The Flagstaff House aglow with Sunday night’s festivities
Boulder was named America’s Foodiest Town last year by Bon Appétit, and one of the top bicycle friendly cities in the world by Virgin Vacations. For this 12-year resident, road cyclist, and culinary aficionado, nothing has brought these two monikers to life better than this past weekend’s gala event at the Flagstaff House.
Celebrating 40 years in business, the landmark restaurant’s founding family, the Monettes, welcomed more than 160 guests on Sunday including ten of Boulder’s best chefs and Davis Phinney, a former Olympic cyclist and the first American to win a stage of the Tour de France. In case the connection between foodies and roadies wasn’t apparent, Phinney took the mike before the cake was cut and explained. “I got my start here, when I was 18, as a bus boy,” he said. “And I was probably the worst busser ever because all I really cared about was racing bikes and chasing girls.”
Flagstaff founder Don Monette concurred that Phinney was indeed awful. But that hasn’t diminished his affection for the most winning road cyclist in American history. Part of the evening’s festivities included a raffle for gift certificates to top Boulder restaurants, raising $7,500 for the Davis Phinney Foundation, which aims to improve the quality of life of people, like Phinney, living with Parkinson’s.
“It’s really a small community here,” said Phinney’s wife Connie Carpenter, an Olympic gold medalist in cycling. “We all support each other.”
Bradford Heap, one of the ten guest chefs, and the owner of Colterra and Salt, agrees. He offers discounts when cyclists roll in for Happy Hour at Colterra (located in Niwot on a popular road biking route) wearing their lycra kits, and typically bikes the ten miles between his two restaurants.
Because really, who is more motivated to support Boulder’s burgeoning gourmet food industry than those endurance athletes working up ravenous appetites biking (and running and swimming and hiking) all over town? Cycling burns 200 to 600 calories an hour, depending on whether you’re cruising on the bike path or climbing to Ward.
Plus, roadies gravitate toward the euro-style that dominates their sport, and that trickles over into food. They’re more likely to have the appreciation (and the appetite) for the gourmet, from fine wines to goat cheese to prosciutto. Consider the Phinney’s son Taylor, a professional cyclist, living and training in Italy. Mini Phinney will be back in Boulder next week for the first time since before he turned 21, and is looking forward to having a legal drink on his home turf. Admittedly, Taylor’s food and wine tastes are a bit more sophisticated than his cohorts over at CU (and don’t be surprised if he eats and drinks you under the table). His favorite food? Paccheri pasta in a chianina ragu with porcini mushrooms and grated truffles. His favorite wine is Podere Sapaio, from the Bolgheri region.
So ride on, Boulder, and keep consuming those calories you’ve so dutifully earned. Because we’ve got some of the best chefs in the country. And world-class family-owned restaurants like the Flagstaff House bringing us all together to celebrate their milestones in style.
If you missed the multi-course dinner extravaganza at the birthday gala, but still want to celebrate, head up Flagstaff Road (perhaps on your bike) around 6:00 p.m., any day of the week. Grab the cushy seat beside the fireplace in the bar and order a drink. Consider a cocktail made with peach brandy from Leopold Bros., a Denver distillery, or a glass of Cabernet Franc, the new varietal from award-winning Colterris Wines in Palisade. Be sure to ask if executive chef Mark Monette is in the kitchen, or if his brother Scott, the general manager, is on the floor, and raise your glass in appreciation. Maybe invite Taylor Phinney to join you.
Photographs by Steve Zdawczynski / steve-z.com