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crested butte: montanya distillers tasting room

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

I can’t tell you how many times I have walked past Montanya Distillers Tasting Room on Elk Avenue and dismissed eating there because I thought all they had was rum. It’s true that they have rum, really good rum and lots of it! But they also serve great food, the kind of bites you crave a few days later after a hike, bike, or ski. We went in for the first time last summer and keep returning for the noshes as much as the sips.


in the heart of downtown crested butte



Inside there are several tables, booths, and a bar on the first floor. Upstairs you will find some tables, a cubby hole play area, and the distillery, where you can request a tour. During summer months, Montanya expands to two dog-friendly outdoor patios. Open daily, the tasting room offers free tastings of their three craft distilled rums: Montanya Platino, Montanya Oro, and Montanya Exclusiva. There is also the extensive cocktail menu which you shouldn’t and probably can’t pass up. This is coming from me, someone who prefers to eat rather than drink her calories.

the distillery



The cocktails come in all manner of creative flavors and combinations that incorporate Montanya’s rums (obviously) and rum infusions like Thai spices, cucumber, vanilla, or jalapeño. Their martinis include the likes of White Room (Montanya Oro Rum, vanilla infused Montanya Platino Rum, orgeat, fresh cream, and crushed almond) and Smoke Show (Montanya Oro Rum, cold brew coffee, chai spices, smoked clove, cardamom). Maybe you want a cocktail on the rocks? Try Fiery Passion (habanero and pineapple infused Montanya Platino Rum, passionfruit, fresh lime, mint, agave, seltzer) or Strawberry Jive (Montanya Platino Rum, fresh strawberry, agave, fresh orange and lemon, local basil, mint). But it’s not all fancy, fruity, totally awesome concoctions – they’ve got you covered with the classic Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Daiquiri, and Mojito to name a few. On those especially snowy après ski days, consider warming up with hot cocktails such as Hottanya (Montanya Oro Rum, local Third Bowl ice cream, butter, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, whipped cream) or Wassail (Montanya Oro Rum, mulled cider, cranberry, spices, citrus bitters, orange twist).

And don’t fret if you’re a teetotaler! You will not be relegated to water or iced tea. Montanya’s mocktails are every bit as enticing and delicious as their cocktails… without the booze, of course. The Green Hornet combines fresh lime, cilantro, jalapeño, agave, and seltzer. I recently ordered the Bluebird – a delightfully refreshing combination of fresh blueberries, ginger, honey, lemon, and seltzer. Montanya’s drinks are all so fun and exciting, and there is something for everyone.


left: dark and snowy (montanya oro rum, fresh lime, housemade ginger beer, fresh mint, seltzer) and right: beach bum mocktail (pineapple, cream of coconut, orange, pomegranate)

maharaja (montanya oro rum, north indian spices, fresh pressed ginger, fresh lime, cardamom)

boat shoes (cinnamon infused montanya oro rum, agave, passionfruit, pineapple, mint, coconut, cardamom)

left: creamsicle mocktail (orange juice, sweetened cream, whipped cream) and right: kokomo (montanya platino rum, fresh lemon, fresh lime, cream of coconut, housemade ginger beer, fresh mint)

hanoi sunrise mocktail (blood orange, fresh lime, simple syrup, thai bitters, seltzer)



**Jump for more butter**

crested butte: supper at sunflower

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Sometimes it takes a little nudge to discover something wonderful that is right under your nose. In the heart of downtown Crested Butte, The Sunflower has always been a great place for us to grab a spinach and feta croissant or a good sandwich to go. For some reason, I assumed it was breakfast-lunch only because their menu lists breakfast and lunch. I was half correct. The Sunflower is a communal kitchen – a cafe/deli in the daytime and a restaurant at night. Two separate businesses that share one space. I only learned about Supper at Sunflower this spring when Rob, the best painter in town and fellow mushroom foraging enthusiast, mentioned it to me.


sunflower is located on elk avenue



Indoor seating in this cozy, rustic establishment maxes out at 32, but in summer the pleasant patio easily doubles the restaurant capacity. Reservations are highly recommended and there are generally two seatings each night: early [6:00 pm, 6:15 pm, 6:30 pm] and late [8:00 pm, 8:15 pm, 8:30 pm]. Every time we have dined at Supper at Sunflower, the place has been packed with regulars and newcomers alike. Their staff is warm and friendly, and every server was quite knowledgeable about the menu and the extensive wine list (and what pairs well with what). Sunflower also offers a huge number of wines by the glass as well as a dozen beers by the bottle. Be sure to ask about their porrons.

