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Farm to Table Burgers

Have you ever wondered how that juicy burger gets from the farm to your table? If you shop at conventional grocery stores, the meat you use to make a burger has an extremely long journey with multiple steps in the processing, packaging and transporting processes. All that extra handling can affect the overall flavor and quality of your meat. Luckily, in Caldwell, farm to fork is a very short trip!

Rachel Johnson, Relocate 208 Realtor and creator of All Things Caldwell Facebook Page, recently visited Valli Hi Angus Ranch on the AgVenture Trail in Caldwell to learn more about the farm, then tasted the grass fed beef at farm to fork restaurant, Eight Twelve Main in downtown Caldwell.

Terrific Beef (and Burgers) in the Treasure Valley

It is truly a blessing to not only be able to share the local resources we have here in Caldwell, but also how important farm-to-fork dining really is. At Valli Hi Angus Ranch you get exactly that, “farm-to-table” beef and lamb raised right here in our backyards. If you are looking for high quality meat at a reasonable value, look no further!

 

To begin, I jumped at the opportunity to schedule a tour at Valli-Hi Angus Ranch. Little did I know it would become the highlight of my week! Meeting with Valli Hi Angus Ranch owners Bill Jenkins, his wife Candy, and their oldest daughter Chelsea (along with two of her six children) was an honor and they were all such a pleasure to speak with. They were warm and inviting and treated me like family. I had a blast! My husband accompanied me and was equally as impressed with the time they took out of their day (and work!) to show us around and answer our questions. It was obvious to us both the level of dedication and hard work that is evident in how they treat and maintain their cattle.  Their transparency about how they raise beef speaks volumes about their integrity.

Before I elaborate further, I must share that prior to heading out to Valli Hi Angus Ranch, we decided that a stop at Eight Twelve Main restaurant (in downtown Caldwell) was in order. This isn’t just your typical Burger & Brews Diner; this locally owned restaurant proudly serves locally sourced beef. From where you might ask? Well you probably guessed it, no other than Valli Hi Angus Ranch!  We were hungry, and what better way to get into the right frame of mind when touring a Black Angus ranch than downing a mouthwatering, double-patty cheeseburger?  Makes perfect sense. All jokes aside, there is no better time than the present to support your local economy. The fact this new business linked arms with a local beef provider certainly garnered my attention and support. I appreciate how dedicated Eight Twelve Main is in making all their burgers from Valli Hi Angus Beef and in the words of my husband...

They are “juicy and charred to perfection.”

As we arrived at the ranch, we found the peaceful country setting to be refreshing and a nice change of pace from our everyday life in “town.” In addition to lush, green pastures, the views of Lake Lowell and the surrounding valley offer beauty and serenity to all who visit. There was no doubt in my mind that the grazing herds enjoying the wide-open pastures were just as happy to be there as us.

How can I forget the friendly little bottle-fed pet lamb who was so eager to follow us around? And much to my surprise I was even able to feed this little lamb. What makes this even more special is the meaning of my name, Rachel, is “little lamb,” and now I have a photo feeding one. Already this place stole my heart! The ranch includes the addition of sheep, miniature horses, and chickens that were added to the farm for grandchildren to enjoy. They currently have twelve baby lambs.

I so appreciated the conversations I shared with the Jenkins family, whose roots run deep in our community. This family-owned-and-operated ranch was established in 1960 with hard work and diligence that holds true in their business today. Although it seems they owe it all to their daughter Chelsea. Just 2 years ago, she and her father Bill, were talking of the population growth happening so quickly here in the Treasure Valley. Bill asked her, “what do I have that I could sell to all these people?”  Chelsea responded, “Well dad… we have grass fed beef?”

And it appears the rest is history

The effects of Covid haven’t slowed their business. They are busier than ever and are keeping wait lists on meat that typically would be available on their freezer shelves (there is always a wait list for Tri-tip & Ribeye).  Their butcher is also busier than ever trying to keep up with local demand. But as long as the butcher stays open Valli-Hi will have new meat coming in each week.  Check in with the Valli-Hi Angus Beef website for beef and lamb availability, if there is something you’d like that is “sold out” give them a call or text to be put on their wait list, and make sure to sign up for their newsletter.  It’s worth the wait for great tasting beef!

 If you haven’t yet, you’ve got to give Valli Hi Angus Ranch a chance at earning your business! I hope this encourages you to make an order and pay a visit for “barn-side pickup” at their store.  When you purchase their meat, you can be assured in knowing “WHAT” you are buying!

When it comes to wines from Idaho, there are so many choices! When someone asks us for a recommendation of what to drink, it's hard to suggest something because the choices of award-winning wines is endless! Plus, wine is a personal thing. Just like chocolate, most people like it, but some prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate. However, one thing everyone can agree on, during the summer you can get beautiful, light, crisp white wines on the Sunnyslope Wine Trail located just 30 minutes from Boise, Idaho. Below, Idaho Wine Ambassador, Jim Thomssen, shares his favorite summer varietals unique to Idaho's Wine Country.

Must-Try Idaho White Wines

I was recently asked to pick my three favorite white wines from the Caldwell, but I know what I love might not be something that you do. So, instead of recommending a specific bottle of wine I am going to recommend some varietals that are perfect for summer and can be found right here in Idaho. Buying close to the source is always a good thing since it gives direct support to the growers and winemakers, so go out and find some new favorites in Idaho Wine Country. Here are some fun, lighter wines to look for on your vacation to the Snake River and Sunnyslope wine region.

Alvarinho

Originally from Portugal and Spain (where it’s called Albarino) this grape has been planted in Idaho during the past few years, and it's thriving in our terroir! It produces a high acid, full-bodied wine with citrus and fresh fruit flavors. It usually has a bright smooth finish and may even be a bit effervescent when you first pull the cork. It’s a great substitute for un-oaked Chardonnays. Viscaya Winery, Fujishin Family Cellars and Sawtooth Estate Winery all have great Alvarinhos available.

Viognier

This is a more “Fruit Forward” wine with some classic peach and apricot notes in the flavor profile. Genetically this is a cousin of the more well known Nebbiolo varietal that produces lighter, more earthy red wines. Viognier is present many of the white wine blends from the Sunnyslope area such as Bitner Vineyard's High Desert White. Served chilled, it’s another great way to beat the summer heat. Koenig Vineyards, Indian Creek Winery and Williamson Vineyards have great single varietal Viogniers on hand for you to try on your next wine tasting outing.

Muscat

Muscat, also known as Muscato, is an ancient grape known as one of the only varietals to produce wine that actually tastes like grapes! First grown in the Mediterranean region it’s no surprise they do well in Idaho! The Snake River AVA is located is in one of the “Wine Belts” that circle the globe.  Look at the upper belt in the graphic and you'll see Idaho is on the same latitude as many “Old World” wine regions such as Italy. The wines crafted from Muscat can be bone dry or incredibly sweet depending on the winemaker's treatment, but they are all good. The Moscatos from Idaho are not your Grandparents’ Muscatel and definitely worth a second look. Hat Ranch Winery, Indian Creek Winery and Sawtooth Estate Vineyards all produce excellent wines from the Muscat grape.

While I do have my favorite go-to white wines for summer, I encourage you to try something new and find your own favorite. With options all across the Sunnyslope Wine Trail it’s easy to make new friends and find new wines. Download the Sunnyslope Wine Trail Map Brochure today and get out and explore what our great soil, weather and farmers have blessed us with!

The Idaho Wine Ambassador
© 2020 Jim Thomssen

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