Friday, July 19, 2019

A Grazing Life dinners stylishly celebrate local farms and fine food and drink

Posted By on Fri, Jul 19, 2019 at 12:56 PM

There are only four A Grazing Life dinners left this season at Frost Livestock Ranch that aren't already sold out, as of this writing. Eight dinners total were planned and two have already come and gone. The second of which, on Sunday, July 14, I attended on a comped media ticket as a guest of event facilitator Dionne Roberts (also editor of Indy partner Rocky Mountain Food Report and an Indy contributor).

That night's featured chef was Jacob Cheatham of Loyal Coffee, joined for drink service by Brass Brewing Co., Montana Horsfall of Craft Cocktail Inc., and Black Forest's Sette Dolori Winery. (Each event hosts a different chef and beverage makers, plus musical guest.) A respectably long list of local producers were represented, whose ingredients informed an awesome four-course family-style meal (read: feast) and a greeting spread of fine cheeses, meats and locally-baked bread. (See the above slideshow for a tour through who's who and what your money buys and supports.)

Read the above-linked article in this past week's Indy by Colorado Springs Business Journal Associate Editor Helen Robinson for an extensive look behind the scenes and missions of both A Grazing Life and Frost Livestock Ranch. Robinson speaks with AGL founder Mike Preisler about his mission to "reconnect consumers to their local farms and ranches" and rancher Jay Frost regarding challenges facing food producers today. On a positive note, Frost says, "We used to have this connection way back when. We’re coming back to the future.”

click to enlarge Rancher Jay Frost of Frost Livestock Ranch; 5 percent of A Grazing Life ticket sales also benefit the Palmer Land Trust. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Rancher Jay Frost of Frost Livestock Ranch; 5 percent of A Grazing Life ticket sales also benefit the Palmer Land Trust.

For my part as a guest who partook in all the bounty offered — yes I damn near overindulged, enchanted by the evening glow out in farm country as thunderstorms popped on the horizon all around us — I can vouch for A Grazing Life dinners feeling like a truly special occasion.

At $135 per ticket, they'd have to be to continue selling out, no?

So much of that money goes back into our local economy, direct to growers, ranchers and producers of all kinds; plus the Palmer Land Trust is the beneficiary of 5 percent of what's collected.

And there's of course the intangible part of the experience you can't quite hold a price tag to, but it's safe to say guests otherwise recoup a lot of their own costs with the abundance of food and drink offerings. The point isn't to pig-out, but good luck getting through hors d’oeuvres and all four courses plus just about as many adult beverages you wish to consume (responsibly, folks ... consider taking The Local Motive party bus down, operated by Preisler's wife Lacie) without feeling like a happy glutton.

Horsfall, for her part, designed lovely fruit-forward and/or herbaceous cocktails (a basil gimlet, whiskey cherry smash, and apricot brandy old fashioned); Sette Dolori Winery's samplings easily complemented the food courses (their Lora red table wine blend being my favorite) and Brass Brewing Co. brought some roundly bangin' beers.

Chef Cheatham showed that serving more than 100 guests in-style falls well within his and his crew's capabilities. It was the small culinary touches (that I overhead many other guests at the long community commenting on) that partly illustrate Cheatham's talent at letting the night's ingredients speak for themselves: light seasoning on the root vegetables, honey butter for the bread, hearty Bolognese with an initial pork punch, followed by a beautifully tender mojo-spiced Larga Vista Ranch pork loin, and grilled apricots and brandy compote on a concluding pound cake.

All in all, I experienced a pretty magical night. Just ask the dog driving the truck below — he gets it.
click to enlarge A night so special that even a dog drove the truck around for a farm tour. (Ok, not really.) - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A night so special that even a dog drove the truck around for a farm tour. (Ok, not really.)

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