Fancy Cappuccino in Belgium

This espresso drink wears a cream crown.

Order a cappuccino in even the most modest bar or cafe in Wallonia and it comes mit Schlag and a cookie. Two days, two cafes and two fancy versions.

Whipped cream on the side in Beaumont.
The whipped cream is taller than the coffee in Dinant. Plus it has sprinkles on top.

We will be in Belgium until July 5, I am l looking forward to more such coffee treats.

Top BBQ in Colorado

Smokin’  Dave’s and GQ Championship BBQ on national list.

Adrian Miller, Denver-based lapsed lawyer, author of the James Beard Award-winning Soul Food: The Surprising Story of American Cuisine and The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our Fed Our First Families from the Washingtons to the Obamas, is also a certified barbecue judge. He just posted news that two Colorado restaurants (four locations total) have been named on the list of “Best of the Best Barbecue Restaurants in America” by National Barbecue News. Just 29 restaurants nationwide made the list.

In winter, when it’s not crowded, we have sometimes managed to score a table at Smokin’ Dave’s in Estes Park but usually end up stopping in Lyons on the way home. The meats, the chicken, the sauces, the even the sides (especially the sweet potato fries, slaw and the beans) are great. The funky automotive décor is run too. I don’t post every time we stop there, but occasional do, particularly the Lyons location après la deluge of 2013. We’ve never been to GQ Championship BBQ in Westminster, but it’s now on our to-try list.

Interestingly, neither of these restaurants appear on his Soul Food Scholar blog’s selection of his own favorite spots in the state and elsewhere. However, Durango-born Serious Texas Bar-B-Q (two in Durango and one each in Fort Collins and Loveland) meets his standards.

Upcoming Food Fests in Denver

Two alliterative competitions to find the best tacos and burgers.

Attendees at the massive Top Taco coming on Thursday, June 22 may sample unlimited taco tastes from and signature tequila cocktails  from 45 popular Denver restaurants. They can also vote for favorite in Top Creative Taco, Top Traditional Taco, Top Vegetarian Taco and Top Cocktail categories. Add live music, creative tequila lounge areas, and Top Taco is a hard to beat summer event.  Hours are 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. with early entry for the two most expensive tickets. General admission is $69, 1st Tasting is $90 and a VIP ticket is $125. Click here to purchase.

Last minute tickets available:
$10 OFF USE DISCOUNT CODE “LASTCHANCETACO” WHEN BUYING TICKETS AT TOPTACODENVER.COM FOR $10 OFF. OFFER GOOD THROUGH MIDNIGHT, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2017.

Four local burger-meisters compete in the annual Denver Burger Battle on Thursday, August 3. They have to impress a picky and knowledgeable panel of judges — all chefs and restaurateurs — with their creativity and skills. Each chef prepares four types of burgers. Contestant restaurants are The Cherry Cricket, Stoic & Genuine,  and Park Burger. Heavy-hitter judges are Josh Wolken (Steuben’s, Ace, Vesta), Elise Wiggins (Cattivella), Bryan Dayton (Oak on Fourteenth, Acorn, Brider) and Bradford Heap (Salt, Colterra, Wild Standard), and attendees get to vote on the People’s Choice too.

General admission ($69.95) gets unlimited burger tastes from all competitors, open bar with craft beer, wine and samples of premium spirits and desserts from Little Man, Glazed & Confused, Happy Bakeshop & Sweet Action. VIP admission ($124.99) buys all that plus early admission to the event at 5:30 p.m. and reduced lines, exclusive VIP area with covered lounges, extra seating and private bars and specialty VIP cocktails (High Noon Vodka, Rebel Yell hiskey, Cane Rum, Fireball, Exotico Tequila, Buffalo Trace Bourbon or Tuaca), plus  unlimited desserts from Little Man, Glazed & Confused, Happy Bakeshop, & Sweet Action. The event is rain or shine, 21+ only and takes place at Tivoli Quad Park, Denver.

Himalayan Fare in North Boulder

Mandala Infusion serves Tibetan and related dishes.

My husband and I recently visited the Himalayan region (Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan). Let’s just say we were there for the culture and the mountains, not for the cuisine. Most of out meals were in hotels and tourist-oriented restaurants — mostly family-style and mostly blanded out for perceived American tastes.

This innocent-looking pilaf, in a little restaurant in Lhasa, was booby-trapped with small chicken bones.

I suppose it was just as well. On one free night in Lhasa, we went across the street from our hotel to a cute local restaurant whose exterior had a curiously Alpine roofline. The inside was cozy. The food was simple, and with no momos on the menu, I ordered the simplest of dishes, rice with chicken. The cooked chicken, bones and all, was hacked into tiny pieces — unpleasant.

Still, feeling a longing for things Himalayan, we went to Mandala Infusion, a sparkling restaurant on North Broadway that had previously been the ABC Café and a Thai restaurant — even concurrently with the café operating in the morning and the restaurant for dinner. Now, a large prayer wheel is stationed at the entrance.

The dinner/small plate menu does offer momos, no yak (but yak cheese), as well some dishes (notably Golden Beet and Quinoa Salad and Cabbage Kimchi, that that don’t seem Tibetan, but what do I know?

