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Epicure and TACAW launch supper club series

Julia and Allen Domingos, owners of the boutique-catering company Epicure, are expanding their culinary offerings at The Arts Campus at Willits with a bimonthly supper club that launched Jan. 4 and runs through March.

The longtime locals and food-industry veterans retired their operations (SO Café) on the top floor of Aspen Art Museum in 2021 and joined TACAW in the spring 2022 to run the food-and-beverage program. Their approach has been to create specific, unique, and appropriate menus for the various events at TACAW, as well as opening the onsite summer café Tabl. 

The Domingos were drawn to TACAW for the creative vision of the organization as a community hub and were inspired by the idea of incorporating their food into the programming at the campus.

“Although we still live and operate our business out of Aspen, so many of our friends and colleagues have moved to the mid-valley. We were really impressed with the creative and diverse cultural vision of TACAW and wanted to have a creative way to work with them and participate in the community,” said Allen Domingos.

Owner and executive chef Julia Domingos said she enjoys being unrestrained with the dishes she can create to complement the larger programming experience, whether it be small snacks at the bar, dinners for a musical or comedic act, or showcasing locally-sourced ingredients at Tabl in the summer.

“I like having a rotating menu,” she said. “It challenges me creatively and allows me to work with what I can source during a given season. In the summer, we source almost 100% of our products from Colorado. Obviously, we can’t do that in the winter but are able to source ingredients like honey and meat from local ranches and rely on Farmrunners, a fantastic company, for produce and other items.”

Foodies will get a chance to sample Chef Julia Domingos’ food at TACAW’s newly launched supper club.
Courtesy photo

She described her food as “clean but accessible with international influences” and acknowledged people are “probably over mashed potatoes and other heavy holiday food.” Thus, the first offering on Wednesday was a prixe-fix, French-inspired meal including a salad, a choice of a couple of entrees, including a vegetarian option, and a light dessert.  

For each event, tables will be set up in the lobby of TACAW, and the space can accommodate up to 60 diners.

Much like her former concept at SO Café, the dinners, which will be held every other Wednesday, will feature a rotating menu with no two dining experiences alike, with options ranging from Asian to Middle Eastern and family-style to buffet, with an emphasis on cuisines and flavors that aren’t easily available in the valley. Tickets include food, nonalcoholic beverages, tax, and gratuity.  Alcoholic drinks can be purchased from the bar. 

“We just want everyone to come, have fun, and connect with the community over a meal in a creative way,” she said. “We really need that right now.”

If you go…

What: Tabl Supper Club Series
Where: The Arts Campus at Willits, 400 Robinson St., Basalt
When: Every other Wednesday continuing Jan. 18 through March 15. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. | Dinner: 6-8 p.m.
Tickets and More Info: tacaw.org/calendar/supper-club/

Doctor’s Tip: Two tasty plant-based holiday desserts

Chocolate Raspberry Tofu Pie

This is a relatively healthy holiday dessert from eatingwell.com. It does contain quite a bit of sugar, but don’t feel too guilty for splurging a few times over the holidays. If you’re a purest, you could try substituting date paste for sugar if you make your own crust, but date paste would likely change the texture of the tofu/chocolate part.

Following are the ingredients:

· 1 ½ cups of vegan semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand available at Natural Grocers and Whole Foods)

· 12.3-ounce package of firm, shelf-stable silken tofu (unrefrigerated—Mori-Nu brand in foreign food section of City Market)

· 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

· 1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen (thawed), plus more for garnish

· ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

· 1, 9-inch graham cracker pie crust

Directions:

· Put chocolate chips in a medium microwavable bowl. Microwave on medium for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on medium, stirring every 20 seconds until melted.

· Place tofu in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add the melted chocolate, maple syrup, and vanilla. Process again until smooth. Add raspberries and confectioners’ sugar and process until very smooth; scraping down the sides as necessary. Spread the mixture into the crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm. Garnish with raspberries.

Makes 10 servings. Nutritional data per serving: 310 calories; 15 g fat (6 g saturated, 6 g monounsaturated); 0 mg. cholesterol; 43 g carbohydrate; 31 g added sugars; 5 g protein; 3 g fiber, 153 mg sodium, 210 mg potassium.

Pioneer Gingerbread

This is from the Fall/22 edition of Forks Over Knives magazine.

