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Story and Photos by Suzie Dundas
Tahoe may be known more for its outdoor recreation than as a culinary destination, but it’s only a matter of time until word gets out that Tahoe is home to a growing restaurant scene. A variety of new restaurants have opened across the North and South shores, ranging from a locally owned ramen restaurant in Truckee to an affordable burger chain in South Lake Tahoe. We recommend heading to the lake for dinner or drinks this month while it’s still easy to get a table before ski season kicks into high gear.
North Shore News
This year, Truckee waved goodbye to Marg’s Taco Bistro, which closed its doors in May 2019. Hope isn’t lost for fans of creative tacos on the North Shore, however, as ROCO opened in the space in early September. Roco is the latest venture from West River Hospitality Group, which also operates Truckee Tavern, and it’s co-owned by Chris St. Martin and Tavern bartender Ryan Dierks.
The interior of the new ROCO in Truckee
St. Martin says the new space is actually two restaurants with a shared menu: ROCO, focused on ramen and Japanese spirits, and COMO, which features a menu of Mexican influences. St. Martin says the most popular items to date have been the pork tonkatsu ramen and guacamole topped with pomegranate seeds, both of which are made in-house from scratch. St. Martin and Dierks want both ROCO and COMO to be affordable, which they accomplish by sticking to simple and flavorful ingredients.
“My father always spent money on good ingredients for every dish,” St. Martin says. “He taught me that the meal can only be as good as the ingredients you put in it, and if you use the freshest products, you don’t need to mask the flavor of it with a lot of other things.”
Stella at the Cedar House Sport Hotel has long been known as one of Truckee’s best dining options, so long-time fans of the restaurant may be surprised to learn that there’s been a major shift behind the counter. Going in an entirely new direction, the restaurant now offers fast-casual Californian and Middle Eastern-inspired bites under the leadership of chef Lupe Solis. As with Stella’s previous iteration, the culinary team aims to source from within a 100-mile radius whenever possible. Chef Solis plans to open for dinner on select evenings though the fall, switching to a five-day-a-week model by ski season. The schedule of hours is online.
Vegan and vegetarian options are available at Stella, such as these tacos made with salsa cruda and seasonal vegetables
Several desserts are on the menu, including a cheesecake made with labneh with a graham cracker crust
Stella at the Cedar House Sport Hotel
10918 Brockway Road, Truckee
530-582-5655 • Cedarhousesporthotel.com/stella
South Shore Happenings
Everyone who lives along the shore knows how lucky we are to have such a plethora of dining options, but there’s good news out of South Lake for home chefs. The nearly 30,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market will be opening on November 6 in South Lake Tahoe. The opening begins at 9 a.m. with refreshments, complimentary tote bags for the first customers, and giveaways of “mystery” gift cards valued up to $100. Readers in Truckee won’t have to wait too long for their chance to buy higher-end groceries, however: A Raley’s is scheduled to open near the Truckee Airport in mid-2020.
Whole Foods Market
3600 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe
Not every meal has to be gourmet to be tasty, and there’s proof of that at Five Guys in South Lake Tahoe. The opening of the burgers-and-fries chain location was announced in September 2019, and there are plans for a Chipotle to open later this year in the same shopping center. The new Five Guys is just a short walk from the Heavenly Mountain Base Lodge; no doubt the new owners are hoping to capture more than a few hungry skiers headed home after a day of skiing.
3640B Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe
530-494-9031 • Fiveguys.com/Locations
Suzie Dundas is a Truckee-based freelance writer. Her work has appeared in Forbes, Fodors, TripSavvy, Playboy, Lonely Planet, SkyLife Magazine, and many more. When not writing about Tahoe, you can find her doing the usual Tahoe activities, like biking, skiing and hiking. Check out more of her work at suziedundas.com
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Supper in the woods
Written by Amanda Burden
Tahoe Food Hub leaders organized the second of three Supper Clubs on Sept. 10 at the beautiful Dancing Pines private property near Jackson Meadows, 20 minutes north of Truckee. The well-attended evening was chilly, a little rainy, and by event’s end guests’ breath was visible, proving that locals truly are “Tahoe tough.”
Supper Club Menu
Bundled in jackets and scarves, participants initially wandered around the property, sitting by the tranquil creek, huddling around a fire pit, and mingling in the mobile bar area while sipping local beer and wine.
The party then moved to the giant, long, wooden table surrounded by a pine canopy.
