IN THIS SECTION
IN THIS SECTION
ENTERTAINING AL FRESCO
Soirees for Every Season
BY JODY ORR
No matter the season, entertaining al fresco can be delightful if you have the right ingredients and a solid plan. Good food, drink, music and proper accouterments go a long way towards making your backyard party the event of the season. To help make the most out of your next outdoor entertaining event, here are some suggestions for every glorious season in the heart of Idaho.
What comes to mind when you think of autumn in the mountains? Falling leaves, crisp nights, beer, bratwurst and oompah bands? If so, (and if Munich is a little too far for you to travel) you can celebrate Oktoberfest right in your own backyard!
Held annually for 16 days at the end of each September in Deutschland and at venues across this great land of ours, there are only a handful of ingredients necessary for throwing a great Oktoberfest party: beer, sausage, sauerkraut and music (donning lederhosen and dirndls count as extra credit!). So all you’ve really got to do you is turn the Pandora to a Bavarian selection, wheel out the BBQ, load it full of sausage and sauerkraut (the adventurous can make their own sauerkraut, but it takes about a month to ferment, or you can just pick a variety of all-natural products at the Natural Niche in Ketchum or Atkinsons’ Markets) and tap a keg of German beer (both Sawtooth Brewery in Ketchum and Sun Valley Brewery in Hailey offer Oktoberfest brews available in kegs and growlers).
For cool evenings, you’ll need a fire pit. They’re a wonderful way to take the chill off and offer a great focal point to huddle around. Fireplaces Etc. in Hailey has a solid selection to choose from (in addition to BBQs for those bratwurst) and the know-how to outfit and service them. Their prefab pits, which can burn wood or gas, range in price from $200 to $1,000. Your fire pit can also serve as your centerpiece for the “chicken dance,” an authentic Oktoberfest pastime.
And don’t forget to include traditional Oktoberfest games! The beer stein races, no doubt designed with the devil in mind, requires runners to balance beer steins filled to the rim. The runner with the best time and the most beer still in the stein wins. For the kids, yodeling contests and a game of “ein, zei, drei … halt!” (played like “red light-green light”) can be fun. Stein holding, barrel races, best authentic costume and no-hands pretzel eating contests also add to the merriment. Ein prosit!
Winter: Hot Tub Time
It’s tough to beat a hot tub party after a day of skiing the slopes of Sun Valley.
The first step to throwing a great soaking soiree is to set the mood with music. So, whether you want to flash back in time with some David Bowie and Salt-N-Pepa, or want to relax to the modern sounds of Michael Franti and Imagine Dragons, the team at Soundwave in Ketchum has got you covered. They install a wide variety of outdoor entertainment systems and, according to Michael Malko, VP of operations, they “can be as simple as a portable, waterproof Bluetooth or as complex as a large-format movie screen.” Soundwave “hides” speakers in walls and covered patio ceilings, so you’ll never even see them.
Next, set the hot tub to a comfortable temperature, somewhere between 100 and 104˚F. so that guests can relax without overheating. Proper hydration is critical, so provide plenty of water and non-alcoholic beverages (in plastic containers, glass in a hot tub is a no-no) to balance out your cocktail hour.
Keep food light—veggies, hummus and crackers, marinated olives—and place it on a handy rest or floating spa bar (Ketchum Kitchens has some options). Spa bars compartmentalize cold drinks and food, keeping them chilled, dry and accessible.
Raise the stakes with a game of waterproof cards or a dice game like Farkle (Jane’s Artifacts in Hailey even sells waterproof notebooks and pens). Finally, make trips back into the house warm and comfortable with an extra supply of towels, slippers and terry bathrobes—Madeline + Oliver on Sun Valley Road in Ketchum has everything you need to make things cozy.
Spring: Fondue Party
Just when you thought it was safe to put your shorts on, Idaho unleashes her unpredictable spring, when anything from snow to rain to baking sunshine can wash-down upon the Northern Rockies. Don’t despair, however, because a covered patio or outdoor great room and a passel of fondue pots can make for a stellar evening, no matter the weather.
Ketchum Kitchens is your fondue outfitter, and all three Atkinsons’ stores offer terrific selections of cheese, chocolate and wine. You can put some zing in your fondue by adding pesto, spinach, jalapeños or artichoke. And don’t feel compelled to do cheese. Meat or seafood fondues are a great alternative and won’t leave your guests feeling too full.
