Colorado Springs boasts a relatively robust food and drink scene outside of its restaurants and bars. Assuming you know how to use the rest of this InSider to select a restaurant for your every mood, here's everything else critical to know about Front Range grubbin'. And don't forget to visit our IndyBlog and follow our Twitter account (@csindependent) for additional food and drink content, from reviews of wine and beer events, special previews and more.
Everyone's pretty up to speed on what a farmers market offers, but here's a Colorado crop calendar (tinyurl.com/cropcalendar), so you can time your peach attack. Past that, here's everything we were able to glean by press time about 2012's farmers-market lineup.
• 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 28 through Sept. 24, the Broadmoor (315 Lake Ave., 592-9420). Roughly 25 vendors, ranging from Grand Junction's Taylor Produce to sellers of meats, crafts, pastas, dips and dog bones. Same group that operates the Wednesday and Sunday Briargate markets and Saturday Monument Hill Market.
• 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 4 through Oct. 8, Acacia Park (115 E. Platte Ave., millerfarms.net). An unbeatable deal where you fill a bag of whatever you want for around $10. Miller Farms is joined by a number of cottage industry vendors (think jellies, jams, etc.) and craftspeople. They also run the Saturday Citadel Mall and University Village markets and Thursday's First & Main market.
• 3 to 7 p.m., June 7 through Sept. 25, Fountain City Hall Farmers Market (116 S. Main St., 447-8637). Up to 40 vendors of honey, kettle corn, crafts and produce from Pueblo, Rocky Ford and Cañon City.
• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 30 through Oct. 10, Briargate (7610 N. Union Blvd., 592-9420). See Monday's Broadmoor market for details.
• 3-7 p.m., June 13 through Oct. 13, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center sculpture garden (30 W. Dale St., farmandartmarket.com). Operated by the Colorado Farm & Art Market team, which also hosts Saturday's market at the Margarita at PineCreek. Sustainably grown foods, plus crafts, soaps, and more from around 20 vendors.
• 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 7 through Oct. 11, First & Main Town Center (3133 Cinema Point, millerfarms.net). See Monday's Acacia Park market for details.
• 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 21 through Oct. 4, Memorial Park (1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 574-1283).See Saturday's Old Colorado City market for details.
• 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 8 through Sept. 28, Center and Henrietta streets, Woodland Park (woodlandparkfarmersmarket.com). Hosting up to 100 vendors, including wineries and cottage industries; also organizing the Woodland Park Winter Farmers market on second Saturdays, October through December at the Ute Pass Cultural Center (210 E. Midland Ave., utepassculturalcenter.itgo.com).
• 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 5 through Oct. 13, Monument Hill (66 S. Jefferson St., monumenthillfarmersmarket.com). See Monday's Broadmoor market for details.
• 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 2 through Oct. 6, northeast corner parking lot at the Citadel Mall (750 Citadel Drive East, millerfarms.net). See Monday's Acacia Park market for details.
• 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., June 2 through Oct. 6, University Village Colorado Shopping Center (5230 N. Nevada Ave., millerfarms.net). See Monday's Acacia Park market for details.
• 9 a.m. to noon, June 5 until the first frost, Harlan Wolfe Ranch (915 W. Cheyenne Road, ppugardens.org). Pick 'n pay for veggies, herbs and flowers, grown organically and biodynamically by Pikes Peak Urban Gardens.
• 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., June 9 through Oct. 27 in Old Colorado City (Bancroft Park, 2408 W. Colorado Ave., 574-1283). Around 25 kiosks with mostly conventional growers and some re-sellers, plus products from honey to goat cheese. Many of the same vendors as at Thursday's Memorial Park and Saturday's Doherty markets.
• 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; first and third Saturdays monthly, June through September, Black Forest (intersection of Burgess and Black Forest roads, 237-4342). Roughly 20 vendors, mostly cottage industry and craftspeople.
• 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 16 through Oct. 13, Margarita at PineCreek (7350 Pine Creek Road, farmandartmarket.com). See Wednesday's Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center market for details.
• 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 23 through Sept. 29, Doherty High School (4515 Barnes Road, 574-1283).See Saturday's Old Colorado City market for details.
• 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., July 7 through Oct. 6, U.S. Hwy. 105, Monument (behind Rosie's Diner and Taco Bell, 213–3323). Up to 60 vendors, like Rocky Ford anchors Smith Family Farms, and cottage industry people.
• 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., June 2 through Oct. 13, Holy Cross Abbey (Fremont Drive, off of U.S. Hwy. 50, Cañon City, ccfa.coop). Hosted by the Central Colorado Foodshed Alliance, featuring local growers like Family Roots Farm, a sustainable third-generation outfit.
• 11 a.m to 4 p.m., June 3 to Oct. 7, Briargate (7610 N. Union Blvd., 592-9420). See Monday's Broadmoor market for details.
And one more unusual market: From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, July 1 through Nov. 1, Spencer's Lawn & Garden Center (1430 S. Tejon St., spencersgardens.com) sells produce from third- and fourth-generation growers who deliver fresh items daily. The store's Fountain location at 4720 Center Valley Drive also offers a market on Fridays and Saturdays.