Ingredients:

· 3 cups spelt flour (Natural Grocers)

· 1 Tbsp. baking powder

· 1 tsp baking soda

· 1 tsp. ground ginger

· 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

· 1 tsp. ground allspice

· ½ tsp. ground nutmeg

· ½ tsp. ground cloves

· ½ tsp. sea salt

· 1 cup pure maple syrup

· ½ cup applesauce

· ¾ cup molasses

· 2 Tbsp. white vinegar

Directions:

· Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 3-qt. rectangular baking dish with parchment paper. In a medium bowl whisk together the first nine ingredients (through salt).

· In another—large– bowl stir together the remaining ingredients. Add 1 cup boiling water; stir to combine. Slowly add flour mixture while stirring just until combined. (The batter will be quite thin.). Pour batter into a prepared dish.

· Bake 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in dish 20 minutes. Remove gingerbread from dish. Cool completely on a wire rack.

· Serve with a vegan lemon sauce (find recipe online) or plant-base “whipping cream” available at most grocery stores.

Have safe, healthy, happy, tasty holidays!

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment, or email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

Making the holidays sweet: Vail Valley bakers and confectioners share their favorite traditions

Since well before the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, the holidays have been associated with sweets. The tradition of giving kids candy started about 350 years ago in Germany when a choirmaster handed children sugar sticks shaped into a shepherd’s crook to keep them quiet through the long Christmas service, according to “The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets.”

These days, the Vail Valley offers plenty of sweet treats to help celebrate the holidays (or quiet kids at church); here are several starting points.


Sundae’s Egg Nog
Courtesy photo

A variety of sweets

From chocolates to cakes and cookies, specialty sweets make holiday memories all the more pleasurable.

While Cornerstone Chocolates in Edwards can incorporate cinnamon, chai and all kinds of spices into its artisan chocolates, it also makes eggnog truffles and Irish cream or liquor-based truffles.

“Chocolates are very popular because with all the food and festivities, you don’t want a heavy dessert,” said chef and owner Felicia Kalaluhi.

The Yule log, or buche de Noel, just might be the most festive way to celebrate the holidays. The thin and pliable chocolate cake is rolled with a layer of raspberry jam or chocolate or vanilla cream into a log. Kalaluhi creates two versions: a classic Yule log and a more modern log, shaped like a terrine, which resembles more of a loaf, “like a mousse dessert, instead of a jelly roll,” she said.

At Cornerstone Chocolates, you can also buy sugar cookies in the shape of mittens of snowflakes; cranberry orange pecan cookies; a variety of chocolate barks (including cranberry orange, peppermint and white chocolate); and caramel pecan chocolate turtles, which she said are also quite popular around the holidays.

Avon Bakery & Deli, known for its organic artisan bread, bakes fresh pumpkin bread with organic flour, pumpkin, sugar, sour cream, eggs, butter and a handful of spices, avoiding any and all preservatives. Its thick snowflake cookies, with their mild gingerbread flavor, are also a great way to celebrate the season.

Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Co. is known for its unique and sweet gifts: You’ll find gondolas, Christmas tree forms, sleighs, Santas (and Santa britches) all filled with festive cookies, chocolates and other candies, like eggnog taffy or peppermint Lindor bells. Other packaged cookies and candies include reindeer noses (chocolate-covered malted milk balls with a red one standing out), chocolate Santas, white-chocolate-covered pretzels and mor

Frozen sweets

Sundae’s Miracle on Bridge Street.
Courtesy photo

Both Häagen-Dazs and Sundae turn a portion of their premium ice cream into holiday specialties for the season.

Häagen-Dazs Dessert Café in Vail offers Peppermint Bark, a vanilla-based ice cream with chocolate chips and chopped peppermint candy, which can be savored in scoops, shakes or sundaes.

“It’s a really popular flavor,” Ric Almas said, so get it before he switches it out in mid-January.

Sundae’s flavor of the month is Miracle on Bridge Street. It has been running as the December flavor of the month since 2017 — Sundae’s first holiday season. Named after the location in which it was created, at Sundae in Vail, Miracle on Bridge Street swirls sweet-cream ice cream with peppermint candy bits and dark chocolate cookie pieces.

“As the quintessential holiday ice cream flavor, it is widely loved by guests and staff — it’s my personal favorite — and we are excited to bring this flavor back for its sixth year,” said Molly LaBrecque, executive assistant to Sundae founder Kent Beidel.