Finish off the festivities with chocolate or caramel fondue and fresh or even dried fruits. Lighting is another key to setting the right scene, so add to the atmosphere with some stylish Vance Kitira candles (Huck & Paddle and Ketchum Flower Company both have terrific varieties) or unique outdoor lamps from A Beautiful Home in Ketchum. Make your guests feel at home by putting a fleece blanket or scarf on the back of each chair (The Picket Fence and Madeline + Oliver in Ketchum have some luxurious selections). If it’s really chilly and the cheese and wine won’t do the trick, Idaho Lumber in Hailey rents patio heaters, and The Open Room in Ketchum can meet all your patio needs (and even helps stash your patio furniture as part of their winter storage program).
Summer: Backyard Bash
Just take those old records off the shelf, and transform your backyard into your own nightclub! Everything you need is available right here in the Valley. Allsop Home & Garden, a Ketchum-based solar lighting manufacturer, has created a fantastic array of solar lanterns and string lights in nylon, glass and a silk-like fabric. They’re colorful, affordable and can easily transform a dark and quiet night in your backyard into a fun and festive scene. The unique lights can be found at Moss Garden Center in Ketchum, Sun Valley Garden Center in Bellevue and Rooted In Nature in Hailey.
Once you’ve got the proper lighting, your next move is to rent a dance floor and a disco ball from That’s Entertainment Party Rentals so you can dance the night away in style!
If you chucked out your turntable around the time Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” owned the airwaves but still want to enjoy some old school-style tunes, try Ketchum’s Gold Mine or one of Hailey’s two thrift stores, Barkin’ Basement or The Advocates’ Attic. They just may have that album that always inspired you to show off your moves.
Don’t feel like cooking or cleaning? There are several great local catering options to meet any culinary desire. Judith McQueen Entertaining and Silver Fox Catering can feed your party guests in style. For a fun and casual affair, Calle 75 Street Tacos can bring hand-crafted, West Coast-style Mexican food to your soirée, or The Haven, an “adventurous food truck,” serves an eclectic mix of cuisine, including slow-roasted Kobe brisket sandwiches, veggie tostadas and watermelon skewers. According to owner Kellee Havens, “We show up at your house and serve out of our window using eco products. There’s no mess, no use of your kitchen. We’re in, we’re out, and your guests are happy.”
Happy guests and happy hosts equal a successful soirée. Hopefully, these suggestions will inspire you to throw a terrific outdoor party in this breathtaking part of the Gem State during any, and every, season of the year!
OF DUCKS AND DOGS
Hunting Waterfowl at the Silver Creek Preserve
BY BRETT WILSON / PHOTOGRAPHY RAY J. GADD
A snowy blast rattled the aluminum canoe atop my truck as I parked by Kilpatrick Bridge on the eastern edge Silver Creek Preserve. Emma, my Labrador retriever-Irish setter mix, cast an apprehensive look while I wrestled the craft from the roof. Patiently waiting in her neoprene vest, I told her the water would be warmer than the air, and that I would try to fold the ducks over the frozen ground anyway.
As the mid-December afternoon plunged towards dusk, we loaded up into the canoe and I swiftly stroked against the crystal clear current, upstream into the preserve.
Silver Creek Preserve, which comprises more than 800-acres of wetlands in the high desert country of south-central Idaho, was purchased by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in 1975. The preserve offers three miles of meandering spring creeks and adjoining sloughs that are famous for their plentiful finned inhabitants—wild rainbow and brown trout. The Blue Ribbon fishing waters also host thousands of wintering ducks, geese and swans. The consistent water temperatures of the spring-fed creek enable a year-round food source of aquatic plants and invertebrates for the waterfowl. TNC graciously allows waterfowl hunting on the property for three days each week during the season.
As our boat glided forward against the creek, the pointed form of another canoe emerged from a bend upstream. I paused in some slack water near the stone monument that pays tribute to Ernest Hemingway and his son, Jack. “Papa” hunted and fished these very waters. Jack, a commissioner on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, was instrumental in the creation of the preserve.
