Last two weeks of July 2012
I had a friend who is a former waitress of mine from the old La Terrasse restaurant. She has a daughter, Emily Hartnett who has a farm called Terra Fata in Paonia; she raises goats, chicken, and sheep. I e-mailed her saying I would love to come cook a few meals, be lodged, and taste all the beautiful cheese and produce of this very rich valley. She directed me to a lady named Annie Ouray, who has a Culinary Retreat, who put me up in exchange for cooking a beautiful meal. (See the first menu)
She is a vegan, so I had to present two sets of menus- a vegan menu and a chicken menu. It was exciting and I learned new techniques. She could not share her kitchen the following week because she was very busy. I marched downtown Paonia already fully aware where I was heading to. It was the Bross Hotel, a beautiful historic landmark. I entered sweaty and out of breath and told the owner Linda that I was looking for a kitchen to cook a gourmet truffle dinner and could she share the kitchen with me. I mentioned I was from Philadelphia. She said she used to teach at Greene Street Friends and her children went to Plymouth Meeting Friends. I used to teach at Germantown Friends and I was involved in a Spanish program with the schools she mentioned. She said welcome to my kitchen! And that’s how I landed in the center of Paonia cooking a great gourmet truffle dinner. (See second menu)
I have to thank Elaine Brett for taking me around the organic farms and vineyards and helping me pick up all the vegetables, fruits, meat, etc for my gourmet meals. Elaine and Jim Brett are very active with the Slow Food movement and very devoted to the local farms (in truth, Jim is the acting head of the local Slow Food chapter).
There was an article about the dinners in the Delta County Independent: