Food & Wine asked bloggers and other food experts in every state about “The Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants” in the state where they live. A number of Colorado restaurants now have their own farms, but Toni Dash, who blogs as Boulder Locavore, selected a pioneer in farm-to-table sourcing and sustainability. Her choice was The Kitchen, a Boulder baby that now has other Front Range locations in Denver and Fort Collins:
“Over the past five years in Boulder and Denver, I’ve noticed a big shift towards a vibrant restaurant scene with a palpable verve around sustainability,” said Toni Dash of Boulder Locavore. “Restaurants like Black Cat, Potager, and Fruition have really stepped up to the plate to deliver inspired seasonal cuisine.” Paving the farm-to-table way in Colorado is The Kitchen, which has establishments in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins and applies its strong eco-friendly philosophy—that includes everything from the locally sourced ingredients to wind power to composting—in each location. Founders Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Husk have also created a nonprofit that’s built over 200 Learning Gardens in schools in Colorado, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Memphis for 120,000 students to discover the benefits of growing and eating fresh healthy food.
I don’t know who changed the spelling of the name of one of the co-founders. It’s actually Kimball Musk, not Kimball Husk. He’s the brother of Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, but his commitment to good, healthy food does not end at his restaurants. Late last year, he launched Square Roots, an urban farming incubator program in Brooklyn, New York.
I wanted to stretch my legs on the drizzly day of errands, so I walked from McGuckin’s to REI. Boulderites will know my route. As I passed the shuttered Volta Restaurant, I rued its loss, but it did put me the mood for Greek food. I recalled a little Greek place in a nearby strip mall. Our errands completed, my husband and I headed for the Kalita Grill Greek Café. Good decision.
This is an order a-the-counter place. While it is not a hip open kitchen, the whistle-clean kitchen is visible as you wait to order. Hot food is delivered to the table hot; salads are cold; desserts are room temperature. I don’t know whether every single phyllo thing is made in-house, but everything we had was fresh and tasty — and the portions were generous.
If I have one criticism of this wonderful, reasonably priced café, it is the music selection. Greek tunes would be far better than the elevator music-style light jazz — just for the ambiance.
Price check: Soups, $3.50 for a cup, $3.99 for a bowl; gyro sandwiches and shawarma warps, $6.50-$8.50 (plus $2.99 for coma with fries, salad or soup and soda); salads, $8.50-$10.50; plates, $8.99-$12.99; sides, $1.50-$5.99; desserts, $3.25-$3.99.
Zomato has not yet discovered Kalita, which is in at 2426 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder; 303-443-0596. It is in the row of businesses between JoAnn’s Fabrics and Doug’s Day Diner.
Not long ago, my friend Kuvy Ax and I met for coffee at OZO, a do-it-right café that in a very Boulder way adheres to the “ideals of community, coffee and a calling” in the way they source, roast and store their beans and other products. Kuvy ordered a mocha Cholaca, and so did I. It provided a power hit of well prepared coffee with the flavor boost of pure cacao.
My own bottle of Cholaca liquid cacao now resides in my refrigerator, and I pour a shot into my morning coffee to try to replicate the OZO experience. Even before this product, I often put a spoonful of chocolate powder into my morning coffee (along with sweetener and soy creamer, because I’m a wimpy coffee drinker). No matter whether I started with coffee and stirred in the powder or vice versa, there was always some sludge left in the bottom of the mug because the powder completely dissolved. Tasty sludge, but sludge nonetheless. Not so with liquid, which blends easily and totally with the coffee and my other add-ins.
I try to be a responsible consumer, so I like to see labels proclaiming “organic,” “single origin” and “fair trade,” which aims to give growers fair compensation for their products. My Cholaca is “lightly sweetened” with organic, fair trade coconut sugar. They also make unsweetened and more sweetened, as well as pure cacao wafers that must be a dream to bake with. (Next time I’m in cookie-making mode, I’ll use some.) I’m not a beer drinker, but the Boulder Beer Company’s St. Patrick’s Day release of Irish Blessing, a seasonal oak-aged coffee stout brewed with an abundance of black and chocolate malts for a bittersweet chocolate finish might have changed my thinking.
