Durango Wine Experience This Weekend

Food & wine showcased in Southwest Colorado event.

DurangoWineExperience2016-logoI seem to remember being at the very first Durango Wine Experience a decade ago. If not that one, I must have been at the second. In any event, it was an early one and it was terrific. Seminars and tastings, chefs and winemakers occupied Durango‘s charming Main Street. It’s kicking off today for the 10th time. Wish I were there.

Half-dozen educational seminars start today. The Walk-About Durango, the signature tasting event, provides attendees to enjoy a casual, multi-location stroll in downtown Durango tasting wine, beer, spirits and drinking in the artsy atmosphere. It takes place tomorrow, Friday, May 6 from 4 to7 p.m.

The Grand Tasting is grand indeed, with top local chefs and scores terrific wineries, distributors, breweries and distilleries from around the world featured on Saturday, May 7 from 3 to 6:30 p.m. If you can still make it, click here for tickets. If not, put it on your radar screen for 2017. I am.

The Source On List of Best Food Halls

Thrillist selects 50 across the country.

Thrillist-logoDenver’s pioneering food hall, The Source, appears as #45 on Thrillist’s new list of “The 50 Best Food Halls in America 2016.” Its write-up doesn’t mention that it largely launched the RiNo phenomenon — drawing artists, creative businesses, residents and additional hospitality services (including two coming hotels) to the underused area north of the Ballpark neighborhood. Thrillist wrote:

The Source is a group of food artisans and merchants gathered into a circa-1880s brick foundry building in Denver’s River North District. Their 15 merchants include nine food-and-drink-based tenants, like Acorn (a contemporary American restaurant), Comida (a Mexican taquerEia), Babettes (a boulangerie focusing on French country-style breads), and Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project.

I’m eager to see whether next year’s list will include Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace, opening sometime in 2016 . “What’s #1?” you might ask. Seattle’s venerable Pike Place Market, founded in 1907 and still a working seafood market as well as a great visitor attraction on the waterfront.

2016 Beard Awards to Grandin, Chimayo & Miller

Temple Grandin Colorado’s sole honoree; Chimayo also cited..

BeardAwardNo Colorado chefs or restaurants were James Beard Award winners at a glittering ceremony in Chicago last night, but the remarkable Dr. Temple Grandin, an animal rights expert and advocate at  Colorado State University, was named to 2016 James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America,  an honor roll of major influencers. Click here for the entire list of 2016 honorees.

Media awards are presented separately, and one Coloradan is coming home with one. Toni Tipton-Martin of Centennial was honored in the reference and scholarship category for The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African-American Cookbooks. The history of American-American food books appears to be a mini-niche in Denver. Historian Adrian Miller for his book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time.

P1090352Also recognized was Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante and owner Florence Jaramillo as being one of the 2016 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics honoree as a long-running heritage. As it happens, I ate at this sprawling half-century-old restaurant just last week as part of a day tour from Santa Fe.

Chimayo is famous for its chile-centric dishes, and this restaurant uses almost the entire annual crop. It accommodates groups in a large garden extension in the back and small individual parties in the front, which is the original ranch house. Note the similarities between the settings and the chairs.

A table set for group meals.
A table set for group meals.
Restaurant in the old ranch house.
Restaurant in the old ranch house.
Classic NM combo of a protein, beans and greens.
Classic NM combo of a protein, beans and greens.
Chile relleno with customary New Mexican accompaniments.
Chile relleno with customary New Mexican accompaniments  calabacitas (squash), rice beans and greens. The chile is either a poblano or an Anaheim. Chimayo chiles are too small to be stuffed with cheese.
Silky vanilla pudding with whipped cream and a crisp cookie.
Silky vanilla pudding with whipped cream and a crisp cookie.

300 Juan Medina Rd., Chimayo, New Mexico 87522;
505 351-4444 or 505 984-2100.

Rancho de Chimayó Restauranté Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Knife Skill Video from Wüsthof

German knife-maker releases instructional video.

Wüsthof-logoMy Wüsthof knife is my absolute favorite among the knives in my batterie de cuisine. Even thought I have small hands, it is the most comfortable to work with. It holds an edge. And it is beautifully balanced. No surprise that a manufacturer that celebrated its 200th birthday not long ago has design and production down to a science.

