Archive for August, 2007

Boulder’s first-ever food and wine fest, held in Central Park, looks to be a real winner, and a crowd estimated at about 1,000 could easily grow in future years along with the event as word gets out.

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I just got back this hot Sunday afternoon from the festival, and if your mouth isn’t watering a bit after I describe both the food and wines that I sampled, well either I am a poor writer or you just like your Happy Meals.

First of all, congratulations to all of the hard organizing work done by both Jackie and Mike Thompson, owners of Boulder Creek Winery and Ulla Merz and John Garlich, owners of BookCliff Vineyards. The festival drew 25 wineries, 18 Boulder restaurants and a few other local businesses including Culinary School of the Rockies, Belvedere Belgian Chocolates and Glacier Homemade Ice Cream.

it was slow going, Mike Thompson told me, for early registration online, despite a very good Web site and ability to pay via PayPal. But like so many Boulder events, the crowds poured in during the last week, with some 900 people pre-registering for $35.

Everyone got five food tickets, allowing you to choose between numerous restaurant offerings, and a $5 certificate off the purchase of any bottle of wine. It was especially fun to sample these Colorado wineries, and purchase a bottle of whatever you liked right there on the spot.

Since it was a pretty hot afternoon (where were those clouds anyway?), I started off with a chilled melon soup from The Kitchen, which I personally rank as one of Boulder’s very best restaurants with its menu using all-local, organic ingredients whenever possible.

The soup was the perfect cool starter, so it seemed appropriate to sample the Bottom’s Up (OK, the label attracted me, too) from Boulder’s Augustina’s Winery, a blend of Chardonnay and French hybrid grapes. At this point, I knew it was going to be good day.

Back to the food area, I chose the Mediterranean couscous in a small phyllo cup alongside fresh mozzarella and sundried tomatoe and basil from John’s Restaurant, a longtime Boulder favorite.

Noticing a very long line for the new Alba restaurant (formerly Full Moon Grill) in the Village Shopping Center, I jumped in, and turned in a ticket for a taste of braised beef shoulder in a soft polenta. No wonder the line was long, this was delicious. Alba opens in about a week.

OK, it was time to shuffle around some of the wine tents, and after the beef, I was ready to move to a red, trying a 2004 Merlot from Boulder Creek Winery. I was still waiting for a cooling cloud to move in, but the tents offered some shade, so I went back to some chilled whites with a Viognier from Snowy Peaks Winery in Estes Park and then a very good 2005 Chardonnay from Plum Creek Winery in Palisade.

This was no small feat, by the way, taking notes, getting some photos, carrying my food plate and wine as well as a small wine tote to buy some wines!

Moving on. Rmember we’re sipping here, and spitting out (occasionally…). A Rose was just right from the Bonacquisiti Wine Company in Denver, followed by a taste of Fume Blanc from Garfield Estates Vineyards in Palisade.

For most of the wineries, I usually just tasted one wine, since there were so many to visit. But at Mountain View Winery from Olathe, there were some very tempting and unusual wines including a Cherry Wine, Wild Plum Wine and Pear Rasberry Wine. The winery also offered one of the few pinor noirs at the festival.

Hungry yet? Now you’re wishing you hadn’t stayed inside watching Tiger all day, aren’t you?

My next food ticket went for some Mediterranean tuna tartar from Jill’s Restaurant at the St. Julien Hotel.

Time for dessert and my final ticket I chose the banana cheesecake, topped with chocolate, from Seven on Pearl. Not a bad Boulder lunch I have to admit.

And dessert calls for a dessert wine, and I didn’t want to miss stopping by BookCliff Vineyards tent, where for just a dollar, they were offering a special tasting of three of their reserve wines. Seemed like a fitting close to a mouth-watering afternoon. The tasting included sampling their Reserve Merlot 2005, a Cabernet Franc 2005 and the Adagio 2005, a Black Muscat dessert wine. Both the merlot and cabernet are two you might want to hang onto for few years, they’re going to be very good as they age.

Boulder’s Food & Wine Festival, which benefitted the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, proved to me that indeed that Front Range and Colorado wineries are producing some very good wines. I’m going to look for some of these names the next time I buy, and you should, too. For anyone who hasn’t already realized that Boulder’s restaurant scene is incredible for a smaller city, come visit soon. The longest line at the festival was for Aji Restaurant, where they were offering samples of their ceviche and other Latin American tastes.

Many of the nearby wineries have organized under the umbrella of Front Range Winery Association, and with events like this one, the word will spread.

I bought three wines to take home: the Cherry Wine from Mountain View, a 2005 Chardonnay from Plum Creek and the 2006 Old Vine Zinfandel from Bonacquisti. I’ll remember the festival with the openings of each of these.

Categories : Food and Drink, Travel
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