Farmers’ Market & Local Table Tour – 8/6/11
August 6, 2011
Today was a busy food day. As on all Saturdays we’re in town, I went to the Boulder Farmers Market shortly before noon. It continues to amaze me how much gorgeous produce is at the market these days. It’s like an explosion of color! Eggplant galore, squash of all kinds, beets, potatoes, onions, and string beans everywhere you look. Munson Farms had mounds and mounds of sweet corn 3 for $2 (they are at least 3 times tastier than the kind you can buy at the grocery store, in my opinion). Several places had heirloom tomatoes (the ones at Red Wagon Organic Farm were absolutely gorgeous!). And I was delighted to finally arrive in time to get a whole bag of cinnamon cap mushrooms at Hazel Dell.
I held back a little today, because we had a few things we weren’t able to use up this past week, but I still brought home a great array of fresh vegetable and some wonderful prepared foods. Today’s buys: beets, eggplant, kohlrabi (end of the season!), green beans, heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes, cinnamon cap mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, pattypan squash, bell pepper, carrots, purple and white onions, sweet corn, arugula, sorrel, Pappardelle’s Porcini Mushroom Linguine, and a six-pack of mini cupcakes from Street Fare.
A few hours after my Farmers’ Market trip, my husband and I, and the couple who are our dinner group food buddies went on a walking food tour with Local Table Tours. Our guide, Local Table Tour founder and knowledgeable food-lover Megan Bucholz, met us at the Peppercorn where we embarked on a very hot, but lovely tour of some of the best food places in Boulder. Megan seems to have some great contacts with local restaurateurs and other food-related business owners, which facilitates some wonderfully informative talks with the owners. We visited 3 restaurants, my favorite spice shop, and a bakery on our tour. There was a bit of walking on Pearl Street, but probably not enough to make up for the food and drink imbibed during the tour! In a sharp contrast to other food events and tours that my husband and I have experienced, this was a very intimate group – normally around 8 people, but we had two no-shows, so it was just six of us plus Megan.
We started the tour at Tahona Tequila Bistro, where we were served mini-margaritas, and a shot of some very smooth tequila. (I’m actually not a drinker, so I fear that the alcohol write-up will not really be given justice here). This was followed by a trio of small items – a chicken wing with queso fresco ranch, a crab enchilada, and some divine chocolate bread pudding. (My husband and I have a particular weakness for bread pudding).
We then moved on to the Savory Spice Shop, which has been a favorite of mine for some time. The picture above is probably 1/4 of the stock in the store. This place is amazing, and the people who work there are some of the friendliest I’ve met. The owner of the Boulder store, Dan Hayward, spoke with us for a while, and I found out a few things that I had no idea about. I have been using saffron incorrectly for years (no wonder my saffron dishes never taste as good as in restaurants – you want to hydrate the saffron first). And at least a few of us in the group weren’t aware that 90% of the spices in the world come from the tropics (between 23°27′ north and 23°27′ south of the equator). Since we were on the tour, we were offered a discount on purchases while we were there, so my husband and I took advantage of that and picked up some mole, some tan-tan Moroccan seasoning, and more hot smoked Spanish paprika.
The next stop was a perennial favorite of ours, Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant. We started with a Hibiscus cooler and some white wine, and then were brought a plate with three wonderful items on it. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t remember what exactly was in the first two – but the final one was a goat cheese stuffed date wrapped in a thin strip of zucchini, and it was divine. We found out that Three Leaf Concepts, the group of restaurants of which Leaf is a member, have purchased a farm in Boulder County, which is wonderful. (The other restaurants in the group are Aji, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, The Huckleberry, and Zucca Italian Ristorante).
Our next stop was at Los Oasis Latin Grill & Cerveceria. Los Oasis serves Latin American Food (including multiple types of moles, which we will be back to try!), as well as in-house brewed beer and in-house distilled tequila. Here we were given samples of the beer, as well as some terrifically fresh and crispy tortilla chips, guacamole, and red and tomatillo salsas. Owner George Hanna shared information on ales and lagers, tequila, agave, and mole with us at several points throughout our stop.
Our final stop was at Tea and Cakes for an array of mini-cupcakes: coconut, triple chocolate and confetti (who knew confetti tasted so good!).
Local Table Tours offers quite a variety of tours, including coffee and pastry, farmers’ market, and cocktail tours. They also do private tours for groups of 8 or more. And Boulder is a great locale for this type of thing, as it has quite a rich array of food and drink to explore!