Flatirons Film Festival Schedule Set

Front Range showcase for food films, food talk, food & beer.

FoodFilmFestival-logoSave the dates — October 15 to 19 — for two evenings of run-up food/drink events (one at BRU, one a craft beer kick-off party) for the Flatirons Film Festival and three (October 17-19) for the festival itself, which is in Boulder. The new tagline: Feast On Reel Food. The schedule includes not just food films but also panels, talks, demos and discussions on food and food-related topics.  Information on pricing to come. Click here to contact the organizers with questions or to volunteer.

 

Reminder: Denver Restaurant Week Coming

First-ever summer version of DRW August 23 to 29.

DenverRestaurantWeek-logoEach of the first nine Denver Restaurant Weeks ran for 17 days in mid-winter. They were tough on restaurants and dicey for diners, who often didn’t care to chance treacherous roads. The 10th annual DRW is divided into two weeks, one in winter and one coming up in a couple of days, August 23 and continue through the 29th. No excuses, folks. No excuses. Also, summer includes the option outdoor dining and variety of fresh, local produce that is now in season.

Menus are list on the DRW site by cuisine and neighborhood, which reaches beyond Denver’s city limits. Some are already at capacity, of course, but others have availability. These include some that are participating for the first time:

  • Ambli Gourmet Eatery
  • Argyll Whisky Beer
  • Happy Sumo at the Orchard Town Center
  • Isushi
  • La Cour Bistro and Art Bar
  • Lower48 Kitchen
  • Luca d’Italia
  • Morton’s The Steakhouse
  • P17
  • range
  • Root25 Taphouse & Kitchen
  • The Nickel
  • Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill
  •  Viewhouse, Centennial

Also new this year is the “The Pursuit of Perfection in the Kitchen” sweepstakes, presented by Lexus, which awards two lucky winners a private cooking lesson with top Denver chefs, Andrea Frizzi of Il Posto or Elise Wiggins from Panzano. FoMoInfo on entering the contest, which runs through the end of Denver restaurant Week, go to Facebook.com/VisitDenver.

Dining at Always-Awesome Arugula

North Boulder restaurant tops for fresh wholesome Italian fare & good service.

001If Arugula Bar e Ristorante were within walking distance of home, I’m sure I’d stroll over more often, at least for happy hour. Since it isn’t, it becomes more of a “special” occasion dining choice, yesterday’s occasion being a long-overdue dinner with a friend. We were seated at a booth in the back corner, where we’ve sat before and liked the spacious comfort and quiet even on a Saturday evening. Our waiter was knowledgeable and easily attentive but not aggressively so. We liked that as we pored over the wine list, contemplated the menus for dinner dinner and dessert, and lingered over conversation. Ever since he opened the restaurant, owner/chef Alec Schuler has been fanatical about natural ingredients, local sourcing and meticulous preparation. (I don’t know why WordPress insists on adding a line through the restaurant name on this post. I’m annoyed and apologetic.)

Robust slices of excellent crusty bread with young olive oil to dip it in.

Robust slices of excellent crusty bread with young olive oil to dip it in.

Shaved Fennel Salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon over orange segments, Grana Padano cheese arugula and pine nuts.

Shaved Fennel Salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon over orange segments, Grana Padano cheese arugula and pine nuts. Sorry it’s a little fuzzy.

Arugula House Salad with a firm slice of ricotta salata, small radish slices and tiny sugar snap peas in their pods. Again, olive oil and lemon dress the salad.

Arugula House Salad with a firm slice of ricotta salata, small radish slices and tiny sugar snap peas in their pods. Again, olive oil and lemon dress the salad.

Arugula makes its crab cakes with finely chopped shrimp rather than breadcrumbs as a binder, so this appetizer duo of cakes was rich enough to be a main course. Saffron garlic aioli and a small salad of butter lettuce and cucumber provided contrasting colors and textures.

Arugula makes its crab cakes with finely chopped shrimp and carrots rather than breadcrumbs as a binder, so this appetizer duo of cakes was rich enough to be a main course. Saffron garlic aioli and a small salad of butter lettuce and cucumber provided contrasting colors and textures.

House-made gnocchi with long-cooked beef shank didn't photograph all the well, but it was rich and flavorful.

House-made gnocchi with long-cooked beef shank didn’t photograph all the well, but it was rich and flavorful.

