Farny, who’s easily the best cross-country ski teacher I’ve ever had, pretty much grew up on skis (and, in the summer, on horseback) at her family’s mountaineering school outside the then-tiny town of Aspen.
“I like cross-country skiing,” says Farny, a lifelong athlete. “It uses a large range of muscles – the arms, back, stomach and legs – and in an hour-and-a-half, you have a good workout.
“Even when it’s cold outside, you warm up quickly, once you start moving,” she says.
Farny skied on her high school team, going on to be the first woman on CU-Boulder’s cross-country ski team.
How’d that work out?
“Lonely,” she says, grinning.
After college, Farny headed home to Aspen; accustomed to cooking for large groups since her early years, she was soon helping out with an annual progressive dinner on the Aspen Golf Course.
“We’d ski station to station,” she recalls of that inspirational dinner, stopping for food donated by Aspen restaurants.
Farny moved to Telluride in 1989, and was soon cooking professionally, first at the restaurant she opened at her family’s Skyline Ranch, then at the deeply missed Wildflower (alongside Telluride chef Monika Callard, who died in 2003), finally founding the eponymous Cindy Bread.
When Farny came up with the idea for a Valley Floor progressive dinner, she was reluctant to ask Telluride restaurants for free food, “because they already donate so generously to so many nonprofits.”
So this time around, she opted for the DIY route.
“It’s a community effort,” she says, of days leading up to the annual outdoors dinner, with friends coming over “to help me chop leeks and peel potatoes.”
It’s hearty fare: Potato soup, bread, brownies, cookies and cider at the three different stations, served up to apple-cheeked children and adults on skis, sipping from cups of steaming soup and chomping on chocolate chip cookies.
As for getting the food to the Valley Floor, Farny says, “It’s not that hard – we deliver the soup down by Boomerang Bridge on sleds. We ...”don’t need any snowmobiles to deliver or pick up the food,” she emphasizes.
Farny volunteers with the fast-growing Telluride Nordic Association, which maintains ski tracks throughout the region. Of all the region’s cross-country tracks, she maintains, the Valley Floor is truly special.
“It’s the only flat place to go skiing. Anybody and everybody should go out and enjoy it – and a lot of people do.
“Even though there’s a highway next to it, you don’t notice the highway at all,” she says. Instead, skiers marvel at the San Miguel river – in daytime, “with steam coming off it,” and in the evening, “with the fog, and the beautiful alpenglow light on the mountains.
“‘Oh, it’s so cold!’” she mugs, a coach persuading skeptics. “But once you get out, it’s warm – and it’s beautiful.”
For information about Farny’s High Camp Hut, with overnight accommodations for backcountry skiers, visit www.highcamphut.com, or call or email Farny at 970/728-8050, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cindy Farny's Full Moon Soup
Because I never know how many people will come to the event, I invite my friends to come over with their potato peelers to peel 75 pounds of potatoes and slice 36 bunches of leeks. I have tried to scale this recipe so you can have your own Full Moon soup at home!
Peel 2 pounds of potatoes and cut into medium chunks, 2 bunches of leeks, sliced and washed clean, 2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock and 2 cups heavy cream (or to taste).
Season with salt and pepper, and maybe even a little cayenne pepper for a little spice!
Sauté the leeks in olive oil until they are soft, add the potatoes and stock, and cook until the potatoes are really soft.
Purée the mixture until it is smooth. (The secret is to get it as smooth as possible. You might have to add more stock or cream if it is too thick. The colder it is outside, the more cream I add!)
Now all you need to do is call your friends over for dinner and slice up a baguette!