When talking with people who are still struggling with basic kitchen skills, I always suggest a few cooking classes. But if they can take only one, I suggest knife skills, which are so basic to everything else. For those whose learning method is by watching, I recommend this video:
http://www.wusthof.com/usa/knife-skills/The-Pinch-Grip/index.jsp

Boulder Kitchens on View This Weekend

Fundraiser for I Have a Dream Foundation opens great local kitchens.

DreamKitchens2015If you are thinking about building a home or remodeling the one you have and are looking for ideas, if you just enjoy visiting fabulous kitchens in terrific homes, or if you mainly want to support the I Have a Dream Foundation, don’t miss the 2016 Dream Kitchens Tour this weekend, Saturday, April 30. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, May 1, 12 noon to 4 p.m.

On the 2015 tour are 11 Boulder County homes —  up from just six last year. Tickets good for either or both days are $20. Purchase  at the I Have a Dream office (5390 Manhattan Drive, Suite 200, Boulder). Online purchases or tickets bought at any King Soopers carry a service charge. FoMoInfo, call 303-444-3636.

Tips on Photographing Food

Douglas Merriam shared his secrets of great food photography.

Douglas Merriam
Douglas Merriam

If you read glossy food magazines, you’ve probably seen Douglas Merriam’s work and drooled over the dishes he photographed. The Santa Fe-based food, travel and lifestyle photographer gave a presentation at the Society of American Travel Writers Western Chapter meeting on his secrets on how to take great food photographs. He shoots in situ, not in a studio. I’ve figured some of these trick out myself, but my trusty little Panasonic Lumix, which I operate on automatic, isn’t the equal of his SLRs. And I photograph food that I and any dining companions are about to eat, not between meal service times with dishes that the chef has specially prepared.

Doug Merriam shooting a plate of tall food. He has natural light angling in behind him. I had to shoot toward a window, which he would never have to do.
Doug Merriam shooting a plate of tall food. He has natural light angling in behind him. I had to shoot toward a window, which he would never have to do.

Some his advice is impossible for the likes of me. I can’t rearrange the furniture or stand on a chair to shoot down at dish, nor do I travel with white sheet, an iron, reflectors and even a spare plate in case the restaurant’s crockery is too busy.  With those disclaimers, I write that if this blog has better photographs in  the future, the credit goes largely to Doug Merriam.

Here are some of his tips that most of us can use:

  • Wear neutral-color clothing.
  • Use natural light. No flash!
  • Eliminate extraneous garnishes. Simple is best.
  • The eye is drawn to the brightest color, so the peel on the lemon wedge becomes the prominent element on the plate
  • Photographing food at a 45-degree angle most closely mimics the way diners see food.
  • Pizza and other flat foods can be photographed from directly above. Food with height should be photographed at an angle the shows  the height.
  • If a beverage is included in the frame, use a short glass instead of  stemmed wineglass,
  • However, the base of a stemmed glass, the rim of another plate, a piece of flatware or other element on the periphery can add compositional interest.

Photographing food via the “Merriam method” can improve ever so many food images.

Cafe Pasqual’s in the Morning

Santa Fe favorite creates breakfast entrées.

P1090156On previous visits to Santa Fe, lunch or dinner at Cafe Pasqual ‘s has been on the food docket. I always enjoy this cheery eatery a couple of short blocks from The Plaza. The breakfast items are unusual, with flavorful versions of popular New Mexican favorites plus items I’ve never seen before.

Mexican cut paper flags and ristras hang from the high ceiling.
Mexican cut paper flags (a folk art form called papa piccada) and ristras of dried chiles hang from the high ceiling. They’ve been there long enough so that some are a bit tattered — the papa piccada, not the ristras.
Well-foamed cappuccino comes in a large, handle-free bowl.
Well-foamed cappuccino comes in a large, handle-free bowl.
Breakfast tortilla is a griddled whole wheat tortilla, melted Jack cheese, guacamole, eggs and salsa. This is a single. Doubles are also available.
Breakfast tortilla is a griddled whole wheat tortilla, melted Jack cheese, guacamole, eggs and salsa. This is a single. Doubles are also available.
Julia's wild salmon gravlax, a Scandinavian salmon dish. Line-caught, Cognac-cured salmon, Gruyére potato cake, watercress, chives and créme fraîche.
Julia’s wild salmon gravlax, a Scandinavian salmon dish. Line-caught, Cognac-cured salmon, Gruyére potato cake, watercress, chives and créme fraîche.

Price check, breakfast entrées, $9.75-$17.75.

121 Don Gaspar, Santa Fe; 505-983-9340.

Cafe Pasqual's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.