The Clever Root

Spring 2018

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7 0 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t Regional Representation Ingredient-driven menus abound at restaurants throughout the state, including the appro- priately-named trio of WYLD in Avon, Velvet Buck in Aspen, and Denver's Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Que. These budding establishments serve to showcase what's known in different circles as modern mountain, American Alpine, New West, or simply Colorado-inspired cuisine. Seidel was among the earliest pioneers of this new dining scene, opening Fruition Farms in 2009 to not only grow vegetables and make cheese at its onsite creamery, but to "create an opportunity for conversation and education" among likeminded foodies, says Mercantile Chef/ Partner Matthew Vawter. Yet another trailblazer to watch is chef Eric Skokan—Co-Founder of Boulder's Black Cat and Bramble & Hare—who tends to some 250 heirloom crops and breeds on his 130-acre Longmont farm (see "Against the Grain" in the Winter 2017 issue of The Clever Root). And at an institutional level, fellow Boulder phenom Kelly Whitaker of Basta conceived the Noble Grain Alliance to coalesce a network of farmers conducting trials with heritage grains. Blackbelly's Hosea Rosenberg, meanwhile, runs a full-service butcher shop in the mountain city where everything from myriad salumi to dog food and candles comes from animals raised by that local ranchers. Beyond the more populated area known as the Front Range Urban Corridor, chef Josh Niernberg oversees two Grand Junction restaurants, Bin 707 Foodbar and Taco Party, in the heart of the agricultural Grand Valley on the Western Slope. He says his "goal since day one was to be at the forefront of defining a regional cuisine": "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." That philosophy applies to items like blue corn nixtamalized at a local tortilla factory or verjus from green Cabernet Franc grapes in lieu of citrus. (After all, as Seidel points out, "This is high mountain desert. We don't grow avocados and limes.") PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GUEST HOUSE Seth O'Donovan (right) sorts onions with a colleague at The Guest House in Carbondale. Cuts of lamb from the butcher shop and salumeria at Blackbelly in Boulder. PHOTO: RACHEL ADAMS PHOTOGRAPHY

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