Chili, chocolate, and peaches have V.B.W. in a summer swoon
I've really got peaches on the brain lately, what with the promise of a bumper peach crop in our own Hill Country and two new publications with great stories about growing peaches on the western slope of the Rockies. I really enjoyed New York food writer Eugenia Bone's appealing new memoir/cookbook about cooking and ranching in Colorado's North Fork Valley, called At Mesa's Edge (Houghton Mifflin, $24). One of the many crops she mentions are the luscious peaches grown by her newly acquired friends near Paonia. The book offers a very good story about how a high-powered New York food writer learns to love life on the remote and rustic ranch her husband purchased on a whim after a Colorado fishing trip. No sooner had I finished Bone's book than the new Gourmet produce issue arrived, and it, too, had a story about the "high-risk game" of growing glorious peaches in western Colorado. The combination of warm days, cool nights, low rainfall, and fans in the orchards to combat killing frosts seems to be the secret. If you're headed to Colorado this summer, stop in Palisade or Paonia for a peach. The cost of the "high-risk game" of growing peaches has hit closer to home this summer. Last week I had a conversation with Ann Maples, who told me sadly that after a string of five bad years, she has stopped working her Llano County orchard. Alas, there will be no more High Rock Ranch peaches. That's heartbreaking news for peach lovers.
Got a call from Miles Compton, aka Miles of Chocolate, who was pleased to report that his delightfully decadent truffle/ brownie has been picked up by none other than the Neiman Marcus Chocolate of the Month catalog for 2005! His little local business has come a long way in only two years. And, I just received product samples from a new chocolate vendor who has contracted with Dr. Chocolate to have his candies made in their new production facility on Gonzales Street (see "Hatching a Plan," June 18). Rick Bristow is the creator of SXUL Chocolates, elegant hand-molded dark chocolate bonbons dusted with 24-karat edible gold and filled with luxurious double chocolate ganache. The candies are "enhanced with more of the feel good ingredients that naturally occur in chocolate," according to Bristow, and come in a leather-look box with gold-embossed lettering. He's found that the "edgy" product name has put some retailers off. While Bristow works on lining up distribution for his pricey ultrapremium product, the chocolates are available on the Web at www.sxulchocolate.com. The chocolates are truly lovely and remarkably sensual. Talk about eyes rolling back in your head! These could become the new drug of choice for Austin chocoholics.
Event Menu: July 2-8
Sunday, July 4: Austin Roadkill Chili Cook-Off, Sidekicks/Xtreme (Riverside & Congress): Contestants need to arrive by 5pm with Crock-Pots of chili; the judging will begin after 6pm, and awards will be given at 8pm. This new twist on fundraising is brought to you by the United Court of Austin's College of Monarchs. Funds will be raised by entry fees, the purchase of tasting bowls, and a raffle. The new twist is that the money raised will be awarded to a 501(c)3 charity designated by the grand-prize winner, as chosen by an audience vote. Teams and individuals are eligible to enter, and there will be points for showmanship, as well as the best bowl of red. For more info, and/or registration forms, contact Mona littleMore, aka Marc Alexander, 371-3165 or firstname.lastname@example.org.