An Organic Garden Amid the Boulders (Resort) Print
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Written by Ann Shepphird   

Boulders Organic GardenTwo years ago, Michael Hoffmann, the managing director at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa in Carefree, Arizona, had the idea to put in an organic garden. According to Hoffmann, the impetus for the idea came from two of the resort’s central features: the spa, with its focus on fresh and organic products, and, of course, the dining room. With Arizona one of the top producers of organic product, it seemed a natural.

Getting the garden going proved more of a challenge. With some garden experience – he once ran the Carmel Valley Garden Show – and price tags from designers that were more than he wanted to pay, Hoffmann decided to design the garden himself with the help of garden books such as Sunset Magazine’s Big Book of Garden Design.

Opened in August of 2008, the 5,280-square-foot organic garden is made up of eight elevated planter boxes filled with seasonal herbs, vegetables and edible flowers, including those indigenous to the Boulders’ Sonoran desert locale. There are also citrus trees and an organic vineyard.

While the garden isn’t big enough to supply all the culinary needs for the resort, the components are used in a number of dishes (see recipes below) – and in the seasonal spa treatments. For instance, at this time of year, the fresh blueberries and pomegranates are used in a scrub. There’s also an outdoor kitchen in the garden for chef’s tables, cocktail receptions and dinners, which have proven to be very popular. (Click "read more" for the rest of the article and recipes.)


While there have been hurdles (those adorable furry desert bunnies are fans of organic produce), all in all, it’s been a positive experience, according to Hoffmann. As he says: “There is nothing better to enhance a meal (besides a glass of wine) than fresh herbs.”

Here are two great salad recipes utilizing some of the ingredients grown in the Boulders organic garden, courtesy of Boulders Chef Gregory Wiener.

Boulders Crab and Avocado saladCrab & Avocado Tower

Serves 4

Ingredients:
12 oz  crabmeat, picked over
4 slices smoked salmon
1 avocado, finely diced
1/2 cup sour cream, light
1 tbl chopped fresh chives
4 tsp caviar
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper

Sauce:
1 clove garlic, chopped            
1 shallot, chopped            
1 avocado                
1 serrano chile                
Handful spinach leaves            
2 tbl cilantro
2 mint leaves
1 cup chicken stock
juice of one lime
salt and pepper

Directions:
Sauté garlic and shallots until softened. Place all ingredients in blender. Process until smooth. Season to taste & fill a squeeze bottle to plate.  

Combine crab, sour cream and chives. Season to taste. Place a 3 oz crab meat mixture in  the bottom of a ring mold. Top with a slice of smoked salmon and press down firmly. Top with the diced avocado that has been acidulated with the juice of one lemon. Garnish with caviar and cilantro leaves. Squeeze avocado sauce around plate.      

Chilled Lettuce Cups with Pink Grapefruit and Avocado Salsa

Ginger Ponzu
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon pink grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon minced ginger
Bring soy sauce and grapefruit juice to a boil.
Remove from heat and add ginger.
Place in refrigerator to cool.

Pink Grapefruit & Avocado Salsa
1/2 medium avocado (small dice)
1/2 small pink grapefruit segments (small dice)
1 tablespoon minced red onion
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Toss ingredients in a glass bowl and place in refrigerator to chill, about 1/2 hour.

Lettuce Cups
3 butter lettuce Leafs (or any other type of lettuce, romaine or iceburg)
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup shredded jicama
4 oz cooked shrimp ( large dice )
Divide carrots and jicama among 3 lettuce leafs.
Add diced shrimp and top with salsa.
Serve with 2 tablespoons of ponzu.