Sundae’s holiday seasonal flavor, available at all locations until New Year’s Day, comes in the form of eggnog ice cream, made by combining sweet cream ice cream with Sundae’s artisan eggnog spice blend, which includes cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

“It was created last holiday season by Marie, our production supervisor, and was just too delicious to not bring back this season,” LaBrecque said. “Even though Sundae’s eggnog is frozen, it still exudes the same feelings of warmth and celebration as a glass of eggnog.”

Cornerstone Chocolate’s yule log
Courtesy photo

DIY and more

While it’s convenient to buy sweets, making them at home can become a beloved tradition.

Allana Smith, personal chef and owner of FOODsmith, grew up participating in mother-daughter cookie exchanges in East Aurora, New York.

“We made gingerbread men — my mom did it every year I can remember,” Smith said. “The number of cookies you bring would be the number you take home with you, plus a half-dozen extra to eat during the party.”

She continues that tradition here in the Valley with her three daughters, using her mini-gingerbread men recipe.

“They have a nostalgia to them,” she said. “The earth spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and molasses are so fragrant, especially when you bake them.”

She also has cut snowflakes or animals out of the gingerbread recipe, and anyone can order her already baked gingerbread people to take home and decorate, to simplify the process during the busy holiday season. She and her husband also create custom gingerbread houses, which can be used as centerpieces; they’ve built everything from ski chalets to a miniature replica of a client’s condo in Florida, with chocolates and cookies displayed around the houses.

In the spirit of DIY, Sweet Mustache continues the candy cane tradition started long ago in Germany, particularly in its Kids Cooking Club this month. While the fun starts with gingerbread house decorating 4-6 p.m. Dec. 19, they’ll be guiding kids through candy cane making noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 26. That same day, kids can make rainbow bars from 3-5 p.m. Email thesweetmustache@gmail.com for more information or to register.

Sweet Mustache also sells premade sets of cookies and icing to take home to decorate, including an 8-inch Santa kids can assemble. Plus, it offers a variety of holiday sweets at the shop, including shortbread dipped in chocolate, gingerbread, cranberry bliss bars, pecan bars, pecan and apple pies and sugar cookies in the form of snowmen, candy canes, gloves, boots and more in two different sizes.

“People love the holiday spirit of spending time with family and having something sweet to share with them,” said pastry chef and Sweet Mustache owner Amaya Laws.

Try these

FOODsmith Gingerbread Men

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar- cream ingredients together
  • ¾ cup molasses -add to butter and sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 ½ cup AP flour
  • combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl
  • 1/2 cup water

-alternate adding wet and dry ingredients to the butter, sugar and molasses mixture until it comes together -roll out to ¼” thick, cut into mini (or large) gingerbread people, place on parchment  lined baking sheet, approximately 1 inch apart from each other, bake at 350° for 4-6 minutes -Yields 50-60 mini cookies

Royal Icing

  • 2 egg whites, whip till stiff
  • 4 cup powdered sugar

Add slowly to whites while mixer is running, then add juice of ½ lemon and add water until reaches desired consistency.

New Castle holiday chili cook-off, mac-and-cheese competition, tree lighting ceremony Dec. 2

Nothing like a hot bowl of chili on a cold winter’s day.

New Castle ushers in the holiday season this year with a tasty chili cook-off and tree lighting ceremony next week. The event also includes live music, fire pits, a mac-and-cheese competition, beer garden, photos with Santa Claus and more.

Festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Burning Mountain Park, 450 W. Main St., in downtown New Castle, Town Administrator David Reynolds said.

“This annual event brings together the community to enjoy one final town-hosted event before the end of the year,” he said. “As an added treat this year we are adding a mac-and-cheese competition to the event.” 

New Castle uses this event to accrue enough capital to enhance holiday decor around town and to support future holiday chili cook-offs. For the 2021 event, there were 270 participants in the chili cook-off and an estimated additional 150 attendees for an estimated $1,500 in profit.

Attendees sample chili during last year’s cook-off in New Castle.
Courtesy/Rochelle Firth

New Castle Recreation Coordinator Kelley Cox said the event is the perfect kickoff “for our little town.”

“It is a chance for all of us to come together to enjoy music, Santa, good food and the Christmas spirit with our neighbors and friends,” she said.

Tickets for the chili cook-off and mac-and-cheese competition can be purchased in advance at newcastle.com, with adult tickets $10 and kids $5.

