Attending Susie Jimenez’s Taste of the Valley event in Carbondale, Colorado, was like walking into a mini Food and Wine Festival in the cool town of Carbondale, Colorado. Showcased were chefs, farms, orchards, distilleries, breweries and juice shops.
I paced myself beginning with a coffee and vodka demitasse from Woody Creek Distillers which provided just enough of a jolt to get me started on making the rounds to all of the vendors, paralleling Susie who fluttered around in a sheer white tunic, tasting and chatting with all of her people as hourly chef demonstrations captivated food connoisseurs. Demos included; Gina Cucina, Rock Bottom Ranch, Sunshine Moons, WholeFoods, and NoFo Food.
I now know how to make a gluten free loaf of bread and butcher an entire pig…(ok, maybe not entirely as the first chop sent me back for my second drink, a miniature Bloody Mary with all the makings, also from Woody Creek Distillers). On the 5th chop I beelined it over to the Marble Distilling Co. & The Distillery Luxury Inn & Lounge table, as fascinating as it was to see where different cuts come from on the pig, I was getting a bit sq-weee-weee-mish (ha!).
About a month ago I was introduced to The Distillery Inn by a good friend who suggested we meet there for apps and cocktails. I loved the feel of the place and made a mental note to come back for a visit. At the Marble Distilling table I found my “Spirit Pusher”, Keith Marlow who pushed me off the anti-sugar wagon with a shot of Gingercello, “A tribute to springtime and a modern adaptation of the Italian classic with fresh cut ginger and the sweetest part of the lemon zest.” It took me right back to my honeymoon in the courtyard of the 13th-century, Moorish-style Villa Rufolo, a resort town by Italy’s Amalfi Coast where they served Lemoncello shots during the intermission of a classical music concert.
The Inn is getting all kinds of attention with the media and all reviews point to a five star experience. The funny thing? I soon realized that the owner of the Distilling Co. was my wedding planner, Connie Baker, who I adored but lost touch with when she gave up wedding planning. You’ll never guess where my next travel gig is going to be….
In the small amount of time that I had to explore Susie’s event I methodically floated through the foam in the sea of brewers and food professionals, enjoying delicious french toast from my friend, Mawa, of Mawa’s Kitchen, incredible tuna tacos from Zheng and and Watermelon Gazpacho with que fresco, corn relish and cilantro from Chef Travis Owen and The Riviera Supper Club.
Stopping over to say hello to Gina D’Orazio, the wife of Rod Stryker, who I go on and on about, I gobbled her yummy lentil soup as yogis stopped by to talk about their Kundalini, which I (ignorantly) thought was your Gi Gi until I researched it for this post:
Next time I see Rod I will try not to be shy and possibly ask him more about it.
Moving on, I visited the NoFo table and fell for their granola balls, which soon will be available online. NoFo stands for Colorado’s Northfork Valley, “Home of the highest concentration of organic and chemical-free farms in the state.” As stated on their website, “NoFo Food began with a deep belief that caring for our food system is at the heart of caring for our selves, each other and our planet. We are a group of friends, farmers, chefs, nutritionists, artists, entrepreneurs and community members in Colorado’s North Fork Valley.” I put a visit to their farm my bucket list with the kids for the 2016 Fall Harvest.
Admittedly, more and more I find that it is the events downvalley where I meet my kind of people who, without pretension, are focusing on sustainability and helping the planet and I so completely enjoyed getting to know them better in such an intimate setting – if only I could invite them all into my kitchen to cook for my family!
As people continued to pour into the tent, it was difficult to leave but I had to reboot for my next event by getting in my vert. Sadly, Susie and I never had the chance to have that cocktail together, which of course means there will be more Susie coming to spice up Aspen Real Life.
**This event is benefitting “Planting Seeds” a food movement that helps children in the Roaring Fork School District, learn, expand and have more knowledge by hand-ons cooking classes.