Fried Chicken, Anyone?

Just one Colorado eatery on new national list.

DailyMeal-logoI’m actually not a fan of fried chicken. I was put off by an early taste of KFC krap (when the chain was called by its full name, Kentucky Fried Chicken). Now when confronted with fried chicken elsewhere, I usually remove the often-greasy batter and skin to get to the meat, thereby missing the whole point of fried chicken. The Colorado fried chicken I’ve liked the best has been the skillet-fried version, served family-style at The Slogar in Crested Butte.

The Daily Meal selected “America’s 75 Best Fried Chicken Spots,” and the site found just one in Colorado that it found worthy. The fried chicken caboose at #75 is Jus Cookin’s in Lakewood. I’d never heard of it, but when look at its website, it turns out that it opened in 1988, the same year I moved to Colorado.

“Fried chicken in Colorado? Don’t let the unlikely location of this family-owned eatery fool you into thinking it doesn’t have the drumsticks to wow your palate. Jus Cookin’s has been serving some of the nation’s best fried chicken from its unassuming “little yellow farmhouse” since 1988. The restaurant’s humble yet hearty meals have drawn the likes of Katie Couric and former Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook in for dinner.”

Cured Offers Tour de France Matches

Regional cheeses and drinks echo Grand Tour route.

Cured-logoOnce again, Will Frischkorn is preparing for the Tour de France. The greatest of all the Grand Tour stage races in Europe starts on Saturday in Holland, whisks through a bit of Belgium before its grueling route around France with the traditional finish in Paris. But these days, he’s not getting his body and mind into shape to ride 3,360 kilometers.  Rather, he and his wife, Coral,  who own Cured, have again put together a little Tour of their own. Boulder’s wonderful gourmet shop is set to assemble a special Tour-appropriate offering for who customers with a love of fine cheese, a passion for French wine and a good appetite.

TDF-2015-map

Will broke the Tour into eight stages, each corresponding to 3 to 4 days of racing, and for each region, he has chosen a cheese and a beverage. As the riders make their way around France, it is possible to follow along with region-appropriate cheese and wine and the Tour on the tube or on your computer.

Each stage, available individually for $40 or as part of the whole package for $295, comes with a chunk of cheese and a beverage to pair.  While mostly wine, they also have an exceptional beer and even a bottle of Calvados this year, paying homage to the route that the organizers chose for this 102nd edition of the Tour. Participants in Cured’s entire tour receive a Team Garmin Cannondale musette bag filled with Will’s favorite cycling ride and recovery snacks. This year’s Tour is available for pickup at Cured, or for $90 each week, they’ll deliver a box to  your doorstep with that week’s stages. Call Cured at 720-389-8096 to purchase a Tour and visit their website to learn more and read about the individual stages.

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Mexican Dinner Buffet & Fresh Tortillas

Calvillo’s in Alamosa popular with locals and convenient for visitors.

CalvillosSignI understand that there’s one white-tablecloth Italian restaurant in Alamosa. Just about everyplace else appears to be either a fast food chain or Mexican. A group of 10 of us met for Saturday dinner at this large edge-of-downtown eatery.  A couple played and sang Mexican melodies, servers bustled about and people ate and chatted and laughed. It was a merry scene, and it all but ended by 8:30 on a Saturday. This is ironic, because the southern part of the enormous San Luis Valley is the most Spanish/Mexican part of Colorado. But it is also a rural and agricultural area, and farmers and farm workers keep early hours.

This couple with the guitars and good voices is stationed near the bar and plays Mexican songs -- at least on Saturday evenings.
This couple with the guitars and good voices is stationed near the bar and plays Mexican songs — at least on Saturday evenings.
A rainbow of margarita flavors is available.
A rainbow of margarita flavors is available.
The menu is large, but I opted for the grande buffet with its constantly restocked hot and cold items -- and its small complement of desserts.
The menu is large, but I opted for the grande buffet with its constantly restocked hot and cold items — and its small complement of desserts. Shown here, a portion f the cold table.
Tortillas are hand-made at Calvillo's, and here's the maker.
Tortillas are hand-made at Calvillo’s, and here’s the maker.

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Blackbelly Market’s New Patio

Small plates, beer, wine and fine cocktails alfresco.

001“The whole is greater than the sum of is parts,” according to Aristotle, millennia before Blackbelly Market, which intertwines several food businesses: a restaurant and bar, a catering operation, a food truck, a farm. It’s the brainchild of Hosea Rosenberg, who will always be identified as the winner of “Top Chef,” Season Five.

I got a sampling of Blackbelly’s style at a media reception when it opened last November, but I was late in getting back from Denver and arrived as the event was winding down. In March, my husband and I had a really dinner there with friends, and we were all impressed with the wonderful food. Click here for my post.

This evening, Blackbelly introduced its new south-facing patio which is serving beverages, small plates and charcuterie boards. Long congenial tables invite socializing with people you’ve come with and those you’ve just met. On a sunny afternoon, find a spot on a bench against the barn-siding wall against the building, because the ones on the Arapahoe Avenue side can get very hot until the sun drops behind the big tree that partially shades the patio.