Any interested chili and mac-and-cheese cooks interested in competing in this year’s event can contact the New Castle Recreation Department at 970-984-2311.

SCHEDULE

  • Chili cook-off competition: 5:30 p.m.
  • Mac & cheese competition: 5:30 p.m.
  • Elk Creek Elementary Choir performance: 6 p.m.
  • Holiday tree lighting ceremony, hosted by New Castle Mayor Art Riddile: 7 p.m.
  • Holiday music, hosted by Two Rivers Productions: all evening
  • Fire pits: all evening
  • Hot chocolate: all evening
  • Photos with Santa, hosted by Samantha Gates, photography, sponsorship by EMBRYN Keller Williams Colorado West Realty: all evening
  • Beer garden sales: all evening
IF YOU GO

What: New Castle holiday chili cook-off, mac-and-cheese competition, tree lighting ceremony

When: 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2

Where: Burning Mountain Park, 450 West Main St.

How much: Tickets for the chili cookoff and mac-and-cheese competition can be purchased in advance at newcastle.com, with adult tickets $10 and kids $5

 

Ditch the beer for Oktoberfest and celebrate the seasonal harvest Farm Fest in Carbondale

Carbondale has replaced Oktoberfest in order celebrate the local harvest and local food with this year’s inaugural Farm Fest from Oct. 14-16.

“Farm Fest will have the feel of Carbondale’s signature events, such as First Friday,” said Andrea Stewart, Executive Director of Carbondale Tourism in a press release.  

The weekend-long event will promote eating locally and healthily with the participation of Carbondale’s restaurant community, some fun farm activities, ranch tours and an evening farmers market downtown. 

“There will be a downtown night farmers market with live music, our restaurant community will be showcasing local ingredients on their menus and farms and ranches will open their doors to the community,” she said.

The festivities will wrap up with a community lunch at Spring Creek Ranch, featuring a line-up of local culinary champions who will create a feast from produce sourced throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and Western Colorado, according to the release. 

Farm Fest is designed to connect residents and visitors with the agricultural heritage, and it will showcase and promote small agricultural businesses, food producers and restaurants.

It will be a celebration for local ag and food to tell their stories and highlight their connection to regional heritage.

“Carbondale’s unique ranching and farming legacy is thriving with a “gastro renaissance” driven by the young farmers and ranchers who are carving out boutique and micro-farming projects, while developing relationships with custom-grow chefs, brewers and distillers — resulting in unique flavors from the local terroir, while minimizing the distance food travels from farm to fork,” according to the release.

For more information, partnership opportunities and to purchase passes, visit https://www.carbondale.com/farm-fest/.

Carbondale agritourism ventures strengthen understanding of farming and ranching lifestyles, provide a first-hand perspective

Merrill and Pam Johnson hang out with the alpacas in the pasture at Cedar Ridge Ranch near Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The first thing you notice is the resounding quiet. Driving a ways up the bendy road from Colorado Highway 82, visiting Cedar Ridge Ranch is like entering a different world — one where you’re just as likely to make eye contact with an alpaca or rooster as you are with another human being.

“We have alpaca hats that come straight from the alpacas,” Pam Johnson, co-owner of Cedar Ridge Ranch said. “So you can go out and kiss the alpacas and then get a hat, and learn about the alpaca.”

Three alpacas look towards the camera for a glamour shot at Cedar Ridge Ranch.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The Johnson family — parents Randy and Pam and their only daughter, Merrill — moved from the hustle and bustle of the Chicagoland area over 20 years ago onto Cedar Ridge Ranch and began offering an educational, boutique ranching experience to those who came out to visit. Randy said they’ve had visitors come from not just Denver, but Saudi Arabia, Germany and Portugal, as well.

“It’s really interesting the kinds of people that we do meet here,” (Randy) Johnson, a Vietnam-era veteran and former salesman, said. “And some of the kids go, ‘Mom, the eggs aren’t white!’ you know?”

Garfield County passed an agritourism proposal back in 2013, which enabled the Johnsons to offer even more to their guests. Now, instead of just giving farm tours, horseback riding lessons, alpaca yoga and allowing visitors to collect eggs from the hens on the property, people can spend the night on the ranch in one of the various hospitality setups on the ranch property.

