- Converting from Crazy - Ida, Ida IdahoThursday, December 07, 2017
Have you ever experienced the evidence of being in the right place at the right time? When we made the decision to add 10 hours onto our journey and go back to Jackson Hole, we knew it was a good one for not only the reward of a beautiful day at the Grand Tetons and meeting Chef Matt, but discovering the lead to our next destination. Robert picked up the Fall Issue of Teton Family, a local magazine that had an article titled “Four Chefs, One Harvest”. One of the featured chefs was Christian Hanley, owner/proprietor of Forage Bistro & Lounge in Driggs, Idaho. We definitely did not have Driggs on our itinerary (we had never heard of it), but after reading his philosophy about owning a restaurant as a service to his community, we had to meet him because that’s how we feel.
It was such a pleasure to talk to another restaurant owner that was passionate about connecting the dots between consumer, farmer, rancher and restaurant. We both agreed this symbiotic relationship is the model that will make communities sustainable in the future with no need to rely on big Ag. He and his wife, Lisa, are committed to bringing the best food and service to the Teton valley.
With his fine dining experience and love for seasonal cooking, Chef Hanely has kept his menu limited so he can keep it fresh and seasonal. His advice is keep it simple and delicious like he did here with the most satisfying, flavor-filled version of chicken pot pie that ever crossed Robert’s taste buds. Uh hum, even mine but I didn’t take it personally cause it was amazing (if only there were scratch and sniff blogs)!
From Driggs we headed to Boise taking the backroads so to speak because the wind was killing Robert driving the motorhome at the fast speeds that are expected on the freeway. Lucky we did because otherwise we would not have been able to spend the night in the town of Pecabo (pronounced Peek-a-boo). We also loved seeing the rural areas of Idaho with their rolling hills and well-kept farms and ranches. It was inspiring to see people taking such care in their homes and land.
Sasha was inspired by Idaho’s Bruneau Sand Dunes! Here is her account of them:
The sand dunes were very fun. When I was going down, it felt like I was flying, but when I wiped out it felt like falling from the sky. Kerplunk! I wiped out about 15 times. As I was sledding, Gracie chased me down and back over and over again. She was exhausted. But then again, so was I.
The Bruneau Sand Dunes are not the only cool spot we discovered in Idaho. We found that Boise is a new hot spot for farm-to-table dining. We see a trend of restaurants wanting to connect locally. Not necessarily organic, but local. Local means higher nutrient density, and smaller footprint, so headed in the right direction! I chose Fork to eat at due to their reviews but found out their kitchen was super small and a great example of how “not” to build our kitchen. But their food was lovely! Another restaurant that we checked out was Bitter Creek Ale House. I love their honest disclosure on their menu below. It makes my heart feel good that I can honestly say we source 95% of our ingredients locally!
The next Idaho stop was Coeur d’ Alene, home of Tractor Sodas! I’m very excited to introduce to you the family behind the sodas. Travis Potter and Heidi his wife are the parents of eleven children all of whom they homeschool. Wow, right. And I thought I was busy!
They have a great story of their journey that would take too long to tell, but I must share one part of the story to give you an idea of what an amazing family they are. Part of their homeschooling is to find what each child is passionate about and then create the curriculum around it. Their oldest, Junior, at the age of 14 decided he loved BBQ and started creating his own sauces. Travis had him write a business plan which of course exercised multiple “school skills”. By the time he was 19 he had earned enough money to open his first restaurant called Junior’s BBQ in Hayden which is just outside of Coeur d’ Alene. He made the truck bed tables himself, used a bunch of old fencing for the tables and put together a fun, Texas-style restaurant. The food was delicious and his dad even made a Christmas root beer that was so good! Look out world there are 11 entrepreneurs in the making!
In their natural, gracious spirit, the Potters invited us to join in their Thanksgiving feast which was humbling and inspiring (and the food was amazing too!). We did miss spending Thanksgiving with our big, fabulous family in Durango, and cannot express enough gratitude for all the good and good people that are in our life (which includes you).
