Category Archives: Boulder

Bienvenue au French Cafe

Tasty new bakery and café in The Village.

Le French Café Boulder opened quietly in The Village shopping center just a few weeks ago. Agnes and Quentin Garrigou, who had run two French cafes in Miami for about a decade, decamped for Colorado just ahead of Hurricane Irma’s devastating arrival in Florida. Quentin hails from the Loire region, while Agnes is from the Chamonix-Mont Blanc area and was eager to return to the mountains where their seven-year-old son could enjoy a childhood something like hers.

The couple sank all the money from the Miami cafes into the Boulder location, so are relying on word of mouth (and word from fingertips on keyboards) to get the word out. I’m happy to help, since it is the first French bakery in Boulder since Le Francais in the BaseMar Shopping Center closed years ago.

This trio of cheerful chairs on the building’s south side greets patrons — as does recorded mood-setting French music.

Le French Café is in what might be considered Boulder’s bakery intersection. It occupies a corner that features two other bakeries — Woodgrain for Montreal bagels and Great Harvest for whole-grain items. They are all different.  My husband and I went there this morning and it was an altogether pleasant experience. The space is bright and cheerful. The service is attentive. And most of all, the breakfast items are very good. I’m a gluten fan myself but I am very impressed that there is no surcharge for gluten-free crepes.

A cappuccino is my idea of the perfect morning coffee.
Croissant or quiche? Quiche or croissant? That was my question this morning. The day’s correct answer was quiche, accompanied by a salad that would have made it suitable for lunch or brunch as well.
My husband’s selection was the heartier combo of a fried eggs excellent bacon curled into a little nest,  potato cubes and a croissant.
We couldn’t resist ordering some macarons to take with us. Agnes boxed them and wrapped them with a little yellow ribbon.

The Village Shopping Center 2525 Arapahoe Avenue Boulder; 303-284-2265.

Another List, Another Honor for Frasca

Boulder restaurant scores again — and Sally’s may be sold.

Eater.com revealed its 2017 selections for “38 Essential Restaurants in America,” and not only was Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine on it, but having been listed for three consecutive years, it is now a Hall of Fame restaurant.

Other listees were less predictable. Bill Addison, who assembles the list, wrote, “I’ve also named a Restaurant of the Year, an of-the-moment union of breathtaking design and rooted, spectacular cooking in one of the country’s most timeless towns — Savannah.” The restaurant is The Grey, and the chef, Meshama Bailey, is an African-American woman. Addison wrote:

Everything that it takes to propel an ambitious restaurant to greatness — a coherent vision, a distaste for complacency, and singular leadership — Mashama Bailey accomplishes at the Grey in Savannah, Georgia. The restaurant synthesizes much of what’s relevant about this moment in American dining: an amalgamation of global and regional flavors; a big-city chef making a seismic impact in a smaller town; and an acute awareness of, and reckoning with, complex racial, economic, and cultural histories. The Grey doesn’t trade in tasting menu extravaganzas or modernist shenanigans. It’s an unabashed stunner of a space, staffed with kind-hearted souls. Beyond that, the cooking bursts with utter humanity. Bailey’s food — curried roast chicken, melting leeks with country ham and curls of grassy tomme, lamb shoulder braised with Senegalese spices — speaks to love of the region and devotion to the craft.

Another listee made my Connecticut-born heart beat with joy was finding Sally’s Appiza of New Haven on the list. This untrendy classic pizzeria has been turning out the same fabulous pies for nearly 80 years.  Addison wrote:

Salvatore Consiglio opened his restaurant in 1938, three decades after Lombardi’s in Manhattan first began serving pizzas in America — and 13 years after Consiglio’s uncle, Frank Pepe, started his namesake operation on the next block over in New Haven’s Italian district. Even so, Sally’s feels like the nation’s ur-pizzeria. It’s gritty, cramped, and chaotically busy; a certain imperviousness drifts in the air like coal dust. It is also, without question, the finest of the town’s legendary pie shops. The crust (a definitive nexus of bready and crackery), the sauce (pure tomato tang), and the cheese (spare, and yet somehow ample) fuse into utter glory. Devouring the signature tomato pie with garlic and pecorino Romano is a sacrament. Consiglio’s children may soon sell the business, so go now while the recipes remain in the family’s practiced hands.

Here’s hoping that even if the family sells the biz, someone who knows it and loves it will be the new owner.

American Gelato Festival Coming to Boulder

One of four cities to host the first American version.

I can still remember my first taste of gelato. It was in Rome a long lifetime ago at a gelataria across the street from and just to the right of the Pantheon. Thanks to the Internet, I am pretty sure it must have been Cremaria Monteforte (via della Rotonda 22), and that small flavor bomb on a hot summer day  was the first of many that I have savored over the decades. It is still there — and still widely praised for its flavors and authenticity. And I do remember it even though I’ve consumed many little cups and cones of gelato since then.

The Gelato Festival launched in Europe 2010 and has taken root there, and Boulder is the first stop of the first Gelato Festival America from September 29 through October 1 at the Twenty-Ninth Street shopping area. The unique creations of seven gelato makers from Italy, the U.S. and Canada compete for the honors of being the best in show as voted on by a panel of judges and by the public. There are also sessions to learn about the long history of gelato and how it’s made.

Click here for tickets and here for a GroupOn offer that saves 20 percent. In addition to the Boulder event,  Gelato Festival America then goes to Santa Barbara (October 20-22), Scottsdale (October 27-29) and Tucson (November 3- 5).

2017 Flatirons Food Film Fest

Sixth annual festival features a smorgasbord of films plus culinary stars.

