In the next two days we drove more than 25 hours arriving at Paonia, CO in the late evening. This is our 3rd visit to Zephyros Farm and Garden so we know our way around. Jim's friends Rebecca and Rob Miller welcomed us with beer, cherry tomatoes.... and laundry facilities! The next day we enjoyed the charms of small town Paonia, as we planned the big event. Rob and Rebecca also had a big event that night; they were organizing a free concert in the park. The talk was all about the forecast for possible rain in the afternoon and evening. Farmers Don and Daphne of Zephyros Farm & Garden, assured us that the farm was in a “dry spot” which tends to miss any passing thunderstorm. We arranged for a “Plan B” in case of rain, scouting the farm for a suitable greenhouse shelter in case of rain.. The space we found sort of looked like a restaurant with open windows in the front. We followed plan A and the table was set outdoors as we hoped to escape the forecast “chance” of thunderstorms.
Our beautiful table along a small lake with the Rocky Mountains in the background.
Shortly before guests arrived, Jim checked the Doppler radar, which showed a super cell to the southwest heading towards our location at 10 miles an hour. The weather service just then issued a severe thunderstorm warning for our area. As we had about 40 minutes until the thunderstorm arrived and our event started in about 20 minutes, Jim had the idea that the guests could see the table outdoors before we whisked it away into the greenhouse. Much excitement and chaos ensued as the dark thunderstorm slowly approached with black clouds and increasing wind. Just as many guests arrived and were able to see the table, we made the decision to head indoors! After a mad scramble of fifteen minutes or so, the table was safely set in the cozy greenhouse. Chefs and kitchen staff relocated to a nearby utility packing shed to complete their preparations. Safe in our plastic house, we listened as the rain pelted down and the wind howled outside.
Don and Daphne attempted separate farm tours, where they led guests off during breaks in the rain, which were quickly abandoned by most guests as the rain and winds increased mid-tour. A few hearty souls completed these overly exciting farm tours.
With guests safely ensconced indoors, our dinner began and Don and Daphne were able to describe the farm to the entire group. Chef Mark Fischer with his Restaurant six89 and the Little Nell at Aspen crew were good sports in dealing with the clement weather and produced an amazing, delicious dinner. Colorado farmers and producers shared with guests local stories as Outstanding staff enjoyed serving guests away from wind and rain. We said goodbye to our friends in Paonia knowing we'd probably be back, hopefully with less exciting weather next time.
Early the next morning we left for Boulder, enjoying the drive through the Rockies. We thought about Ben and our bus and how it was probably a good thing that he was taking the flatter Northern route to cross the Rockies. We arrived at Munson Farms to meet the much anticipated Bob Munson, who lived up to all of our expectations. Within minutes of being on the farm, Bob leapt into the corn rows to pick some ears, giving each one of us a fresh cob of “Colorado’s sweetest corn”. Mmm. What could be a more beautiful spot for our table than right in those rows?
That night we visited The Kitchen for dinner and chatted with Chef Hugo Matheson about the Boulder scene. The Kitchen has a chalkboard showing all of the local producers for the night’s meal: a wonderful way to let people know where their food comes from. Later, Jim, Anna Lena and Annette danced in the streets of Boulder to the raucous sounds of the local street musicians. We also managed to find a new favorite brewery: the Mountain Sun on Pearl Street. Aubrey and Leah almost convinced one of the cute boy service staff to come on the bus, but he wasn’t quite ready to make that commitment.
The next day, dinner preparations began as thunderstorms built up over the nearby Rockies. We were excited to finally meet the Frasca Food and Wine crew after so much time planning and extended phone conversations between Leah and Frasca event manager Cristin Napier. Chef Lachlan Patterson and his crew arrive and admire our table set in the corn field.
Jim kicked off the farm tour with a mention of farm, family and history. Bob and Mike Munson took over, telling their story and leading two big groups for a tour of squash and corn fields. The threatening thunderstorms of midday fizzled, leading to a beautiful and dry late afternoon.
Once the guests finally arrived to the table (Bob was considering taking everyone on another loop of the field) they were very hesitant to sit down and just stood at the end of the row, admiring the long table set in the corn field.
The food was served and wine began to flow. Sommelier/owner Bobby Stuckey charmed guests, spreading his enthusiasm and warmth as field ambassador of Frasca Food and Wine. Chef Lachlan and his sous Travis were in perfect character for a farm dinner, with straw hats and Frasca Food and Wine t-shirts.
The table hummed with appreciation for the delicious foods of Lachlan and crew. Anne Cure of Cure Organic Farm and Wyatt Barnes and Amy Tisdale from Red Wagon Organic Farm walked along the table regaling guests with tales of farming tomatoes and zucchini and their appreciation for the chefs who create such amazing food from their ingredients. As the sun set, Bob Munson and family rose from the table, offering many guests fresh ears, gathered at arms length from the table.
At the end of the night, Lachlan climbed the farm ladder in the dark to look over the candlelit table and thank his staff and attending farmers. A beautiful night in Boulder.