Fall is for Food

Locavores are counting the days to the start of the Sun Valley Harvest Festival 2013

It's almost here!

Foodies are counting down the days to the start of the popular, informative and full-of-fun Sun Valley Harvest Festival, coming to town next week. From September 19 to the 22nd, Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge, the streets of Ketchum and even Roundhouse Restaurant will pulsate with the smells of delicious locally-sourced cuisine, the spectacle of food prep demonstrations, the wisdom and insight of famous guest chefs and the sights of everything you need to improve dinner time at your own home. If you like food – and who doesn’t – this is a can’t-miss weekend.

One of the highlights of four full days of memorable events is sure to be the Martini & Caviar party on Saturday, September 21, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. This year, the event gets even better with a move up Bald Mountain to the historic and charming Roundhouse Restaurant. Perched at 7,700 feet above the valley floor, Roundhouse is probably one of the best party rooms in the Lower 48. And the Martinis and caviar are sure to be as spectacular as the surroundings when Sun Valley Executive Chef John Murcko creates his culinary magic in the thin air.

Inventive cocktails and caviar -- what could be better?

Inventive cocktails and caviar -- what could be better?

Festivities begin when you are greeted with a glass of Michelle sparkling wine and whisked up to Roundhouse on the gondola. The scenic ride sets the tone for what is to come. Once ensconced at Roundhouse, Murcko, a James Beard Award Semi-Finalist and food visionary, will get the party started in earnest. Carefully crafted hors d’oeuvres featuring local Idaho sturgeon caviar will delight the palate, especially when paired with artisanal cocktails fashioned from Square One Organic Spirits. Mixologist with the most, Ryan Sullivan, is sure to create flavors perfect for the occasion.

Back on the valley floor, Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge will also be a hub of activity all weekend long. Starting on Saturday, September 21, the lawns at the base of Dollar will be transformed into a Harvest Marketplace. Be sure to spend some quality time with hand-selected purveyors from around the Pacific Northwest and West Coast. Specialty food producers and local and regional farmers will be in attendance, and the latest and greatest in kitchen appliances and cookware will be on display.

When dining at Roundhouse, getting there is half the fun

When dining at Roundhouse, getting there is half the fun

Also at Dollar, catch Guest Chef Demonstrations under the big tent all day September 21, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Join acclaimed chefs including Rodrigo Bueno, Akasha Richmond, Tina Ruggiero, Tal Ronnen and Scot Jones and Malika Ameen who are in Sun Valley from all over the country as they demonstrate topics ranging from “Buy Local, Cook Global,” to “Sweet and Spicy: Unique Twists for Flavorful Baking.” After each cooking demonstration, you will enjoy a sample of the chef’s creation with a specially selected wine from one of the Festival’s featured wineries.

Finally, at this lovely venue on Sunday, be sure to get your tickets to the Grand Tasting. This benefit for the Sun Valley Culinary Institute might be the highlight of your year food-wise. Sample seasonal offerings from local chefs and specialty food makers. Wines, beer from the Sawtooth Brewery and spirits from Idaho’s own Distilled Resources will add to the merriment. The Grand Tasting will also feature 20-minute breakout sessions covering topics from coffee to tea; nut butters to chocolate.

What do you get when you add Sun Valley Executive Chef John Murcko and caviar? Epicurean magic, that's what!

What do you get when you add Sun Valley Executive Chef John Murcko and caviar? Epicurean magic, that's what!

But, wait, there is more! Much more! In and around Ketchum, the food and beverages will flow all weekend long. The Restaurant Walk is scheduled this year for Friday, September 20, starting at 5 p.m. in Ketchum Town Square. The Sawtooth Brewery will offer Oktoberfest, Idaho style, on Saturday, a 5B Boots, Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue party on Saturday evening at B. Restaurant keeps the sophisticated local vibe going, as does a River Guide Cooking Demonstration, on Sunday, at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.

Fresh, locally-sourced food, like that found at the Farmers' Market, is in the spotlight for the entire Festival weekend

Fresh, locally-sourced food, like that found at the Farmers' Market, is in the spotlight for the entire Festival weekend

Relevant, riveting panel discussions round out the agenda.

For the entire Harvest Festival schedule and for ticket information, please click HERE.

Students from the nearby Community School volunteer at last year's event

Students from the nearby Community School volunteer at last year's event

Now might be a good time to start eating just a little less every day to make sure you are hungry for the Sun Valley Harvest Festival. The food is not only plentiful, but divinely delicious. You won’t want to miss a bite!

