Gourmet Ranch

Riding the range, wrangling cattle, sleeping under the stars, cooking steak and beans over a roaring campfire. The life of a cowboy sounds intriguing. 

Yet, wouldn’t it be better if you could ride the trails with a guide, enjoy a massage by the river, dine on gourmet cuisine paired with wine from an award-winning cellar, and sleep in a king-sized bed piled with fluffy layers of downy duvets?

Thought so.

At Smith Fork Ranch in Crawford, Colo., you can channel your inner cowboy without roughing it. The property is part of a new crop of ranches that are elevating the classic dude ranch experience with luxurious amenities, attentive service, and thoughtfully prepared gourmet cuisine by celebrated chefs.

Guests of the intimate 285-acre Smith Fork Ranch, hunker down in historic log houses and cabins furnished with antiques, Native American arts and crafts, and the comforts of homemade soaps, plush robes, and Wi-Fi.

The all-inclusive experience lets guests choose daily activities such as guided horseback rides along trails on the ranch and within the surrounding Gunnison National Forest, fly fishing along a private three-mile stretch of river, and road biking through nearby orchards and vineyards.

Hiking, mountain biking, and sporting clays are also de rigueur activities at the ranch along with cooking classes with executive chef Seth Bateman and gathering eggs and working in the organic garden with resident farmer Alma Roberts.

The culinary focus at Smith Fork Ranch is cultivated by its location in the North Fork Valley. The area, often referred to as the Provence of Colorado, is a hub for local farms, many which supply notable restaurants in the nearby resort towns of Aspen and Telluride.

Ranch guests enjoy gourmet, farm-to-table cuisine prepared by Bateman along with wines from a cellar stocked with a variety of worldly selections.

The California Culinary Academy trained Bateman is no stranger to farm-to-table cuisine. He served as chef at Meadowood in Napa, The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, and Terra Luna on Cape Cod.

Bateman sources meats and fresh produce from North Fork Valley farms and from Smith Fork Ranch’s organic farmstead garden. “We promise our guests farm to table and we deliver it,” says Bateman. The chef’s close relationship with farmers allows him to see what is being grown. “It’s more interesting, more hands on, than having a mystery box showing up at the back door.”

For guests, Bateman’s experience translates to a culinary nirvana. Breakfasts showcase local eggs and bacon cured in house. Lunches are picnic baskets packed with house-cured pastrami and salads. Dinners are three or four-course affairs highlighting the freshest product available. “Our food is straightforward,” he says. “We use fresh product, so you taste the vegetables at their peak.”

Along with the ranch and wilderness experiences, the farm to table aspect is important to guests, says Bateman. “They get the chance to enjoy produce from the area that they are exploring–it gives them a better sense of ranch life.”

America’s Cup: Sailing and Regaling By The Bay

 

From September 7th through September 14th, San Francisco will host the 34th annual America’s Cup, the world’s oldest and most prestigious sailing event. The race, which is back in the USA for the first time since 1995, is not only a grand test of athleticism, sailing prowess and nautical design, but also in fund-raising and management skills. Indeed, the second week of September will draw many of the world’s Olympic sailors, top yacht designers, entrepreneurs and sponsors to the city by the bay.

 

The America’s Cup races are steeped in history, dating back to the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Annual Regatta around the Isle of Wight in 1851. An unusual looking Schooner named America, owned by the fledgling New York Yacht Club (NYYC), unexpectedly emerged from the mist, surpassed all 15 yachts of the Royal Yacht Squadron and came out to win the trophy. The trophy was later renamed America’s Cup and since the 1850s, has been held in trust as a perpetual challenge trophy to promote friendly competition among sailing nations.

 

The 2013 America’s Cup pits Oracle Team USA against challenger Emirates Team New Zealand, who clinched the Louis Vuitton challenger series 7-1,  in what will undoubtedly be a close and exciting match. This year’s competition will be raced in AC72 wing-sail catamarans, newly designed vessels that have the ability to hydrofoil. This means that when the boat reaches a certain speed, both hulls will clear the water and spectators will see the boats literally “fly” across the water at points during the races.

 

 

 

 

Check out the race schedule and grab tickets for top viewing spots like the rooftop at Pier 39. For a more high-brow experience, sip on Moet Chandon Imperial and nibble on Dungeness Crab bites with the “Smooth Sailing” package at the famous “Top of the Mark” atop the Mark Hopkins Hotel in Nob Hill. 

 

If your loyalties lie Kiwi-side, head to Waiheke Island Yacht Club off Pier 29 where restaurateur Tony Stewart has launched a pop-up restaurant serving New Zealand fair or Waterbar, featuring Cloudy Bay clams—Diamond Shell, Storm Clam, Tua Tua and the Moon Shell—flown in fresh each day from NZ.

 

 

 

Waiheke Island Yacht Club

 

If you prefer to catch the action from the water’s edge, shoreline viewing tickets ($25) are also available, though you don’t necessarily need to be at the waterfront to see the race. Enjoying the good wine and good company while viewing the race from a friend’s rooftop in Pacific Heights, Russian Hill or Nob Hill is a smart way to avoid the crowds.

 

Muir Woods

America’s Cup is certainly not the only draw to San Francisco in the early fall. Across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County is Muir Woods National Monument — a hiking mecca. Pick from a number of trailways, but to work up a healthy sweat take Steep Ravine for a long, challenging trek toward the ocean cliffs. Seven miles of fresh pine smelling air, the inviting and protective shadows of enormous redwoods, and no humidity acts like a full body elixir—and the Pacific views at the end is icing on the cake. After your forest adventure, rest at nearby Muir Beach and watch the sun set.

 

Muir Woods Trails

 

Rich Table

San Francisco is also a mecca for locavores. Most restaurants in San Francisco tout their local and organic ingredients and have plenty of choices for all discerning palates—herbivore or carnivore. Rich Table – a cozy, rustic spot particularly stands out among the farm-to-table set. Entrée offerings here change regularly, but a few sides and small dishes are must-try mainstays. Among them are the porcini mushrooms – savory and croissant-textured muffins infused with mushroom flavor. Also among them are surprisingly, the beets, though it’s a bit tough at first to eat this work of art. Rich burgundy beets juxtaposed against beaming yellow sunflower petals in a perfectly round dish is first a delight to the eyes and then a treat for the palette. You may be overcome with the urge to Instagram.

 

Rich Table

 

Park Tavern 

 For brunch, head to Park Tavern with a group and be sure to start with Spicy Bloody Mary’s, Avocado Bread and Nut Butters. For entrees, the Deviled Egg sandwich is absolutely delicious while the Fluffy Buttermilk pancakes and decadent French toast are the perfect cure for last night’s indulgences.

 

Park Tavern

 

Presidio Social Club

 

Presidio Social Club

Getting back to the sailing theme, the Presidio Social Club, in the historic Presdio near Golden Gate Bridge, is getting in “the spirit” with nautical libations and bar bites in honor of the America’s Cup. The specialty menu appropriately features Rum, with drinks like the Pitti Punch, a cocktail straight from Antigua Race Week made with Mt. Gay Black Barrel Rum, sugar, and lime juice, a Bumbo, a mixture of Flor de Cana rum, nutmeg syrup, and coconut water served chilled and up, or the post-race classic Sail Reefer, a shot of Mt. Gay Rum and a Red Stripe Beer. Built in a 1903 military barracks in San Francisco’s Presidio National Park, the Social Club may not boast great Cup views, but it’s close enough to the water to have become a popular post-sailing hangout.