The Clever Root

Spring 2018

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s p r i n g 2 0 1 8 | 6 9 A ROCKY MOUNTAIN REVOLUTION IS BREWING WITHIN Colorado's Down -To- Eah Dining Scene by Ruth Tobias F oodwise, the American West has long been defined by its borders. The abundant produce and seafood of its coastal areas and the strong Hispanic and American Indian influences found along its southern edge tend to dominate the culinary conversa- tion, while the Rocky Mountain states at the region's core can be dismissed as mere meat and potatoes. But in Colorado, the gateway of the West, the culinary landscape is rapidly evolving amid a hospital- ity boom that began in tandem with the farm-to-table movement. The aforementioned meat and potatoes are hardly excluded: With its own indigenous heritage of hunting, trapping, and shepherding in addition to its ranching tradition, Colorado rightly champions its lamb, beef, bison, and game such as elk and venison. The state is also among the nation's top spud growers. Colorado's raw materials, however, are more diverse than outsiders realize, from notable specialty crops like Olathe sweet corn, Rocky Ford melons, Pueblo chiles, and Palisade peaches (among other fruits from the fer- tile Western Slope) to the snow suppling a key ingredi- ent in the state's celebrated beers and spirits. Together, these ingredients represent the unbridled adventure that draws the young, DIY-minded creatives spurring the growth of Colorado's craft-minded culture. Indeed, it's this new wave of butchers, cheesemakers, coffee roasters, foragers, picklers, and millers who "are strengthening our culinary community" alongside the brewers, distillers, and farmers, says Chef Alex Seidel, Owner of Fruition Restaurant and Mercantile Dining & Provision in Denver. "Everybody's bringing their piece to the table," he adds. Alex Seidel is the Chef/Owner of Denver institutions Fruition Restaurant and Mercantile Dining & Provision. PHOTO: TOM VISOCCHI "WE CAN TELL FARMERS, 'WE'LL COMMIT TO 100 PERCENT OF YOUR CROPS,' AND THEN WE'LL FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET THEM ON MENUS THAT ARE 100-PERCENT COLORADO-SOURCED TO PROVIDE THAT SENSE OF PLACE."

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