– RES

Ode to the Oenophile

The base of Dollar Mountain was the place to be Saturday night at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' Grand Wine Tasting Picnic & Concert

The base of Dollar Mountain was the place to be Saturday night at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' Grand Wine Tasting Picnic & Concert

Dionysus, the Greek god of the grape harvest, winemaking, wine and ritual madness smiled down on Sun Valley last weekend. The Sun Valley Center for the Arts again pulled off an over-the-top, hugely successful Wine Auction weekend, raising critical funds to support arts programming in the Wood River Valley.

A big top was erected on the grassy lawn at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge under which hundreds gathered Friday night to raise their paddles and bid on once-in-a-lifetime auction items, all while enjoying sublime wine and fabulous food. The high-flying performance troupe Cirque Berzerk dazzled the capacity crowd and a great time was had for a great cause.

On Saturday night, the three-day event ended on a high note with the highly anticipated picnic that is always a locals’ favorite, though people come to Sun Valley from around the country and around the world for this weekend. Hosting a sell-out crowd of upwards of 1200, this year’s picnic switched things up a bit, offering a grand wine tasting as well as fabulous fare and a live concert.

The event offered a wide selection vintages to taste and to savor

The event offered a wide selection vintages to taste and to savor

Northwest and California wines were available for the sampling and enjoying and food from 20 local restaurants tempted the taste buds. Sun Valley was in on the action, too, as the Resort’s Executive Chef John Murcko donned his whites and helped prepare delicious hard spiced duck pastrami, served with a rye crisp, potato salad, grilled radicchio and apricot. Other food choices ran the gamut from Halibut Ceviche to wood-fired pizzas; Italian Gazpacho to Wagyu beef meatballs. There was an entire tent devoted to dessert.

Sun Valley Resort Executive Chef John Murcko helped feed well over 1000 people under the big tent

Sun Valley Resort Executive Chef John Murcko (right) helped feed well over 1000 people under the big tent

In past years, the Wine Auction weekend offered a separate wine tasting event. This year, however, seven vintners set up near the Quarter Dollar lift, offering insight and information on the wines they poured. It was evident that people enjoyed tasting vintages they don’t see every day.

Brooklyn-based funk band Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds provided a dare-you-to-stay-seated soundtrack to the evening and was a highlight in a night full of highlights.

And if that wasn’t enough, on Thursday night, the weekend kicked off with Tapas and Tasting with the Junior Patrons Circle and exclusive Vintner Dinners at private area homes.

Sun Valley's Brad and Kirsten Cleveland called hosting a Vintner Dinner Thursday night a "fantastic" experience

Sun Valley's Brad and Kirsten Cleveland said hosting a Vintner Dinner Thursday night was a fantastic experience

The SVCA event is the second oldest charity wine auction in the U.S. and the Center’s primary fundraising event. In addition to funding vital programming, monies raised also support scholarships for art students and educators.

Elsewhere in the Resort over the weekend, things were also humming. The Sun Valley Figure Skating Club hosted hundreds of aspiring skaters at its Summer Championships and none other than Olympic Gold Medalist Evan Lysacek lit up Sun Valley on Ice Saturday night. Friday night, Silver Creek Outfitters offered a Fly Fishing Film Festival and on Saturday, a Prana yoga class was given on the River Run lawn.

Just another quiet weekend in the mountains …

–RES

Farm to Table

Eat like a local! It's Farmers' Market season

Eat like a local! It's Farmers' Market season

A walk through the Wood River Farmers’ Market, that made its seasonal debut in Ketchum last Tuesday, invites appreciation for the here and now and anticipation for what’s to come. The offerings at the popular Market, located at East Avenue and Fourth Street, unfold with the warming weeks. The first early summer stands offer hearty lettuces, radishes and my favorite, local morels harvested from secret verdant places. As days grow longer and hotter, tomatoes, zucchini, peas, beans, broccoli, peppers, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, huckleberries – all the pleasures of summer – begin to appear. The Market is constantly evolving, constantly surprising.

Amid all the fresh offerings from local Idaho fields, you will also find pork ribs and steaks and street tacos, oh my! The Market is a terrific place to grab lunch (all the locals do) or to take home prepared food for the family for dinner. Many Tuesday nights at my house feature a half rack of pork ribs (I dare you to walk away from the scent from the cooking meat at the Market), coupled with a fresh salad and vegetable and loaves of crusty bread – all purchased booth to booth.

Step right up -- dinner is served

Step right up -- dinner is served

For those with a sweet tooth, hop into the long, but worth it, queue for homemade pies with the flakiest crusts in creation. Sample elegant little cakes in miniature mason jars and abundant French pastries and treats. If you are gluten free, there are also plenty of rich, delicious choices.

And that doesn’t even begin to cover the local cheeses, glorious flowers, handcrafted pottery and jewelry, jams and jellies, tomato sauce, fresh eggs, herbs, handmade sausage. It’s a good thing we have 18 full weeks to enjoy the area’s bounty. And if even that isn’t enough, the Market moves to Hailey on Thursdays.