Tiramisu with fresh berries and a squiggle of dark chocolate is portioned to share.

Tiramisu with fresh strawberries and a squiggle of dark chocolate is portioned to share.

Price check: At dinner, salads, $6-$11; antipasti, $4-$13 plus $24 for a platter; secondi (main course), $19-$32; pasta, gnocchi and risotto, $17-$32; contori (sides), $7-$7; desserts, $6-$10. Note: Arugula is one of the Boulder restaurants participating in upcoming Denver Restaurant Week, the first-ever summer edition (August 23-29). Click here for the extremely flexible menu with three courses for $30.

Arugula Bar & Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Boulder’s Village Coffee Shop on Best Breakfast List

Classic strip mall coffee shop gets a little national recognition. 

Thrillist-logoBoulder often makes “best of” lists, not just of college towns, sporty towns, towns for athletes of specific suasions, general livability but also for restaurants and fine food. Now, the Village Coffee Shop, one of its few greasy spoons, is on Thrillist.com’s list of “The 21 Best Breakfast Spots in America.” Its slogan is “890 square feet of reality surrounded by Boulder.” My breakfast burrito-loving husband commented, “Finally, one for a really good non-yuppie place.” I like the loaded blueberry pancakes — so huge that even a short stack is too much and a single is big enough for me. The coffee comes in well-used mugs. Open for breakfast and lunch, it has counter and table seating. Service is casual, friendly and old-school diner style. Here’s the Thrillist.com write-up:

Village Coffee Shop

Village Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon

Marczyk’s Fundraiser for Family Farmers

Family-owned, upmarket Denver grocer supports scholarship fund.

Marczyk-logoMarczyk Fine Foods and Niman Ranch are teaming up for their second annual fundraiser to support the Next Generation Scholarship Fund. All week, through Marczyk’s next Burger Night, both locations are accepting donations at the register, and also the proceeds from each burger purchased at Burger Night on Friday, August 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. go directly to the scholarship fund.

The Next Generation Scholarship Fund supports young people from rural communities who wish to attend college to study environmental and sustainable practices so that they can bring their knowledge back to the family farm. At a time when the average age of a US farmer is just over 58 years old, American agriculture desperately needs a new generation of young, passionate and educated farmers. 

Burger Night features Niman Ranch burgers from meat freshly ground at Marczyk’s and served on fresh brioche buns with all the fixin’s for $8.99. The evening includes a visit from the Brown Family from New Providence, Iowa. They raises happy, healthy pigs for Niman Ranch, and their son was a previous recipient of the Next Generation Scholarship

Cloud Camp’s Culinary Component

Rustic luxury, fine fare and “cooking club” too.

020The Broadmoor’s brand new Cloud Camp is some 3,000 feet higher in elevation than the fabled Colorado Springs resort and light-years away. Cloud Camp is not at all like the sprawling Broadmoor campus with more than 750 elegant guest rooms, suites, cottage and brownstone accommodations, three golf courses, an amazing spa, huge pool, a lake, a bunch of restaurants and more.

Cloud Camp is informal, even rustic, with 11 simple but stylish cabins and seven rooms on the top floor of the spacious main lodge where guests dine, read, play Scrabble or other board game, chat or gaze at the views from the wrap-around porch. Cloud Camp has no televisions and no room service. While naturally more limited that the selections available at the resort’s six distinctive restaurants down the mountain, the food is first-rate. Cloud Camp and the Emerald Valley Ranch, The Broadmoor’s other off-campus specialty resort appear to share chefs, with kitchen crew shifting to where they are needed. When I visited for Cloud Camp’s opening day, Jonathan Frakes, a Culinary Institute of America alum, was captaining Cloud Camp’s kitchen, where a sous-chef, cooks and apprentices also worked alongside him.

Chef Jonathan Frakes reviewing his file of menus, which are on a four-day rotation.  The logistics call for starting some dishes below and bringing them up to be finished while others are prepared from scratch at Cloud Camp.

Chef Jonathan Frakes reviewing his file of menus, which are on a four-day rotation. The logistics call for starting some dishes below and bringing them up to be finished while others are prepared from scratch at Cloud Camp.

Chef Frakes's team preparing for the first night's dinner.

Chef Frakes’s team prepping for the first night’s dinner.