Community-supported agriculture shares (CSAs) are essentially a pre-purchase of a farm's seasonal crop — a big help to local growers. Many CSAs offer up to 50 different vegetables and herbs throughout the growing season, with options to upgrade into meat or egg shares and more. Below are cursory descriptions of area programs.
Country Roots Farm (29342 Everett Road, Pueblo, 719/948-2206, countryrootsfarm.org) specializes in sustainably grown heirloom vegetable varieties. This year, it offers a spring and fall share, each running six weeks for $150, with pick-up required at the farm.
Grant Family Farms (1020 WCR 72, Wellington, 970/568-7654, grantfarms.com) offers the largest-scale CSA, which allows prorated sign-up any time during the season. They offer three summer veggie share sizes ($520 to $884; mid-June to early December), plus fruit, egg, meat, cheese, mushroom, bread and winter shares with partner organizations. There are around 30 pickup points locally, on Saturdays.
Greenhorn Acres (5856 County Road HH.5, Fowler, 719/263-4494, greenhornacres.com) offers certified naturally grown produce, with fruit and/or veggie shares and different sizes optional ($325 to $500). Pick-up will be Thursdays at Ranch Foods Direct (2901 N. El Paso St.), or at the farm on Saturdays, mid-May through October.
Hobbs Family Farm (46000 Olson Road, Avondale, 719/250-9835, farmdirectseed.com) offers an organic garlic share, a total of four pounds of softneck and hardneck garlic varieties for $40, sold Aug. 15 through sell-out, but available by pre-order.
Miller Farms' (13912 CR 19, Platteville, 970/785-6133, millerfarms.net) CSA runs June 15 through October, with pickups at any Miller farmers market location or at the farm ($400 to $600). Miller grows conventionally but doesn't use pesticides, and allows members to choose what they want weekly.
Venetucci Farm (5210 S. U.S. Hwy. 85, 389-1251, ppcf.org/venetucci) offers chemical-free, mindfully grown vegetables, mid-June through mid-October. A choice share is $700, which acts as credit for shopping as you please at CFAM markets or the farm stand. The standard share of weekly pre-selected items is $529 for farm pick-up, or $559 for market pick-up. Currently sold out for 2012, but you can join a wait list.
Colorado Springs Food Tours (coloradospringsfoodtours.com) hosts food jaunts through downtown and Manitou Springs ($49), a dessert tour ($29) through Old Colorado City and a brew tour ($79) throughout the city. And Soiree (coloradospringsvenue.com) hosts a monthly Curious Palate Tasting Club ($25 per tasting), with lectures on and samples of spirits, wine and more.
Other annual foodie events that often double as nonprofit fundraisers are: the Zonta Club of the Pikes Peak Area's Glass Slipper Ball (glassslipperball.com) around late January; Manitou Springs' Mumbo Jumbo Gumbo Cook Off (manitousprings.org) in late February; the Colorado Restaurant Association Pikes Peak Chapter's Hospitality Expo (ppcra.org) in early March; and the Colorado Springs Chorale's Chef's Gala (cschorale.org) on April 22. Also catch Fiddles, Vittles and Vino (fiddlesvittlesandvino.com) on July 29, and Manitou Springs' Good Ole Summertime Ice Cream Social & Pie Baking Contest (manitousprings.org) that same month, followed by the Gingerbread & Jazz Gala (earlyconnections.org) each November.
On the drink side, Bristol Brewing Company holds the Firkin Rendezvous (bristolbrewing.com) around mid-February; BierWerks hosts Winter Bier Fest (bierwerks.com) around late February in Woodland Park; the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center holds its Wine Festival of Colorado Springs (csfineartscenter.org/winefest) in early March; Trinity Brewing Company will host its fourth annual Saison and Farmhouse Ale Festival (trinitybrew.com) on April 14; Manitou Springs acts as the venue for the 10th annual Craft Lager & Small Batch Festival (craftlagerfestival.com) on Aug. 4; and November brings the All Colorado Beer Festival (allcoloradobeerfestival.com) for a trio of causes.
Larger catering outfits like Garden of the Gods Gourmet (godsgourmet.net) and Picnic Basket (pbcatering.com) offer weekly and monthly classes. Tinta de Toro (tintadetoro.net) offers its own instruction and presents some of the guest lectures at the Chefs Outlet Store (chefscatalog.com). Memorial Healthlink (memorialhealthsystem.com) hosts more nutrition-related classes; Thai Eats (thai-eats.com) will teach you authentic Thai cooking; Savory Spice Shop (savoryspiceshop.com) hosts guest chef lectures; and Conscious Table (conscioustable.net) offers demos and private classes.
Colorado State University-Pueblo brews up an annual Zymurgy Institute (tinyurl.com/zyminstitute) for those wanting to learn how to make beer.
If you're into homesteading: Make your own goat cheese with The Goat Cheese Lady (thegoatcheeselady.com) and check out Pikes Peak Urban Gardens (ppugardens.org) for regular how-to food cultivation classes; the Pikes Peak Beekeepers Association (pikespeakbeekeepers.org) for quarterly meetings and an annual Bee School; and the CSU Extension Office (elpasoco.colostate.edu) for such instruction as backyard poultry workshops. When flush with home-grown goodies, look to area swaps (tinyurl.com/foodswaps) for bartering.