To encapsulate my trip to Denver in a short blog post would not do the trip justice but I want to share a few of the highlights.
Off the bat, I got to go to Boulder with my friend Jules and eat atLeaf restaurantwhich has great small plates and main course dishes, most more than passable such as the spring rolls, Asian seaweed salad (don't let the seaweed in the title scare you) and the chopped salad. The blackened tofu was disappointing in both amount of tofu and technique but was the only flaw of the evening. The roasted beet ravioli was beautiful and also quite tasty. Dessert was good but made the after-dinner walk essential as I was pretty stuffed. I really enjoyed the walk down the Pearl Street Mall and think that Boulder has a Santa Cruz feel and liken it to a number of other cities such as Ocean Beach (San Diego), Austin, TX and Madison, WI to name a few.
Another highlight was meeting Mary of Mary's Gone Crackers which is part of my travel pack that I wrote about yesterday. I was thrilled that Mary came to see what the culinary people were up to, and cared enough to provide some delicious gluten-free education.
The conference topic was sustainability and there were lots of opinions. I have to say that I was no wallflower when it came to mine, and many heard about it. I am happy that I had a chance at the microphone more than once. I got to address the 600+ in attendace to bring up my issues with eating local, and how people aren't willing to give up their coffee, tea, chocolate or sugar. Chef Michel Nischan said that we need to value what we trade and it must be efficient. Flooding Texas to grow rice instead of importing it from India (or other places in the far east) is not sustainable.
Fred Kirschenmann also commented but Nischan found that Fred's comment didn't really address the issue. I just wanted people to realize that trade has always been important in eating.
Another big highlight was eating at Root Down, located in a converted 1950s gas station. My friend Katie Alvord said that she's thinks that it's a great reuse for such a place. Considering the funky and recycled way that they upgraded it to a classy place, she is right. It appeared to be a localhot spot, despite not being on the lips of many IACP members (probably because they've only been open 3 months). Many members flocked to toney places such as Rioja, Bones and Frasca which meant that we didn't have IACP competitors and enjoyed the meal immensely. Great for all eaters with amazing cocktails containing herbs and other botanicals.
The best part of the conference revolves around all the incredible colleagues that I meet. Some are known such as John Ash, Peter Reinhart, Joanne Weir, David Joachim and Andrew Schloss (just a small smattering), and others are less well known but equally as much fun to hang around, and these include my good friend Fran Costigan, Steve Sando of RanchoGordo, Rebecca of the blog From Argentina with Love, RagavanIyer and far too many other people to list. We share a bond but we also share that with you, for we all eat every day. Most of us, though, are privileged that we have enough food on our plates every day.
I often,think of others who need more, here in the US and abroad. I am working on ways to teach them to eat better with food abundance or not. I hope that you will do the same.