I get together with friends for coffee at The Laughing Goat every Friday morning. I it turns out that they also carry Cholaca, so I’ll order my weekly cappuccino with a shot. The cacao is grown in Peru and Ecuador, and the company is based in Boulder. That makes it appropriate for this Colorado-focused blog — that and the fact that I really like it.
Boulder chef Hosea Rosenberg was the winner of “Top Chef,” season 5, and a decade later, the highly rated Bravo show is going to be filming in Colorado. Details have not yet be revealed (after all, “reality” shows thrive on suspense), but Denver, Boulder and Telluride are slated as venues.
“Entertainment Weekly broke the news host Padma Lakshmi and judges Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Graham Elliot are to be featured. Colicchio, the head judge, is an admirable member of the culinary community for his anti-hunger work and advocacy for organic foods.
“We are always on the hunt for the next great culinary destination and Colorado is fast becoming a hot spot for young chefs and foodies, making it an ideal backdrop for our upcoming season,” executive vice president for current production at Bravo Media Shari Levine told Entertainment Weekly .
Hong Kong-style happy hour after to Travel & Adventure Show.
We traveled the world vicariously at the Denver Travel & Adventure Show on the weekend, visiting a lot of Asian exhibitors. These particularly interested me because we are going to Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan next month. We spent a fair amount of time hanging at the Access China Tours booth, where the first of several pairs of Sherpas were stationed. After we had walked every aisle, collected more literature than necessary, we were hungry. I was also primed for Asian food.
I had just been to a media event when Uncle Joe’s Hong Kong Bistro first opened in December 2015. It was the second Denver eating event of the day, and I couldn’t do it justice. But I loved the spare décor, and I did my best with the food; click here for my first experience. And I’ve posted about our happy hour at Uncle Joe’s, when I was hungry.
Meadow Mountain Café in Allenspark fills up with regulars — and newbies like us.
I can hardly believe that I knew nothing about the Meadow Mountain Café on the business loop of the Peak to Peak Highway. The hamlet of Allenspark’s summer homes and rental cabins draw Texans, Oklahomans, Kansans and other flatlanders, and the café also attracts regulars from Longmont, Lyons and Berthoud. Locals said they come up a few times a year. Judging from the social media comments, it seems that breakfast or lunch at the Meadow Mountain Café is one of the things that draws these vacationers to town.
Walk up a few steps with buttons embedded in the mortar between the stones, pass a forest of birdhouses to a porch that I’m sure is delightful when it’s a tad warmer than it was yesterday morning. Enter the funky, rustic café with about a handful of tables and friendly, efficient service. There was a butt on every chair when we walked in, but happily, one party vacated a right-size table for our party of five. Sharing a table with others is actually OK too.
Peruse the laminated menu. It lists the items — nothing exotic, but everything served in generous portions on random heavy-duty plates. The coffee comes in random heavy-duty mugs. I didn’t ask for cappuccino!
Price check: Eggs, $7.50-$8.95; 4-egg omelets, $8.95-$10.95 (2-egg versions also available); Pancakes, French Toast & Waffles, $4.25-$9.50 (1, 2 or 3 pancakes per order); sides, 75¢-$3.50.
Sometimes I follow recipes — faithfully or loosely. Sometimes, I just freelance a dish. That’s what I did when I wanted pasta sometime, had just bought organic baby spinach and rooted around for ingredients that I thought would go well. I used no recipe, and didn’t even measure what I used. So here is a very rough guide to making a quick, tasty dish. The pattern is simple, so it can be made with different kinds of pasta, with other leafy vegetables, with fresh or rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, etc., etc.
Bring salted water to a boil. Add about 3 ounces of mini-penne. Coarsely chop about 3 tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes in oil. Peel and mince one clove of fresh garlic, and sauté in about 1 tablespoon olive oil for a minute or two. Add crushed red pepper flakes. Rinse about 5 ounces fresh baby spinach and add to garlic/pepper. Add sun-dried tomatoes and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, adding a little water to cook the spinach. When pasta is al dente, drain. Put into a serving bowl, top with spinach/tomato mixture. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.
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.