Let’s face it, many people who grew up on Colorado’s Front Range tend to think of Grand Junction as that far away cowtown town that’s practically in Utah. Of course, that reputation has slowly been changing thanks in part to the growing popularity of and interest in local food.
Colorado’s western slope is a place where local food has been a way of life long before it became trendy. It doesn’t hurt that food grows relatively easily here when compared to other parts of Colorado, so sourcing locally is a little less complicated for chefs.
On our trip earlier this summer, we had the delicious pleasure of dining at two of Grand Junction’s most foodie restaurants. These two eateries, 626 on Rood and Bin 707 Foodbar, have set the bar high for farm-to-table cuisine (and for cuisine in general).
Our first dinner stop was Bin 707. On a 2013 trip to Grand Junction Bin 707 was my first encounter with a restaurant that worked so hard to serve local foods and that experience blew my mind. My second local food experience was at The Living Farm in Paonia, another amazing spot for anyone seeking a local food experience.
Bin 707 may have white tablecloths, but it’s far from pretentious. Here, it’s truly about the food and asking your waiter to suggest a wine pairing is super smart as they serve a nice selection of local wines. Of course, Ryan ordered a beer (the beer list is high end and it took him an age to decide on one).
I paired a Grand River Cellars rosé with several appetizers including an outstanding tomato salad with Blaine’s heirloom tomatoes, cucumber vin, eggplant miso flan and strawberry/barley furikake. For my entree, I chose the Maple Leaf duck breast and Ryan went with the fish.
While the duck and fish aren’t sourced locally, all the accouterments are and it’s these hyperlocal ingredients that made both dishes what I like to call “write-home-about-good.” (I call a dish “write-home-about-good” when I know I will write about it more than once).
The next evening we got to experience 626 on Rood, a modern American restaurant and wine bar that just so happens to be the favorite of our friends, Matt and Lisa, who live in Palisade. They are regulars at this downtown Grand Junction restaurant.
626 on Rood definitely has a fine dining ambiance and serves up local cuisine alongside some of the best offerings from around the world such as the dish I had for dinner — Marlin flown in from Hawaii paired with tender mushrooms from Alpenglow Mushrooms in Ridgway, Colorado — an unforgettable meal.
Wine is a big deal here. Guests can enjoy regional Colorado wines, French varieties or California gems. The selection is always changing so start by consulting your server. The wait staff at 626 on Rood are incredibly knowledgeable and love helping guests pick the perfect glass, bottle or flight. I started with a Bordeaux flight while Ryan excitedly ordered a Mezcal flight (he’s more of a beer and tequila guy).
While they won’t always have marlin, the Sticky Peach Habanero Calamari is a staple on this menu and not-to-be-missed. I’m craving it right now.
A foodie update from Grand Junction: The owners of Bin 707 recently opened Taco Party, a 50-seat restaurant serving a menu of six kinds of tacos with local fillings. Dessert options include soft-serve ice cream in uniquely Bin 707 flavors of roasted beet and sweet corn. Next up, they plan to open Dinner Party, a private dining space that will be used for the Western Slope Supper Club which serves pop-up dinners highlighting local foods.
Thank you to the Grand Junction VCB for hosting us on this trip. While we did receive comped meals during our travels the opinions here are 100% honest. The food at these GJ restaurants is exceptional.
BrüFrouFEST was my husband’s favorite event of 2016, and that’s really saying something because we go to a lot of events. I loved it too. What’s not to love about food and drink pairings? And this is not your average “taste of” kind of event.
BrüFrouFEST inspires chefs and brewers to take food and drink pairings to the next level — and they do.
Last year, we wandered through the event, increasingly impressed by what we were putting in our mouths. Verboten Brewing’s Cucumber Gose paired with Harman’s Eat & Drink’s salmon pastrami with dill cream cheese mousse, avocado, brewers rye crisp, pickled mustard seed and cilantro was my favorite on the day.
However, there were other standouts too including the Bristol Brewing Company Roggenbier paired with saffron banana steamed mussels with Aurelia chorizo and crumbled rye (food by Brother Luck). Obviously, I love seafood, but there were lots of other pairings as well, including last course options.
Ryan couldn’t get enough of the Copper Kettle Mexican Chocolate Stout pair with spicy chocolate cake from The Rosedale Tavern.
BrüFrouFEST is for foodies and foodie wannabes, and the brewers and chefs that are involved take this event very seriously.
Grimm Brothers Brewhouse is thrilled to be pairing their beer with cuisine by Euclid Hall at this year’s event and I can’t wait to taste the result of this stellar combination. Verboten also got a great pairing this year – Blackbelly Market out of Boulder. Only good things can come from that collaboration.
While the food will continue to be spectacular, some things at this year’s BrüFrouFEST will be a little different. For instance, they are holding it outdoors at Tivoli Station in downtown Denver. They’ve also moved it from Saturday to Sunday to make it easier for chefs to be away from their restaurants on the day of the event. And it takes place from 12 to 5, as opposed to in the evening. Lastly, they’ve added craft beer cocktails from some of the region’s finest mixologists.