a cozy interior

patio dining with my folks on a fine colorado summer evening



Small bites and small plates dominate the menu at Supper at Sunflower, although there are large plates in the traditional sense of a meal. I feel that the quantity on the small plates offers the best value. Supper at Sunflower encourages sharing and sampling – a fun way to enjoy and explore more of their Spanish-influenced farm to table cuisine. Start with a selection from their Nibbles, an assortment of cheeses, cured meats, olives, and nuts. There is usually a tempting seasonal soup and a couple of salads, all incorporating fresh, local ingredients.

some nibbles: olives, manchego, finocchiona



Admittedly, we get so excited about the appetizers that it wasn’t until the third visit (on my birthday) that I ordered the heirloom tomato salad with ricotta cheese, watermelon, and pickled cucumbers. That salad embodied what I enjoy most about the food at Supper at Sunflower. A thoughtful and exciting balance of textures and flavors exists in most of their dishes. Best of all, I love their use of homemade pickled and preserved toppings to accentuate and enhance the plates. They add zing and zip to an already exceptional combination of flavors. Of the many (so many) small plates we’ve tried, my favorite was the rabbit escabeche. The tangy stewed rabbit and vegetables arrived along with an amorphous piece of charred dough – some of the best bread I’ve ever tasted!

albacore tuna poke

rabbit escabeche with grilled bread

house burrata

pork sausage with fava beans



**Jump for more butter**

back in the saddle

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Recipe: chanterelle-stuffed pork tenderloin

Just when I thought I was ready to kick that cold in the hoohoo, I came down with pink eye. Or I *thought* I had pink eye. Dr. Eye Doctor told me that I did not in fact have pink eye, but dry eyes. Apparently the combination of our dry mountain air, my excessively long days wearing contacts, and lots of computer time has caused great irritation and distress to the insides of my eyelids. I was instructed to take a break from wearing contacts to give my eyes a rest lest I not be able to wear contacts in the future. Trying not to sound like a brat after my scolding, I inquired how long “a break” was. He gave me the side-eye and said, “Until your eyes feel better.” Before I could ask another stupid question he continued, “That might be a day or it might be a week. You will have to gauge, but don’t push it – be kind to your eyes.” I gave it a day and another day and a third day and I’ve noticed considerable improvement.

As dull as it was to exercise on the indoor bike trainer (the only place I could work out and not hurt myself when my glasses steamed up), it was a much needed opportunity to get a lot of computer work done and organize my freezers – woohoo! And I let my body truly recover from the cold and not relapse by heading out into frigid winds and blowing snow. Of course, now that I’m healthy again, I’m going to do exactly that – go straight into the frigid winds and blowing snow. Hey, it’s ski season on the Front Range! It is what it is. Besides, there’s nothing like being sick to make you appreciate being healthy.

This week’s recipe is offered as a main dish suggestion for holiday dinner parties or the actual holidays. If there is any time to roast a hunk of meat it would be on the darkest nights as we enter winter. Ah, but this isn’t just any hunk of meat – it is stuffed with earthy, delightful mushrooms. I’m using foraged chanterelles here, but you can use whatever fresh mushrooms are available to you in your neck of the woods: shiitakes, crimini, oysters – something with flavor and character.


wine, olive oil, black pepper, beef broth, chanterelles, sage, thyme, butter, garlic, salt, pork tenderloins

thick sliced mushrooms



Could you make this with beef tenderloin (or flank steak) instead? Yes. Yes you could. The only reason I went with pork was because these were sitting in the chest freezer back in October when I shot the recipe. The stuffing is simply roasted mushrooms with some aromatics and seasonings. Use the recipe as a guideline. If you have other herbs and seasonings that you prefer, then go for it. At this point, I just want you to be happy.

prepped mushroom stuffing

pouring olive oil over the mushrooms and herbs

toss it all together

place in a baking dish and roast

roasted, tender, and fragrant



**Jump for more butter**