Cooking Club

I love hanging around professional kitchens, trying to stay out of the way. Cloud Camp’s kitchen is small but fantastically equipped, with an induction cooktop (no flame, minimal heat), convection oven (high efficiency) and other tools of the trade. Cloud Camp’s Cooking Club, an optional activity, is intended to give guests an opportunity to get tips and learn tricks from the chef. I was the only one interested of the small group of opening-day guests, so after Chef gave me a kitchen tour, introduced me to his drew and we chatted a bit, I got the task of quartering the heirloom cherry tomatoes for the amuse-bouche.

Heirloom tomatoes to be quartered by yours-truly -- not a complex task but simply a novelty to do in a restaurant kitchen.

Heirloom tomatoes to be quartered by yours-truly — not a complex task but simply a novelty to do in a restaurant kitchen.

Here I am, quartering away.

Here I am, quartering away.

My handiwork was combined with fresh cubed mozzarella, micro-basil and the richest, sweetest Balsamic vinegar I've ever tasted.

My handiwork was combined with fresh cubed mozzarella, micro-basil and the richest, sweetest Balsamic vinegar I’ve ever tasted.

Cloud Camp’s First Supper

Our small group fit at just part of the commodious table that, with a guest at every seat, can accommodate 30 guests. That number was expected to double for the second supper. Passed hors d’oeuvres and drinks were followed by “my” amuse-bouche, and then a choice of two soups, three entrées, two salads, a selection of artisanal cheeses and two desserts. Some of the images didn’t come out well enough in the dimmish light to post here (I should have used a flash), but these are a few of the better ones:

Maine Lobster Bisque with a float of sherry cream and fines herbes. Rustic or not, the kitchen sent the soup out with a napkin between the soup plate and the dinner plate so as not to rattle or spill -- a five-star touch even at elevation.

Maine Lobster Bisque with a float of sherry cream and fines herbes. Rustic or not, the kitchen sent the soup out with a napkin between the soup plate and the dinner plate so as not to rattle or spill — a five-star touch even at elevation.

Rocky Mountain Trout Meuniere with white asparagus Hollandaise.

Rocky Mountain Trout Meuniere with white asparagus Hollandaise.

A salad of Kentucky Limestone Bibb Lettuce, an heirloom variety first cultivated by Jack Bibb in the late 19th century. With it cherry tomatoes, red onion, a lot of creamy French dressing and chunks of Roquefort cheese.

A salad of Kentucky Limestone Bibb Lettuce, an heirloom variety first cultivated by Jack Bibb in the late 19th century. With it, cherry tomatoes, red onion, a lot of creamy French dressing and chunks of Roquefort cheese.

A plate of artisanal cheese and fruit, before dessert, is a sophisticated touch.

A plate of artisanal cheese with both fresh and dried fruits before dessert  is a sophisticated touch.

Classic chocolate mousse in a goblet with fresh raspberries and a Pirouette cookie.

Classic chocolate mousse in a goblet with fresh raspberries, sprig of fresh mint and a Pirouette cookie.

Caramel Choux is dessert of profiteroles, halved and filled with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a lacy crown of crunchy caramel.

Caramel Choux is dessert of profiteroles, halved and filled with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a lacy crown of crunchy caramel.

Breakfast Buffet

When I got up from dinner, I thought I’d never be hungry again, but of course, I was mistaken. The buffet choice included hot and cold items. Fresh cinnamon rolls are a house specialty, even though the “house” just opened the previous day.

Smoked fish with the customary accompaniments of chopped egg, capers and chopped onion.

Smoked fish with the customary accompaniments of chopped egg, capers and chopped onion.

Baked goods, house-made preserves and butter.

Baked goods, house-made preserves and butter.

We left before lunch, which is also part of the Cloud Camp package at other than opening day. Two- to four-night stays are expected, which allows for more fine meals.

Highlands Food Festival Tonight

Northwest Denver ‘hood celebrates food.

TasteOfHighlands-logoIf you’re hungry and looking for a foodie event this evening, check out the 2014 Taste of Highlands are Highlands Square from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight, August 16. Tickets were $30 in advance, $40 at the door (if available) and $50 for VIP; kids under ten get in free. The event in one of my favorite Denver neighborhoods features specialty food merchants, live music by local favorites Hayward Strangers, a beer and wine garden and dish samples. Sorry for the late notice, but it just popped up on my personal radar screen, and I figure better late than not at all.  Highlands Square is along West 32nd Street between Perry and Lowell.