Whole Foods Fall Festivial Recap

PumpkinsLast weekend I was lucky enough to attend Whole Foods Fort Collins Fall Festival event!

There was pumpkin painting events and even two pie eating contents. Those pies were no joke either; their caramel apple pie weighed in at 2 pounds!

2 pounds of pie that folks had to eat in under 10 minutes. Holy. Crap.

There was also a cooking contest, Iron Chef (American not Japanese) style between three local chefs.  The secret ingredient was winter squash which had to be used in three dishes: Appetizer, Main Course, and Dessert.

Myself along with my buds, Kristin from Feasting Fort Collins, and Andrea from Serving Up Fort Collins were asked to judge this event.

It was amazing and awkward all at the same time!  The day was gorgeous but windy as heck, so we were kind of being blown all over the place as we anxiously awaited the tasty dishes.

It was awkward because I have never had so many folks stare at me as I ate.  Thankfully nothing was messy so I did not make a fool out of myself!

The dishes were amazing and I’m going to try to remember their names as best I can since I wasn’t able to take notes.

First up, let’s look at what Jax Fish House brought to the table:


Squash Terrine(Sorry that this picture is whited out, it was very sunny that day!)

Winter squash terrine with crispy prosciutto.

Main Course:

Squash RavoliSquash ravioli with pest filling and ham hock gravy.  The dough for the ravioli had the squash in it and the pest was made from squash stems.


Squash Soda FloatSquash soda float.  In house made squash soda with vanilla ice cream.  Ginger snap cookie and cascade hops infused whipped cream.

Next is Whole Foods Market Fort Collins:


Squash Risotto Squash risotto with crispy root veggie slices and a balsamic reduction.

Main Course:

Pork loin with winter squash hashPork loin (If I’m remembering correctly) with winter squash hash, sprinkled with gorgonzola.


Squash CrumbleSquash Crumble with toasted hazelnuts and a vanilla cream sauce.

And the final competitor was The Kitchen (which will be coming to Fort Collins next spring)!


Squash HummusSquash hummus made with Noosa yoghurt.

Main Course:

Squash and wheatberries Butternut squash with wheatberries and cumin yogurt.


Squash CakeSquash cake with graham cracker and pumpkin seed crust with a pumpkin ale caramel.

Everything tasted amazing and the use of squash was very creative.  I was hoping to have a chance to speak with the chefs after the event to thank them for taking the time to participate but sadly I did not get to.

I’ll have to do it now!  Thank you Whole Foods for putting on such a great event and inviting me to participate.  Thank you to Jax, Whole Foods, and The Kitchen for creating outstanding dishes for us to experience!



Fall Festival at Whole Foods Fort Collins

Fall FestivalWhole Foods in Fort Collins is putting on a Fall Festival this Saturday (October 5th) from 11-2pm.

The event is free and everyone is welcome to attend!  All proceeds from lunch and pumpkin patch sales will benefit the FoCo Cafe.

There will be a chef’s competition that will focus on fall vegetables and each chef will be preparing three courses.

There are three chefs competing, one from Jax Fish House, one from Whole Foods, and one from The Kitchen (which will opening a Fort Collins location next year.).

I am lucky enough to be on the judge’s panel this year along with my fellow blogging buddies, Kristen from Feasting Fort Collins, and Andrea from Serving Up Fort Collins.

If you are in town, please swing on over!  Come check out the event and we can chat about fall foods and brews!

2013 Fall Harvest Brewfest

Verboten Menu at FHBFOne of the biggest reasons that Scott and I moved to Colorado, and Fort Collins specifically, was to have access to more craft beer.

Fort Collins has not disappointed us.  We are constantly finding goodies in our favorite liquor stores.  There’s always something fun being tapped at one of the local bars.  And no matter what, there are always events going on that focus on beer.

This year I went to the Fall Harvest Brewfest which is an event that raises funds for Animal House Rescue.  It’s their biggest fund raiser for the year and last year they brought in over $10,000 that went right to the shelter.

Because I work at Animal House, I was able to attend the event for free.  Scott stayed home with Avery and I went out to go drink some beer, take some pictures, and chat with friends.

Having been to several beer fests, I have to say that this one was done right.  It had the right amount of breweries and distilleries there.  It wasn’t overwhelming or so crowded that you had to stand in line for a while before sampling stuff.

I was given a little sampler glass and walked around to see what goodies I could find.  My plan was to try things that were new to me or things I haven’t seen before.  Most of the breweries played it safe with what they brought.  This isn’t the type of fest where you will find rare or hard to find beers.  But some stuff did stand out and surprised me a bit.