A large group attended the second Supper Club dinner to benefit Tahoe Food Hub
The four-course dinner was prepared by Alex Tolger, co-owner of Mogrog Rotisserie food truck and Kitchen Collab in Truckee. He has worked with the Tahoe Food Hub for five years.
From the Farm: Kasha Cabbage Rolls with Preserved Lemon Sweet Pepper Sauce
Tolger crafted a menu that highlighted grass-fed lamb from Hole in One Ranch in Janesville and organic produce from Stone’s Throw Farm in Colfax. The farmers, Steven and Bryanna Eisenhut, and ranchers, Joe and Teri Bertotti, joined the table and offered a short talk about their operations.
From the Ranch: Braised leg of lamb ragout with spaetzle grun and sage oil
“There’s a story behind every meal you eat,” Joe said. “Family farmers often are a part of that story. The business is challenging and we are looking for your support.”
Joe and Teri Bertotti of Hole in One Ranch in Janesville
Almost all of the food and drink served at the Supper Club events were locally sourced. Butter, bread, and FiftyFifty beer came from Truckee, to name a few additions.
FiftyFifty Brewing Co.’s beers were featured at the event
The Tahoe Food Hub started six years ago and now runs three trucks for pickup and delivery, a 4,000-square-foot warehouse for storage, and a well-curated farm shop in Truckee. The hub also just launched an online farmers’ market for the public.
Tahoe Food Hub runs three trucks for local food pickups and deliveries
The Supper Club events are finished for the season, but you can sign up for a dinner taking place as part of WinterWonderGrass at Tahoe Food Hub on Oct. 17. In addition, the hub will present community soup nights beginning Oct. 22. For details, visit www.tahoefoodhub.org.
Tahoe Food Hub organizes several events throughout the year
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Drink Like It’s the 1920s at the 8th Annual Chemistry of the Cocktail!
Written by Patrick Turner
The board and staff of the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum invite you to join us for the 8th annual Chemistry of the Cocktail — the museum’s premier fundraising event. Come as a flapper, gangster, or silent film star, or come as you are and explore 1920s-style libations, enjoy delicious food from local culinary purveyors, and provide support for the museum’s mission in our community.
Here is just a sampling of what’s happening at this year’s event on Fri., Nov. 8:
Sample expertly crafted 1920s-era ”giggle water,” including the sidecar, Manhattan, classic gin and tonic, and more.
Enjoy tasty bites from more than 12 of your favorite culinary purveyors including Cherry Bomb Catering, Liberty Food & Wine Exchange, Blend Catering, Washoe Public House, Food Evolution, Fig Tree Catering, Hash House a Go Go, Men Wielding Fire, Bibo Freddo, Mindful Cupcakes, DoughBoys Donuts, and Kimmie Candy.
Break the Vault
Try your luck at breaking the vault and win big. For either a $50 or $100 donation, you’ll have the chance to punch one of 100 compartments containing prizes such as wine, alcohol, food, experiences, and even travel. Participants are guaranteed prizes equal to the value of their donations or greater.
Be sure to visit the Secret Speakeasy, presented by Dolan Automotive Group, where you’ll experiment with botanicals and their use in gin while sampling a French 75. All you’ll need is the secret password.
Snap a commemorative photo of your 1920s self wearing a selection of high-end “ice,” on loan from BVW Jewelers.
Prepare to marvel at the mystical and magical talents of Justin Impossible. But keep an eye on your “cabbage”!
Proceeds from Chemistry of the Cocktail support The Discovery's efforts to offer enriching educational programs and host engaging exhibitions focused on science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
Chemistry of the Cocktail tickets are available at Chemistryofthecocktail.org, by calling 775-786-1000, or at the museum’s admissions desk. We hope to see you here!
Patrick Turner is vice president of marketing & communications for the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum in Downtown Reno.
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One Sweet Family
Chocolate and ice cream dreams help the Vance family build a hempire.
Written by Natasha Bourlin
Photos courtesy of Vance family
First, there was chocolate. Then came specialized ice cream. Now, expertise in those realms has branched into a totally new endeavor for Dorinda Vance and her sons: LiveKAYA.
Chocolate has been treasured since around 2,000 BCE, when the Mayans in Central America first discovered cacao and its deliciously invigorating benefits when ingested. In the millennia to follow, it’s morphed into many a pleasurable delicacy, from potable to edible.
