Taste of the Grand Valley all about grazing


If you go

WHAT: Home Loan Taste of the Grand Valley.

WHEN: 4–7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7.

WHERE: Two Rivers Convention Center.

TICKET COST: Adults, $13; seniors, $10; children, $6 (advanced sales).

CONTACT: Tickets on sale at City Market stores. Go to http://www.unitedwaymesacounty.org for other sale sites.

TASTE CONTRIBUTORS: Alida’s Fruits, Azteca’s, Chipotle Grill, Colorado Legacy Coffee, Cowboy and the Rose, Crossroads Wine and Spirits, Doubletree Hotel, Dunn-Right Jerky, EC’s Asian Station, Main Street Bagels, Einstein Bros. Bagels, End Zone, Enstrom’s, Entrada at Gateway Canyons, Four Winds Coffee & Tea, Gelato Junction, Hilltop’s The Commons & The Fountains, Hooters, Lil’ Guidos, Nick N’ Willy’s Pizza, Olive Garden, Roan Creek Ranch, Rib City Grill, Spoons, Two Rivers Convention Center and Village Inn.

It’s the ultimate in grazing.

Even if you only have a few bites and sips at every booth, nobody walks away with an empty belly.

With 28 restaurants preparing food and drinks, this year’s Taste of the Grand Valley is going to be the largest yet. It gets bigger every year.

Last year, about 1,200 people came and tasted, said Amber Pfennig with United Way of Mesa County, the beneficiary of all of the money made at the fund-raising event. She would like to see even more guests this year, to help top United Way’s annual fund-raising goal of $1.2 million.

Chefs and baristas from around the Grand Valley, who donate their time and skills to the event, will whip up their specialties in bites-sized proportions.

New this year, cooking demonstrations by local chefs and culinary students and product demos by Culinary Corner. These will be played on two large screens so you don’t have to stop tasting to watch.

Also, and this is a deal, they will sell half-price gift cards to the participating restaurants. A $30 gift certificate to Rib City Grill, for example, will cost $15.

I talked to a few of the chefs and here is a sneak preview of a few things on the menu:

EC’s Asian Station: Owner and chef Evi Cruz decided on two quintessential Chinese-American favorites, orange chicken and a kung pao trio.

Cruz, who learned his trade in Vail and Redondo Beach, Calif., strives to create dishes that are flavored by fresh ingredients and not the salt, sugar and MSG prevalent in many Chinese restaurants.

Enstrom Candies will bring toffee squares. Simple, proven, and it doesn’t get any better than that.

Azteca’s Family Mexican Restaurant plans to serve chile rellenos, arroz con pollo, green pork chili, chips and salsa and flan.

Owners Blanca and Miguel Gutierrez use family recipes reaching back to Mexico for these customer favorites.

The mastermind of the tasting menu from Lil’ Guidos, Mike Bowering, has settled on four types of pizza, calzones and something called a cannelli.

The highlights of the menu, said Bowering, are anything that contains their homemade meatballs.

The Guido special pizza is topped with meatballs, Italian sausage and two cheeses. The cannelli contains the same, plus onions and peppers. He’ll also have a vegetarian pizza for the noncarnivores.

As tasters go through the offerings, they can vote for their favorites and award a best of show. All proceeds from the event go to United Way of Mesa County.

I DON’T GET IT: Why, when you Google a restaurant or anything food-related, is there always a paid advertisement on 10 ways to get rid of belly fat?

QUOTE: “It is beef-y. Or beef-ish? At the very least it is beef-adjacent. Let me put it this way: On a scale of one to beef, it’s got something in there. Who cares what the government says? I say, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, glue some hooves on that thing and call it beef.”

— Stephen Colbert, describing the taste of Taco Bell’s beefy crunch burrito

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Send tips and ideas to Tess.Furey@ gjsentinel.com.


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