High Hops Brewery at FHBFI love spicy beers and was very excited to discover that High Hops Brewery was there with a Honey Habanero beer.  It was delicious!  Sweet with some heat on the end that wasn’t aggressive or too much to handle.  Just a lovely heat on the finish that contrasted the honey sweetness really well.  It was my favorite discovery of the evening!

KJ Wood Distillers Jinn Gin, FHBFNext up was a locally made gin with a fantastic label.  It’s called Jinn Gin by KJ Wood Distillers.  It has an amazing floral and slightly spicy nose to it but is very smooth with almost no alcohol burn.

I had a little bit of it mixed with some cucumber soda and loved it!  I was also surprised by the cucumber soda, it was refreshing and not overly sweet.

Strange Brewing's Cherry KriekBest looking brew of the night goes to Strange Brewing’s Cherry Kriek.  It was a deep red color and even had a red head to it when poured.  It was tart, crisp, and very refreshing.

It was a fun evening and I was able to discover some new locally made items. Hopefully next year Scott will be able to join me!


Disclaimer: Animal House did not ask me to write this post, I just wanted to share my experience at the event.


Wine Fest 2013

Fort Collins Wine FestHere in beer country, there’s an event next month that I’m really looking forward to and it’s all about the wine!

While my time has been spent drinking and sampling beer since we moved, rest assured that I am still drinking wine.

I love learning about wine and expanding my palate by experiencing new varieties.  Next month I’ll be able to do just that at Wine Fest!

Wine Fest is a fundraising event for Disabled Resource Services which is an organization that provides support to those who have disabilities.  By providing an advocate and support system those who have disabilities can learn how to be independent.

All proceeds, 100%, from Wine Fest go right to Disabled Resource Services.

I was contacted asking to help spread the word about this great event and I could not pass this up.  It’s a great opportunity to meet folks in the community, taste some fabulous wine (and beer! There is a beer tasting as well.), and show support for a local organization.

Details of the event:

When: Friday, March 22nd, 2013
Where: The Hilton Fort Collins
When:  Private Wine Tasting 5-­‐6pm. Tickets are $55
Private Beer Tasting 5-­‐6pm. Tickets are $40
VIP Admission 6-­‐10pm. Tickets are $85
General Admission 7-­‐10pm. Tickets are $65


There will also be lots of fun activities going on within Wine Fest, such as Black Jack tables and a casino wheel, live music, and a wall of wine raffle!  You can see a full list of attractions along with their descriptions.  Personally I want a wall of wine!

Scott and I will be there for sure and I look forward to seeing you there as well!  Please come out and support a good cause while having fun tasting wine and nibbling on some treats!

Food Embrace readers even get a discount!  If you click on the Wine Fest image on the right side bar, that will take you to the ticket purchasing page.  Food Embrace readers receive $10 off on tickets along with two FREE raffle tickets for the wall of wine!

Big savings plus entries to win a prize!  So go ahead and get your tickets so we can meet up and chat!

For more information about Wine Fest and to stay informed about updates leading up to the event, please follow Wine Fest on these social media accounts:

I’m excited about this event and hope to meet you there!


Disclaimer: I was provided with a ticket to Wine Fest in compensation for this post.


Cooking Classes Starting in January 2012

Starting in January of 2012 I will be conducting a series of cooking classes at Wild Goose Creative, called Embrace Cooking!

Each month we’ll cover a different topic and prepare foods around that topic.  This is an interactive class series which means that everyone will be helping to create the dishes that we taste later in the evening.

Classes are two hours long and if you have an apron and a chef’s knife, feel free to bring those along!

You can register and pay for classes via my website.  There’s a link at the top called Events.  That will take you to the main discription page and then you’ll see links to each class as well.

I hope you’ll join me for fun and fabulous cooking classes!

Camelot Cellars Cranberry Dinner

This past Monday evening I had the pleasure of dining at Camelot Cellars. Camelot paired up with local caterer, Laura’s Catering, to create a dinner around the cranberry.

Cranberries are one of the staples of fall and winter dining.  Typically we see the cranberry turned into a sauce and drizzled on top of turkey or perhaps on a dessert.

This dinner featured cranberries at each course and it was an interesting twist to the winter classic.

Each course of the meal was paired with a wine from Camelot. The wines accentuating the tartness and sweetness of the cranberry.

