All posts by Claire Walter

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

500th Anniversary of German Beer Purity Act

Three ingredients mandated for Bavarian beer — and that’s all.

A German commemorative stamp celebrates the Reinheitsgebot, the world's first legal standard for the prodcution of a food or drink product.
A German commemorative stamp celebrates the Reinheitsgebot, the world’s first legal standard for the production of a food or drink product.

April 23, 1516, was not the date of William Shakespeare’s death. That wouldn’t happen for another hundred years. It was the date of the adoption of the Bavarian Beer Purity Act (Reinheitsgebot in German), decreeing that beer could be made only with three ingredients: water, barley and hops. Period.

This calls for all manner of celebrations, certainly in Germany where some festivals will stretch through the summer, but even in Colorado. Here are some:

AC Golden and Sandlot Brewery, both part of the Coors family, serve limited release of the Reinheit brew at select World of Beer locations. Master brewer Andreas Gahr from St. Johann Research Brewery in Germany has collaborated on this authentic, old-style German lager.

Boulder’s Bohemiian Biergarten is turning up the party juice this evening, even though Bohemia is now the Czech Republic, not Germany. Really, who cares? Beginning at 8 p.m. this evening, they are serving  $5 Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr Biers (both from Munich and now corporately related). Also, there’s a raffle for commemorative mugs. Austrian Connection plays live. At least Austrian and Germany share a common language (more or less, depending on regional dialects). Create some Reinheitsgebot-themed attire and  get a gift.

Mockery Brewing irreverently calls its its event Reinheitsgewhat?!.  It starts today at noon, and the irreverence continues as the brewery invites guests to “spend the day rocking and mocking beer laws.” They’ve got limited beer releases, live music by the The Polkanauts (“Metal by Birth-Polka by Choice”) and commemorative beer steins for the first 100 guests. They are putting details on their Facebook event page.

The Rackhouse in RiNo is serving specialty brews from Call to Arms and Fässer, Andechs Döppelbock monastery from noon on. The kitchen is turning out the Bavarian specialty, Leberkäse, a pâté beloved in southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

New Ice Cream Emporium in East Boulder

Heifer & Hen’s rich and flavorful ice cream.

012Heifer & The Hen sounds like the name of a pub in an English country village, but it’s Boulder’s newest place for designer ice cream and related treats. It’s the work of the talented Ian Clark, the chef and brewmaster whose BRU Handbuilt Ales & Eats turns out unfiltered, naturally carbonated ales and excellent hand-tossed pizzas and pub food. He calls it a “gastrobrewery.”

Last Friday, Clark quietly unlocked the Heifer & The Hen door, and the next day, it snowed. A lot. Still, people made through the weather for the organic creamery’s divine ice cream, milkshakes and floats. I visited on Tuesday afternoon. There were no lines (yet) but a steady stream of adults and kids. Subway tiles cover the walls. The counter features unpainted tin panels made for ceilings with a top or concrete. Seating consists of three swings suspended from metal chains, tall barstools facing the window and on the patio. All over are clever design touches, which Clark credits to his wife Bryce.

The young and the young at heart can hop aboard a swing at the counter.
The young and the young at heart can hop aboard a swing at the counter.

Clark is committed to thick, butterfat-rich ice cream made on a custard base in an open kitchen, so guests can watch. Cream + eggs = custard. Therefore, the dipping store’s name. I tasted several of the innovative flavors that he calls “elevated versions of classics. Burnt Honey. Sour Cherry, Buttermilk & Dark Chocolate. Mint, Basil & Dark Chocolate. Each one packs more of a flavor punch than the last.

The menu is written on butcher paper -- easy to update when items change. In addition to ice cream and dairy-free sorbets, there are sodas made in-house, affogato with cold-brewed coffee and old-fashioned poured over ice ice cream and old-fashioned milkshakes.
The menu is hand-written on butcher paper — easy to update when items change. In addition to ice cream and dairy-free sorbets, there are sodas made in-house, affogato with cold-brewed coffee and old-fashioned poured over ice ice cream and old-fashioned milkshakes.

The side-by-side locations of BRU and the ice cream place make for a symbiotic destination. Families can come to eat, with the beer perhaps enticing the adults, while kids then want ice cream.

Best ice cream sandwich wrapper ever.
Best ice cream sandwich wrapper ever.

I had been lusting after an ice cream sandwich for a couple of weeks, and I found Heifer & The Hen’s irresistible and bought one for the road — the cold stuff between two robust chocolate chip cookies. Worth waiting for.

5290 Arapahoe Avenue, Unit H, Boulder; 720-328-3159.

Heifer and the Hen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tastes of Thailand at Aloy

Freshness stressed at stylish Ballpark restaurant.

027I was fortunate to attend an opening party at Aloy Modern Thai in the cold grasp of last winter.  The flames in the double-sided fireplace and the piquant cuisine  from a very warm country provided a welcome contrast to the nippy outside. There were so many courses and so many paired adult beverages that I hit the wall before the end of the feast, The many dishes were so very good, but I was really on overload. Read my post to see what awesome abundance came to the table. At the time I wondered how sisters Bo Bean and Arisa Chanchokpong who own this restaurant and another in Boulder stay so slim. Several months along and meeting them again, I still wonder.

I was therefore delighted that Visit Denver hosted its most recent media reception in this welcome and wonderful restaurant. Rather than the overwhelming inaugural dinner, there were select small plates. With an opportunity to savor came the full impact of the restaurant’s commitment to super-fresh ingredients, especially the seafood and vegetables that are so important in Thai cuisine. Ten local farms are credited on the men for for supplying sustainable ingredients.

Aloy's Mai Tai made with a Thai spirit called Mehkong, Triple Sec, lime, an orange/almond syrup made in-house orgaet and Aztec bitter.
Aloy’s Mai Tai made with a Thai spirit called Mehkong, Triple Sec, lime, an orange/almond syrup called orgaet made in-house  and Aztec bitters.

Continue reading Tastes of Thailand at Aloy

River & Woods to Rise in Boulder

Former John’s location to be reborn as innovative seasonal eatery.

River and Woods logoCome summer, a new community-focused restaurant called River & Woods should be open in the charming old John’s Restaurant space on Boulder’s East Pearl Street. John’s. This jewel of a special occasion restaurant was as classic as they come, but River & Woods will be nontraditional — innovatively crowed-sourced from funding to recipes.

The marquee name is Daniel Asher, the talented and idealistic chef  who is known for his obsession with local agriculture, sustainable sourcing, seasonality and food justice. He was culinary director of The Edible Beats Group (Root Down, Linger, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox), and he continues to oversee sustainability and culture for the group.

The partnership opening this restaurant consists of Asher and Josh and Kate Dinar (he being the publisher of DiningOut magazines in Denver and other cities, cofounder of First Bite Boulder and other food-related enterprises). Crowdfunding via Indiegogo is part of the business plan. The project raised nearly $5,000 in its first 15 hours. Maybe other restaurants have tapped into such sources, but I sure am not familiar with any. It is hard to imagine Asher needing help in developing recipes for the restaurant’s planned “Colorado comfort cuisine,” but there is a call for just that in order to engage customers in the totality of the restaurant.

Not only is the vintage building at 2328 Pearl Street being brought up to snuff, but there is to be a large, fully-enclosed backyard oasis. The building comes from a time when lots were generous, even in the city, so I’m guessing that it will sizable. In the plan —   a grassy area for kids to run, an outdoor rotisserie and food bar, a mobile beer, wine and cocktail bar, strung lights and beautiful landscaping, Sounds lovely.