Pam Johnson collects eggs from the chicken coop at Cedar Ridge Ranch.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“I think agritourism too has this really strong capacity and opportunity to help farmers, because farming is not easy work, and it’s 24/7. … They’re just undervalued,” Merrill Johnson said. “I think agritourism opens up a place where farmers can be valued and seen more than they are today. Agritourism in general allows for the opportunity for other farmers to do something very, very similar and to be able to share what they do so other people can back or support them.”

Morgan Beidlemen was a recent agritourist to the Cedar Ridge Ranch and said she stumbled upon them by Googling ‘glamping in Colorado.’ She said the Johnson’s ranch was a perfect balance of far enough from Denver but still close to other nearby towns, so without an isolating feeling.

“I love horses and I love cows, just kind of walking around and saying ‘hi’ to them. And the alpacas were so curious; I just loved how curious they were,” Beidlemen said. “Being able to get eggs from the chickens and go back down to the yurt and cook eggs you just purchased … having that complete break from work … and (an) immersive experience of being on the ranch and all that it has to offer. … That was really what I was looking for.”

A pair of roosters sit on a doorway at Cedar Ridge Ranch.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

She also spoke to the Johnson family’s hospitality and openness to educate folks who had questions about the lifestyle and the workings of the ranch itself.

“Their willingness, you know, to talk about things … talking about having a totally different life before. … Human connection, connection to nature, disconnection from technology and just beautiful (scenery).”

Sarah-Jane Johnson, a tourism project manager for Carbondale Tourism, said Garfield County is rich with opportunities for Agritourism, and Carbondale specifically has a long history of farming. Carbondale tourism recently launched a Farm + Food map highlighting local farms with Agritourism opportunities and restaurants that specialize in farm-to-table menu options.

Pam Johnson hangs out with the goats near the barn at Cedar Ridge Ranch.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“I love the fact that this is a visitor education tool, but I think our local community will connect with it as well and use it perhaps,” Johnson said. “You can learn about history and you can enjoy a cocktail and then you can enjoy a lovely meal. There’s just so many different layers to connect with the destination through agritourism.”

Lucy Perutz is the co-owner and chef at The Beat restaurant in Carbondale, which started as an entirely vegetarian eatery but shifted its business model during COVID-19 to accommodate local farmers who were experiencing a produce surplus and individuals who were hesitant to visit grocery stores at the beginning of the pandemic.

“We were like, ‘well, let’s translate our business to something that makes sense for the moment,’ and that turned into an online order-ahead grocery store that specialized in local foods and your staple and bulk items, too,” Perutz said. “… We had meats and some dairy, which we’ve never served meats before, but we found it kind of important to keep the farmers going … to support the entire model of local food.”

Merrill Johnson feeds an alpaca at Cedar Ridge Ranch.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The restaurant is now in a transition phase from being a grocer back into being an eatery, but Perutz said their focus will now prioritize locally grown crops on the menu, instead of being sure to offer staple dishes guests had come to enjoy but may require produce out of season to Colorado or from farther away.

“I think what we realized is really exciting is we’re gonna make awesome food and are going to provide good, quality tasty stuff that’s going to change a lot more often now because that’s just what we want to do,” Perutz said. “We want to better support the farms and if they can tell us they have a surplus of this one particular item, that’s going on the menu.”

 

Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or jpeterson@postindependent.com.

Tapping into conversation: Roaring Fork Valley brewery owners cheers to community

Brewer Evan Selby lines up kegs before filling them for Casey Brewing at their brewing facility in south Glenwood.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Carbondale BeerWorks owner Patrice Fuller said on this year’s National Beer Drinking Day that the beverage isn’t just for men – beer is for women, too.

“Because I think a lot of times people think … only men drink double (India pale ales). I’m pretty proud, you know, I’m a female that owns my own brewery, so that I really love. It’s not just a boys’ beer,” Fuller said.

Fuller moved to the valley and purchased the brewery just under five years ago. Her previous job was as a bar manager in Seattle at a place called Tap House that offered 160 beers on tap at a time. Fuller said she tries to bring a bit of home to BeerWorks and incorporate different brews from the Pacific Northwest in their selection of 16 handles.

“Every year you see more and more people who come in to check out the beers, — you know we have a lot of good regulars,” she said. “It’s kind of fun though when I get to buy guest taps because, like I said after having 160 handles it’s kind of cool to bring in a new beer here that no one’s ever had,” Fuller said.

