Category Archives: Award

Governor’s Cup Honors Colorado Wines

Denver event to honor winning wines, plus top chefs’ food sampling.

ColoradoWineGovCup-logoGovernor John Hickenlooper was famously a beer guy, opening the Wynkoop Brewery with three colleagues back in 1988, the year that I moved to Colorado. He now presides over a state with a robust wine industry too, and on August 4, the winning wines from the annual Governor’s Cup are revealed in a public tasting event at the Colorado History Center.

The Colorado Wine Governor’s Cup is the only statewide wine- making competition exclusively for the Centennial State’s wines, including 236 wines from 33 local wineries.  The panel of such experts as sommeliers, chefs, writers and wine experts annually evaluate the submitted wines to select the 18 (12 grape wines and 6 cider/mead/fruit wines). They are assembled into the “Wine Case” used to promote Colorado’s best.

The Governor’s Cup celebration on August 4 provides the opportunity to taste all the medalists  paired with small bites prepared by some of the area’s best chefs. These include Elise Wiggins (formerly Panzano and soon opening Cattivella) , Mark Reggiannini (Cafe Marmotte), Ben Davis (Tony’s Market Dry Creek) and Ashlea Tobeck (Escoffier School of Culinary Arts).

VIP entry ($90) is at 6:30 p.m. and includes a chance to sample 2015 winners paired with an extended menu by Chef Samir Mohammad of the History Colorado Center’s Café Rendezvous. General admission ($45) begins at 7:30 p.m.  The event ends at 9:30 p.m. Governor Hickenlooper presents the awards to the wineries. FoMoInfo or tickets, call 303-869-9177 or click here.

Don’t expect to see Canyon Wind Cellars, which is closing on July 31, having planted its first grape vines in 1991, early in the current Colorado wine era.  The owners and wine-makers, Jay and Jennifer Christianson, are retiring. I wish them well.

Gluten-Free Restaurant in The Springs Cited

Coquette’s is singled out for its baked goods.

Coquetts-logoColorado celiacs who cannot eat gluten and also those who prefer gluten-free rejoice! Coquette’s Bistro & Bakery in Colorado Springs has been named one of the country’s best.  Here’s what In Love With Food posted in “10 of the Best Gluten-Free Bakeries in the U.S.” posted:

Award-winning, family-run, inspired by the Greek tradition of valuing food as not just something to eat, but something to celebrate, there really wasn’t any doubt this place would be a hit. This spot serves as a full restaurant, with appetizers, burgers on freshly baked gluten-free bread and even sells its gluten-free flour blend.

I’m happy that a business outside of metro Denver appeared on a national list, but my choice would have been for the Rheinlander Bakery in Arvada. It’s an exceptional, family-owned German bakery that went gluten-free some years ago when owner Ed Dimmer’s wife was diagnosed with celiac. It’s a bakery, period — and has been for more than half a century.

 

Food Network Mag Loves Peppercorn

Boulder cookware & more store one of nation’s 10 best.

This is actually the 30th anniversary logo, but the store is now closer to 40 years old.
This is actually the 30th anniversary logo, but the store is now closer to 40 years old.

Colorado chefs and restaurants – especially in metro Denver and occasionally Boulder — find their way onto national “best” and “top” lists, mainly because the food sites have stringers in the Mile High City. The Food Network magazine, which I’ve occasionally contributed to, just compiled a list of specialty stores that carry cookware, bakeware, kitchen, small appliances. gadgets and more. One that sells more — much more — is Boulder’s divine Peppercorn. I’ve often said that I’d like my whole life to look like Peppercorn. I’m afraid that it doesn’t.

Peppercorn, Boulder
Cookbooks and chocolate and cookware, oh my! Peppercorn, located on Boulder’s historic downtown pedestrian mall, gets the culinary shopping experience right. What better way to fuel a cook’s imagination than to offer creative bites alongside kitchen utensils? Though it carries a great selection of cookware, barware, bed and bath basics, cutlery and appliances, this shop is also known for its esoteric collection of specialty foods. Rocky Mountain Poo (chocolate-covered sunflower seeds), anyone? Bring a sense of humor, your appetite and your biggest tote bag.

CulCol on ‘DiningOut’ Blog List

I’m pleased and proud that this food/restaurant blog  is one of 11 local blogs featured in the Denver/Boulder edition of ‘DiningOut.” It is also the longest-running of the near-dozen blogs that were spotlighted. I describe it as Colorado-centric but not Colorado exclusive. Click here to see the roundup. Thanks to Maya Silver and the other “deciders” at Dining Out.

Arroyo Seco Ice Cream Parlor on World List

Recognition for Taos Cow’s pure ice cream.

TaosCow-logo I often complain that when compiling lists of “top” this or “best” that, national sites pay scant attention to restaurants in the flyover states of the Mountain West. When some establishment makes such a list, more often than not, it’s in Denver.

