My friend Susan, from Victor, Idaho, is a wonderful cook and a gifted forager. Farm fresh eggs? She knows a farm with an honor system for buying eggs. Fresh-pressed olive oil delivered straight to your door? She'll give you Joe's email address. Handmade butter, cheese and yogurt? Susan knows a milkmaid. (Susan is also a gifted photographer; many of these photos are hers.)
Susan and I hatched a plan to visit as many foodie hotspots in Teton Valley, Idaho as we could hit in a day. Teton Valley, Idaho is the community just on the other side of the mountains from Jackson Hole. We call them the "Backside" of the Tetons; they call us the "Dark Side". We have powder skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort; they have even more powder and less people skiing at Grand Targhee.
We have lots of fancy restaurants here in Jackson, and wonderful purveyors of fine food. But what I found in Teton Valley was an exciting grass-roots community of artisan farmers, bakers, and cheesemakers, who take enormous care and pride in their products.
Not to mention Idaho's only organic mushroom farmer Tye Tilt. It will take an entire post to properly describe his Mountain Valley Mushroom operation.
First stop: Snowdrift Farm in VIctor to gather some fresh eggs. Dairy farmers Georgie, Sue and Erika were out when we stopped by, so it looked like the animals were in charge.
This cat was in charge of the barn and the eggs.
The cats, the goats, the pigs, the cows, and the chickens were all having a wonderful day in the cold November sun.
This fine young hen was definitely in charge of the chicken coop.
Happy chickens foraging in and around their hippie coop.
Inside the hippie coop, we tried to find even more eggs.
Susan buying eggs the old-fashioned way, by leaving some money in the coffee can.
Snowdrift Farm eggs inspired me to make some gnocchi. I was dazzled by their volume and deep orange color.
To get to Snowdrift Farm: When you get to Victor, take a left on Highway 31. When you see the Victor Valley Veterinary Clinic on the right, go left on 2000 West. Look for the small Snowdrift Farm sign on the left and take the dirt road to the left. Head up to the barn.
Next stop: 460 Bread in Driggs. Owner/baker Jared Pfeffer gave us a tour of his immaculate, bright bakery, named for the temperature inside his huge ovens.
Jared, a self-professed 'bread geek' uses this paddle to move his fresh loaves around.
If you live on the Jackson side of the Tetons, you may not have discovered 460 Bread. Jared and his staff grind their own flour and kamut from local wheat farmers. Country white, multigrain, ciabatta, walnut cranberry, French-style baguette, and olive thyme; I've tried them all and I'm smitten. I am especially addicted to the Olive Thyme bread smeared with a soft fresh cheese, or topped with tomatoes, basil, and olive oil.
Jared is passionate about his craft. He explained why his crusts are so crispy but not too thick (it's the oven humidity). He discussed his continuing education on breadmaking in San Francisco, and the different types of yeast. He invited us to come back when the real action happens, at 6 am when the loaves go into the oven.
For now, you can only get 460 Bread at local stores in Teton Valley, such as the VIctor Valley Market, and Barrels and Bins in Driggs. Jared has plans to bring his bread over the hill to Jackson soon.
Lauren is one of the talented breadmakers at 460 Bread.
If you are driving through Driggs, be sure to stop at the 460 Bread
shop. Just take a right on Johnson Avenue before you get to town; you'll see their sign. They also sell TCHO organic chocolates, estate-grown organic olive oil, and 10 year-old balsamic vinegar.
Susan and I loaded up on loaves of 460 bread (it freezes well) and headed to our next foodie stop: Teton Valley Creamery.
Teton Valley Creamery is located in downtown Driggs, Idaho on 80 N. Main St., just past the Corner Drugstore on the left. Cheesemaker Kristopher Malling uses raw milk from a farm just a few miles down the road to craft his gelato, cheese curds, and soon, artisan cheeses.
Grace was there the day we stopped by, and was happy to show us their immaculately beautiful creamery. I wish you could see Grace's big rubber boots.
Even on a cold day in November, the craving for gelato is hard to ignore. Especially handmade raw milk gelato with flavors like huckleberry, strawberry, raspberry, dulce la leche, and mint.
I settled on a pint of Dulce le Leche and a pint of Pendl's cappucino (stashed in the back freezer) to take home to the kids. My kids adore coffee ice cream.