Twenty-first century mix of people communicating with those at the table and those elsewhere. The patio's informal nature leaves room for both.
Twenty-first century mix of people communicating with those at the table and those elsewhere. The patio’s informal nature leaves room for both.

But it’s the food that counts, and Blackbelly’s counts for a lot.

Board with house-made charcuterie made with locally sourced meats.
Board with house-made charcuterie made with locally sourced meats.
House-made corn dogs, served really hot and really crisp, with good mustard for dipping.
House-made corn dogs, served really hot and really crisp, with good mustard for dipping.

Continue reading Blackbelly Market’s New Patio

Lunching at The Other Side

National Park Village restaurant — at last.

TheOtherSide-logoI can’t tell you how often we have been to rambling National Park Village to or from Rocky Mountain National Park — but it’s been a lot. We’ve stopped at the gas station, at the little grocery store, to use the restrooms and, recently, at the gift shop so that an international visitor could buy a refrigerator magnet. But not until today have we been to The Other Side Restaurant, when the usual post-hike hunger got to us.

Tucked in behind the main complex, the restaurant is visible from the road. The dining room overlooks a little lake with lots of bird-life, so we were happy to be seated at a window table. The walls of the high-ceilinged dining room feature nature scenics.

Metal chairs, each with an animal (elk, moose, bear) or conifer on the back and well padded seats are attractive and comfortable, and the wall art features nature scenes.
Metal chairs, each with an animal (elk, moose, bear) or conifer on the back and well padded seats are attractive and comfortable, and the wall art features nature scenes.
French dip with mixed ranch-style beans. Other options with sandwiches are Cole slaw, potato salad, fries or sweet potato fries.
French dip with mixed ranch-style beans. Other options with sandwiches are Cole slaw, potato salad, fries or sweet potato fries.
From the appetizer menu, fried green tomatoes. Four slices arrived hot and crisp, each with a toothpick topped with a  mozzarella  ball and sprinkled with chopped basil and  ribboned with a balsamic vinegar reduction.
From the appetizer menu, fried green tomatoes. Four slices arrived hot and crisp, each with a toothpick topped with a mozzarella ball and sprinkled with chopped basil and ribboned with a balsamic vinegar reduction.
The view out the window was past a board sidewalk, unplanted planters and a fence to a little pond.
The view out the window was past a board sidewalk, unplanted planters and a fence to a little pond.

Price check: At lunch, appetizers, $6.79-$8.99; salads, $8.79-$11.29; burgers, $7.29-$9.29 (incl. beans or potatoes);  sandwiches, $5.29-$10.79; “Comfort Food,” $8.49-$11.29; steaks, $19-$29.50 (incl beans or potatoes).

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Chef Shuffle in Aspen

Moscatello heads west & Zubrod comes down the street.

Bryan Moscatello
Bryan Moscatello

On the eve of the 2015 Food & Wine Classic at Aspen, Bryan Moscatello departed Element 47, the spectacular signature restaurant in e Nell Hotel where he had been since late 2013. He took his knives and left for Napa to head the kitchen at The Lakehouse, currently open only to overnight guests at the Calistoga Ranch,  an ultra-posh resort.  When he was with the long-shuttered Adega, Moscatello was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2003.

MatthewZubrodDuring his career, Matthew Zubrod has been with several Ritz-Carltons (including Aspen Highlands, Boston and Naples Florida) as well as Monette’s at the Hotel Mauna Kea in Hawaii and San Diego’s fabled Hotel del Coronado and most recently BB’s Kitchen, a few blocks from The Nell. He is now there, putting his stamp on Element 47.

 

Keystone’s Ski Tip Welcomes New Chef

CMC/Keystone alum returns to Ski Tip Lodge.

KeystoneResort-logoJordan Alley, a 2009 graduate of Colorado Mountain College and former Ski Tip Lodge sous-chef, returns as executive chef with 10 years of culinary experience.  He spent five years in CMC’s noteworthy apprenticeship program with Keystone Resort. Before his return to Keystone, he was sous-chef at Z-Cuisine in Denver, chef de partie of Fruition Restaurant in Denver and chef de partie at Bouchon in Las Vegas.

Jordan Alley, new executive chef at Keystone's Ski Tip Lodge.
Jordan Alley, new executive chef at Keystone’s Ski Tip Lodge.

Alley is hitting the ground running, kicking off his tenure at the Ski Tip on Sunday, June 14 at 6 p.m. with a six-course showcase dinner, including a meet-and-greet to begin the evening. Featuring a seasonal heirloom tomato salad with locally sourced goat cheese, house-made ricotta-filled gnocchi and a braised and glazed veal cheek entrée, the introductory dinner is $115 and requires reservations (call 970-496-4386 or through opentable.com).The showcase is the first of several culinary events that at the Ski Tip Lodge this summer. Others include Summer Après every day from 3 to 5 p.m., Sunshine and Wine tastings (July 12, August 2 and 30 and September 13) and Wine Dinners (July 20, August 21 and September 18).

Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.