So it came as quite a fine surprise when The Daily Meal’s selection of the World’s 35 Best Ice Cream Parlors 2016  included the Taos Cow in tiny Arroyo Seco, a hamlet between Taos and Taos Ski Valley.  It’s actually more than an ice cream parlor but a place to stop for breakfast and lunch offerings, including really good soups.  I have no delusions that The Daily Meal actually had a correspondent try out. Bon Appétit, USA Today and the two Times newspapers (L.A. and New York) previously  wrote about it. The Daily Meal’s words about this ice cream:

Taos Cow, Arroyo Seco, N.M.

Specializing in all-natural, rGBH-free ice cream since 1993, Taos Cow mixes traditional flavors with local ingredients, creating Southwestern-inspired varieties like Buffalo Chip (vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate-covered coffee beans), Maple Walnut (made with real maple extract and walnuts), Cherry Ristra (cherry ice cream with dark chocolate chunks and piñon nuts), and Holstein Sunset (strawberry ice cream with white, dark, and milk chocolate chunks).

In case you’re wondering, rGBH is a growth hormone commonly administered to cattle.

Feasting at Farmer Girl

Lyons restaurant’s eclectic, pleasing cuisine.

015Last September, my husband and I stopped at a  small restaurant called LOCAL in Lyons en route home from Rocky Mountain National Park. As I wrote here, it was pleasant and the food was good. But for some reason — perhaps because there seemed to have been four or five people owning and/or running it. We all know the admonition about “too many cooks.”

The space is now named Farmer Girl, and one gifted person is in charge. Tim Payne, who ran Terroir on Longmont’s Main Street, is the chef at Farmer Girl, which calls itself a “community bistro.”  The decorative touches are fewer, as are the communal tables. But it has the same congenial vibe. Its motto is “local, sustainable food with soul.” Coming up later this month is the first dinner at the Lyons Farmette, a local artisanal farm. The good news for restaurant, farm and the Lyons Arts and Humanities Commission, for which it is a fundraiser,  is that it is sold out.

Long-time friends from New Jersey were coming to Estes Park for a wedding, we agreed to meet in the middle for dinner, and that meant Lyons and Farmer Girl. The simple menu lists seven each of small and large plates, plus a nice wine selection and other beverages and a couple of desserts. These change with availability of ingredients.

Farmer Girl Salad composed of Aspen Moon Farm greens, shaved baby turnips, carrots, sunflower seeds, and Parmesan with strawberry-herb vinaigrette.
Farmer Girl Salad composed of Aspen Moon Farm greens, shaved baby turnips, carrots, sunflower seeds, and Parmesan with strawberry-herb vinaigrette.
Mushroom Tartine features grilled mushrooms a fried egg laid by a local chicken, Aspen Moon Farm greens, ricotta and grilled bread,
Mushroom Tartine features grilled mushrooms a fried egg laid by a local chicken, Aspen Moon Farm greens, ricotta and grilled bread.
Dark meat in a pool of dark sauce with a dark green vegetable doesn't make for the best image, but the taste of the lamb Bolognese made with local meat, local greens and house-made pappardelle and Parmesan is rich and fabulous.
Dark meat in a pool of dark sauce with a dark green vegetable doesn’t make for the best image, but the taste of braised flat-iron beef  with potatoes, greens and milk stout demi-glace s rich and fabulous.

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Steuben’s & Park Burger on National List

The Daily Meal includes Denver eateries on best burger list.

DailyMeal-logoI scan every list of “best” and “top” restaurants for Colorado entries. If there is one, it is usually in Denver or occasionally Boulder, but hardly ever in the mountains.  As for the rest of the Rocky Mountain region, those sites do not seem to realize that New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana even exist. Tsk-tsk on coastal provincialism. Enough of that and on to The Daily Meal’s selection of “The 101 Best Burgers in America 2016 .” Steuben’s — a fun Denver spot with Boston roots — makes the list, as do Park Burger’s four locations.

Steuben’s

Opened in 2007, but named in honor of a famous restaurant and nightclub co-proprietor Josh Wolkon’s great-uncles owned in Boston for several decades in the middle of the last century, Steuben’s is a neighborhood diner serving American regional specialties. Representing Colorado’s neighbor, New Mexico, the menu presents what is regularly named the best green chile (or chili, as Steuben’s puts it) cheeseburger in Denver. Said to be inspired by the classic version at the Owl Bar in San Antonio, New Mexico, it’s a fat burger patty topped with American cheese into which green chile strips seem to melt. Lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, and mustard ornament the burger, which is served on a challah bun.

Park Burger

With four Denver locations, Park Burger has made a name for itself by serving fresh-ground, high-quality Angus beef from Harris Ranch on custom-baked buns. The most creative (and delicious) burger on its menu is the Croque Burger, a third-pound patty that’s given a deep crust and topped with ham, Swiss cheese, and a fried egg. Rich yet not overly so, all the components play perfectly off of each other