As the canoe silently approached, the outline of an old man and his Lab came into view. “How was the morning?” I eagerly asked. A gust of wind swept two green-winged teal high across the water. The old man tracked them with his gaze until they were out of sight. He looked back at Emma and cracked a tired smile. He dipped his paddle and pulled his boat past mine. “You’ll do just fine,” he said. The pair rounded a willowed bend downstream, leaving Emma and me alone in the marsh.
A few hundred yards upstream, I chose a wide, sweeping bend and hauled my canoe into the ice-encrusted reeds. I plopped down on my seat and unraveled the anchor lines of our mallard and widgeon decoys. Drake mallards, or “greenheads,” are generally held in the highest regard by hunters. But I’ll happily harvest drake widgeons, whose dramatic colors, sleek feather lines and mild flavor have won my admiration. As I went to work placing the decoys in tight groups against the shoreline, the evening flight began. I hid the canoe under woven-palm mats and soon a scattering of birds darted across the sky, all looking for a spot to roost for the night.
I loaded my 12-gauge pump shotgun and hunkered down in the bottom of the boat with Emma. Brown reeds fluttered just above our heads, offering a bit of cover. I waited for close range shots only. In the brisk wind, even a bird shot at 25 yards could sail too far for Emma to see or find. Fortunately in Idaho, relatively light hunting pressure leaves ducks a bit more trusting of decoys. This makes for intimate hunts that evoke the great tradition of wing shooting over water.
I gazed from Emma to the sky, sky to Emma. She perked up her ears and a moment later I heard it: the sound of cupped wings overhead. I froze, then stole a glance under the brim of my hat. Five widgeons arched into the wind and descended towards our blind. The lead bird, a bold drake, whistled “woo-wee-woot, woo-wee-woot.” I bolted upright, drew a bead to his now startled flight and fired. The bird crumpled and splashed dead in the soft current, his unmistakable sprig-feather tail pointed in the air. Emma leapt from her perch and into the chilly water. She gently clamped down on the duck with her jaws before swinging farther downstream, then out of the river a few hundred feet below. She trotted back up the bank and proudly dropped the bird at my feet. I traded her a strip of jerky for her efforts and we excitedly resumed our watch.
The last hour and a half of daylight brought dissipating winds. Snowflakes floated across the bobbing decoys. Having retrieved three greenheads and another drake widgeon, Emma was now shivering and huddled close to me for warmth. As the last light of the day faded away, I watched a cow elk and her calf traversing a near hillside, leaving a specked trail in the fresh snow. I wound up the decoys and we floated downstream in the dark.
As we approached the Hemingway monument, a breeze rustled the bare branches of a river birch. I remembered the old man that we had floated past earlier. “We did just fine, Emma,” I said. “We did just fine.”
MAN'S BEST FRIEND
A Definitive List of the Best Gun Dogs Ever!
BY LAURIE SAMMIS / PHOTOGRAPHY NANCY WHITEHEAD
Ask any dog owner what’s the best breed and you’ll get a long list of qualities and traits—all related to the dog currently heeling, sitting or slobbering at their side. None of them being debatable. Ask any hunter the same question about the best bird dog ever, and you may get into a heated and long-winded debate about purity of nose, keenest intelligence and loyalty. You might not want to start this debate while standing in the field, gun in hand.
In the end, the answer is quite simple. What’s the best breed of hunting dog? The one you want to hunt with. Each breed has something different to offer and the answers are as individual as the owners and the hunting terrain they cover on a regular basis. Just like cars, everybody wants something different. So it’s a bit like debating the difference between a Chevy Camaro and a Ford Mustang. But that is for another time and another story.
Size: 22-24.5 inches, 55-75 lbs.
Color: Black, yellow, chocolate
Coat: Smooth, short, dense and straight
Hundreds of thousands of dog owners can’t be wrong. The Labrador retriever topped the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) most popular breed list again last year—a spot it has held for 23 years running! That’s a pretty official endorsement for the best hunting dog ever! Originally from Newfoundland, Labrador retrievers came from what was known as the St. John’s water dog (or Lesser Newfoundland) and were initially used as working dogs for fishermen in the early 1800s, retrieving nets and fish that escaped from fishing lines. When the dogs were later brought to England for active breeding establishment, they were named after the geographic area where they “retrieved” in the Labrador Sea. The two breeds were actually established almost simultaneously in both the Labrador region of England and Newfoundland in Canada—the English version became the large, long and thick furred version, and the dog from Newfoundland became the slightly smaller, leaner, short and sleek coated version.
