Category Archives: Chef

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

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.

Culinary Odyssey in RiNo

Foods plain & fancy in River North.

A few days ago, my friend Julia Joun and I took ourselves on our own  food tour in River North (RiNo), an emerging neighborhood in Denver. Her foodie credentials are solid. She she runs the Flatirons Food Film Festival. At this point, my credentials reside mainly on this blog, which I’m proud to say has won several awards. We left Boulder at 9:30 a.m. and didn’t return until almost 6 p.m. What a great and delicious day.

Rosenberg’s Bagels

Rosenberg-logoWe actually started at Rosenberg’s Bagels in Five Points, near enough to RiNo to count. A couple of years ago, when bagel shop and deli were a bright gleam in Josh Pollack’s eye, he stopped by and dropped off a bag of New York-style bagels. Were they ever good! Read my post here.

The Welton Street light-rail stop is directly in front of Rosenberg’s door, while some customers, like us, come in the back way from Clarkson. The gal from one of the city’s Whole Foods came in that way too, to pick up the morning order. Whole Foods is fussy about its sourcing, so this is a testimonial to the quality, taste and authenticity. Knowing that we had a long day of eating ahead, we shared an everything bagel with salmon cream cheese.

Racks of bagels.
Racks of bagels.
Retro style interior.
Retro-inspired interior with big tufted banquette.

Rosenberg's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Babette’s Bakery at The Source

TheSource-logoIf one baked item for breakfast is good, two are better, so Julia and I proceeded to The Source, a renovated, repurposed and totally cool 1880s foundry that now houses restaurants, retailers, watering holes and other semi-related businesses.

011We made a beeline for Babette’s Bakery, which initially became known for its fabulous artisainal French country breads. The pastries fall in the to-die-for category too. We split one, bought things to take home — Julie snagged some bread to take home, and I bought a ham and cheese croissant for my husband.

Baker at work.
Baker at work.
Decisions, decisions, difficult pastry decisions.
Decisions, decisions, difficult pastry decisions.

Babettes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Continue reading Culinary Odyssey in RiNo

‘Blended Burger’ Combines Meat & Mushrooms

Project to cut down on red meat consumption & up taste.

BlendedBurgerThis is the second year for the Blended Burger Project, designed to make burgers “better” by combining ground meat with chopped mushrooms. Not a promotion directly aimed at consumers (that is, you and me), it challenges chefs to create “an incredibly delicious burger that’s healthier for your guests and more sustainable for the planet.” The burgers, which are to be on the restaurants’ menus from Memorial Day through July 31, must be made with at least 25% cultivated, chopped mushrooms.  Foraged wild fungi need not apply.

The James Beard Foundation is behind the project, and winning chefs based on diners’ votes get a trip to prepare their blended burgers at the JBF Food Conference, October 17-18, the prestigious James Beard House in New York. I’m not clear on whether any Colorado chefs were involved last year, when it was called the Better Burger Project. The five winners were respectively from Indiana, Louisiana, Tennessee, California and Pennsylvania), but three of Denver’s best are offering a sneak peek to the 2016 project, and others are invited to participate, so there’s hope for this year. Chefs Alex Seidel (Fruition, Mercantile), Justin Brunson (Old Major, Masterpiece Deli) and Troy Guard (Guard & Grace, TAG Burger, Sunnyside Burger Bar and more) have each created their own renditions of a blended burger.

BlendedBurger

A media preview is scheduled at Fruition later in the month, but I’ll be out of town so won’t be able to attend. I regret the timing, because A) I believe that for environmental reasons, even the most responsibly raised beef cattle take their toll on the environment; B) for health reasons, many people need to cut down on their red meat consumption; C) I like mushrooms.

Matsuhisa Now Open in Denver

Pricy, precious Japanese restaurant in Cherry Creek North.

Matsuhisa-logoColorado’s first Matsuhisa opened years ago in a historic former home in downtown Aspen. The state’s second is in a fancy condo/retail complex called Solaris in Vail.  And the third, Matsuhisa Denver,  finally opened in Denver’s Cherry Creek North.  After a very long build-up, its debut was stealth-like. For months, the website promised that it was coming.

And suddenly, it is here in the posh Steele Creek Apartments . I haven’t been there, but I’ve seen photos online of a very Zen-like, tranquil space (when it’s empty of well-heeled, stylish diners anyway) with lots of wood. Lots and lots of wood. It joins the extended family of Matsuhisa and Nobu locations around the world — all the brainchild of chef Nobu Matsuhisa, whose first venture was not in Japan or the US but in Peru.

98 North Steele Street, Denver; 303-329-6628.

Chef Walford Leaves Splendido

Long-time chef gone from Beaver Creek culinary landmark.

Splendido-logoDavid Walford, long-time executive chef of Beaver Creek’s ultra-lavish Splendido at the Chateau, has sent his last meal out to the elegant dining room. He has been there for 21 years, and his departure leaves long-time guests shocked and sad.

The restaurant posted on Facebook:  “With heavy hearts we announce that after 21 years, Chef David Walford will no longer be associated with Splendido at the Chateau. We thank you for your great cuisine, service, and many wonderful meals we all shared together! You will truly be missed!”

Chef David Walford.
Chef David Walford.

He came to Splendido from Sweet Basil in Vail Village, and berfore that, he cooked somewhere in California’s Napa Valley and also a French Michelin-starred restaurant. “It was in France that I learned to be a craftsman, that is what a true chef is, not an artist,” Walford wrote in the introduction to his cookbook, Wood Fire and Champagne Powder.

It is unclear whether the choice was Walford’s which leads to the question: What next? He told the Vail Trail, “I’m not sure yet I still can’t quite get my head around the fact I won’t be here. But I’m not done yet; I’m not ready to retire.”

Splendido  posted a formal thanks on its website, ending with: “To stay in touch and learn about David’s future restaurant please send your contact info to: ChefDavidWalford@gmail.com”

First-Night Happy Hour at Via Perla

New Boulder restaurant serves precious small plates at merenda time.

010Since 901 Pearl Street is less than a 10-minute stroll from my house, I’ve been watching a restaurant take shape there for several months. I pressed my nose to the window when Via Perla had its friends-and-family soft opening, curious what the operators of The Med and Brasserie TenTen would do in this elegant Italian space. Via Perla is more intimate than The Med and quieter than TenTen.

The bar.
The dining room.
Salt and pepper are not on the tables but on a serving stand, along with fresh lemons, olive oil and sauces.
Salt and pepper are not on the tables but on a separate serving stand, along with fresh lemons, olive oil and sauces. to accommodate guests’ requests for condiments or additional seasoning.
Kelly Kingsford is top toque in Via Perla's kitchen. She previously worked at Restaurant 4580. The Med and Brasserie 1010.
Kelly Kingsford is top toque in Via Perla’s kitchen. She previously worked at Restaurant 4580, The Med and Brasserie TenTen.

Dinner service began a week ago, and this evening featured the first happy hour, which is called merenda, a Tuscan term for a light afternoon snack. The dishes were lovely and delicious, but “light” is right. If you have, say, an individual pizza like the Med’s in mind or a bowl of mussels like TenTen’s, you won’t find it at Via Perla.

Continue reading First-Night Happy Hour at Via Perla