In 2008, Dorinda Vance turned her passion and experience working with chocolate into a Truckee-based business, Dorinda’s Chocolates. Five years later, in 2013, she moved her business to Reno, along the Truckee River, with her son, Dustin.
From left, Dillon, Dorinda, and Dustin Vance, the three family members behind Dorinda’s Chocolates, Rolled Mountain Creamery, and, most recently, LiveKAYA
Today, her two bustling retail stores drive demand that’s met in a large locale where her chocolates are crafted. That demand can’t be met with machinery alone, however. Today, with a team of chocolatiers, customer-service specialists, and two more businesses under the Dorinda’s umbrella, it’s become a full-fledged family affair.
Fresh from the U.S Marines, Dillon Vance joined his mother and brother by forming Rolled Mountain Creamery in 2016. Reflecting on freshly crafted ice creams he read about while in Asia, where power grid issues often necessitated á la minute ice cream creation, he brought the technique to Dorinda’s Chocolates, and a new business was born.
Dillon Vance produces ice cream on the spot at Rolled Mountain Creamery in Reno
At Rolled Mountain Creamery, the Vances and their team make ice cream to order using fresh, raw cream combined with Dorinda’s high-quality ingredients. A stainless-steel plate serves as a freezing mechanism, then the solid cream is rolled and served to salivating customers. Vegan options also are available, and all varieties are made with mostly locally sourced ingredients. The ice creams are available at both Dorinda’s Chocolates locations in Reno (the second is in the SouthCreek shopping center in South Reno).
Capitalizing on Cannabinoids
Blending business savvy with health benefits, the family just launched a new venture in April 2019. The Vances already knew of the positive effects that the high-grade, 70-plus-percent chocolate they used had on people’s well-being.
“The amount of cocoa solids in dark chocolate is important because it can be an indicator of the amount of dietary flavonoids, which are antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, and certain drinks. Research suggests consuming more dietary flavonoids is linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease,” states an American Heart Association article entitled “Are there health benefits from chocolate?”
“Most dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, particularly a subtype called flavanols that is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Some studies suggest chocolate or cocoa consumption is associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance and high blood pressure in adults,” the article continues.
While white-labeling chocolates for local dispensaries upon marijuana legalization, Dustin learned distillation and math equations necessary to dose chocolates with desired amounts of cannabidiol (CBD), removing the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compounds. The Vances began experimenting on their own, adding CBD to high-quality MCT coconut oil and, of course, flavoring it with French chocolate.
“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. CBD has been demonstrated as an effective treatment of epilepsy in several clinical trials … There is also preliminary evidence that CBD may be a useful treatment for a number of other medical conditions,” says a 2017 World Health Organization report. “There is unsanctioned medical use of CBD-based products with oils, supplements, gums, and high concentration extracts available online for the treatment of many ailments. CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
With the advent of a federal bill legalizing hemp, the plant from which CBD is derived, as an agricultural product in 2018 in all 50 states, it could now be added to a plethora of products.
A New and Delectable Enterprise
During their efforts with the dispensaries, Dorinda began trying CBD. She wanted something that could help with pain and inflammation but without the high. Dorinda discovered firsthand that it helped dramatically with both aching from her bone-on-bone knees and difficulty breathing that resulted from a broken nose.
After personal validation of its efficacy, much recipe experimentation, focus groups, shared therapeutic effects by those testing the products, and, finally, enormous demand, the family launched LiveKAYA.
Organic CBD infusion from LiveKAYA
After their peers and focus group members tried samples, they began knocking on Dorinda’s door for more. They began sharing their notable improvements in everything from gout to the pains of chemotherapy after regularly ingesting the chocolates, which inspired the Vances further.
As a network marketing veteran, Dorinda wanted to create a business model outside of the usual retail realm for the vegan, keto-friendly products they make from Valrhona chocolate and organic, U.S.-sourced hemp.
“I wanted to be able to help other parents. I was always able to be there for my kids, and wanted to be able to help our community and others unlock more time with their families,” says Dorinda, co-CEO and founder of LiveKAYA. “Here, we can control the product. When you take our products, you know exactly how many milligrams of hemp are in there.”
In fact, the Vances guarantee the contents, thanks to the third-party testing they do — the results of which they provide to the team of brand partners they’ve built for LiveKAYA. To get the CBD chocolates, a customer must purchase from one of the brand partners or become one him or herself. But it’s not your mother’s multilevel marketing biz. They joined forces with a network marketing expert, Marc Schenkel, to create a model in which everyone thrives and there is no income pyramid involved.