Traditional low-sitting sanngha tables remained unoccupied during our visit.
Golden Beet and Quinoa Salad on greens with tomato, cabbage and more. (Sorry, I didn’t write down all the ingredients.)
Momos available with lamb or veggies.
Tingbuns, which are sliders available filled with pork belly (shown here) or tofu.

Price check: At dinner Small plates, $6-$12; larger plates, $15-$19; sides, $3-$5.

4479 North Broadway, Boulder; 720-370-5800.

Weekend Options for Foodies and Wine Lovers

Food & Wine Classic and more on Colorado calendar this weekend.

The 35th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is America’s highest-profile culinary event — a place for culinary stars to see and be seen, for wine folks to dazzle their palates and each other, and for the well-heeled “rest of us” to breathe the same mountain air as the stars and learn some  of their secrets. Even if you just won the lottery, this star-studded weekend sold out months ago. What else to do?

Far more casual is the 24th annual Frisco BBQ Challenge, Friday, June 16, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, June 17, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m..  More than 70 barbecuers are expected, along with seven bands, pig races, kids’ activities and the 3rd Annual Fire Fighter Cook Off on the BlueStar Kitchen Stage. There’s food to sample and cooking demos, the Breckenridge Distillery Whiskey Tour, the Bacon Burner 6k and what could just be the best BBQ in Colorado. Buy Hogback tickets at the event for $1 each. Most street food costs between $5 and $12. Proceeds supports local non-profits.

The granddaddy of food-oriented festivals is the 120th Annual Strawberry Days Festival in Glenwood Springs, June 16-18.
​It features live music and main stage entertainment, a FamilyFest area with interactive, entertaining and creative experiences for the kids; a Fine Arts and Crafts Fair, food court, an old-fashioned carnival and a parade down Grand Avenue.  Organizers serve free strawberries and ice cream on Saturday after the parade, a tradition for more than a century.

What about staying around Denver? If you, like me, favor rosé wines in summer, the third annual Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Competition is the place go. Spend three hours in the Omni Interlocken Resort’s Outdoor Pavilion in Broomfield, sample wines, nibble on light fare and listen to live jazz. The event on Friday, June 16, 6 to 9 p.m., is one of the world’s few professional double-blind wine competitions dedicated to all styles of rosé wine. Judging are some of Colorado’s top sommeliers, master sommeliers and wine critics. VIP tickets are sold out, but general admission tickets remain at $70 per person or $200 for four. Click here to purchase.

“Train” for that competition with the Do at The Zoo, a fundraiser for the Denver Zoo on Thursday, June 15, 7 to 10 p.m. More than 55 of the city’s best restaurants and breweries provide sample dishes. Bartenders  pour unlimited drinks, including the region’s best beers, wines and cocktails (have a designated driver or take Uber, Lyft or RTD home, please). And there’s live music and entertainment.

Little Man Named Denver’s Best Ice Cream

Thrillist.com cites LoHi-based ice cream shop as “the best.”

I don’t envy “the decider” about which dipping store to crown “Denver’s Best Ice Cream”on Thrillist.com,  because there are so many good ones. But the site did name Little Man Ice Cream, whose flagship is in the vibrant LoHi ‘hood. Here’s what one Andy Kryza wrote for the round-up of “The Best Ice Cream in Every State“:

Denver – Little Man Ice Cream

Look, we’re suckers for anything served out of a giant version of its core ingredient, but it’s not just the fact that Little Man’s housed in a gigantic old milk bottle that has us excited. It’s also not the fact that the Scoop for Scoop program matches each order with its equivalent in rice in beans for those in need around the world, though that’s also great! But this place could serve scoops out of an outhouse and we’d still be stoked about flavors like Fluffernutter, Creamsicle, and Banana Pudding, plus ample gelato and sorbet options. Maybe not as stoked, but still pretty stoked. Given the typical lines, Coloradans seem to be stoked as well.

 

Blue Corn Pancakes

Light and toothsome breakfast entrée.

I have always liked blue corn chips, and I first tasted blue corn pancakes at the historic and funky El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM, on a long-ago road trip. I’ve been unsuccessfully looking for them on menus ever since.  Fast-forward to this past week, when my husband bought two pounds of Gold Mine Organic blue masa harina. It would take more years than I have left to use it all in tamales, so I decided to adapt a pancake recipe. I used as a base a Food.com recipe for Masa Harina Pancakes, conveniently portioned for two. Here’s what resulted,

Blue Corn Pancakes

12 cup masa harina
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
12 cup milk
1 tablespoon canola oil

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl. Combine with dry ingredients and mix until smooth (masa harina will not be lumpy as wheat flour would be).
  3. Heat griddle on medium with a little oil . When it is hot, ladle on about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook until nicely browned and firm, about two minutes each side.

Serves 2.

These pancakes are very light and have a little crunch to them. I served them with a little  fruit on the plate and bacon and maple syrup on the side, I still have a lot of blue corn masa left, so I imagine I’ll be making them again.

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.