuna Chocolate’s single estate chocolate dessert will be served.

Proceeds benefit Slow Food and Oxford Garden’s Hail Relief Fund.

You don’t even need to leave town to sample food inspired by Slow Food Nations. From July 18-30, local eateries including Lafayette’s Acreage Restaurant, Basta and Next Door in Boulder, as well as GQue BBQ, Mercantile Dining & Provision and Old Major are offering dishes showcasing ingredients from Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, a catalogue of foods facing extinction. Information and tickets: slowfoodnations.org and slowfoodboulder.com

Local food news

On July 16 Arcana chef Kyle Mendenhall will recreate an 1880 Denver dinner that honored Ulysses S. Grant, and which showcases Colorado trout and lamb, red forager chicken from Boulder and vegetables from Cure, Red Wagon, Toohey and other local farms. arcanarestaurant.com … MouCo Cheese Co. in Fort Collins is now offering one of the great dairy pleasures: Fresh Cheddar cheese curds. Text “Curds” to 31996 to get alerts when fresh curds are available. … Lafayette’s Three Leaf Farm hosts workshops including bone broth (July 28), fermented and preserved foods (Aug.11), jams and jellies (Sept. 8). threeleaffarm.com. … Start sharpening your crust-making skills. The town of Hygeine is hosting a Pie Contest Aug. 4, and I’m one of the judges. … If you grow some extra produce in your neighborhood gardens this summer consider donating it Boulder Food Rescue, which will come and pick up the veggies. boulderfoodrescue.org … Happy 40th birthday to Mustard’s Last Stand, which has been selling hot dogs since 1978 near Boulder Creek. … After more than 25 years, Vic’s Espresso has closed its original location in Boulder’s Community Plaza Shopping Center. Beleza Coffee Bar will open in the space this fall. … Othermama’s Bakery has closed at 237 Collyer St. in Longmont.

Taste of the week

Best-known for their annual bounty of fresh sweet corn, Munson Farms northeast of Boulder also grows popcorn for Boulder Popcorn. The small family company packages three unusual varieties of popcorn. Ryder’s Red is the best popcorn I’ve ever tasted, with big white kernels and a big corn flavor. It reminds you that there is a universe of popcorn types and flavors available, not simply the white bread variation served at movie theaters and from microwaved bags. You’ve got to pop it yourself (and preferably not in the microwave). Kailey’s Kernels variety is hull-less with a melt-in-the-mouth texture and an almost sweet flavor. boulderpopcorn.com

Words to chew on

“We’re at this unique cultural moment where we’re asking questions about the wellness of our restaurant workforce. Can good food come from a bad kitchen? … Are we caring for one another so we can properly care for our guests?” — Chef Rick Bayless

John Lehndorff is a writer/prep cook who hosts Radio Nibbles on KGNU; podcasts at: news.kgnu.org/category/radio-nibbles. Comments: nibbles@boulderweekly.com