Some days I could just eat you up, Nevada.
For all your troubles and detractors, you’re still a delicious place to live. You just have to know where to shop.
On Independence Day, we pause briefly to remember our glorious Constitution and Founding Fathers, then we fire up the barbecue and find a shady place to relax and contemplate our many blessings.
It was during one of those reflective moments that it hit me: I need to plan a Nevada barbecue filled with some of the many homegrown treats the Silver State offers those with a full tank of gas and an adventurous spirit. And so my quest begins.
Now I realize it would be cheaper and easier to stock up at the local supermarket, or cut out the middle man entirely and hit one of the football-field-long resort buffets that send gorging tourists into caloric comas. But where’s the adventure in that?
This gastronomic journey starts in our own backyard with a trip to the Friday farmers’ market at the old downtown bus station. Once there, I know I’ll find locally grown chiles, tomatoes and greens in great abundance from family farms in Henderson, Logandale and Mesquite.
One tasty example is Rosalind and Randy Gibson’s Bloomin’ Desert Herb Farm in Henderson. The Gibsons grow 50 varieties of fragrant and tasty herbs and edible flowers.
A side trip to the legendary Gilcrease Ranch on the north end of the valley still produces truckloads of vegetables and fruit. Its apple juice is still some of the best I’ve ever tasted.
At the Cowboy Trail Farm, in season you can find almonds, apples, cabbage and cauliflower. You can even get brussels sprouts, but no one will make you eat them.
While I’m kicking around Clark County, I’ll take a side trip to Sandy Valley, where a couple of family farms produce the juiciest melons for many miles.
For fresh pork, there’s RC Farm, which once stood miles from North Las Vegas neighborhoods, but today feels like it’s in the middle of the city. If roasted pig isn’t your thing, the farm also sells goat and beef grown right in Southern Nevada.
That all-Nevada barbecue is taking shape, but I’m itching to get on the road.
Maybe I’ll head north to Yerington and stop at Carrol’s Corner Truck Farm, which has been growing and selling a wide variety of produce since 1947. Cantaloupe and garlic are two favorites, but Carrol’s has carrots, corn, cucumbers, summer squash, and onions, too. And it’s straight from the heart of Nevada.
Up in the Washoe Valley, there’s the Glorious Garlic Farm, a place I’ve not yet visited but won’t miss the next time I’m in the area. (It’s not far from Carson City, where I’ve heard a necklace of garlic helps keep state legislators from sucking your blood.)
In Minden, the Tuesday farmers’ market draws growers from throughout the area. It’s a great place to get acquainted with the bounty of Douglas County.
Over in Fallon, the Albaugh family ranch has been producing beef and lamb since 1946. The working cattle ranch welcomes visitors. (More information on some of these farms is available at nevadagrown.com.)
No barbecue is complete without the appropriate refreshments, and you’ll find some of the best beer in all Nevada in the Safford family’s Ruby Mountain Brewing Company on the Angel Creek Ranch in Clover Valley. The Wild West Hefeweizen and Angel Creek Amber Ale alone are worth the long drive north.
It might take me until the early fall to gather all the groceries, but I plan to make this the first of many all-Nevada barbecues.
I need to do a little traveling to complete my shopping list, but in the Silver State, getting there is half the fun.
John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/Smith