It’s the biggest endeavor the family has ever undertaken. The very CBD products they were working to bring to market helped them get through the process in a calm, anxiety-free fashion, they say.
“We’ve created a superior product and a superior compensation plan,” Dorinda says. “It helps so many people, and that’s one of the fun reasons we’re in this business. It’s changing people’s lives, one bite at a time.”
“I believe we can actually make a difference to people’s well-being,” asserts Dustin Vance, chief operating officer of Dorinda’s Chocolates and vice president of product development for LiveKAYA. “The opioid crisis is terrible, so we created a product that’s natural, organic, tastes good, and is of the same quality as Dorinda’s chocolates.”
From left, Dillon, Thom (Dorinda’s husband and father to their three boys), Austin (the Vances’ third son), and Dustin Vance outside of the Riverside Dorinda’s Chocolates location.
A one-month supply of 30 CBD-infused MCT oil runs close to $100. To become a brand partner, it’s a $24.95 annual fee.
In LiveKAYA’s first week of operations, people were already getting checks, and the Vances have been cutting them ever since. Dorinda has been doing presentations on the business across the U.S. since its launch and now has brand partners in 38 states.
With goals of expanding LiveKAYA while keeping Dorinda’s Chocolates and Rolled Mountain Creamery thriving, the family businesses are set to get sweeter by the day.
Click to watch their story:
For details about LiveKAYA, visit Livekaya.com.
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A Feast For Your Senses
Wednesday, October 16
5:30 - 8:30 PM | Dolan Lexus
7175 S. Virginia St. Reno
Dolan Lexus and edible Reno-Tahoe are elevating your experience to a whole new level, with the 4th Annual Wine & Dine, featuring culinary creations prepared by local chefs and fine wines provided by Tavern Craft Distributing.
All proceeds benefits AACT (Academy of Arts, Careers & Technology's) culinary program.
$45 General Admission
PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS HERE
BEFORE OCTOBER 4TH
- Category: Blog
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Written by Christina Nellemann
Photos courtesy of Nevada Outdoor School
This September, celebrate a bastion of the Wild West on a road trip to Winnemucca with fork and knife in hand and an empty belly. The 11th Annual Buckaroo Dutch Oven Cook Off will be held on September 14, 2019, at Vesco Park in Winnemucca. The public event is the Nevada Outdoor School’s annual fundraiser for its outdoor education programs.
The NOS encourages the public to join in on the fun and food prepared by competing teams cooking up a variety of dishes in the classic Dutch oven — traditional cast-iron, lidded pots with three legs that use coals or briquettes to cook the food. Everything from stews and roasted meats to bread and cake can be made in a Dutch oven.
Rolls baked in a Dutch oven at the 2018 Buckaroo Dutch Oven Cook Off
Teams will compete for both awards and cash prizes in four categories: Youth (1 Dish), Chuck Wagon (Main Dish), Bean Master (Main Dish and Dessert), and International Dutch Oven Society, or IDOS (Main Dish, Dessert, and Bread). The IDOS is a nonprofit organization that preserves and promotes the art of Dutch oven cooking. This also is an official IDOS-sanctioned event, and the winner qualifies for the World Championship Cook-Off in Salt Lake City, Utah. A People’s Choice award also will be given.
2018 youth competitor Catherine Welsh prepares ratatouille in her Dutch oven
“We’ve had world champions come to our event to compete,” says Melanie Erquiaga, executive director, Nevada Outdoor School. “We had a team from Burley, Idaho, who competed in the World Championship Cook-Off in Salt Lake City and won. We like to say that our event is ‘where world champions and beginners come to cook together like old friends.’”
In past years, teams have cooked up dishes such as paella, mushroom-and-gorgonzola-stuffed flank steak, lamb shank with potato and parsnip mash, enchiladas, and chili. Last year’s winning dish was bacon-wrapped kielbasa pieces. Desserts also are a big hit; last year, Erquiaga made a coconut rum bread pudding.
“It’s a real crowd pleaser, cooks up really pretty, and is delicious,” she says. “Pineapple upside-down cake is an easy one that kids make a lot.”
After each dish is judged by three judges in each category, public attendees will get a chance to sample as many dishes as they want for a suggested donation. This year, the NOS is hoping to raise $10,000 for its outdoor education programs.
