What do mining and fine dining have in common? Telluride, of course! And nothing better utilizes this connection than one of Telluride’s Food Tours: a casual stroll through the town complete with detailed descriptions of some of Telluride’s more historical landmarks, and six stops at local fine dining establishments for appetizer-portioned samples of featured menu items and signature cocktails.
Telluride Food Tours is the perfect way for locals and visitors alike to sample Telluride’s culinary offerings while also learning about the town’s history, in an upscale casual environment with no pretensions whatsoever. The food tour is also a useful tool for newcomers and tourists who have no idea where to start when it comes to Telluride’s varied and plentiful dining options.
Telluride Food Tour founders, Britt Havard and Kenny Doerrer, moved to Telluride in 2008 and were inspired to form the company by their passion for food and wine. Doerrer is a PGA professional and Havard works in marketing and as a host on Telluride TV.
They both love the outdoors and the lifestyle Telluride affords its residents. Telluride Food Tour’s Mission Statement is “To give others an idea of how Local Telluridians live every day. People who live here are attracter to a certain kind of lifestyle …the good life. And this is what Telluride Food Tours Offers its clientele: a taste of the good life. Telluride Food Tours aims to bring the essence of Telluride dining and culture to its participants by seeking out the best food and visiting the places locals actually go.”
The Food Tours run Thursday – Saturday and begin at the River Club’s Owner’s Club Room, an understated and elegant lounge where participants are poured a glass of wine and encouraged to get to know each other before the tour guide gives a brief rundown of Telluride’s history which provides the backdrop to the rest of the tour.
Last weekend, tour guide Jessica Duggan, who has been in the food and wine industry for 17 years and has been guiding at Food Tours since last summer, broke the ice by having the food-tourists, a couple from Scottsdale, Ariz. and a Swedish couple who currently reside in Ann Arbor, Mich. shared a bit about themselves before embarking on the tour.
The group size may be small, but it is perfect for creating an intimate and realized vibe for the rest of the tour. The first stop was There, but before anything edible even makes an appearance, Duggan stopped the tour group on the corner of W. Pacific and S. Davis to offer a little tidbit of Telluride’s history as a town divided along ethnic lines with the corner demarcating the beginning of town until 1962.
Although both couples participating in the tour said they have spent a lot of time in Telluride, everyone was surprised at Duggan’s first historical factoid.
For the remainder of the tour, murmurs of “I didn’t know that” or “That’s amazing” punctuated Duggan’s well-informed and entertaining spiels.
At the first stop, There, guests were poured a small sample of one of the more popular drinks on the cocktail menu, simply called the Grapefruit, and enjoyed the restaurant’s signature free popcorn and a spicy crispy duck steamed bun.
Participants were also given the rundown of the restaurant’s culinary inspiration and philosophy and provided with details about hours, specials and reservations.
“This is part of why we’re doing this tour,” participant Tracy Katz said, so we know these things. We have family here, we could use this information.”
As Duggan periodically ensured the group’s pace is on par with the tour’s packed agenda, the group moves from restaurant to restaurant, stopping along the way outside notable landmarks to get lessons on some of Telluride’s more colorful moments in history.
Included in the history is a description of the real inspiration for the town’s name – contrary to popular belief, it is not derived from the phrase “To hell you ride” – a stop at the real bank robbed by Butch Cassidy, a look at a real ore scale used by miners that still remains in the waiting area at a popular brewpub, and a fun and fresh glimpse back into mining culture and old Telluride.
Of the more humorous historical facts: some of Telluride’s most popular ski runs are named after famous madams from Telluride’s brothel days. Can you guess which ones?
The tour meandered along the sunny streets, not only stopping in upscale fine-dining restaurants, such as La Marmotte and Flavor, but also at Telluride Truffle and Smuggler’s Brewpub, giving the tour an eclectic flair while avoiding monotony.
At the finale of the tour, all the participants were smiling, chatting, having learned something about the town they had not known before.
Most telling perhaps, of the tour’s success, is the fact that long after the tour officially ended, the group remained with Duggan at the last stop laughing and sipping another round of the very same cocktail the restaurant had served mere minutes before as part of the tour.
“This is the best cocktail I’ve had…ever!” participant Sassa Akervall said.
“I’ve never even heard of it before today.”
Discover your new favorite drink and more for $75 per person at www.telluridefoodtours.net.