Rock Bottom Ranch hosts farm-to-table event | AspenTimes.com

Rock Bottom Ranch hosts farm-to-table event

Joni Keefe
Farms Finest
Sarah Onstad, with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, serves up appetizers at Rock Bottom Ranch's first-ever farm-to-table dinner.
Joni Keefe/Farms Finest |

Friday night provided perfect weather for Aspen Environmental Center’s first farm-to-table dinner, hosted at the Rock Bottom Ranch in Basalt.

From the east parking lot, I was greeted and directed to follow a pathway. This walk was all cleverly lined with mason-jar luminaires.

Along the way was a welcome and sign-in table, and around the next corner were lakeside cocktails with Woody Creek Distillers serving up beverages. Here, hay bales wrapped with linen provided lounge seating under a shady cottonwood tree.

After sharing an hour of socializing, Chris Lane, the executive officer for ACES, proudly introduced us to Jason Smith, the ranch’s director. Smith asked us to join him on a short tour of the farm.

Here he showed us how sustainable agriculture methods are being used by the ranch. A couple of examples were the free-range chicken houses and the rotational grazing using a multi-species method.

After this, we continued over to the dining tables, which were beautiful with white tablecloths and burlap runners running down the center. Botanical arrangements of native grasses and flowers topped them off. Adding to this charming, country-farm atmosphere were strings of white lights above.

The menu began with a sampling of Avalanche cheeses with a stuffed and grilled squash blossom. Slices of blue cheese were drizzled with ranch honey, a savory composition of flavors.

A charred North Fork salad with Palisade peaches came next. Our entree was wood-fired chicken panzanella with tomatoes and summer squash laced with arugula. Not to be disappointed, our dessert was a warm, freshly baked, stone fruit shortcake topped with creamy goat cheese mousse.

Each course had a brief presentation of ingredients and where they came from. All was local and directly benefiting the businesses in our own food shed.

Wine was provided by Canyon River Cellars and beer by the Aspen Brewing Co. After-dinner beverages of coffee and teas from the Two Leaves Tea Co. were available.

“Chefing it up” for the evening was “Aspen Fine Food.” Sarah Hulsley, Kevin McCullen, and Andy Knudson combined their creative culinary talents for this fabulous meal. Their email is sarah@aspencheese.com. ACES’ own staff provided a five-star team of servers.

Farm-to-table dinners are a celebration of great food and beverages regionally produced, all placed in a natural setting, which furthered an appreciation for the land.

It is like spending time at your own kitchen table with 70 or more friends and neighbors. To my surprise, it was almost 10 p.m. before anyone budged to return home.

Surely those poor chickens were plesed when it finally quieted down and lights went out. I am sure the next morning’s egg production was off.

There are two more dinners scheduled for this year. Do not miss the opportunity, but be sure to make a reservation early. This was Rock Bottom’s first dinner, and without any advertising, it was sold out.

Email rockbottom@aspen nature.org. On Sunday, we will discover everything about fresh juicing.


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