From left, Shane Nelson, Heather Nelson, and Makenzie Nelson from Bill and Jane’s Wagon Train team — 2018’s first-place International Dutch Oven Society winners — receive their award from Melanie Erquiaga and Allana Havernick from the Nevada Outdoor School
Along with the competition, the event also will feature games and raffle prizes. This year, some of the prizes include a 10-by-10-foot Kodiak canvas tent and Camp Chef outdoor cooking supplies.
“We’d also love to thank our Reno sponsors, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Scheels,” Erquiaga says. “Even though they are not in Winnemucca, they are very supportive of us out here in rural Nevada.”
Nevada Outdoor School, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was founded in 2003 and currently reaches more than 1,500 youths each month with hands-on natural science and outdoor education. With two offices in Winnemucca and Elko, the organization travels around Northern Nevada offering outdoor education for children. The school also offers science- and nature-based classes for teachers, field trips to locations such as Lovelock Caves and Great Basin National Park, an outdoors ethics program, and summer camps for young children and pre-teens.
11th Annual Buckaroo Dutch Oven Cook Off
September 14, 2019 at “High Noon”
Vesco Park in Winnemucca
$10 (or more) suggested donation
- Category: Blog
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Written by Claire McArthur
Let’s be honest: There are some weeks (or dare we say months) when you and your significant other spend more time molding the couch to your behinds than getting out and enjoying all that the Reno-Tahoe region has to offer.
Been there. Done that. Along the way, my husband and I have discovered the best method to combat the date night rut is to keep an ever-growing list of cool activities (all including some element of food and drink, of course) to consult each week.
Sometimes it’s as simple as grabbing cheese, salami, and a baguette to enjoy along the Truckee River while the dogs play; other times we commit to driving a bit to indulge in the best that the Reno-Tahoe communities have to offer.
So once you’ve finished bingeing the new season of Stranger Things, might I suggest you give your couch a break and start a list of your own? Here are five date night ideas to kick it off:
- Tahoe Art Haus and Cinema – Tahoe City
The Tahoe Art Haus and Cinema, a theater and bar located in Tahoe City, is the perfect spot to cool off on a summer night. The theater — which boasts comfy leather seats and couches — shows major motion pictures, independent films, action sports flicks, and environmental documentaries. The lobby bar serves up beer, cider, nitro coffee, wine, and prosecco, while the concession stand offers hot dogs, grilled cheese, pizza, and pretzels. There’s even a popcorn spice bar where you can flavor your kernels with different spices, nutritional yeast, and Parmesan cheese.
Tahoe Art Haus and Cinema
475 N Lake Blvd., Tahoe City
530-584-2431 • Tahoearthauscinema.com
- Dinner and Magic Show at The Loft – South Lake Tahoe
Prior to seeing my first show at The Loft, I had little to no interest in magic. That quickly changed. Located in South Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Village, The Loft features a 100-person theater and a lounge/dining space serving up an array of decadent small plates, such as buffalo carpaccio with white truffle oil, capers, Parmesan, and ciabatta crisps. After sharing a selection of tapas, grab a cocktail and head into the theater for an adult-friendly magic show that will leave you repeatedly muttering “how?” under your breath.
1001 Heavenly Village Way, South Lake Tahoe
530-523-8024 • Thelofttahoe.com
- Trivia + Cannabis Terpene Cocktails at 1864 Tavern – Reno
There are dozens of restaurants and bars around the region that have recurring trivia nights, but my favorite is 1864 Tavern because I adore the old-timey interiors, and the cannabis terpene-infused cocktails — and cocktails in general — are second to none. Trivia takes place there every Wednesday at 7 p.m., so head in early to grab a Lazy Daisy. The cocktail is mixed with Tanqueray gin, fresh grapefruit juice, lime, chamomile ghum syrup, Amaro Angeleno, and a type of cannabis terpene — the aromatic oil that give cannabis varieties distinct flavors — that promotes relaxation.
From left, the Silly Wabbit and the Lazy Daisy are cannabis terpene cocktails now available at 1864 Tavern. Photo by Asa Gilmore
290 California Ave., Reno
- Lake Tahoe Wine Tasting Cruise on the Safari Rose – South Lake Tahoe
I had so much fun on my first wine tasting tour aboard the Safari Rose that I went back with my husband and friends to try the sunset Champagne cruise. Both were a blast. As someone who lives in Tahoe, I thought it was a fun way to play tourist while taking a beautiful cruise through Emerald Bay as the sun goes down. The 80-foot yacht holds roughly 60 passengers and serves an array of appetizers to enjoy during the two-hour trip. The winemaker sunset cruise features a tasting from one California winery, while the Champagne sunset cruise offers complimentary bubbly along with wine, beer, and other non-alcoholic drinks.
