Tasty times at the Foothills Wine & Food Experience (Taste of Loveland)

Ice sculptures and flower arrangements filled the banquet hall at the 5th Annual Taste of Loveland. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer

We had a ton of fun and food  at the 5th Annual Taste of Loveland, held on April 22 at Embassy Suites.   This year’s theme was Foothills Wine & Food Experience, but it could have been called the Foothills Wine, Beer  & Food Experience.

Not only did 30 area  restaurants attend, so did 34 wine distributors, as well as a large number of local breweries and national beer distributors.  

It’s hard to pick favorites at an event  such as this, but of course,  I had a few.     When we first arrived we were overwhelmed by the  vast array of choices,  and Ryan decided  to start in the middle of the room.    So we started the night with an elegant and  beautifully plated  dessert from Chimney Park Restaurant and Bar.   I couldn’t tell you exactly what it was, but it was scrumptious.

Island Grill's owners serve up their popular fish tacos. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer

One of my favorite foods of  the night was  the fish taco from Island Grill. The secret of this fish taco is the homemade wasabi dressing. If you haven’t been to Island Grill’s new Loveland location, you should definitely give them a try.   They are currently running specials on TodaysDiningDeals.

Odell's Brewing Co. The only drawback was they only had two beers on tap, but they did give away cool key chains. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer

In addition to dessert, Ryan loves beer and this event was a beer-lovers dream.   From Odell’s to Stella, there was a beer for every person’s  taste and Ryan tasted them all.   He liked Odell’s Brewing Co. the best because they were serving the biggest pours and they  were giving away  really cool 90 Shilling key chains.

The guys at Fort Collins Brewery were the most informative, explaining each beer, as well as advertising their new location. The three biggest Fort Collins’ micro-breweries (Odell’s, New Belgium and Fort Collins Brewery) will now be within stumbling distance of one another.   Fort Collins Brewery’s new location will also include a brew pub, set to open in June.

Perhaps ironically, with so many expensive wines represented at the event, my favorite wine was a $7 zin from Barefoot.   We picked up SWAG everywhere we went; items included  coupons,  key chains, stickers and magnets.  

King Sooper's table at Taste of Loveland. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer

My award for the most beautiful table arrangement  of the night  went to King Soopers. The  ladies from the King Sooper’s store on the northwest corner of 402 and Taft in Loveland, really out did themselves.   Plus they had tons of olives, always a good way to bribe the Mayor into a good review.  

We tasted and drank and tasted and drank and eventually made our way back to the dessert tables, where we indulged in my favorite desert of the night from The Melting Pot – a mini brownie, a strawberry and a mini rice crispy treat drizzled in chocolate – sometimes I’m very easy to please.  

The night ended with a live auction. The most desired auction item was a wagon full of wine.   It went for $500. That, however, was not  the highest bid of the night.   A New Belgium cruiser bike, with a retail sticker of $300,  went for a whopping $1,000 dollars.

The Taste of Loveland is the annual fundraiser  for  Foothill’s Gateway, Inc. and Namaqua Center. The Foothill Service League is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year and exists to aid and assist in the improvement of the quality of life of the cognitively disabled individuals and abused children in Larimer County.

Make sure you keep an eye on HeidiTown for details of the 6th Annual Taste of Loveland coming in 2011.

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