Janine, the owner of Camelot, created the dinners because she wanted to provide another way for patrons to get to know each other and the winery a little bit better.

We started off with a creamy cranberry soup, which I unfortunately do not have a picture of.  My camera did not want to focus on the soup properly leaving me with very blurry pictures.  It was a lovely deep pink soup that was smooth with hints of cream and garlic in the background.

The soup was paired with Camelot’s Symphony wine.  A white wine made from the Symphony grape which was a grape created specifically to make wine (at least this was my understanding! I hope I got that right, Rick!).  The wine went well with the soup helping to tone down the sharpness of the cranberry.

The second course was a light mixed green salad with dried cranberries, toasted sliced almonds, and crumbled blue cheese all topped with a balsamic dressing.  I’m not sure if the dressing was made with cranberries or not but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a touch in there.

The salad was light and refreshing after the rich soup.  This dish was paired with Camelot’s Vieux Chateau du Roi, described as a French Burgundy style wine.  It was a light red that kept the freshness of the salad alive.

The main course was a ravioli filled with dried cranberries and ricotta cheese.  It was drizzled with a garlic cream sauce and sprinkled with orange zest and chopped basil.  The orange was a strong flavor of this dish and it complimented the cranberries very well.  My favorite part of this dish was actually the sauce.  It was light and creamy, which is exactly what you hope for when eating a cream based pasta sauce.

The wine for this dish was Camelot’s South African Pinotage.  This was a light red that also had a bit of a smokey nose to it.  This was my favorite wine of the evening.  So much that I bought a bottle of it! Such a great red and the flavors are complex enough that you can pair it with appetizers or it can stand up to a heavier dish, like a roast.

Dessert was a cranberry and apple crumble/cobbler combo.  It had aspects of both.  The crust and the topping were my favorite.  Very buttery and flaky. Perfect way to end a meal! Camelot paired one of their ports with this dish.  By the end of the evening the port was a little too much for me to handle and I couldn’t finish my pour! But it was tasty and a nice end of the evening drink.


The second picture of these is my favorite. I liked the way the lighting and the color came out.

There was much chit-chatting and talk around the table.  Camelot hosts these dinners at their long Tuscan table which seats 12 people comfortably.

The centerpieces were done by a local florist and they smelled amazing.  Fresh flowers at dinner were a lovely surprise and much welcome after all the gloom and rain we’ve been having.

This was the second themed dinner that Camelot has hosted.  In November they hosted a pumpkin dinner which was so popular that they did it twice!

They are hoping to have more dinners again starting in the spring of 2012.

To stay updated on Camelot and all their events (like their masquerade ball!) please connect with them!

Twitter: @CamelotWines

Facebook: Camelot Cellars Winery 

Website: Camelot Cellars

You can sign up for their newsletter via their website.

Janine has some great events coming up in the new year so make sure that you stay connected with Camelot.  Thanks to Janine for hosting a great dinner! It’s always a good time when you get a chance to sip some wine at Camelot!

2011 Hal and Al’s Pumpkin Beer Tasting

The last time we talked about Hal and Al’s I mentioned that we went for their pumpkin beer tasting.  Can you imagine how excited I was for that event!

When we were in last, I was informed that they were going to be hosting a pumpkin beer tasting the following week which would include pumpkin beers and ciders.

I may or may not have almost toppled over a parton and bartender as I eagerly inquired more about the event, embarrassing both my friend John and Scott.

Okay, not really, they both know me well enough to not get embarrassed by my antics any more.

I immedately marked the event on our calendar and off we went to the pumpkin beer tasting!

We were serious about this tasting.  I busted out the camera and my handy notebook featuring Snoopy with a pumpkin on green paper.

This was an intense tasting as well, there were 9 samples to get through.

Let me repeat, 9 samples!

Signing up for the tasting meant that we also got a sample of the pumpkin soup!  It was creamy and savory with a hint of heat on the backend that increased the more you ate.

After that it was time to dive in!

Bottoms up!


