All posts by Claire Walter

A Corner of America in the Dolomites

Restaurant/pub puts on a good approximation Western ambiance.

P1050192A taste of the American West improbably is located in the Italian mountain town of San Martino di Castrozza. The Ranch Bar is tricked out in all sorts of stereotypical Westernia up to and including saddles as barstools.  Country and cowboy songs play. The menu features ribs, burgers and more American specialties, but we just stopped in for afternoon drinks after hiking. It was quiet on a late summer Monday, but I imagine that it rocks during ski season.

A welcome message.
A welcome message — close to the Irish original.
A glass of wine, a decent Italian margarita in a martini glass and a big basket of chips.
A glass of wine, a decent Italian margarita in a martini glass and a big basket of chips.
The Ranch Bar channeling the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson, Wyoming, with saddle barstools.
The Ranch Bar channeling the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson, Wyoming, with saddle barstools.
Decorative objects at the Ranch Bar entrance. There's also a gift shop. which was closed when we stopped in.
Decorative objects at the Ranch Bar entrance. There’s also a gift shop visible through the window behind the old stove. It was closed when we stopped in.
Kerchiefs on tables with wood-burned Western towns.
Kerchiefs on tables with wood-burned Western towns.

Truth be told, the food at the pleasant Hotel Colfosco (half-board required) is so boring that we might skip one night an come here for a burger. It’s tempting.

‘Gala’ Dinner in Dolomite Hotel

Hotel Colfosco pasta- and meat-heavy menu.

Table setting for Saturday dinner
Table setting for Saturday dinner – and every evening thereafter.

When we booked a last-minute RCI timeshare trade to Italy, we knew we wanted to stay in the magnificent Dolomites. Cortina d’Ampezzo and other mainstream resorts were not possible, so we are in the Hotel Colfosco in San Martino di Castrozza that is on the RCI program. Half-board (breakfast and dinner) is mandatory (48€ per person, per day additional — ouch!) Most guests check in/out on Sunday, so the hotel schedules its gala dinner for Saturday evening, which is just when we arrived. The night’s offering is a set menu — take it of leave it. Meat, cheese and pasta predominated. Vegetable matter was minimal. I kept thinking, “Toto, we’re not in Boulder anymore.” But I have to say, it was all very tasty — not haute cuisine, but solid Middle European cooking. On the bright side, I know that there’s a salad bar every evening from here on.

Millefeuille with ham ad cheese. The one-half cherry tomato and parsley sprig we almost the only vegetables on this 5-course menu.
Millefeuille with ham ad cheese and a swoosh of light tomato sauce. It plus one-half of a cherry tomato and a  parsley sprig were almost the only vegetables on this 5-course menu.

 

Two-pronged carb attack. Cannelloni filled with ricotta an spinach (the only other vegetable). Not a US-style pasta  tube to be filled, but the dough and the filling were assembled jellyroll-style. Alongside, toothsome risotto with pearl
Two-pronged carb attack. Cannelloni filled with ricotta and spinach (the only other vegetable). Not a US-style pasta tube that was filled, but rather the dough and the filling were assembled jellyroll-style. Alongside, toothsome risotto with pear. Garnish was the other half of the cherry tomato and another sprig of parsley.

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Denver Fest Celebrates Sustainable Seafood

Go Fish!  tasting event on Wednesday.

Fish-clipaartTop Denver chefs are coming together on Wednesday, August 26 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Baur’s Restaurant and Listening Lounge. The first Go Fish! Sustainable Seafood Tasting Event is described as a “luxurious strolling dinner” that includes ocean-friendly fish donated by Seattle Fish Co. — with gourmet beer wine and cocktails as well. The focus is on  sustainable ingredients as identified by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s wonderful Seafood Watch program. During this fishy feast, guests can sample dishes by some of the top restaurants and chefs in Denver, including acknowledged local seafood specialists. The event is open to the public.  Click here to purchase tickets ($40).

  • Dory Ford,  Baur’s Restaurant and AQUA TERRA Culinary.
  • Sheila Lucero, Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar.
  •  Kelly Whitaker, Basta and Cart-Driver.
  •  Robert Grant, Baur’s Restaurant and Listening Lounge.
  •  Alex Seidel, Fruition.
  •  Troy Guard, Guard & Grace and others.
  • Paul Reilly, Beast + Bottle.
  • Shaun Motoda, TAG Raw Bar.
  • Matt Vawter, Mercantile Dining & Provision.
  •  Kyle Mendenhall, The Kitchen Community.
  •  Kevin Grossi, LOLA.

Bauer’s is at 1512 Curtis Street, Denver; 303-615-4000.

Boulder Farmers’ Market Voted No. 1 in the Nation

Local market tops USA Today list.

FarmersMarket-logoThe Boulder Farmers Market, our wonderful seasonal marketplace for locally grown produce, locally produced food products and local artisans, tops USA Today’s 10Best Farmers Markets list  or 2015. Twenty contenders were selected by a panel of food and travel experts — Bernadine Prince, president of the Farmers Market Coalition; food writer Eric Grossman; travel writer Megy Karydes; M. Linda Lee, former editor for Michelin Travel Publications, Akila McConnell travel and food blogger, The Road Forks; Larry Olmsted, USA Today food writer, and food writer Kim Sunee. The panel’s selections were presented to the public for four weeksof daily votes.