Hop aboard the 80-foot Safari Rose to cruise Lake Tahoe and drink wine or Champagne while the sun sets. Photo courtesy of Tahoe Cruises
900 Ski Run Blvd., South Lake Tahoe
775-588-1881 • Tahoecruises.com
- West Wind El Rancho Drive-in Theater + Takeout – Sparks
I love the feeling of nostalgia I get at a drive-in movie on a summer night. We fold down the back seats in our Subaru to expand the truck, throw in a mess of blankets and pillows, grab whatever takeout we’re in the mood for, and catch a double feature. With the trunk popped open and an expertly selected parking spot, it’s an amazing way to spend the evening. Pro tip: Buy popcorn and M&M’s from the snack stand and mix them together for dessert. You’re welcome.
West Wind El Rancho Drive-in
555 El Rancho Drive, Sparks
775-358-6920 • Westwinddi.com/locations/el-rancho
- Category: Blog
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Written by Kaya Williams
Local food growers abound in the Reno-Tahoe area. The secret is knowing how to find them — and with the upcoming Growing NV Local Food Week celebration, getting to know your neighborhood farmer just got a whole lot easier.
Melons are just one kind of local food item that will be available during Local Food Week.
The inaugural event series, running Aug. 11th through 17th, aims to “connect the face of the farmer to the heart of the community” and raise awareness for Reno’s bountiful local food system, according to Jolene Cook, a project manager for NEON Creative Agency.
Local Food Week allows several groups of people who are passionate about sustainability and accountability to “cross-pollinate,” and offers a structured way for families and community members to “have delicious and healthy fun,” Cook adds.
NEON, which works on solutions for specialty crop issues, developed the concept of Growing NV with event support from NevadaGrown, a nonprofit focused on sustainable agriculture and healthy eating. Additional funding for the week’s events comes from the Nevada Department of Agriculture, which supplies federally funded grants to entities working with specialty crops.
The week will feature a cornucopia of events celebrating local food producers — connecting diners’ hearts, minds, and bellies to the farmers, vendors, and restaurateurs that support Nevada-grown crops. Many of the events are free with minimal to no advance registration required; details for all events can be found on the Growing NV Facebook page.
Green-thumbed participants can kick off the weeklong slate of events on Sunday with a tour of Saint Mary’s Community Garden in Reno from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Soulful Seeds, a Reno-based gardening nonprofit, hosts the event; the organization’s founder, Earstin Whitten, will guide attendees through creating their own community gardens, too. (Read our story, “Growing Hope,” about Whitten, the Saint Mary’s Garden, and Soulful Seeds in our Summer 2019 issue!)
Following Monday afternoon’s invitation-only farm and restaurant trade mixer at Great Basin Brewing Co. in Sparks. NevadaGrown hosts the Meet Your (Food) Makers event from 5 to 7 p.m. At this open-to-the-public event, attendees can get to know their local food purveyors over free Great Basin beer and appetizers for purchase.
Tomatoes take center stage at Tuesday’s (virtual) festivities. All are encouraged to post pictures of tomato dishes or recipes — with the hashtags #TomatoTuesday and #GrowingNV, of course — for the chance to win the Top Tomato Prize: the winning public entry will receive a $50 gift certificate at The Cheese Board in Reno, and the winning restaurant entry will receive a case of Nevada-grown tomatoes from Great Basin Community Food Co-op’s DROPP program in Reno.
Come Wednesday, participants can don their aprons for a 6 p.m. cooking class at Nothing To It! Culinary Center in Reno. Cast Iron Cooking will incorporate locally grown ingredients in a hands-on class led by chef Lara Ritchie. Limited space is available for this $95 course; call Nothing To It! at 775-825-2628 to register.
Local food producers will gather at Thursday’s celebration of the year-round Riverside Farmers Market, where shoppers can find everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to artisanal breads and cheeses. Come to McKinley Arts Center in Reno from 4 to 8 p.m. for the extensive selection of local food, then stay for the free yoga at 6 p.m.