Everyone enjoys the first days of summer break with a sweet treat

Everyone enjoys the first days of summer break with a sweet treat

Under Sun Valley Executive Chef John Murcko’s direction, look for a strong farm to table influence in the Resort’s restaurants this summer. Sun Valley’s complement of eateries – from the sophisticated grab-and-go Short Line Deli to fine dining at Trail Creek Cabin and the Ram will all feature local ingredients and indigenous flavors. The restaurant’s chefs incorporate what is at the height of freshness into their menus, constantly changing their epicurean alchemy during these warm months and into the fall. Please check back to this blog during the course of the summer for regular postings about our chefs and recipes from the Resort’s kitchens.

The pleasures and benefits of being a locavore are well documented and commonsensical. During Idaho’s long frozen winters, eating this way takes some work. But in the summer, just stroll or bike downtown. Enjoying the freshest, tastiest food harvested from just down the street or down the Valley couldn’t be easier or more edifying.

–RES

Eat Well, Do Good at the Idaho Foodie Event of the Year

Cheers! You are about to enjoy an evening you will never forget! (Photos courtesy of Guy Hand)

Cheers! You are about to enjoy an unforgettable evening! (Photos courtesy of Guy Hand)

Let’s face it. We have all attended many memorable fundraising events that served less than memorable food. When the purpose is to paddle up for worthwhile causes, dinner often plays second string to a starting lineup of socializing and shopping auction items.

On May 21, however, food will be the focal point at Edible Idaho’s Trail Creek Dinner Benefit for the Hunger Coalition – an opportunity to do good and eat really, really well. Foodies rejoice!

Sun Valley's own Chef Murcko is known for sourcing the finest in local flavors and ingredients

Sun Valley's own award-winning Chef Murcko is known for sourcing the finest in local flavors and ingredients

According to Claudia Sanchez Mahedy, publisher of the magazine Edible Idaho South (a sponsor of the event with Sun Valley Resort, Hotel McCall and The Hunger Coalition), the concept is tantalizingly simple. Two Idaho James Beard Foundation semi-finalists, Chef John Murcko, Director of Culinary Operations for the Sun Valley Resort, and Chef Gary Kucy of Rupert’s Restaurant at Hotel McCall, will weave their edible alchemy throughout the evening, astounding and delighting guests. The chefs’ gastronomic genius will tantalize the taste buds, all while benefiting the Hailey-based Hunger Coalition.

Both Chef Murcko and Chef Kucy are famous for sourcing as much local food as possible for use in their restaurants and purveyors for this event include: 44 North Vodka, Cinder Wines, Huston Vineyards, Telaya Wine Co, Homestead Natural Meats, Ballard Cheese, Blue Sage Farm and Southwind Potatoes.

Chef Gary Kucy will weave together tantalizing tastes for this memorable meal

Chef Gary Kucy will weave together tantalizing tastes for this memorable meal

Be among the 50 lucky people to enjoy this never-to-be-duplicated evening. Start the night at the Sun Valley Inn before boarding picturesque horse drawn wagons that will whisk you to the historic Trail Creek Cabin. There, star mixologists will greet you with specialty cocktails sourcing only the freshest and tastiest ingredients. Guests will then be seated in the rustic but sophisticated and romantic space to then enjoy a six-course meal paired with exemplary wines. Winemakers and farmers who have generously donated their products will be in attendance to answer questions.

Tickets are $200 per person and all proceeds support The Hunger Coalition of Blaine County, an organization celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

If you need extra incentive, a sneak peek at the Chef’s Tasting Menu planned for this glorious gastronomical gathering features the following (and much, much more): an amuse course including stuffed spring morel with sweet pea emulsion as well as dill & peppercorn gravlox, pickled trumpets, warm horseradish potato and chives. A sunchoke chowder with morels and green garlic takes the soup course from humdrum to oh my! Subsequent plates will include flavors as varied as a sturgeon osso bucco with bacon, Brussels leaves, fiddleheads, lemon and tomato; oxtail shepherd’s pie with goat chop, smoked ramps and potato; and an elk mix grill with roast Idaho elk striploin, grilled elk sausage, roasted garlic-sage potato puree and huckleberry-red onion marmalade. Is your mouth watering yet?

A ride on a horse drawn wagon to the historic Trail Creek sets the tone for this special night

A ride on a horse drawn wagon to the historic Trail Creek sets the tone for this special night

Be sure to get your tickets early, as this event is sure to sell out. Then prepare to enjoy the finest fare in Idaho! Tickets and more information are available on the Edible Idaho South website.

– RES