The Washington Times - May 25, 2008, 01:12AM

By Linda Mensinga
Editor Culinary Trends

You might not know Idaho’s largest agricultural product is dairy (not potatoes), or that the state is home to 18 wineries, or that the countryís very first retail distillery was opened in Boise a short eight years ago. And Sun Valley, a premiere ski resort, just celebrated its first Food & Wine Festival to showcase some of the stateís culinary talent. Discovering the unexpected is a pleasure only enhanced by what the state does not have-crowds, traffic or long lines.  


Recreational activities abound in Idaho’s rivers, streams and mountains. Hiking, biking, fishing and river rafting along with the stateís relatively dry, mild climate make Idaho an attractive destination. 

Within Boise proper a 25-mile riverfront Greenbelt calls for jogging, cycling, skating or just strolling the banks of the Boise River that winds through the city. Along the Greenbelt are the Kathryn Albertson Park, home to an extensive rose garden, and the MK. Nature Center, an environment to observe and learn about the areaís native plants and wildlife. Kathryn was the wife of Joe Albertson, founder of Albertsons grocery stores. 

Dining in Boise includes a number of delicious and sophisticated choices. Recently opened Blue Ribbon Artisans has a tasting room, fine dining restaurant, deli, bakery and pizzeria. Donít miss the cheese curds or squeaky cheese, as itís fondly called, in sun-dried tomato, garlic or jalapeno pepper. And sample your favorite flavor of ice cream rich with 14% butterfat. Milk is delivered from a local  all-natural dairy and processed into cheese, ice cream, milk and butter. The sour cream and cream cheese is used to make their cheesecakes. 

Another restaurant is Andraeís in downtown Boise, led by Chef/partner Andrae Bopp with an award-winning wine menu featuring wines of Washington as well as Idaho.

His menu includes: 

Dungeness crab napoleon, caramelized pineapple, pineapple demi-glace 

Lobster Corndog, crËme fraiche, yuzo tobiko

Lamb stuffed artichoke, lemon thyme sauce;

Columbia River Sturgeon with braised puy lentils, shallot fondue, and burgundy sauce

Make an easy drive from Boise to visit several wineries with tasting rooms and sample Idaho’s vintages (free). If you didn’t know Idaho produces some very fine wines, you’re not alone.


Bitner Winery

Koenig Distillery & Winery

Sawtooth Winery

Indian Creek Winery

A great place to stay in Boise is Hotel 43, so named for Idaho being the countryís 43rd state and its latitude. Newly remodeled, conveniently located and very comfortable beds and pillows.

River Rafting (Photo Courtesy of The River Company)

River rafting in style

River rafting that comes with amazingly delicious menus, cooked fresh in front of you on the grill or in charcoal heated pots makes the outdoor adventure even better. The River Company provides wetsuits, when needed, paddles, life jackets and seasoned, friendly guides. Fresh air, an outdoor site next to the beautiful Salmon River in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area create an idea setting.  You might start as we did with wine, chips and salsa plus brie cheese with baguette before moving to the meal of chicken or beef, side sides of salad, grilled vegetables and potatoes. Dessert was fresh peaches served over sponge cake. Price per adult is $91, children $74. 


 A different sort of restaurant Bardenay, located in the historic Basque Block in downtown Boise, has the feel of a brewery/restaurant, but the beverages being made are distilled: rum, vodka and gin. The large open dining room, bar and glass-enclosed still contribute to its warm, comfortable atmosphere. Wooden stools and tables, reasonably priced food make the restaurant a frequent destination for locals and regulars.  Bardenay got its name from a slang term for cocktail, coined by sailors when the skipper said, ëBardenay hourí had arrived.  

Owner Kevin Settles and his wife had a distilling business beginning in 1986 called Seven Sisters Hard Cider Company. They sold the business, but were not ready to retire. ìI really like gin,î Settles said, but ìGetting broad distribution on liquor is very, very expensive.î So creating a distillery/restaurant seemed a practical option. He found an empty warehouse and set about creating the restaurant, custom-made bar and distillery.

More than the many hours devoted to architectural details were the ones spent perfecting the recipes for their gin, rum and vodka. It took us 2 years to learn how to process and distill it right. Now we make vodka that tastes great as a sipping vodka,î he added. 

Prices for cocktails run a reasonable $7.00. 

Sun Valley Food & Wine Festiva

Lamb Cora by Chef Cat Cora (Photo by Linda Mensinga)

The first feast for the palateî held in Sun Valley/Ketchum, Idaho, could not have a more spectacular setting than the beautiful valley set in the Northern Rockies of south central Idaho. The three-day event featured the usual wine seminars, tastings, celebrity chefs, cooking demos and gourmet dinners. Local products such as locally gathered morel mushrooms, Lava Lake Lamb, Frenchmanís Gulch wine and Trail Creek Brewery were featured at dinners and the Farmerís Marketplace. The crowds at cooking demos varied but generous samples of the prepared recipes were served to everyone along with wine in some. Celebrity chefs Cat Cora, Food Network’s female Iron Chef; Cory Schreiber, chef/owner of Wildwood in Portland, Oregon; and Katie Chin, cookbook author and spokesperson for Kikkoman shared recipes and tips at CIRO restaurant & wine bar. 

Local Chef Scott Mason did Cooking from the Farmerís Market at his restaurant Ketchum Grill. He also delighted a sell-out crowd at his Taste of Idaho. 

Menu ($75 including wine):

Homesmoked Clear Springs Trout Cakes with Hagermann Corn Relish and Idaho Asparagus 

Frenchmanís Gulch Chardonnay

Lemon balm sorbet

Golden Reserve Beef Tenderloin-Emmett Cherry Wood Grilled-with Thyme Scented Demi-Glace, Caramelized Onions and Idaho Morels

Frenchmanís Gulch Merlot

Panna Cotta with Market Fruits and Red Wine Gastrique

Freeman Farms Organic Lettuces

Sun Valley Skating Ring (Photo Courtesy of Sun

A four-course tasting menu costs a mere $35, $60 paired with wine flights.

The festival pass was $250 including all seminars, cooking demos and tastings except the vintner dinners.

Sun Valley Resort

An “American Shangri-La” is the moniker often given to Sun Valley. The natural setting of breathtaking mountains, rivers and stands of evergreens make it easy to understand why. The Sun Valley Lodge has long hosted European nobility and Hollywood Royalty such as Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper were frequent guests and more recently California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Skating rink, glass-enclosed pool, live music, ice shows, golf, horseback riding, biking, hiking, bowling, sleigh rides and world-class skiing provide entertainment and activities for the whole family. Ask for a room facing the skating rink and enjoy watching a rehearsal or the actual show for free!

This year’s Sun Valley Food & Wine Festival is scheduled for June 6-8.

For more information, contact:

Bardenary Restaurant & Distillery
610 Grove St.
Boise, ID 83702

816 West Banock
Boise, ID 86702

The River Company
Salmon River
Stanley, Idaho

Hotel 43
981 Grove Street
Boise, ID 83702

Idaho Division of Tourism Development

Sun Valley Resort
1 Sun Valley Road
Sun Valley, Idaho 83353

Linda Mensinga is the Editor and Publisher of Culinary Trends Magazine and contributor to Donne Tempo Magazine. Linda is a leading expert on all things culinary!