My first stop was Frasca Food and Wine, the city's most widely acclaimed restaurant. At this James Beard-winning restaurant, co-owners chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and sommelier Bobby Stuckey offer diners their take on the cuisine from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy. The recently remodeled space felt traditional and modern at the same time and boasted an exhaustive wine cellar for a wall.
But it was the restaurant's rare 1930s Berkel hand-slicer, which cuts thin-as-air salumi slices without the heat and friction of a modern machine, that dominated my attention. So did the exhaustive and thorough wine list, the king salmon crudo with capers and fennel, and a single plump raviolo, filled with house-cured halibut. I was most astounded, however, by the thoughtful service. "Thank you for joining us from out of town," Bobby said to us, as he welcomed us warmly with a glass of Vermentino on the house.
The next day, I headed to the town's main Saturday morning attraction: the Boulder County Farmers' Market. It's nearly a block in length and jostling with vendors, eager shoppers, and park dwellers seeking respite from the heat. Among the rows of vendors — Cure Organic Farm, Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy — I spotted flowers, corn, and peaches, along with local hummus, Mexican paletas, and Salvadoran pupusas made to order.
I meandered along the town's main drag, Pearl Street, dropping into the Penzeys Spices store and stopping to watch singers, musicians, dancers, and other street performers.
Along the way, I popped into The Kitchen, a self-described "community bistro." The established eatery, which features a dining room, an upstairs bar, and a casual café next door, is known for its farm-to-table cooking. Chef Hugo Matheson uses local purveyors to create simple, vibrant food, like an oh-so-sumptuous tomato soup. Matheson, a UK native, pays homage to his background with classic English items that are dotted throughout the menu, like the kedgeree I enjoyed for brunch.
Dinner was accounted for thanks to a wedding, but the next morning, I made my way to The Buff. Eating "in the Buff," locals say, is a quintessential Boulder experience. It was the only diner I'd ever been to that offered oat bran griddle cakes and soy milk with my coffee. As I scanned the breakfast options (chorizo breakfast tacos or bacon-filled pancakes, anyone?), my appetite grew. Luckily, The Buff had the portions to match it.
My cue to leave came thanks to a cheerful uproar from the kids next to me, one of whom was celebrating her ability to buy one of the restaurant's 99-cent mimosas for the first time. I looked around and realized that I was the oldest patron in the house. Thank goodness I had the vibrant, local food scene to help me feel young.