Finding NoCo’s culinary gems with Megan Bucholz.
FORT COLLINS HAS LONG BEEN KNOWN for fantastic local beers and microbreweries, but more recently that renown has spread to craft distilleries, specialty food shops, innovative restaurants and great coffee. It seems a shame to be out of the loop on any of it, but thanks to Local Table Tours, the brainchild of Megan Bucholz, you don’t have to be. It’s her mission to make the Northern Colorado food and drink scene available to the curious local, the new-to-towner, or the out-of-towner.
Bucholz started Local Table Tours six years ago after a conversation with a friend, and it is a marriage of all the things she loves—a great food and drink scene, educating patrons, and relationship-building with local restaurateurs and bartenders. However, she originally moved to Boulder to earn a masters degree in Educational Foundations, Policy, and Practice from CU—a very different path. Though she thought she would end up at some point working for the government creating educational policy, fate had other plans. Already a foodie and a blogger, Bucholz found Boulder and its culinary scene a kind of utopia, and when her friend suggested she start a company providing tasting tours, Bucholz called a lawyer the next day and her business was born.
“There is so much happening in Northern Colorado, it’s hard to keep up. But the most exciting concepts are in this area right now.”
Though Bucholz started her guided tasting tours in Boulder, she expanded to Denver shortly after. Currently she’s really excited about the Fort Collins scene, and she launched her business here last fall. “There is so much happening in Northern Colorado,” she says, “it’s hard to keep up. But the most exciting concepts are in this area right now.” She is referring to businesses like The Farmhouse, Rebel Popcorn, Bindle Coffee, Nuance Chocolate, The Waffle Lab and Mobb Mountain Distillery.
To create a tasting tour, Bucholz focuses on a theme, taking patrons to three to four locations over a two-hour period. The tour I joined her on one wintery day in December was her Cocktail Tasting Tour. We started at The Whisk(e)y in downtown Fort Collins where General Manager and bartender extraordinaire, Octavio, made us several taster cocktails built around bourbon. From there, we walked up the street to The Kitchen, where we were treated to a Cranberry Sauced, an Old Fashioned made with a cranberry reduction. We learned that the bartenders at The Kitchen are encouraged to create new drinks monthly, and the Sauced was one such creative effort. We finished our cocktail tasting tour at Mobb Mountain Distillery, where Noah made us a Manhattan with a smoky Mobb Rye. Each location offered us a behind-the-scenes view—history, fascinating facts, exciting new flavors.
Bucholz considers her work primarily one of relationships–with local businesses as well as with the people who join her tours. One goal she strives for is to take the intimidation factor out of the picture. “People may be interested in trying new cocktails, for instance, but they feel overwhelmed by the choices and they may not know much about a particular spirit—what it pairs with, how it’s created or what they are supposed to experience when they drink it,” she says. “For instance, you smell a whiskey differently than wine. With wine, you breathe in through your nose, but with whiskey, keep your mouth open on the inhale. You can overwhelm your sense of smell and miss some of the more subtle notes of the spirit otherwise.”
One of Bucholz’s favorite tours right now explores coffee, waffles and chocolate, which is a pretty divine combo. Patrons might learn how quality chocolate is created, or how to spot floral or citrus notes in a specialty coffee, and discover more about why chicken and waffles are so freaking fantastic together. Other tours focus on a particular location, like Jessup Farm, where members can get a behind-the-scenes look at The Farmhouse’s CSA and chicken coop, Bindle’s artisan coffee and in-house roasting operation and the Barrel House aged beer selection while sampling and sipping along the way.
Bucholz employs other tour operators, people who “love good food and are enthusiastic about teaching others about it.”
Her company has hosted bachelorette parties, curious locals and their out-of-town guests, and Fort Collins residents who want to explore Denver or Boulder food and drink scenes with an experienced guide. More and more, Bucholz is seeing Denver or Boulder customers head north to Fort Collins to experience all we have to offer here.
For a calendar of events and pricing, visit localtabletours.com or call Megan directly at 303-909-5747.
Wanna get out of town?
Tasting Tours Boulder: The Boulder Farmers’ Market tour, $45 per person, May-October. Let Megan guide you through the largest market in northern Colorado. She’ll teach you about the products sold and steer you towards some of her favorite farmers’ produce.
Tasting Tours Denver: Embark on a “Taste of Highlands,” the trendy neighborhood just west of downtown. Stops may include The Truffle Table, Colt and Grey, or Old Major.
Custom Tours: Let Megan plan your next anniversary celebration or team-building event at work. Is there a particular restaurant you’ve been dying to learn about? A cocktail trend you want to explore? Let Local Table Tours make the arrangements!