Head to the Sun Valley area on Oct. 5-9 for the 20th annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival, which celebrates the storied sheep industry in Idaho with five days of cultural and food events.
The festival is broken up into a multitude of separate events held at locations around Ketchum and Hailey.
The Wool Fest classes and workshops aim to educate people about working with wool. Learn how to make a Sawtooth Mountains knitted scarf, felted soap and more. Other events include the sheep-dog trials, farm-to-table dinners and cooking classes.
On Oct. 7, some of the best restaurants in Ketchum will be putting out inventive lamb noshes during the “For the Love of Lamb” event. Starting at 4:30 p.m., you can take a tour of the restaurants and vote on your favorite dish. Participating restaurants include Enoteca (wild rice and lamb meatball), Vintage Restaurant (Indian lamb curry), The Sawtooth Club (lamb sandwich), Cornerstone Bar and Grill (lamb rillete on polenta), Cristina’s Restaurant (lamb chili) and Warfield Distillery and Brewery (lamb porchetta).
On Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., check out the Sheep Folklife Fair at Roberta McKercher Park in Hailey. Here, you will find a large display of Basque sheep wagons, sheep-shearing demonstrations, a quilt show, and lots of regional and local artisans hawking their wares. And, of course, there will be plenty of food and Basque and Peruvian music and dancing.
Let’s not forget the Big Sheep Parade (no dogs, please!) at noon on Oct. 9, when 1,500 sheep get herded down Ketchum’s Main Street on their way back from the high country to their winter pastures. The Wood River Sustainability Center is putting on a parade picnic at Irving’s Hill (4th and Main streets) in Ketchum from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Expect to find lamb gyros and Italian hoagie sandwiches, in addition to plenty of beer and wine (from Sawtooth Winery) to wash everything down.
To see a full schedule of events, visit trailingofthesheep.org.
Esta in Ketchum has been reinvented
Longtime Ketchum resident Esta Hornstein recently reopened her popular breakfast and lunch eatery after a 10-year break from the restaurant industry.
Some of you may remember Esta when it was on Main Street in Downtown Ketchum near the Magic Lantern Cinema. It’s hard to forget Hornstein’s delicious Kosher cuisine, especially her corned beef hash and matzo ball soup.
Esta’s new location is at Club 511 (511 Leadville Ave.), and it’s open for breakfast and lunch 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Expect to find the same great East Coast-inspired dishes as before, with several new Southwestern items thrown in for good measure.
Breakfast offerings include corned beef hash and eggs, a bagel with lox and cream cheese, challah French toast, Mexican potatoes and huevos rancheros, to name a few.
During lunch, it’s all about fat sandwiches, including a corned beef Reuben, roasted turkey Reuben and more — all served with a choice of spud salad, coleslaw or crispy potato latkes. Diners can also score chopped chicken liver, a black bean burger and a Cuban sandwich.
Tasty McCall hotel packages
This is a good time of year to head to Payette Lake if you don’t like crowds and enjoy watching the leaves on the deciduous trees turn a patchwork of colors.
It’s also a good time for food lovers to check out what’s going on in McCall’s dining scene thanks to the food-focused package deals offered by Shore Lodge and Hotel McCall.
Shore Lodge (shorelodge.com) features an ongoing Foodies Furlough package that includes a four-course dinner at The Narrows restaurant and accommodations at the beautiful lakeside lodge. The package deal starts at $289 per night for double occupancy. For reservations, call 800-657-6464.
Hotel McCall (hotelmccall.com) offers a Gourmet Getaway package that includes lodging and a $75 voucher for the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant. Make a reservation for dinner at Rupert’s, where you can taste chef Gary Kucy’s inventive seasonal offerings. His menus are pocked with locally produced proteins such as local venison and elk, and hand-foraged foodstuffs.
The package deal (starting at $189, double occupancy) runs from Oct. 3-Dec.1, with the exception of Oct. 31-Nov. 10 when the restaurant is closed for fall break.
For reservations, call 208-634-8105.
Southfork Lodge reopens
Southfork Lodge (facebook.com/southfork-lodge), on Idaho 21 in Lowman, recently got new owners. The scenic resort on the South Fork of the Payette River has been unoccupied since 2009. (That’s the lodge in the photo above serving as the Travel Notes icon.)
Chris and Beth Armour purchased the 22.6-acre property this summer, not long before the fast-moving Pioneer Fire blew down the hill like a blowtorch toward the hamlet of Lowman.
“We really lucked out. The fire came down hard toward Lowman, then it hooked around us,” Chris Armour says.
The Armours opened the lodging part of the business on July 29. It features nightly accommodations such as a 10-unit riverside inn, three cabins and a bed-and-breakfast inn.
The restaurant and bar opened Labor Day weekend. Here, diners can get pub-inspired grub such as appetizers, salads, soups, burgers and sandwiches. The menu will get expanded in the spring when the tourist season ramps up again.
Armour believes the resort will be a boon for the local economy.
“Our neighbors seem pretty excited that we opened up,” he says.
“It brings more people to the Lowman area.”
During the offseason, Southfork Lodge is open for lodging Wednesday through Sunday. The restaurant and bar is open for lunch and dinner Friday-Sunday (11 a.m. to 9 p.m.). Pastries and coffee get served during the morning hours (7 to 11 a.m.).
James Patrick Kelly, the Idaho Statesman’s restaurant critic, is the author of the travel guidebook “Moon Idaho.” The latest edition hit the shelves earlier this year. Kelly also teaches journalism at Boise State University.