Troy Casey also found his love for crafting beers through a larger brewery, Coors. Since opening his taproom and brewery back in 2014, he said there have probably been hundreds of different variations his team has made with their “old world” brewing technique.

“We are a very, very tiny brewery and just trying to focus on making beers with Colorado ingredients,” Casey said. “So, most of our sour beers are made with 100% Colorado ingredients, and then just really trying to do quality over quantity … we’re really just focused on small-batch, old world style beers with local ingredients,” Casey said.

Brewer Evan Selby does prep work before filling a keg at Casey Brewing in their brewing facility in south Glenwood.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

His brewery primarily uses neutral French Oak wine barrels to store the batches they’re working on. The fermenting process of the sour beers can be anywhere from four months to two years. Beers from Casey’s brewery also come packaged with a cork in a 750mL bottle, similar to how wine is sold, and they bottle age and re-ferment as time goes on.

“By bottle-conditioning you get smaller bubbles and that sort of creamier mouth feel, and the fact that it’s bottle conditioned allows for that beer to mature just like a nice wine would. We use it for aging potential. We still got beers in our cellar from seven years ago that are just drinking great, just kind of get better with age as they go,” Casey said.

The larger bottling method is also because Casey said he believes these beers are meant to be enjoyed with company.

“We think beers like this should be shared. … Drinking it with somebody else I think makes the experience more memorable when you’re with somebody and sharing something like that together,” Casey said.

Fuller said for her, she’ll drink different beers with different people but at the end of the day it is about tapping into conversation and enjoying something with good company.

“It’s like different experiences with different people. … There are some people who I’ll just throw down and drink IPAs with, where (with) Shannon and Laney we’re gonna go get sours. It’s definitely about being open to trying things,” Fuller said.

Being able to show people they may like more than one beer is also a fun part of her job, Fuller said. She has a regular group she’s fond of that comes in each day to enjoy happy hour, but will stick to one type of beer if they can.

“I have a group of guys, every single day and all they drink is the blonde. That’s all they drink. And right now we’re out of it so they have to drink the Pilsner but we’ll bring them a (different one) … and go ‘here try this’ and they’ll taste it and give us that look then go like ‘no we just want the blonde,’” Fuller said.

Product manager Eric Metzger works on a brew at the brewing facility in south Glenwood for Casey Brewing.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Fuller also said being a part of the beer community is a lot of fun, whether you own a brewery or just like to pop into taprooms and sample some craft beers now and then, beer enables people to come together and try new things.

“It shouldn’t only happen one day a year,” she said. “Everyday should be National Beer Day. Everybody should come in and try beers and sit around and talk, see what they like and talk about different styles. Even just, you know, over a beer you get to share your experiences and life stories.”

 

Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or jpeterson@postindependent.com.

Sweet Coloradough looks to open shop in Aspen, add to existing locations

Homer Simpson would be proud.

Sweet Coloradough, a Garfield County pastry staple among sweet tooths and doughnut lovers, has three major announcements.

One: Just three short weeks from now, owner Aaron Badolato told the Post Independent on Wednesday that he’ll be opening up a storefront in Aspen. It’s set to replace the old Popcorn Wagon on South Mill Street.

And, based on the former success of their Snowmass Village storefront (now closed), Badolato has a good feeling about this planned location, which will first start off with a coffee and doughnuts-style atmosphere.

“I think Aspen will be twice as busy (than Snowmass Village),” Badolato said.

Two: In the last week of November, the Glenwood Springs location will undergo a revamp. Badolato said the kitchen will be remodeled while – and here’s the kicker – a new grocery store will take shape in the basement.

“We’ll have kind of a liquor store meets ice-cream shop, meets merchandise mart,” he said, chuckling.

Three: The Sweet Coloradough location in downtown Rifle will also undergo a series of exciting new developments. With the upstairs apartments ready for guests, Badolato said his western Garfield County shop will soon provide a bed-and-breakfast option. And with a liquor license recently approved by Rifle City Council, each room will come fully equipped with a bar.

“I’d be like when you go to Mexico and like everything’s fully stocked,” Badolato said. The bed-and-breakfast is scheduled to be open by Christmas. “That all-inclusive vibe is kind of what I’m going for.”

Also, based on the success and ease in which the Aspen shop opens, Badolato can get to making the Rifle location resemble the current experience people can find in Glenwood Springs. In other words, between February-March 2021, a full bar will line the interior of the Rifle doughnut shop.