The Flatirons Food Film Festival continues to attract foodies, film lovers and the intersection of both as it has since 2012.  Taking place in several Boulder venues from September 27 through October 1, it comprises nine film programs, an entire short documentary series focused on Colorado and culinary superstar chef Jeremiah Tower as guest speaker.

He is a hugely influential and controversial figure in American gastronomy. He began his career at Chez Panisse, then  opened Stars, an  iconic San Francisco restaurant, before disappearing from the culinary scene at the height of his success. He  re-emerged decades later at New York City’s struggling Tavern on the Green.  He was already middle-aged and left after less than a year after failing to revive the famous restaurant and have serious disagreements with the owners. Perhaps he will even tell tales that only he can know.  ‘Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent’ is an award-winning film about his life. It will be screened on Sunday, September 30 at 7:15 p.m., followed by an after-party at License No. 1 in the Hotel Boulderado.

Jeremiah Tower in 2015. This culinary legend is the big-name guest speaker at the 2017 Flatirons Food Film Festival

Speaking of hugely influential figures, few outshine the legendary James Beard.  Beth Federici, the filmmaker and director of “James Beard: America’s First Fooodie,” is also a speaker. Other local and visiting speakers include journalist Corie Brown; chef Frank Bonanno of Denver’s Bonanno Concepts; Dr. Allen Lim of Skratch Labs, and Jorge de la Torre, director of culinary education at Denver’s Johnson and Wales University. Food documentaries, short films and food-oriented classics fill the program. There’s also a kids’ farmers’ market walk. And yes, some feature actual food to eat and beverages to drink. Click here for a complete schedule and admission prices.

Kudos for The Kitchen

Boulder Restaurant cited by Food and Wine.

A Food and Wine magazine feature listed “The Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant in Every State.” For Colorado, The Kitchen in Boulder was honored. Here’s what the magazine thinks:

Colorado: The Kitchen

“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.

A Corner of N’Awlins Now in Boulder

French Quarter Brasserie now open on Pearl Street Mall. 

After months of renovations to turn the former Paradise then Panera bakery space into a restaurant, the French Quarter Brasserie opened last Friday in Boulder. We went this evening, and considering that this is the third location (Washington, D.C., and Fairfax, Virginia being the first two), this restaurant just didn’t seem ready for prime time.

The décor is simple with barely adorned brick walls and low lights. The recorded jazz is LOUD. But then again, almost every eatery in Boulder these days is LOUD — some worse than others. The restaurant is just one door away from Broadway, so  traffic noise and busker noise (the one outside today was blowing a trumpet and tap dancing) compete with the music.

Ringside table for the passing parade on the Mall — this being one little moment when no one was walking by.

The awning says “French Quarter Brasserie and Oyster Bar.” I don’t know where they hid the oyster bar, but I sure didn’t see one. A few minutes after 6, there were a handful of happy hour lingerers on the patio,  only one party in the large restaurant area and no one at the bar. Still, service was pitifully slow. There was a hostess, a bartender and (I think) three waiters, but I wonder whether there was anyone in the kitchen. One supposed-to-be hot entrée and one salad took a very long time to come out. And even then, cold  rice was not  most promising  foundation for the classic red beans, andouille sausage (veggie version) and rice dish.

Also discouraging was that none of the staff who had very little to do bothered picking up the two cardboard coasters that had blown onto the patio floor. Did no one see them? (I was tempted to post a picture, but ultimately decided not to. Wrong decision.)

Fried foods dominate, so the still-gleaming kitchen has a six-basket Fryolator.

I don’t know what the East Coast locations are like, or whether this one will survive or thrive, but I’m disinclined to return — except perhaps for $1 oysters at happy hour. I wonder what happy hour wine pricing might be, because my very modest pour of rosé was $10 at dinner.

Red beans, andouille sausage and rice was supposed to come with corn bread but it didn’t. We didn’t notice — and neither did our waiter.
A salad of “blackened” mahi-mahi atop spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers served with an indiscernible amount of Parmesan, croutons and blood orange vinaigrette.
A shareable trio of beignets — chocolate, classic and honey — with an appropriately generous amount of powdered sugar.

Price check: At dinner, starters, $10-$25; entrées, $18-$35; entrée accoutrements (i.e., sides), $6-$12. No desserts are priced on the dinner menu. At lunch, they are $5-$8.

1207 Pearl Street, Boulder. No local phone number yet on the website. And nothing yet on Zomato.com.

Two Colorado Chefs to Cook in Colombia

Tom Coohill and Daniel Asher at gastronomic fest.

Tom Coohill, chef and co-owner of the Denver restaurant that bears his name, and Daniel Asher of Boulder’s River & Woods  recently made their second trip this year to Washington, D.C., to work with Plate of the Union, a food advocacy organization that is working to address hunger issues through the 2018 Farm Bill.

Soon they are heading to South America for the 10th annual El Sabor Barranquilla Gastronomic Festival in Barranquilla, Colombia, August 25-27. They will demonstrate cooking techniques and participate in culinary forums using his recipes and the Colombian region’s ingredients.

El Sabor Barranquilla is a three-day event focusing on the foods of the Caribbean, with cooking demonstrations and contests, forums exploring biodiversity, sustainability, culinary techniques and advances, and a variety of dishes cooked by chefs from around the world.

 “A crew came out from SaborUSA TV last year to film at the restaurant, and things went so well that they reached out for this event,” says Chef Tom, who will be accompanied by his wife and Coohills co-owner Diane Coohill. “They’re flying me and Daniel down there, and as we proved in D.C. recently, Daniel and I work well together. So, I think this is a great opportunity to have a really cool cultural exchange through food.”