All posts by Claire Walter

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.”

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).

Click to add a blog post for Other Side Restaurant on Zomato

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).

Lunada in Lafayette a Tasty Surprise

001Southwestern restaurant  next to a mall that is becoming a mega-church.

Lafayette’s Flatirons Community Church has been making headlines for its huge congregation (10,000 members) and its expansion into the Lafayette Marketplace, which used to have several restaurants. The church bought the mall from Jim Quinlan,  owner of Jax Mercantile, which anchors the mall.  On Saturday, we were scheduled to do volunteer  tree planting at the Wild Animal Sanctuary, and we were told to expect mud. It was indirectly because of Jax Ranch Supply, where I went to buy rubber boots, so we discovered A) the location of the headline-making church and B) Lunada. It is one of the few remaining restaurants there.

The space was once an Indian restaurant, and the wall colors translate well o Southwestern style.
The space was once an Indian restaurant, and the wall colors translate well o Southwestern style.
Lunada usually referrs to the crescent moon, but the restaurant's dramatic art depicts the full moon.
Lunada usually referrs to the crescent moon, but the restaurant’s dramatic art depicts the full moon.
A good marg in a cactus-steam glass are a good start.
A good marg in a cactus-stem glass is a good start to any Mexican meal.
Nachos, natch.
Nachos, natch.
A trio of sliders on mini-brioche bread are sided with thin, skin-on fries. The burgers are topped with cheddar cheese, chipotle mayo and crunchy
A trio of sliders on mini-brioche bread are sided with thin, skin-on fries. The burgers are topped with cheddar cheese, chipotle mayo and crunchy “tumble weed onions.”
Signs of the times at the former mall.
Signs of the times at the former mall.

Price check: Soups, Salads and Stew, $4-$8.99; Para la Mesa (shareable food “for the table”), $2.99-$7.50; Char-Grllled Burgers, $8.50-$10.99; Los Tacos, $8.49-$12/49 (incl ranchero beans and rice); Las Enchiladas, $9.50-$12.

Click to add a blog post for Lunada Eatery & Cantina on Zomato

Taste of Fort Collins This Weekend

Food, drink and entertainment in Old  Town Fort Collins

TasteofFortCollins-logoMore then 50 restaurants and food trucks are gearing up for the 19th annual The First National Bank Taste of Fort Collins (TFC) during the weekend of June 12 to 14 at the iconic Civic Center Park in Old Town, Fort Collins. The three-day program is filled with local and national restaurants serving tastes of their signature dishes plus the Wilbur’s Craft Beer and Wine Pavilion for beverages, entertainment from regional and international musicians, more than 150 local artisans and vendors, and a Kidz Zone designed to entertain the little ones.

Gates open at 5 p.m. for the Friday Summer Kickoff Concert. The modest $5 entry fee. benefits the Taste of Fort Collins’ Colorado State University scholarship fund and the Eyeopeners Kiwanis Club of Fort Collins Foundation.

An event with “Taste” at its first name is food-centric, and the organizers have assembled a neat infographic with the names of the participating food vendors.  It’s kind of fun to look it over and find your favorites. Most are casual in the street-food manner. Very fitting for an outdoor event.

Since the pricing structure is a little complicated, I’m quoting the press release so I don’t get anything wrong: “Festival hours are Friday, June 12, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, June 13, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, June 14, from 11 a.m. to 8:00. Entrance fee to Taste of Fort Collins is $5 per person before 3 p.m. and $10 after 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Children under 12, seniors over 65, and members of the Military with proper ID are admitted free of charge. Present your First National Bank card at the gates, and also get in free. Three-day passes are available for $15-$25 while supplies last and VIP passes are also available at a range of prices for each day at www.TasteofFortCollins.com. Local’s weekend passes will be available in May* at a special rate of $15 at Wilbur’s Total Beverage.” (*Perhaps no longer available in June.)