As I noted in this past week's Side Dish column, it's eatin' season.
That said, here's a quick look at yesterday's Fiddles, Vittles & Vino festival, followed by some more timely food news:
• Speaking as a regular participant, I've got to say that Fiddles, Vittles & Vino continues to get better and better each year. So, naturally, yesterday's event felt like the best yet. (View a brief slideshow here.) It has grown into undoubtedly one of our best annual food events, especially for its price range.
Firstly, attendance was at an all-time high, and for the first time in seven years, tickets sold out. Vendors seemed ready for the most part, as the food held out a little longer than usual at most booths. James Africano of Vermejo Park Ranch earned the longest lines of the day for his buffalo ribs; he told me early on with full confidence that he would not run out of food.
I also tried my first sample of newbie Pikes Peak Brewing Co.'s beer; the Devil's Head Red, at 7.2 percent ABV, is big and very impressive.
And a last note on drinks: I appreciated that the water bottles being handed out were made completely from plants, not from oil. Check out re:newal's website for more on the sustainable product.
A bit of food news broken at the event: Chef Brent Beavers, formerly of Sencha but most recently stationed at Giuseppe's Old Depot Restaurant, premiered his new, solo business endeavor.
It's called Conscious Table, and will center around cooking classes at a yet-to-be-named location. A flier that Beavers was handing out says that the website conscioustable.net will go live Friday, Aug. 5, with more info. I'll aim to have more in this upcoming week's Side Dish as well.
• On to other news: Congrats to the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Culinary Federation, which was named the ACF's national chapter of the year last week at a national convention in Dallas, Texas.
• The Arkansas Valley Organic Growers recently released a short list — too short some might say, considering our city's size and supposed penchant for sustainability — of AVOG farmer-approved establishments in the area, acknowledging those who support small, local farms with their buying practices.
Three Broadmoor eateries made that list, as did two Bon Appétit kitchens, both of Dave Brackett's Old Colorado City restaurants, Bingo Burger, Adam's Mountain Café, The Warehouse and Margarita at PineCreek, and Ranch Foods Direct.
• Coaltrain Wine and Spirits, in honor of turning 30, will offer 10 percent off everything in-store between Aug. 3 and 7.
• The Craftwood Inn recently launched a half-price bottled-wine night on Fridays, a surprise considering most restaurants save that deal for a Sunday, Monday or slower traffic day.
• Catch a fundraiser for local brewer Patrick Tuffield from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 6, at Phantom Canyon Brewing Company. Tuffield was recently injured on the job, and nine breweries have come together to help support him. A $10 entry earns you three beer tickets.
• Trinity Brewing Company has a number of special releases and events upcoming, including the Kinky Reggae Jamaican Jerk Beer (made with Scotch bonnet peppers) on Aug. 5; a six-course beer dinner on Aug. 21; and a third anniversary party on Aug. 27.
• Lastly, a departing cheers to local beer blogger Eli Shayotovich, who posted today on Confessions of a Beer Geek that he's going on hiatus, possibly permanently. Sucks — but hey, at least he hasn't quit drinking.
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