Cheese curds, an addictive snack.
Grace explained that the cheese curds are the youngest form of cheese. My favorite flavor is garlic and herb, which I love to have for breakfast with scrambled eggs and toast.
Then Grace took us into the back of the Creamery, where the young cheeses are maturing. Like a neonatal nurse doting over her charges, Grace explained that these babies wouldn't be ready for a few more months.
Cheesemaking at Teton Valley Creamery
I'll check in with Grace and Kristopher in a few months, to learn more about when we can sample the fresh cheeses. For now, stop in and get some gelato and cheese curds.
Teton Valley Creamery, 80 North Main St., Driggs, Idaho.
By the way, if you go to the Creamery, be sure to stop into the little house directly behind the alley. Locals know and love Pendl's Bakery and Cafe
), but many Jacksonites have not yet found this Austrian pastry shop. Susan and I ducked in for a hearty bowl of lentil vegetable soup, and some chat with the locals. I couldn't resist bringing home a box of pastries: WItches' Tits, Florentiner, Nussknacker (hazelnuts, almonds, dark chocolate and a cookie crust), and Zigeuners. Pendl's is a dangerous place for a sweet tooth like mine.
Last but not least, we headed west on Bates Rd. until we got to Tye Tilt's Mountain Valley Mushroom farm.
Susan and I were awed and amazed at Tye's mushroom operation, from the sleek laboratory where the mycelium spores are bred in a Petri dish, to the organic wood chip logs on which they are inoculated, to the growth and harvest of pearl oyster and shiitake mushrooms that we buy at our local grocery store, or are served in the best restaurants.
I promise more, much more, on Tye's mushrooms, and a few of the recipes they inspired.
While over at Tye's place, we ran into Derek Ellis, who was making custom sausage. We were impressed with the care a friend's deer was being processed (congratulations Jeff K.) in the makeshift game processing workshop.
Derek and his associate are enthusiastic about making gourmet sausages out of game meat. After seeing how skillfully they handle meat, I immediately vowed to bring them some pheasant and big horn sheep for some sausage experiments. I'll let you know how that turns out. If it is as good as their recent recipe for duck sausage, it will be good enough to give away as Christmas presents.
After chatting with Derek, I decided that I need a meat grinder, although a smaller one will do just fine.
Duck sausage hanging in the meat locker, makes me feel like I'm in Italy.
Teton Valley, Idaho: foodie contacts
in Victor, Idaho. Go West on Highway 31, left on 2000 W. In addition to the freshest eggs and happiest chickens, the farm harvests pork products, vegetables, and cut flowers.460 Bread
in Driggs, Idaho. Take Highway 33 to Driggs, and go right on Johnson Avenue, a half-mile south of the only stoplight in town. 460bread.com
. (208) 354-0460.Pendl's Bakery and Cafe
in Driggs, Idaho. Tucked behind the Teton Valley Creamery that is on Main Street, you'll find Pendl's at 40 Depot Street. pendlspastries.com
, (208) 354-5623.Teton Valley Creamery
in Driggs, Idaho. 80 North Main St. in downtown Driggs. (208) 354-0404.Table Rock Custom Meats
in Driggs, Idaho. Give Derek Ellis a call if you need custom sausage, game processing, and meat cut to order. (208) 821-0889.Bell Cow Creamery
in Tetonia, Idaho. Blaire Kribs is Susan's milkmaid connection (Blaire's business card actually says "milkmaid"). Blaire makes fresh butter, ricotta cheese, Greeek-style yogurt and more. You can reach her at (208) 709-8114 or on Facebook: Bell Cow Creamery. When I last saw Blaire at the Driggs Farmers' Market she was planning to deliver orders to Driggs on Friday mornings. Her ricotta is stupendous. Joe Quiroz
actually lives in Lander, WY, but he can get estate-grown olive oil delivered to your door. The Arbequina olive oil tastes like it's from Italy, but it is grown in the Italian tradition in California by friends of Joe's. It was a happy day for me when my 2.5 gallon jug of Arbequina olive oil arrived. I can no longer complain about the lack of good olive oil around here. To contact Joe, email him at email@example.com
, and check out the olive producers at californiaoliveranch.com
. Joe is currently taking orders for the Olio Nuevo, or unfiltered olive oil, that will soon be pressed.