The 39th iteration of the Telluride Mushroom Festival is in town through Sunday, with subjects ranging from edible medicinals to the “State of the State’s Fungi,” subtitled “Assembling a Regional Mycoflora for the Southern Rockies.”
If you care less about ingesting mushrooms for their hallucinatory effects and more about simply feasting on them, there’s ample on offer this weekend, as well. Edible mushroom forays will be held Thursday through Saturday, led by Bay Area chef (and passionate shroom-seeker) Chad Hyatt. A press release reports the classically trained chef “spends his free time hunting for and learning about mushrooms, along with seeking out new techniques and traditional ethnic recipes to apply to them.”
Hyatt’s extensive field research inspired him to write a new book about wild-mushroom cookery: “The Mushroom Hunter’s Kitchen: Reimagining Comfort Food with a Chef-Forager.” His treatise gets a perfect five-stars from readers on Amazon — “the best of the many mushroom cookbooks I own,” one reviewer wrote — and can be purchased this weekend from Hyatt in person (he’ll do two signings Saturday, including a 10:30 a.m. event at Elks Lodge), at Between the Covers Bookstore in Telluride and on Hyatt’s website (themushroomhunterskitchen.com).
Further Down Valley, local cuisine takes a turn toward the Deep South. I speak of peaches and pork, summertime favorites not only in places like Mobile and Atlanta, but the San Juans. On Saturday, the Ouray Elks Lodge will proffer its first annual “Grillin’ and Chillin’” event, an all-you-can-eat pig roast replete with sides of slaw, beans and beers from six regional brewers.
“We’ll be cooking the pig slowly all night,” event chairman Danny Wesseling has said. The local cuisine doesn’t end with pork and beans. Area eateries have been invited to enter a selection of appetizers for judging at 11 a.m.; roast pig, sides and live music by Ridgway band Alive in the Woods will be served up from noon-4 p.m. The event’s a fundraiser for the Elks’ building fund; admission is “$25 for the pig, $25 for the beer tasting or $40 for both.”
The venerable Palisade Peach Festival has a deep-pocketed sponsor: American Furniture Warehouse. Which means the company’s founder, Jake Jabs, will be in Palisade this weekend, forsaking the furry felines who used to populate his TV commercials — anyone who grew up in Denver remembers them — for fuzzy peachskin. Specifically, Jabs will be on hand to crown the fest’s Queen and her Court on Thursday, and as a news release put it cheekily, will be ready to “jam” with the band.
For indeed, peach jams, jellies, cobblers and crisps — and pies, of course — are all fixtures of the fest. This year, there will be a new peach drink available at the Peach Pit Bar. It could be a variant of the famed Fuzzy Navel cocktail, prepared with an equal mixture of peach schnapps and orange juice, perhaps with a dash of vodka for an extra kick? The fest kicks off Thursday with a free Peach Ice Cream Social in downtown Palisade. From there on, it’s delectable good fun straight through ’til Sunday, when the fest wraps with the Downtown Sunday Market, where you can sample peaches from vendors galore to take home. For complete information about what’s on, head to palisadepeachfest.com.