Hunting for a Gathering: Part 3
Photo and Words: David Cumming
On a midsummer evening, there is a palpable, dry silence in the forests of Kiowa Ranch.
By the farmhouse, workers raise a long blue and white tent. Wine barrels are rolled out from storage while tablecloths are unfolded and waved in the air. Chef Jacob Cheatham’s multiple courses are etched in a chalkboard--kept secret until the guests arrive. You can hear distant pops of wine corks. Flickers of fire on the outdoor grill. A tractor warms up in the field. Up over the hillside entrance, dust trails behind cars with wide-eyed guests and curious minds.
A Grazing Life begins to unfurl.
Outside the farmhouse, Alejandro Sanchez shakes up a mixture of Axe and the Oak’s Peak Hill Shine Moonshine. He divvies out portions of a pink tincture to over fifty small glasses and they’re ushered away to eager guests.
Each Grazing Life meal is different, with drinks and local organic wine accenting each distinct course. The summer dinners gather local chefs like Brian Blasnek of Pizzeria Rustica, Jacob Cheatham, or the full experience of TILL Kitchen or the Broadmoor.
As the tractor pulls through the fields with a keg of beer in the back, rows of giddy patrons pass ales around, garnering visions of pastures, pigs and birds. They visit the open pastures, while rancher Mike Preisler stands among some social baby hogs explaining just how much care and concern this space offers its animals.
“The tour is almost always the highlight of the evening,” Mike says as the tractor rolls along, trying to keep ale from billowing out of his cup. “And that’s before you’ve had the best meal of your life.” While at the same time, chefs escape from the confines of their kitchen and deepen their connection with the ranch.
Fellow neighbors, distillers and brewers gather here, too. Like Tim Biolchini, who smiles at passersby as he offers his array of Sette Dolori wines. He shares hefty pours of his rich and dark 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon. The table of strangers revels in its smoky finish, beguiled by incoming scents from Jacob’s outdoor kitchen.
As the sun fades over the hillside, Jacob explains the course of events: eat, drink, and ease into conversation. He then sends off platters of herb roasted pork loin, smothered in a red Thai curry accompanied with homemade naan bread, summer squash and roasted vegetables towards the tent for a family style first course.
As the band begins to play from the front porch, Jacob prepps a quartered mojo chicken with Mexican street corn, spiced black beans and fresh tortillas. Alejandro and his team finish off another cocktail with Axe’s Incline Rye Whiskey.
Red ales from Pikes Peak Brewing continue to pour and splash over the rims of glasses. People talk to the brewer making the rounds, tasting the subtleties of this deep and ancient process. Some sip in solitude and simply appreciate the crisp and malty finish.
As if all this wasn’t enough, an array of sopaipillas with local Colorado honey appears with roasted pecans and a honeyed whipped cream. With a final round of local rose, a cool and clear wind fills the tent as the sun sets over the dignified firs towering over the pasture.
You see, there’s much more than grazing here. This is a passage through an agricultural revolution. A connection to the land and the beast and the bottle. Tender moments among old pine.
We’ve built a community of otherwise strangers.
So let us find some comfort there.
To learn more, please visit: http://www.agrazinglife.com/