Made from scratch in Minturn | VailDaily.com

Made from scratch in Minturn

Caramie Schnell
cschnell@vaildaily.com
Minturn, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyThe staff from Minturn, Colorado's The Pantry and Pan For Hire Events, from left to right, line cook Alan Brown, barrista, Christina Fanning, owner and chef Mary Morgan Parker and manager Brian Reddick sit in the newly opened cafe and catering kitchen Saturday
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MINTURN, Colorado “-With the help of an animated toaster named Milton, Pop-Tarts stole the breakfast show in the early 1960’s. Kellogg, which named the confection after the pop art Andy Warhol was creating at the time, literally couldn’t keep the shelves stocked with the sugary treats.

At The Pantry in Minturn, Colorado Mary Morgan Parker makes her own version from scratch and has been getting similar acclaim, though on a smaller level, of course.

“I’m an ingredient reader,” said Minturn resident Matt Scherr who recently tried a cinnamon pop tart at the small cafe. “These don’t have all those nasty chemicals, and they’re not overly sweet, like a regular Pop-Tart, which is even better.”

Size and name is where the similarities end.

“We make our own fillings, our own jams and fruit combinations and we use fillings like Nutella,” Parker said. “They don’t look perfect and we don’t put a lot of yucky, too-sweet frosting on them. Instead we might do a simple glaze or a raw sugar.”

Even better, the flavor combinations change each week. Look for a lemon raspberry version this week, as well as chocolate-banana.

Parker opened The Pantry at 291 Main Street in Minturn at the end of March. She bought the building in November and spent a few months renovating the restaurant space. The new cafe is about half the size of the previous restaurants ” The Lift Cafe and, before that, Harry’s Bump and Grind. She’s hoping to rent out the empty space to a business that complements her own, she said.

‘Nice to have another option’

This is Parker’s first restaurant venture, she said, though the 29-year valley resident owns a catering company called Pan for Hire, which is now based out of the same space as well.

“I decided it was time to try something new,” she said.

And residents like Scherr, who works in Minturn as well, are happy she did.

“We’ve had kind of an exodus of things come and go and it’s tough to get something decent and varied to eat here in Minturn,” Scherr said. “It’s nice to have another option.”

While some things on The Pantry’s menu are standard “-harvest oatmeal with cinnamon, vanilla and dried fruits and breakfast burritos in the morning and the chef salad and a slew of cold sandwiches at lunchtime ” there’s a new hot sandwich, salad and soup option every day. Among other items, Parker was planning to offer a grilled Asian salmon salad, a fresh vegetable soup and a Cuban pulled pork sandwich this week.

“Basically, it’s whatever I feel like cooking,” Parker said. “I always try to offer things that range from comfortable to stuff you don’t see very often.”

On the day of this interview the sandwich was roasted vegetable on foccacia, the salad was a pomegranate-glazed duck salad on mache and the soup was West African peanut soup, thick with tomatoes, peanuts, onions and some ancho chili powder for a touch of heat.

“The second or third week we were open, we asked a random customer what kind of soup to make, and she said to make West African peanut soup. We did, and people really liked it,” Parker said.

It’s the little things

It’s those small touches, like asking customers what they’d like to eat (which is pretty common, Parker said), that is helping the restaurant gain a steady clientele. Parker cooks with mostly organic food and local products whenever she can. The coffee she serves is Novo, from Denver. She uses an espresso roast, even for the regular coffee, and makes it in a French press.

“Regulars come in and just hold out their mugs,” she said. “We’re making a lot of converts.”

The forks and spoons are made from cornstarch, as are the to-go boxes.

“We serve things on bamboo leaf trays as well,” Parker said. “Everything in here, as close as we can, is recyclable or compostable.”

For Scherr, who is the executive director of the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability, that’s definitely a good thing.

“From our perspective, it’s nice they’re trying, especially given how hard it is to do around here,” he said.

And after getting breakfast or lunch to go, the containers go straight to the worms.

“We’ve got a big, giant box of worms in our office that all of our compost goes into so we just shred it up and chuck it in there,” he said.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

High Life publishes restaurant features, not straight reviews. We can’t guarantee you’ll have the same experience we did.