Recently, Taos chef Wilkes Medley was in a quandary in the kitchen of the restaurant he and pastry chef and wife Collen own (Medley. in El Prado.) He pondered as he paced, "What could I whip up" for the upcoming Taos Ski Valley Bacon and Brews Festival Saturday (July 7) from noon to 4 p.m.?
He said the idea hit him hard and fast midstride. "I'm making cookies this year! Brown butter, dark chocolate chip and bacon cookies with a pinch of sea salt!"
He said his restaurant already uses an apple bacon jam on a succulent pork chop dish, so cookies (of course) were a logical next step. These sweet and savory nuggets of delight make their debut at the festival, and they are all original from Medley's recipe laboratory.
The festival that celebrates bacon and hops sizzles into a high alpine party mode with the cool breezes of the Sangre de Cristo mountains setting the stage. It all happens at the resort plaza in TSV. and Live music will play all afternoon although the main event is craft beer from an eye-popping lineup of regional breweries and succulent bacon-themed noshes prepared by a bevy of experienced chefs from local restaurants.
The eateries heating up their griddles include 192, Medley, The Sagebrush Grill, Rhoda's and The Bavarian. Participating hops wizards include New Belgium Brewery, Sierra Nevada Brewing, La Cumbre Brewing Company, Marble Brewer, and others from around the region.
Chefs and cicerones (hospitality professionals with experience selecting and serving beers) will mingle and extol the virtues of bacon and beer. Organizers intend the festival to celebrate both bacon and beer with the clear possibility that you may find an intriguing pairing of a hoppy India pale ale, a milky stout or dry pilsner with a salty-sweet piquant palate pleaser.
Kaela Gillum, events manager at TSV, is the mover and shaker behind the annual event. "We are excited to host the second annual Bacon and Brews in the Ski Valley this July," she said. "Last year was such a success and we are excited to build off that momentum and hold an even better celebration this year. There is nothing better than an afternoon filled with great food and beer with your friends."
Gillum said the idea came about from previous Brewmaster Festivals. "Our winter Brewmaster's Festival has been going on for over 20 years, and I thought it was about time to bring a beer festival to the Ski Valley in the summer. Sometimes, an event concept comes to life on its own."
They expect the attendance to be over 100. The organizers hope locals will find respite from the heat and smoke in the cool mountains. Skylar Kraatz, public relations and social coordinator, said the festival will happen even though the hiking and public access in the area are restricted because of local wildfires.
Chef Mark May representing Rhoda's restaurant said, "Gabe Farkash of the Bavarian, Patrick Gharrity of 192 and I are very excited to each be putting on a presentation relating to each of our restaurants again this year. Bacon and beer are a natural pair for even the most discerning palate. The flavors of salt, smoke, sweetness, hops and wheat all lend themselves perfectly to pairing in countless ways. All three of us have decades of experience in the Southwest and love applying a bit of that spin in our creations in this beautiful alpine setting. Everyone enjoys a break from the summer heat with a cold beer and an array of clever crisp bacon treats. What a great way to pass the afternoon."
Smithfield Foods, the 80-tear-old Virginia-based meat processor, is providing the bacon for the event. They are the largest pig and pork producer in the world, and they donate on a large scale to community food banks. In Taos, the company has made generous donations to "No Kid Hungry" program, a national campaign run by Share Our Strength, a nonprofit working to solve problems of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.
Tickets can be purchased in advance for $30 at SkiTaos.com/events through Friday (July 6) at 11 p.m. Day of tickets will be available for $35.
Each full-entry admission includes a commemorative event tasting glass, beer sampling and food tastings. These tickets are available for adults age 21 and over. A food-only entry is also available for $15 in advance online or $20 on the day of event.
The Blake is offering a sweet package deal for Bacon and Beer revelers with a lodging discount included with event admission. To book, call Taos Central Reservations at (800) 776-1111 or visit SkiTaos.com. The package is based on double occupancy and subject to taxes and fees.