Riverside Farmers Market at McKinley Arts & Culture Center in Reno is just one location that will host Local Food Week festivities during the week of Aug. 11 – 17. Photo by Kasey Crispin/Riverside Farmers Market
Mouthwatering melon tastings await at Food Truck Friday, from 4 to 9 p.m. in Downtown Reno’s Idlewild Park. NevadaGrown and the University of Nevada, Reno’s Desert Farming Initiative will be sampling the “sinfully sweet” Nevada melon; if you have a particularly vicious sweet tooth, you’ll also enjoy finding Nevada melons incorporated into the desserts served at the food truck operated by Reno’s Thali.
Saturday’s tour of Reno Food Systems’ Betsy Caughlin Donnelly Park Farm closes out Local Food Week and offers attendees an inside look at what it takes to grow local crops. Post-tour, attendees can refuel with a Bring Your Own Locally Grown picnic; the festivities run from 4 to 7 p.m.
According to Cook, the inaugural Growing NV Local Food Week will bring a greater awareness of locally grown produce to a larger, mainstream population and unite multiple organizations working toward growing and connecting the local food movement.
“In action, having a stronger community is an antidote to a stressful, tech-heavy world,” she says. “I think that’s really beautiful.”
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Nevada Vines & Wines’ Tour Visits Northern Nevada’s Backyard Vineyards
Written by Annie Flanzraich
Photos courtesy of Stuart Michell/Nevada Vines & Wines
Picture a two-day vineyard touring event, culminating in a tasting party featuring sips from more than 15 local winemakers and three to four commercial producers. Where would this fête du vin take place? Napa Valley? Sonoma? Paso Robles?
Try Northern Nevada.
NVUS Vineyards in New Washoe City grows more than 50 vines, including varieties of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sémillon, and Riesling. Photo by Stuart Michell
One Aug. 3rd and 4th, Nevada Vines & Wines will host its annual Backyard Vineyard Tour— which is precisely what it sounds like. On the two-day, self-paced tour, participants can explore more than 20 local vineyards located in the backyards of homes in the Truckee Meadows, from Palomino Valley in the north to Carson City and Wellington in the south. The tour finishes with a wine-tasting celebration from 3 to 5 p.m., Aug. 4, at Tamarack Junction in Reno. Tickets cost $55 in advance and $95 at the door, limit 200 tickets. Each includes admission to the vineyards and the food and wine-tasting celebration.
Atanda and David Clark in their backyard vineyard, Shadow Lane Vineyards, in June 2019. The Clarks grow more than 300 vines of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot in their Sparks backyard. Photo by Tom Smedes
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grow in September 2018 at Shadow Lane Vineyards. Owners Atanda and David Clark established their backyard vineyard in 2004. Photo by Dave Clark
But vineyards in Northern Nevada? Is it really possible to grow grapes in the high desert?
“People just don’t know that we can actually have vineyards and grow grapes successfully here, in Northern Nevada,” says Stuart Michell, vice president of Nevada Vines & Wines and the organization’s 2019 Backyard Vineyard Tour chair. “That’s a big misperception or a lack of perception.”
In fact, the 20 participating backyard vineyards represent just some of the local grape growers in Northern Nevada. Nevada Vines & Wines includes more than 100 members.
“People love wine; what’s not to like?” Michell says. “I think it’s a little bit of an adventure for most of us that are growing grapes. It’s a hobby in the beginning, but then you have to step outside the norm of having a lawn in your backyard and put something else in there that you totally enjoy.”
Vines grow at Twin Mustang Vineyards in Sparks in April 2019. Established by Jason and Deborah Schultz in 2007, the backyard vineyard grows about 400 vines and varieties include Frontenac, Marquette, Frontenac Gris, and Petite Pearl. Photo by Jason Schultz
Recently, the organization’s annual wine competition boasted 110 different bottles and about 25 to 30 varieties. The professional judges awarded some of the wines gold and double gold, Michell says.
“Double gold means the wine was unanimously judged by the judges as being excellent wine,” he says.
Formed in 2013, Nevada Vines & Wines aims to educate and promote viticulture and wine production in Nevada and see the state recognized as a winegrower and producer. The all-volunteer, nonprofit organization helps commercial and home winemakers explore grape production through educational events and activities. The group’s largest event and fundraiser is the annual Backyard Vineyard Tour.
