For about 4 years, my friend Barbara Sidway has been trying to get me to come and participate in the Taste of Baker, and now I know why!
The town closes its main street and lines up 34 food vendors / restaurants, to serve a “one bite” to the patrons who buts tokens for $1. So the plan was set and I am going to be the guest chef for the Geiser Grand Hotel. I decide to serve Tri Tip with Chimichurri and a Brown Butter Brown Sugar Grilled peach, topped with my “world famous” Huckleberry Peanut Butter BBQ sauce.
So with my books, hats for sale, and a trusty assistant from the Hotel , Josh, we sell out within the first hour, as the lines were sometimes 25 long waiting to get my bites. Adding to the angst, I had to let the Tri Tip rest for 10 minutes each time. The people of Baker were very kind having an outsider participate in their flagship community event, really personifying the “main street America” feel the whole town has.
In the middle of all this, Barbara and her head chef Eric and I decide that we would like to do a Wild Chef inspired dinner at the Hotel. Wild game like Boar and Elk have been chosen ads the main proteins. It will be epic and we are expecting about 250 people. Stay Tuned for the details! Its nice to be recognized for my Food Network experience, as people were curious and telling me I’m kind of a big deal. But please, I know that, you don’t have to tell me (I’ll tell you)!
On any given day, spring, summer, winter or fall, there are many things to do in Idaho. And the great thing about our great outdoors, is that the fortune-none can play just as hard as the Fortune 100. The outdoors is almost free, and if you know where to go and what to expect, you can experience everything that Idaho has to offer with your champagne tastes and beer-budget.
One of my favorite things to do in Idaho is to day hike or backpack into the Smoky Mountains near Ketchum, Idaho. Now the Smoky Mountains most are familiar with are filled with banjos and coal dust, but here, they are filled with Subaru’s and Patagonia t-shirts. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy everything they have to offer (heck, I made it up there in my trail-modified sedan, i.e., I have hit some rocks and it’s got more ground clearance than it had before.)
Whether it be for a backpacking, fly fishing, or just a day hike, it’s not too far from Boise and offers a lot of amenities along the way. Just approximately a 3 hour drive from the City of Trees, and you can arrive at the trail head at Baker Lake, the Smoky Mountains. It’s even got a bathroom at the base, in case you brought your mother-in-law or a wilderness-shy four year old girl packing a Barbie doll. It’s an easy 2 miles with a 1000′ gain. At the end of the trail you are rewarded with one of the prettiest lakes and peak that serves as a backdrop, which also happens to be the name of the peak, Backdrop Peak.
Glacial-fed water is there to filter with your Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter, or cast your favorite fly to secure your 2 trout daily limit. Also on your way to the trail-head, you run through Ketchum Idaho. It has all the amenities that you need and may have forgotten, or if you just want to feel bougie and buy socks made out of angel’s peach fuzz (organic, of course).
My stop on this day was to get something that was forgotten, that led me to a couple that was looking at freeze dried food, so I suggested Alpine Aire for their meal, and they happily grabbed up the packets that I suggested. Always like to see folks upping their game when they are out on the trail, and seeing their eyes get big when they realize how easy it is to do! The staff at Backwoods Mountain Sports are incredible, you can tell they really know their stuff, and care about the experience you’re going to have when you get out there.
At the end of your venture as you exit the Wood River Valley, you can arrive at the Snow Bunny drive-in in Hailey, Idaho. Next to the airport, you can get back all those calories you lost hiking up to Baker Lake, by indulging in their great burgers, fries and milkshakes.
Another great spot to stop on your way up to Ketchum from Boise, is Picabo Angler, in Picabo, Idaho. If you have time either on your way to this adventure or on your way home and fly fishing is your thing, please stop! (short 10 mile detour) this is one of the greatest fly shops that we have in our great state, and you could spend an hour just looking around.