With a full bar currently in place at the Glenwood Springs location, on any given morning a person can stroll in, order a scrumptious doughnut and accent it with a tall glass of Colorado-brewed beer.

Spirits lovers, meanwhile, might have a nip while they munch on a cinnamon doughnut. For the wine connoisseur, they might fancy a lovely cabernet with their apple fritter.

It’s all there for the picking.

This will eventually be the reality in Rifle. And like its sister store in Glenwood, the spirits, beers and wines will come straight from the Centennial State.

“We’re trying to keep that Colorado vibe as much as we can,” Badolato said. “And, most likely, free mimosas for moms on Friday.”

Beyond that, Badolato said the Rifle location will eventually include a full kitchen with a deli, which will include lunch and dinner options. Additionally, Badolato said the kitchen will likely be ready sometime in January 2021.

And, if everything goes accordingly, Badolato said he intends to have every Garfield County Sweet Coloradough include drink and additional meal options.

“That would be the ultimate goal,” he said, “to set up that same vibe in all locations.”

A SWEET SUCCESS

There’s little doubt Sweet Coloradough provides quite a unique experience for its patrons. Maybe that’s the reason why, according to Badolato’s estimation, the bakery provides about 25,000 doughnuts on a weekly basis between its existing locations.

And, perhaps it’s the reason why Badolato and his wife and co-owner Anne have found so much success over the years. He maintains that nabbing repeat customers is “a testament to doing things right.”

“(It’s) hoping to see someone again,” Badolato said of good service. “It’s the desire to have them come back as opposed to just that transactional situation. I think we take the transaction out of it in a lot of ways and focus more on the overall experience for hopefully the rest of somebody’s life.”

Sweet Coloradough opened its first shop in 2014 in Glenwood Springs. By late 2019, its delectable doughnuts and flavorful experience became so popular, the Badolatos held a grand opening of its Rifle location, which currently serves breakfast burritos, coffee and, of course, its fluffy slices of pastry heaven.

Now, with the upcoming opening in Aspen, Badolato said he looks to add 15-20 new employees to the area.

With that, Badolato was asked if Homer Simpson would agree with all the sweet things taking place in Garfield County.

“I think it would fit right in line with just enjoying his life to its fullest,” be said. “That’s how he strikes me – keep it on what I like, ya know?”

rerku@postindependent.com

Ball Brewing to host ‘Learn to Homebrew Day 2020’ in Glenwood Springs

Ancient Egyptians did it. So did Trappist monks. 

Now it’s your turn.

To break the boredom of social-distancing – with a good chance to drink socially (in moderation) – the High Altitude Mashers Beer Club invites the public to their “Learn to Homebrew Day 2020” event. The local conglomeration of suds loving-brewmeisters prepare to demonstrate the best methods and techniques behind crafting beer from the comforts of your own home.

Class is slated for 9 a.m.2 p.m. Saturday at Ball Brewing, 7025 Colorado Highway 82, Glenwood Springs.

According to Ball Brewing brewmaster Kirstie Ennis, students of every skill level will first be given a tour through the local brewery’s entire beer-making process. Brewery owner and head brewmeister Bobby Ball, along with fellow brewer Clark Archibald, will then begin to instill their infinite beer wisdom upon their pupils.

“I mean, it’s science. Everything about beer is chemistry,” Ennis said, who’s also the beertender and designated “Elmer’s,” because she holds the place together. “Sometimes it’s trial and error to figure out how to make what you like, what you love… but actually figuring out how all the different ingredients are going to interact, and the whole process, it’s actually beautiful.”

The Bootlegger Hops are grown and harvested in the wild in Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Even for the novice brewer, the art of making beer shouldn’t be met with intimidation.

“For the ones that are beginners – they don’t even know what kind of beer that they like – obviously we’re going to give you the information so you can figure what exactly it is that you like,” Ennis said.  “So, whether it’s a blonde or if you like a porter – something a little bit darker – we can provide you that information.”

The local taproom, equipped with quirky-named, in-house craft beers like Slopeside Pale Ale, Captain Ron and Asian Persuasion, will also offer students lessons and suggestions on how to name their beer.

Ennis, a combat-wounded amputee from the war in Afghanistan, has essentially mastered the art of beer-naming by using her military experience as a muse. The 5’4” blond personally serves a beer called “Hop Along Blonde.”