Boulder Farmers Market is the brainchild of a group of local farmers, who came together with their vision of a local market in 1987 at the Boulder Courthouse. What started with a few tables of produce loaded off the backs of pickup trucks has evolved into a robust destination market on 13th Street between Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue more than 100 vendors who set up for the longest market season in Colorado. There’s also an outdoor food court with wine beer and sangria available too at the Wednesday night market that runs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. from early May through early October, and the original Saturday market runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. from early April through late November. During the peak summer season, the Boulder Farmers Market attracts over 5,000 customers per day.  My husband and I are often two of them.

Hopping in at Hopdoddy

Big juicy burger after bike race.

085My husband and I took the bus to Denver for the final stage of the USA Pro Challenge bike race. After finding good viewing spots at Civic Center Park that we didn’t want to leave, we made our way to Union Station for the return ride to Boulder. We were hungry and thirsty, and Hopdoddy Burger beckoned. We ordered and sat at a window table overlooking the plaza. People wearing cycling-themed T-shirts were soon joined by those wearing baseball jerseys and even a couple of topless women celebrating the Free the Nipple movement. Click here for a report.

Tables and booths are all high-tops, and each is outfitted with a roll of paper towel -- a feature usually found at barbecue places.
Tables and booths are all high-tops, and each is outfitted with a roll of paper towel — a feature usually found at barbecue places.

But as Dave Barry often wrote, I digress — from my post about Hopdoddy. Cool fast-casual place that features art on one wall, a kitchen on another and big windows on the other two. The hard surfaces that look so good do magnify the noise — not a problem on the shaded patio, but my husband had had enough of the outdoors after waiting for and watching the bike race and the podium ceremonies. We started with tasty margs with black salt on the glass rims, followed by big, juicy burgers and shared fries brought out a brown paper-lined kitchen trays, just like Mercantile just across the way.

Classic Burger. It arrived neatly stacked, but I moved the top of the fresh-baked bun to show how well cooked the  beef patty was.
Classic Burger made from freshly ground Angus beef. It arrived neatly stacked, but I moved the shiny top of the fresh-baked bun to show how well cooked the beef patty was.
Terlingua burger with chile con carne, corn Fritos, Tillamook Cheddar and
Terlingua burger with chile con carne, corn Fritos, Tillamook cheddar and “sassy sauce”
Thin-cut fries and a generous amount of dipping sauce. Is it the same
Thin-cut fries and a generous amount of dipping sauce. Is it the same “sassy sauce” as on the Terlingua burger? I don’t know.

No price check, because I didn’t take notes, and the online menu doesn’t reveal.

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Chautauqua Dining Hall A Summer Fave

Broad and shady porch is one of my happy places in Boulder.

DiningHallThe historic Chautauqua Dining Hall is one of my favorite places to be. The food is good but it’s the ambience that elevates it to great. In winter, the bar and restaurant are cozy retreats. In summer, the broad porch is shady and catches whatever breeze might be around. I especially like to take out-of-towners to this charming building in the Chautauqua National Historic Landmark.

When cousins arrived early on Friday, hungry from their drive all the way from Maryland, Chautauqua was our choice to introduce them to Boulder. A table on the porch, a bit of a mountain view and the Dining Hall’s generous portions was a fine perker-upper.

Enormous flatbreads are really large, thin-crust pizzas.
Enormous flatbreads are really large, thin-crust pizzas.
Sandwich of buttermilk-fried chicken topped with American cheese, aioli and cole slaw and a mixed salad on the side.
Sandwich of buttermilk-fried chicken topped with American cheese, Ole Bay aioli and cole slaw and a mixed salad on the side.
Summer salad of kale, Fontina cheese, honey-roasted almonds, red grapes and Mandarin orange slides. The kale is from Three Leaf Farm, owned by the folks who operate thr Dining Hall.
Summer salad of kale, Fontina cheese, honey-roasted almonds, red grapes and Mandarin orange slices and an add-on of tofu. The kale is from Three Leaf Farm, owned by the folks who operate the Dining Hall.

Price check:  At lunch,”Shared,” $6-$14; soups, $4-$6; salads, $5-$12 (plus optional add-ons, $2-$4, sandwiches and wraps (including salad, fries or soup); flatbreads, $10-$12; entrées, $13-$14.

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Kachina Grill’s Seasonal Corn Cart

Westin Westminster restaurant’s fall feature.

Kachina-logoOlathe Sweet Corn (capitalized because it is a trademarked brand name) was a little late this year due to all the spring rain. Now it is finally back in a slightly delayed season, and Jeff Bolton, the Kachina Southwestern Grill’s executive chef, is featuring it in several dishes, including the Quinoa Corn Pudding that accompanies the Smoked Bison Meatloaf and in the Corn Salsa, served with both the Chipotle Shrimp + Waffles (blue corn, last time I looked) and the Ruby Red Trout.

Excessively glamorous corn cart girl, but the grilled sweet corn is definitely down-home. Photo: Kachina Grill publicity photo)
Excessively glamorous corn cart girl, but the grilled sweet corn is definitely down-home. (Photo: Kachina Southwestern Grill)

But the most distinctive part of the corn season at Kachina Grill, located immediately adjacent to the Westin Westminster, is the restaurant’s “Corn on the Cart.” A waitperson pilots the cart throughout the restaurant to deliver delicious grilled corn to each table.

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