Last September I visited Idaho with a group of fellow journalists for the Sun Valley Harvest Festival. For a relatively new festival, I was struck by how well-organized it was and what a terrific time I had there. When the festival ended, we hopped on our bus to visit more of this spectacular state.
We left the river guide cooking demo and headed for Twin Falls with a stop at the Snake River where we were able to see where Evel Knievel made his ill-fated jump. We checked into the Red Lion and then left for the Clear Springs Trout Farm. We traveled along miles of pristine farmland until we reached Clear Springs where we were welcomed by President Larry Cope, Director of Research & Development Scott LaPatra and VP of Marketing Alan Kahn. To call Clear Springs impressive would be to do them a disservice. Located in Buhl, Idaho, just east of Twin Falls, this facility sees anywhere from five to ten million pounds of trout swimming at any given time. They raise 24 – 26 million pounds of fresh water Rainbow Trout annually which accounts for up to 75% of Idaho’s trout production. At Clear Springs, we got to see trout at every stage from hatchling to fully grown. They oversee every step of the process, manufacturing the feed to exacting standards and making sure the fish are kept healthy until harvested. Visitors won’t get the same tour we got, but there’s a wonderful self-guided tour with an underwater viewing pond and a picnic area.
We made our way to the home of Celia Gould, the Director of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. She and her husband greeted us as the sun was setting and we visited over a welcome cocktail garnished with fresh cantaloupe. Dean Fuller, Executive Chef at the Castle Ranch Steakhouse at The Boise Hotel, prepared a stunning array of food for us with the spotlight naturally on Idaho Beef. Hors d’oeuvres included Idaho caviar tacos, flank steak roll-ups and crab cakes. A gorgeous fresh green salad accompanied beef, salmon and corn and we enjoyed a poached pear topped with a chocolate and bacon covered potato chip for dessert. Idaho is truly a food lovers dream.
The next day we went to Boise for a walking tour, starting with a delicious lunch at a Tavola. No visit to Boise would be complete without a walk along Freak Alley, a couple of blocks where the buildings are spray painted from top to bottom with incredibly creative and colorful artwork. We stopped at the City Peanut Shop where you can find all things peanut. I even indulged my hot tooth with the unbelievably spicy ghost chile peanuts. We stopped next door at the Chocolat Bar and sampled their delicious fresh-made goodies. For dinner it was a reunion with Chef Dean at the Castle Ranch Steakhouse. Chef dazzled us again with Italian Boazi, Tandoori chicken skewers, osso buco and St. Louis style ribs. It was a fitting ending to a wonderful trip. Overnight at the funky and fun Modern Hotel, and then we were off. I am looking forward to my next visit to Idaho. There’s so much to see and do.