“We get to sell these beers to people that obviously mean alot to me. They’re kind of funny, they’re playful, they taste great.”

A drink is poured from the tap by Ball Brewing Brew Master Kirstie Ennis
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“So when I get to serve the Hop Along Blonde – again, on my one leg – it’s pretty cool.”

And, while some may conjure up images of men blaming the pungent, yeasty fragrance wafting from the basement on their dog or perhaps their kids, Ennis also encourages more females to become brewmasters.

“I would really like to see women out here doing it,” she said. “There’s not really a lot of women brewers here in the valley and I think it would spice things up a bit.”

There are two additional reasons why teaching and encouraging Coloradans – especially Garfield County locals – to homebrew. One, locals were mostly responsible for keeping Ball Brewing, which opened its doors Feb. 8, afloat after the inception of COVID-19.

“They were really the ones that supported us through everything,” Ennis said. “So, today is really our day to really be able to give back to them.”

Also, if COVID-19 continues to skunk social gatherings and warrant further quarantine, what else better to do than to tinker with brew kettles and funnels for a while?

“Anything that you learn, anything that you see that you actually think you might want to take home with you, we have that in our store as well,” Ennis said. 

That’s when the young “grasshoppers” explore the taproom’s onsite homebrew supply store, where they can pick up brew kits as well ingredients. 

Attendees are asked to wear masks, while parties of two people of less are encouraged.

Saturday’s celebration of suds is in honor of National Homebrew Day, established in 1999 by the Homebrewers Association.

rerku@postindependent.com

City of Glenwood looks to ‘igloo’ structures for unique, Covid-era outdoor winter dining experience

The city of Glenwood Springs plans to spend a portion of its funding for outdoor winter dining solutions to rent or possibly buy a set of heated, dome-type structures resembling igloos for restaurants to have extra seating capacity through the colder months.

The plan makes use of some of the $170,000 in coronavirus-related grant funding the city has received to help businesses adapt to distancing and capacity requirements aimed at preventing disease spread.

“We’re trying to be as creative as possible,” City Manager Debra Figueroa said during a special City Council video meeting on Tuesday. “We might fail miserably, but I suggest we need to try.”

That statement was punctuated by concerns about the potential for further restrictions, after Denver restaurants were mandated that same day to limit patron capacity to 25%, rather than 50%, given the latest uptick in new COVID-19 cases on the Front Range.

Glenwood Springs officials, including economic development specialist Matt Nunez, have been working on a variety of options to maximize outdoor public spaces along Glenwood’s restaurant row district on Seventh Street and under the Grand Avenue Bridge.

Any equipment that’s being leased or purchased by the city, including propane heating units, tables and chairs and shelter structures, is being made available on request or on a rotating basis, regardless of location in the city.

But the downtown eateries that front public spaces in particular present a unique opportunity to do something different, Nunez said.

After looking at a variety of options using large tents under the Grand Avenue Bridge or fenced open areas with heaters, City Council settled on the igloo structures, which can either be leased from a local vendor or purchased.

“These things are popping up in cities everywhere, and it’s a unique option that several of us are excited about,” Nunez said, adding that Basalt and Snowmass Village are also looking at their use. “We found them to be a little be easier to manage than the tent options.”

The geodesic dome structures are clear, about 12 feet high in the middle and can seat up to eight people, even though public health protocols may limit them to use by smaller parties or same-family parties only.

The city could purchase them for about $4,500 apiece or rent them for $5,000, including table and chair accessories and heaters, Nunez said.

“The purpose of this initiative was to support the purchase of heaters and tent equipment for local businesses and nonprofits, and to create public dining opportunities downtown to maintain restaurant patronage with adequate social distancing,” Nunez said during his presentation to council.

Already, the city has spent $10,669 to buy 77 of the vertical-style propane heaters — 52 of which have been distributed to restaurants and nonprofit organizations that requested them. The remaining units are being reserved for tourist attractions to make use of, Nunez said.

The outdoor dining equipment would be used between Nov. 20 and April 20, though there would be times when it would be too cold to have the heaters running constantly, Nunez advised when the question came up.

The city could also team with businesses or maybe the chamber to have blanket giveaways for people to use while they’re waiting for a table, he said.

Council gave direction for city staff to proceed with the project. Some of the money would also be used for maintenance, cleanup and security during hours when the units are not in use.

jstroud@postindependent.com