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
Size: 22-24 inches, 50-60 lbs.
Color: Steel gray with brown markings, also chestnut brown, white and brown or roan
Coat: Wirehaired, hard and coarse (but not curly or woolly)
The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club of America (WPGCA) lays claim to “Gun Dog Supreme,” so clearly the griffon surpasses the Lab as the best gun dog ever! Developed by Eduard Karel Korthals beginning in 1873 with “Mouche,” along with five other dogs, Korthals’ griffon was created as the ultimate walking hunter’s gun dog—a hardy, all-terrain, close-working hunting dog. A map of the lineage published by the American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association (AWPGA) suggests the ancestry of the true Griffons as traceable to an ancient breed called the “griffon hound,” with a cross with at least one “pointer” (with different sources speculating either a Braque Francaise or German shorthaired pointer). Other sources list potential spaniel, otterhound, French barbet (a water retriever) or setter as potential crosses. It is tightly controlled by breed organizations, meaning that breed programs are incredibly selective and strict and, as a result, congenital defects are rare and breed quality is high.
Size: 22-26 inches, 45-65 lbs.
Color: Dark brown to auburn
Coat: Long to short hair, typically with a wiry, dense coat; distinct “bearding” around the muzzle
Originally bred in Germany in the late 1800s by Baron Von Zedlitz, who started with 90 “pointers” and seven “pudels” (the German spelling for poodle). According to the Pudelpointer Club of North America (PCNA), the first cross of the pudel and an English pointer took place in Germany in 1881. The breed was imported into North America in 1956, but has never been AKC registered; on purpose, as a way to control the quality and purity of the breed as a working gun dog. The North American Pudelpointer Association (NAPPA) has also established strict testing and breeding regulations and owners claim that the dogs, which inherited the intelligence, obedience, loyalty, love of water and natural retrieving abilities demonstrated by poodles in the 1800s, combined with the drive and sensitive nose of pointers, is also the perfect house pet. Is there any better combination than that? It’s the perfect hunting machine: revving like a Ferrari while in the field, but winding down for a Sunday drive with the family when at home.
German Longhaired Pointer
Size: 24-28 inches, 60-66 lbs.
Color: Solid liver, with white permitted on chest, paws, top of the muzzle; or dark brown roan, with large patches of solid brown.
Coat: Medium length, with longer feathering. Slightly wavy, but not curly
The German longhaired pointer (or the “Deutsch-langhaar”) is one of the oldest of the European (Continental) pointers. They have been an established breed since 1879, when the best examples of the longhaired German pointers were selected at an exhibition in Hannover. These were given the first breed recognition for the Deutsch-Langhaar and the standard for the breed has not changed to this day. They are a working dog that needs large amounts of daily exercise because they thrive on having a lot of room to run and swim. Did you know that German langhaars are often the type seen in European hunting oil paintings? Langhaars were also used heavily by falconers prior to the advent of wing shooting with guns and were known in the Middle Ages as “hawk dogs,” “grouse dogs” and “water dogs.” Any breed that has been around that long, has to be in the running for best gun dog—it’s a classic, kind of like owning a ’67 L88 Corvette convertible.
Size: 24-26 inches, 55-66 lbs.
Color: black and white. The piebald gene leads to highly variable coat patterns ranging from solid (predominantly white or black), to black ticking or roan filling. Usually the head is black and the tip of the tail is white.
Coat: Slightly wavy, medium length
The large Munsterlander was crossed with setters and English pointers in the 19th century to improve speed after large areas of dense forest in Central Europe began to disappear. More hunting took place in fields where speed and staunch pointing became more valued traits; in contrast to the steady and slow characteristics of traditional “Olde Forester” type pointing dogs. The large Munsterlander is an offshoot of the German longhaired pointer, developing as a black and white color variation after it was established that the Deutsch-langhaar could only have a brown coat. Did you know that pointing, which often meant crouching or lying down (“setting” in the European tradition), was valued by bird hunters because prior to the advent of wing shooting, bird hunters used nets or “tyras,” which were often thrown over both dogs and game? Introduced to North America by Kurt von Kleist in 1966, it is still a very rare breed, with only about 80 dogs imported from Europe to date and approximately 2,000 puppies registered in North America. It’s rare. It performs. It’s German engineered—it has to be the best bird dog ever!