In order the 9 beers we had were:

  1. Shock Top: Good smell and color.  It had decent pumpkin and spice tasting along with being a very light ale. It almost evaporated off your tongue at the finish.
  2. Ichabod: Icky! Read our previous review. Still hold the same opinion.
  3. Blue Moon: It tastes just like a regular beer to us.  Nothing really of note.
  4. Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider: I’m lukewarm on ciders so I didn’t care for this.  Scott likes ciders a lot so he enjoyed this one.  This is a very limited edition cider and can be hard to find. We’ve previously purchased it at The Anderson’s but you need to get it quick because it sells fast.
  5. Brooklyn Post Road: I couldn’t even finish this beer.  It was so light that to me it tasted like water.  I love Brooklyn Brewery so I was disappointed in their version of pumpkin beer.
  6. Harpoon UFO: This was an unfiltered wheat pumpkin beer and we both really enjoyed this beer.  It has a pretty strong cinnamon flavor to it that gets more intense at the finish.  However the pumpkin flavor isn’t that strong.
  7. Rivertown: I thought this beer had more of a cinnamon flavor than the Harpoon but Scott didn’t agree.  He said Harpoon has much more cinnamon to it.  It was alright but nothing we’d purchase again.
  8. Pumpking: Read our previous review. Thoughts still the same.  Scott and I ended up switching, I gave him my Pumpking and took his Rivertown.
  9. Your pick! #9 was a bonus and you could pick your favorite of the bunch.  We each got Harpoon’s UFO.

We had a great evening full of chit chat and pumpkin beer.  Hal and Al’s is the perfect place to chill and relax from your busy day or week.

We also got the best glasses at the end of this tasting!

A pint glass with a pumpkin on it?!  OH YES!  This is a huge part of the reason that I came to this tasting because I caught a glimpse of this glass on their facebook page.

That wraps up the pumpkin beer tasting for 2011!  Now it’s time to plan for next year!

International Blogger Cookie Exchange 2011

Get excited all because it’s time to talk holidays! And we’re going to be talking about holiday cookies first!

My friend Lori, over at Fake Food Free has asked me to help her put on the International Blogger Cookie Exchange for this year!

Oh yes, it’s time to start planning our holiday cookies and holiday eats for the upcoming season. This is an extremely easy and low key event.  You will not be shipping cookies to someone, it’s a recipe exchange!

Here’s how it works:

Either let Lori or myself know by November 10th that you would like to participate, and you will be randomly paired with another blogger.

Each participant will create an original or an adapted holiday cookie recipe and send that recipe to the blogger that we’ve randomly selected for you. You must send that recipe via email by November 20th.

Once you receive a recipe we ask that you post about the recipe by December 11th. This means that you’ve created the cookie recipe and will be posting about the experience.

Lori and I will do a roundup of all the recipes so you know where all the cookies were baked and how all the cookies turned out.

We are aware that a few of you have dietary restrictions or allergies. When you receive a recipe you may alter it to fit your dietary needs, but please post the original as well. If you have any trouble altering a recipe feel free to contact Lori, at lori AT fakefoodfree dot com or Andrea at Andrea AT Foodembrace DOT com, for advice or suggestions.

The only guideline is that the recipe should be something you’d find on a holiday cookie plate, so anything from rugelach to alfajores to fudge squares to gingerbread men!

Just to recap, you’ll be doing three things:

  1. Send a recipe to another blogger.
  2. Make the recipe you get.
  3. Post the recipe and the cookies you made.

Important Dates:

Let us know you want to participate by November 10th.

Send your recipe to the blogger randomly selected for you by November 20th.

Post about the recipe you received from a fellow blogger by December 11th.

Doesn’t this sound like fun! It’s a great way to build up your cookie recipes and meet a fellow blogger!

Now let’s exchange some recipes!

Common Ground Dinner

Last week I was invited to a women’s event to showcase a new organization in the food world called Common Ground. The goal of Common Ground is to connect people who provide food to those who purchase food. The target audience is women.

From the website:

Consumers aren’t getting the real story about American agriculture. We’re a group of farm women and we plan to change that by doing something extraordinary. Our program is called CommonGround and it’s all about starting a conversation between women who grow food, and the women who buy it. This is our chance to set the record straight and to help get you the facts about farming and your food. We hope you’ll join in the conversation.

The event was the first one for Columbus to introduce the local chapter of Common Ground and kick off discussions between farmers and consumers.

The event also put us in contact with people from The Soybean Council and Corn Growers of America.  The idea was to gather together over a meal and talk about the food industry and where our food comes from.

The dinner was held at Amelita Mirolo Barn in the Sunny 95 Park located in Upper Arlington.  The barn is one of the oldest buildings in the area that was taken over and repurposed to use as an event space.

The original beams and wood from the barn were used in recreating the new space and this space just finished construction recently.  It officially opened it’s doors in July.  It was a spectacular place for an event.

There was a small cocktail reception to welcome everyone and give everybody a chance to mingle and introduce themselves.