- Fresh Cut Flowers - A Tradition at the James RanchThursday, February 08, 2018Fresh cut flowers have been a long-standing tradition at the Gardens at James Ranch. For over two decades Jenn and Joe Wheeling and their family have tended this wonderfully productive plot of land, supplying the Durango area not only with wonderful vegetables, but with gorgeous flowers as well. As the Wheelings move on to other pursuits, Mountain Belle Flower Farm is proud and delighted to be continuing this flower-growing legacy at the Gardens at James Ranch.
- Heather and Wayne Houk start ‘Tilted Earth Farm at James Ranch’Thursday, February 08, 2018The 2018 growing season will be the first year that Heather and Wayne will be providing as much of the produce as possible for the James Ranch on the beautiful land that Jen and Joe Wheeling have cultivated for the past 18 years. They promise to grow the famous sugar snap peas that Jenn has shared with the community as well as a wide array of other veggies. The hope it to have almost all the lettuce, herbs, greens, carrots, beets, cucumbers, peppers, squash, onions, broccoli, pumpkins and so much more grown right here on the Ranch.
- Converting from Crazy - The Denver/Boulder InspirationThursday, November 17, 2017The Stewart's are on their epic research trip and stopping off first in Denver and Boulder. There are a lot of great restaurants in the area, but there are three that actually have their own farms/ranches that supply a majority of their ingredients just like the Harvest Grill. Their goal is to see the kitchens and meet with the chefs.
- Converting from Crazy - Wyoming, Detour to Utah and Back to WyomingThursday, November 17, 2017Due to weather conditions in Jackson, the Stewarts headed a bit south to Utah and had a chance to do a meet and eat with at a restaurant that had one of their favorite kitchen layouts. They also surprised Sasha with a new addition to the family (four legged and furry).
- Converting from Crazy (The Stewart family’s quest for knowledge)Thursday, November 16, 2017Cynthia and Robert decided to research their next adventuring into the restaurant world by taking a research trip in a motorhome to different restaurants around the western United States. Their goals are to see other kitchens, talk to chefs, understand the restaurant culture and learn how to recruit an employee team that will join in their dream of the ultimate farm-to-table dining experience.
- Farm To LunchboxThursday, September 21, 2017Are there any other parents out there like me who groan internally with the thought of crafting a daily, nutritious, filling school lunch that your children will actually eat? I’m sure there are. I am deeply committed to feeding my family nutrient-dense foods from our farm as much as I can. So for this reason, I roll up my sleeves and do a little planning. At this time of year, there is such amazing, local food available that it is a natural fit to work some of it into your kids’ school lunch.
- Dryland Corn and Elote Con CremaThursday, September 07, 2017Four years ago I (Cynthia) was walking through the Durango Farmer’s Market to see what I could buy for the Grill to serve. I stopped at a booth that had a corn stock that was only 4 feet high but had these large, beautiful ears of corn jetting off the sides of it. This was my first introduction to dry land corn.
- Wasps Are Friends, Not The EnemyThursday, September 02, 2017Since I have been actively working on the ranch the last few years, I have been paying attention to the wasp populations and actively encouraging their numbers by building housing and planting more and more bushes and plants with flowers to feed them. Beneficial wasps, both predatory and parasitoid, are another way we accomplish chemical-free, organic farming.
- It Takes A Village To Feed A VillageThursday, August 10, 2017The families of the James Ranch provide a well-rounded variety of organically grown food products for the local community: 100% grass-fed beef, artisan raw milk cheeses, pastured pork and eggs, fresh produce and flowers, and our restaurant (Harvest Grill and Greens at the James Ranch Terraces). It's a family affair and we have a lot of moving parts that come together to offer our community the freshest, most nutrient-dense food in the Four Corners. We are also proud to carry products from other local farmers! We'd love to take a second to introduce to you the current lineup of farmers that we'll be supporting and carrying at James Ranch Market and Harvest Grill.