Thursday, April 16, 2009

Meeting the Rancho Gordo Big Bean Guy at Denver Airport

While snaking through the security line at Denver airport, I spotted Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo bean fame. Just about a week or so ago he was featured in the New York Times. And he still talks to me. That's impressive.

Steve was a presenter at the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) conference in Denver. He was nice enough to mention me during his bean presentation. I felt very special.

So imagine my surprise when I was standing at the Mexican food place in the airport on my way to my Southwest flight, when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I was intently studying the menu. "Are you trying to figure out the nutrition of this stuff?" Steve asked.

"No, I want to figure out what I might eat," I replied. Steve had already eaten and wanted some coffee. I wanted to check out my other options so we walked together. It turned out that the Mexican place seemed most appealing -- a better choice than bagels. So we circled around to the Mexican place again where Steve and I talked over my bean tostada with guacamole. It was small and tasty and just a bit spicier than I expected for an airport restaurant.

Steve said that his burrito was quite good. Now, that's like me saying that those vegetables get a B+ for their taste. Steve knows his Mexican food. In fact, as we talked he mentioned that he's now the Big Bean Guy because he's growing so many pounds of them (this has nothing to do with Steve's stature, so don't even go there).

It's almost futile to try to buy Steve's beans at this point because many of them are sold out (but check them out anyway because you never know). He'll have his next crop in the fall. But keep watching because Steve told me that since the Times article the bean farmers are coming out of the woodwork and he should be able to increase production for this year. That means in October or November there could be beans for sale.

Steve is also working with Mexican growers who according to Steve are "beyond organic" because they have to use natural methods for their crops due to lack of money. We talked about how beans are not a crop that is often bothered by a lot of pests. Probably too much work for pests who prefer to attack strawberries as an easy target.
In any case, it was special to share time with the "Big Bean Guy" at the Denver airport. Even though Steve only lives about an hour from my home, we've never had a chance to just chat for 40 minutes. You never know what might come your way --- some heirloom beans would be great. And if you've never had them, there's always later in the year.

Watch for my guest nutrition blog post on Steve's site soon. The preview: beans are very good for you, and for Steve, too.


Darya Pino said...

Cool story! I LOVE Rancho Gordo beans. Lately I've been trying beans at Tierra Vegetables too (also at the SF Farmers Market) and they are lovely.

Looking forward to your post!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Was Steve on a recent episode of "Wine Country"? Or some other local show similar?

Anyway, since I recently watched some show about a local bean grower and was made aware that may of the pre-packaged beans my be up to 10 years old, it made me shudder! Just these past few weeks its been on my list to visit some "higher end" grocery stores (not Whole Foods!) to try and find better beans.

In fact I just now sat down to my computer to google "gourmet beans" to start my search of a better quality.......isn't pressure cooking great! A whole new nutritious world opens up.....

(Last night in less than a few minutes, I did some poached pears in white wine over yogurt. I removed the pears, and reduced the sauce until thickened. 4 pears, 1/2-3/4 c. wine + 1/4 c. raw sugar. (am I weird to eat it over yogurt? Yogurt is my new "ice cream", lol!)

The Veggie Queen said...

Thanks for your comments.

I am a fan of Tierra Vegetables beans, especially Mrs. Kinney's and the European Soldier. They are a bit more expensive than the Rancho Gordo but anyway that you look at it, they are fairly inexpensive, delicious and nutritious protein.

Tracy, not sure if Steve was featured but heirloom beans are the way to go. Taste better, too.
Keep up the great pressure cooker work.