Yampatika hosts fundraiser dinner Wednesday | SteamboatToday.com

Yampatika hosts fundraiser dinner Wednesday

Feasting on indigenous fare

— Deer browse, elk forage and friends of environmental education graze the Yampa Valley.

Yampatika, Routt County’s environmental education and stewardship nonprofit, hosts its annual fundraiser from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Vogel Haus bed and breakfast inn at 230 Fifth St. This year’s dinner is billed as an opportunity to “Graze the Yampa Valley.”

Chef Greg Smith of Fireside Catering was waiting until the last minute to finalize the menu as spring greens popped out of the meadows and forests surrounding Steamboat Springs.

“This is pushing my limits,” Smith said. “We’re going to have fun.”

The emphasis is on regionally grown and produced foods and drinks.

Certain to make an appearance on the menu are the delicate glacier lilies that grow at the edge of the receding snow line. The yellow blossoms have a buttery citrus flavor. But they aren’t the only edible portions of the plant.

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“If you saute the stems, they give you a bit of a green onion flavor,” Smith said. “We’ll toss them in a salad. I may add some nuts and toast them in brown sugar to give it a candy flavor.”

Judith Emerson, who is foraging for greens on behalf of Smith, said there’s a third portion of the lily that can go in the salad.

“After the blossom falls off, a seed pod develops,” she said. “They add crunch. We’ll have all three of those.”

Emerson had more good news. After searching high and low, she located a patch of fiddlehead ferns just emerging from the ground. The fiddleheads have to be caught before their stems unfurl and they turn bitter. Caught at their peak, they can be stir-fried lightly to yield a vegetable that has a flavor reminiscent of asparagus.

Also on the menu are buffalo carpaccio served on eight-grain crostini made from bread baked at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, wild mushroom and fresh herb spring rolls with plum sauce, and Nancy Kramer’s cheesecake squares with strawberry/rhubarb topping and a fresh mint garnish.

Guests at Graze the Yampa Valley will be enticed into a scavenger hunt at the Vogel Haus and invited to take part in an auction.

They also will have an opportunity to meet Yampatika’s new executive director, Sonja Macys. She is the former director of the Tucson Audubon Society.

– To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

If you go

What: Yampatika’s “Graze the Yampa Valley” fundraiser dinner

When: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Vogel Haus bed and breakfast inn, 230 Fifth St.

Why: To support Yampatika’s natural history programs aimed at school-age children and adults.

Tickets: $55 a person, or $100 for two. Reserve a place by calling 871-9151 or e-mailing info@yampatika.or

Upcoming events: June 14: trip to Sand Wash Basin; June 21: Archeoastronomy; June 28: Take a llama to lunch