Real Food: How Basalt Strives to Serve Up the Freshest Fare

WHEN FREE RANGE Kitchen & Wine Bar first opened, a local food writer commented that tomatoes were not being served on that particular night — and a patron took note. “He looked at me like I had two heads,” co-owner Steve Humble said, with a laugh. “‘What restaurant doesn’t have tomatoes?’” the guy asked. Humble explained that Free Range didn’t have any because tomatoes weren’t in season. Another strange look prompted further elaboration: “Well, we can get tomatoes right now, but they’re typically from Mexico, they have no sugar content, no flavor, they’re hard as a rock, they’re just not that good,” Humble said. “If we can’t do it right, we’re not gonna do it.” It’s a mantra much of the Basalt restaurant community has similarly embraced. From the fresh, locally sourced fare at restaurants such as Free Range to the handcrafted spirits at Woody Creek Distillers to purveyors and companies like Green Pastures Country Farm, Rock Canyon Coffee, Two Leaves and a Bud, ACES at Rock Bottom Ranch and others, Basalt has embraced the national farm-totable movement at all levels. “When we founded Woody Creek Distillers, we knew we wanted to make nothing but the finest craft spirits, each with a unique taste and character that was true to the origins of that spirit,” said operating partner Mark Kleckner. “It’s a standard we hold ourselves to every day. It’s why we grow and harvest some of our ingredients ourselves, like the potatoes for our premium vodka. It’s why we only source our grains from trusted Colorado farms, like the rye in our 100 percent rye mash whiskey.” Perhaps the best example of Basalt’s commitment to top-notch foodie culture is Skip’s Farm to Market. Recently opened in Downtown Basalt, this niche shop features togo food that nourishes; for example, a recent week’s menu included a Very Veggie Wrap (flour tortilla, spinach, tomato, carrot, cucumber and onion) and a Kale Salad made with curly kale, cucumber, bell pepper, radish, onion and cranberry. And the Skip’s concept rolls perfectly into Basalt’s hugely popular Basalt Sunday Market. Beginning June 17 and continuing through the end of September, the farmers’ market is a gathering place for locals and visitors as they seek out the freshest foods of the season. “It is a highlight of our summer Sundays — you can never go wrong with spending a morning at the