This past Friday my husband and I had the pleasure of attending a farm dinner at Three Leaf Farm in Lafayette. Three Leaf Farm is owned by Lenny and Sara Martinelli, owners of Three Leaf Concepts, which is responsible for an array of great restaurants in Boulder County (Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant, Aji Latin American Restaurant, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, Zucca Italian Ristorante, the Huckleberry, the Naropa Cafe, and now the Chautauqua Dining Hall). The farm was established to provide local produce to the Three Leaf Concept restaurants. But the farm doesn’t just grow produce — they have several goats which provide milk for cheese, a large number of chickens for eggs, several bee hives on the property, and even a newly built barn with farm-owned as well as boarded horses.

The same six goats in several pictures. Because I think goats are adorable!

The same six goats in several pictures. Because I think goats are adorable!

The farm tour is one of my favorite parts of farm dinners. I love hearing about the different tactics used to control weeds and pests without pesticides, and how Colorado farms deal with the dry climate. Farm manager Chase Morris shared a wealth of information as well as some pretty amusing anecdotes about the day-to-day operations at the farm. It’s always very cool to hear how passionate the farmers on smaller farms are about their product. And the chefs at each restaurant have really embraced the produce from the farm as well. I loved hearing about a day when there wasn’t enough time to harvest what the chef from Zucca wanted for that night, so he harvested it himself! And you truly can’t beat the opportunity to hold a pygmy goat! (The picture above is of one of the owners of the farm holding the goat. As soon as I got the goat into my arms, he took one look at my hair and said – hey! STRAW! – and began eating it, therefore not providing a good photographic opportunity.)

Gorgeous Appetizers

Gorgeous Appetizers

The chef for this farm dinner was Rachel Best, of Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant (one of our favorites in Boulder). The food began with some wonderful appetizers: Avalanche Lamborn Bloomers Cheese on Flax Crackers with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote, Raw Broccoli Shooters with Macademia Nut Cheese, and Raw Sweet Pea Hummus on Baby Red Romaine with Radish Sprouts. The cheese was unbelievably good and the broccoli shooters were fantastic as well.

View from my place at the table

My place at the table

After appetizers and the farm tour, we and our fellow diners moved to the table for dinner. The table was beautifully set, and there was even a trio playing live music throughout dinner. I’ve mentioned this before when reviewing various dinners we’ve gone to, but it’s always so fun to have dinner with a bunch of people you’ve never met before, to talk and laugh through dinner, and then find that three hours have gone by in what feels like half that time. The group where we sat covered a wide range of food topics, as well as the Midwest climate compared to Colorado, water rights, college majors and dining halls, and travel.

Looking down the table

Looking down the table

But on to the food! The first course was Zucchini Fritters with Carrot-Hempseed Pesto and Pickled Golden Beets. The entire dish was great, but I couldn’t get past how awesome the pickled beets were. Yes, they seem simple, but I really think they were the best ones I’ve ever had. Very, very thin, with the perfect vinegary taste.

Zucchini Fritters with Carrot-Hempseed Pesto and Pickled Golden Beets

Zucchini Fritters with Carrot-Hempseed Pesto and Pickled Golden Beets

The bread served was Gluten Free Teff Rolls with Colorado Honey Butter. The rolls were so good that I bought some teff flour the next day to see how easy it was to bake with (haven’t tried it yet, though). I’ve actually been amazed lately with the great quality of a lot of gluten-free products I’ve tried, and these rolls were great as well.

Gluten Free Teff Rolls

Gluten Free Teff Rolls

The salad course was Farm Greens with Quinoa, Haystack Mountain Cracked Pepper Chevre with Basil Vinaigrette and Tempura Pearled Onion.

Farm Green Salad with Quinoa, Haystack Mountain Cracked Pepper Chevre with Basil Vinaigrette and Tempura Pearled Onion

Farm Green Salad with Quinoa, Haystack Mountain Cracked Pepper Chevre with Basil Vinaigrette and Tempura Pearled Onion

For the main course we had Seared Trumpet Mushrooms, Turnip-Cauliflower Puree, Roasted Radishes, Sautéed Kale, and Rosemary Pistachios. I thought this course was especially attractive.

 Seared Trumpet Mushrooms, Turnip-Cauliflower Puree, Roasted Radishes, Sauteéd Kale and Rosemary Pistachios

Seared Trumpet Mushrooms, Turnip-Cauliflower Puree, Roasted Radishes, Sautéed Kale, and Rosemary Pistachios

By the time dessert arrived, it was so dark that I had pretty much no hope of getting a decent picture. So you’ll have to put some imagination into viewing the picture of the Brandy Custard with Apricot Puree, Lemon Pound Cake, Toasted Almonds, and Cocoa Nibs.

Brandy Custard with Apricot Puree, Lemon Pound Cake, Toasted Almonds, and Cocoa Nibs

Brandy Custard with Apricot Puree, Lemon Pound Cake, Toasted Almonds, and Cocoa Nibs

Three Leaf Farm has four additional dinners scheduled for this year. The price for the dinner we attended was $80, and included wine pairings for every course. This is considerably less than a lot of local farm dinners are lately, so was quite a great deal, in addition to being a wonderful time.

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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.

Red Wagon Organic Farm Carrots

Farmers' Market Purchases

Aug 6, 2011

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.

Tahona Tequila Bistro

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).

Savory Spice Shop

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.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

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).

Los Oasis

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.

Tea and Cakes

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!

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