There were some Ohio cheeses and crackers to nibble on, along with a chilled cucumber soup that was garnished with roasted corn kernels.  And later they brought out what seemed to be beef in a puff pastry.  The appetizers were great! However everyone was scrambling around for napkins, those somehow got overlooked!

It was nice to see some familiar faces at this event and I also got an opportunity to meet some new people.

Hello to all!

We got called to dinner and sat down for an evening of conversation and family style dining.  They had us seated at a long table with the best centerpieces.

How perfect! A huge glass vase full of all kinds of vegetables.  Another woman sitting close to me mentioned how much she wanted to take one home. I agreed! I would gladly take those veggies off your hands.

We started off with a mixed green salad in a parmasen crisp.  The salad was very refreshing though the parmasen crisp was a little challenging to eat.  I ended up having to abandon it much to my dismay.  That much crispy cheese needed to be eaten!

The dinner had rice, veggie mix, and a chicken saltimbocca that was drizzled with a cream sauce.  There was also lamb chops served as well but I’m not a huge fan of lamb so I passed on that.  For those that are vegetarians, there was a vegetarian dish available which I believe contained portabella mushrooms.

Dessert was an apple handpie with fresh vanilla ice cream.  The dough for the handpie was fluffy and delish.  It reminded me of a fluffy donut.  The ice cream was also delicious.

There were a lot of women there each representing different aspects of the agricultural community.  Three ladies were there who were farmers, one raised hogs, one raised sheep, and the other was a seed farmer.

There were members there from Common Ground itself along with various folks from the Soybean Council.

It was an interesting event to chat with these ladies who are working and living the Ag business.

As the evening wrapped up, the ladies informed us that they had some goodies for us to take home.

They really went all out and provided us with some Ohio based food items.

  • Goat Cheese
  • Peaches
  • Honey
  • Quick Bread
  • Bottle of Rose

I thank the folks of The Soybean Council and Common Ground for inviting me to the dinner and providing me with a chance to meet and chat with everyone.

Check out Common Ground for more information and to find a local chapter in your area.

2011 Taste of Hilliard

Last week was the second annual Taste Of Hilliard event. Local restaurants and businesses who are members of the Chamber of Commerce gather together at the Makoy Center for an evening of nibbles and chatting.

The great thing about The Taste of Hilliard is that it doesn’t just focus on food but also showcases local businesses as well so that community members get a chance to see exactly what their town has to offer.

You would be surprised by how many businesses are local to Hilliard and the wide variety of services that are offered.

I didn’t stay too long at the event because it was getting packed and fast.  The event started at 4:30 and I got there around that time.  My plan was to get there early to be able to take plenty of pictures without being in anyone’s way.

Best laid plans right? I arrived to a very packed parking lot.  I was kind of surprised actually that it was so packed so early.  People had to park far away and walk to the event, that’s how many people were there at the start.

Which is fantastic news! That means that the word is getting out and more people are attending the event.  Win win!

There were many restaurants there with samples of their food, I’m only highlighting a few.

First up is The Heritage Golf Club, they had the creme brulee pictured first and also this little crab cake.  There was a tartar style sauce on top but I’m not sure what the sauce on the bottom was.  It was quite tasty though and was going fast once people heard there were crab cakes.  I didn’t try the brulee, but if Scott had been with me I know he would have tried some for sure.

Cupcake Yum Yum was there showing off their gorgeous little two-bite cupcakes.  I don’t remember the flavors of the cupcakes, however I do know that one featured bacon.

These little nuggets can be found at Kitamu Coffee or you can place an order directly.

Be forewarned that the site has music that starts playing.

Speaking of Kitamu, they were there as well sampling their coffee and offering up some cookies.

Last up was Olive Tree Mediterranean Cafe. They had fresh pitas to go along side their chicken and hummus dish.  The chicken was marinaded in spices and then sauteed up with onions and peppers.  This dish was fantastic.

Olive Tree has also announced that they are starting to serve Sunday Breakfast now as well.

Olive Tree and Kitamu are in the same shopping center so you can grab yourself some coffee after having your meal.

The event was a huge success and rumor has it that the number of folks who attended this year was very high.

Attending a taste like this in your town or a neighboring town helps you learn more about what your area has to offer.  Plus it exposes you to new items you might not otherwise have tried.  If you have an event like this around where you live, I highly encourage you to attend!

Congrats to The Hilliard Chamber of Commerce for putting on a great event!