Although the event took a hiatus in 2017, it’s back in 2019 with almost double the number of participating backyard vineyards from 2018. The vineyards range in size, with some having less than 50 vines and several with more than 1,000. On the self-guided tour of privately owned vineyards in Northern Nevada, participants receive maps and a suggested route for all locations. Each vineyard will offer a 30-minute tour every hour, on the hour during the event.
“Come and take a look at what you probably won’t believe you’re looking at,” Michell says. “And that is a beautiful vineyard here in the high desert of Northern Nevada.”
Moe Dyette stands by the vines in Dyette Family Vineyard in Sparks. Photo by Adrian Dyette
The Dyette Family Vineyard rows more than 600 vines, including varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, St. Pepin, Riesling, Frontenac, Marquette, and Petite Pearl. Photo courtesy of Nevada Vines & Wines
However, there’s no wine tasting allowed in the backyards. All sipping happens at the wine-tasting celebration on Aug. 4.
In addition to raising funds for the nonprofit, the Backyard Vineyard Tour also raises awareness of and interest in backyard viticulture, Michell says.
“People imagine having a small vineyard in their backyard and sitting on their little French table with a couple of chairs, a bottle, and the sun going down and they’re saying, ‘I could do this in my backyard,’” he says.
For more information and to buy tickets, visit Nvandw.com/BackyardVineyardTour.
Annie Flanzraich Reno-based writer and editor who can easily envision having a backyard vineyard — if she had a backyard.
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Written by Claire McArthur
During these summer months when the farmers’ market tables are overflowing with colorful produce, the way I cook changes. I tend to ditch grocery lists and shop on the fly based on what looks the best.
In the kitchen, my meals are simplified and made without recipes. Peaches and tomatoes find their way into salads with mozzarella, arugula, basil, and a simple dressing of extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Cooking during the abundance of summer harvest calls for produce-forward meals, like this peach and tomato Caprese salad on a bed of arugula. Photo by Claire McArthur
Wine is enjoyed on the patio alongside fresh radishes dipped in salty, grass-fed butter or cantaloupe wrapped in salty prosciutto.
Proscuitto-wrapped cantaloupe and radishes dipped in butter or drizzled in olive oil make simple but delicious summer appetizers. Photo by Claire McArthur
One of my favorite farmers’ market meals to make, however, centers on a forgiving, easy-to-substitute pesto. While the original trifecta of basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan certainly is a staple, the framework of pesto easily can be reworked to incorporate whatever greens you have on hand for an equally delicious sauce to put on pasta, pizza, or grilled meat.
Kale, arugula, carrot tops, broccolini, Swiss chard, and beet leaf greens, to name a few, all can be pulsed in a food processor with Parmesan (or any sort of hard, aged cheese, including pecorino or Manchego) and walnuts (or almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, etc.). Just add olive oil, garlic, and lemon, and season for a versatile sauce that screams summer.
Here’s what’s in peak season right now from Reno-Tahoe farms:
Lattin Farms (Fallon)
Armenian cucumbers. Photo courtesy of Lattin Farms
- Summer squash
- Gourmet greens mix
- Armenian cucumbers
- Shishito peppers
Sun gold tomatoes. Photo courtesy of Lattin Farms
Sarah cantaloupe. Photo courtesy of Lattin Farms
Desert Farming Initiative (Reno)
- Red chard
- Yellow chard
- Speckled Romaine lettuce
- Red radishes
- Spicy greens mix
- Spring lettuce mix
- Romanesco zucchini
- Romanesco cauliflower
Bella Vista Farm (Minden)
- Butter crunch lettuce
- Red sails leaf lettuce
- Romaine lettuce
- All-star lettuce mix
- Green butter lettuce
- Rex lettuce
- Green salad bowl
- 5-star lettuce mix
- Swiss chard
- Beet leaf greens
Ready to turn those fresh market greens into a perfectly easy summer meal? Try making this recipe for Any Greens Pesto.
Any Greens Pesto
(recipe by Claire McArthur, freelance writer and home cook. Makes 1 cup)
3 cups greens of choice (e.g. kale, Swiss chard, arugula, or beet leaf greens)
½ cup grated Parmesan (or other hard, aged cheese)
⅓ cup walnuts (or other nut or seed)
½ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
Juice of lemon, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Add greens, Parmesan, walnuts, olive oil, and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add juice from half or whole lemon, depending on flavor preference. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve over pasta, on pizza, or over any grilled meat of your choice.