Chefs are coming from as far as Vail to participate and compete and overall, there are 125 chefs and breweries and 80 unique pairings. In addition, six bands will be in attendance to keep things lively when the meat sleeps start to kick in.
This is the largest culinary event of its kind in the country, so you really, really, really don’t want to miss it. Seriously, my husband talked about this one for months; obviously, it makes an impression. This year, tickets start at just $35, so you’ve got no excuse not to be there.
SUNDAY, July 16, 2017
12 to 5 p.m. at Tivoli Station
Featured Festivals spots on HeidiTown are paid advertisements. If you’d like to have your festival or event considered for a feature contact TheMayor@HeidiTown.com. Thank you!
If you’re planning to celebrate the harvest season, why not do it in one of Colorado’s most bountiful areas? Mountain Harvest Festival takes place in the North Fork Valley, an area that is brimming with small family farms and vineyards.
I didn’t know about the North Fork Valley until three years ago, and the region has stolen my heart. It is located in Delta County on Colorado’s Western Slope. It’s 40 minutes east of Delta, which straddles Hwy 50, the road connecting Grand Junction and Ouray.
Farm-to-table has been part of everyday life in the North Fork Valley long before it became trendy. It is made up of three communities; Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford. Mountain Harvest Festival takes place in Paonia, but celebrates the entire region.
The four-day event kicks off on Thursday, September 22, with a variety of activities including a Farm-to-Table dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, The Living Farm Cafe.
Things really get going on Friday afternoon. There’s a pumpkin contest, bike parade, a Drink Locally event at Town Park and live music.
This festival is a celebration of all things local, including food, music and art. After all, the North Fork Valley isn’t only a great growing region, it’s a place where artists flourish as well, and there are a number of area art schools.
On Saturday there’s a smorgasbord of events planned. Don’t miss the Cirque Bike Farm Tours at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. We did a bike to farm tour with Cirque while we were in town earlier this summer (read all about it here). You can also do self-guided farm and winery tours while in town for the festival.
A festival farmers’ market will take place throughout the weekend and the Drink Locally event in Town Park happens Friday through Sunday. In addition, Mountain Harvest Festival has loads of live music schedule, farm-to-table dinners, yoga, bike Olympics and so much more.
Mountain Harvest Festival is a feast for the eyes, heart and stomach.
And here’s a warning: If this will be your first visit to the North Fork Valley, you may fall in love. Because what’s not to love about a region filled with vineyards, rolling hills dotted with sheep and trees heavy-laden with fruit? In a recent magazine article I dubbed the region “the land of milk and honey,” and that’s not an exaggeration.
If you’d like to experience this Delta County’s North Fork Valley to the fullest, you need to attend Mountain Harvest Festival in Paonia, Colorado.
Mountain Harvest Festival
winner of the Governor’s Award for Best Small Community Festival
September 22-25, 2016
Some events ticketed/Most events are free
Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.
Sometimes the universe has a funny way of working things out. This is one of those instances. As some of you already know, earlier this year, The Living Farm in Paonia, Colorado named one of their spring lambs after me.
Longtime readers should be familiar with The Living Farm as I’ve written about it here on HeidiTown.com.
I was very honored by this gesture and was able to meet Heidi during my visit to Delta County at the end of July. She was a big four month old by then, not really a lamb, but more of a sheep, however, she still sat on my lap as if she’d known me her entire life.
Fast forward to two week ago when I got an email from Lynn Gillespie of The Living Farm, informing me that Heidi had been bought by a farm on the Front Range. As fate would have it, Heidi’s new home, SkyPilot Farm & Creamery is just 25 minutes from my home. It seemed written in the stars that Heidi and I should meet again. Continue reading
As alert readers will have noticed, we’ve been riding bikes a lot this summer. I love riding bikes – not any downhill craziness, mind you – I prefer cruising on country roads or trails. Earlier this summer we did a bike to farm outing in the North Fork Valley, located in Delta County, Colorado. This is the story.
We rented bikes at Cirque Cyclery in downtown Paonia. A destination in and of itself, Cirque Cyclery is one of several awesome small businesses under the same roof.
Cirque Cyclery rents and sells bicycles, plus unique clothing and gifts, Shish KaBikes repairs bikes and Remedy Juice Bar Cafe provides refreshments, including adult beverages. The entire place, which was formerly the Paonia Post Office, has a laid back, neighborly feel. Continue reading
Lyric Cinema Cafe is hosting the first Annual Local Food Festival, by featuring three food-related documentaries and presenting a farmers market featuring delicious, healthy, locally grown foods.
The Farmer’s Market runs Wednesday, August 26, from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“Food Inc.” is the main feature. This American-made documentary sheds light on large-scale agricultural food production in the United States. You will never look at food the same way again.
“Pressure Cooker” is a documentary about a culinary contest at an inner city school. It highlights the process the students go through in order to win scholarships and confidence.
“End of the Line” asks the audience to imagine a world without fish. This documentary takes a long, hard look at the fishing industry and who profits the most from overfishing.
Lyric Cinema Cafe is located at 300 E. Mountain Ave., in Fort Collins, Colorado. For showtimes, visit www.LyricCinemaCafe.com.