Today, August 19, is National Potato Day — right between National Fajita Day (yesterday) and World Humanitarian Day (tomorrow). Potato promoters offer up statistics and recipes galore, but for Coloradans, the real celebration is Saturday, September 9 when the annual Colorado Potato Festival takes place in the San Luis Valley.
Monte Vista in the southern part of the valley hosts the festival in Chapman Park (4 Chico Camino, Monte Vista), 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day is filled with mostly FREE fun activities and events like the Tater Trot 5K Race, music, crafts, guided tours, kids’ games, chef demos using freshly harvested Colorado potatoes, the infamous Mashed Potato Dunk Tank and more.
There’s a free four-hour bus tour of the valley’s potato farms and shipping centers and two one-hour train tours, also free courtesy of the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. Contact the Colorado Potato Assn. (719-852-3322) to reserve spots on the bus. but you can just show up for the train. It departs from Fullenwider Park, so there’s a free tractor-pulled shuttle between the two parks.
At 5 p.m., a concert by country star Brooke Eden takes place at the Ski Hi Park Arena, 2331 Sherman Ave., Monte Vista. Tickets are just 15. Purchase on-line before August 25 and be automatically entered into a drawing for four tickets to Coors Field for the Rockies versus the Diamondbacks and parking.
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.”
The east side of Boulder’s Community Plaza Shopping Center is an unlikely place for a pizzeria. It’s not the side with the Broadway and the parking lot. Audrey Jane’s Pizza Garage is run by Audrey Sherman (San Francisco, New York, Italy and culinary school in her past). BTW, there’s no garage in sight in case you are wondering.
We went there on a warm summer evening, hankering for a pizza. The store had a typical pared-down, brightly lit pizzeria look. The patio was the more appealing option for us. We shared and half-and-half pizza, a satisfying East Coast-style pie. There’s no adult beverage license, but my desire for a tannic Italian red was satisfied when we went around to the Boulder Wine Merchant on the Community Plaza’s other side for a couple of bottles, and they happened to be holding a tasting of Italian wines. The pizza and wine were therefore sequential rather than consecutive.
Price check: $14 for a 14-inch cheese pie to $26 for a 20-inch New York pie.
Pan-Latin food and dynamite drinks earn LoHi eatery honors.
Whenever Zagat lists the best restaurants in select cities, Denver is always one of them. Here’s the shout-out in the site’s “Hottest Restaurants in 15 American Cities” post about Señor Bear, the site’s choice for the Mile High City. The “powerhouse team” referred to is headlined by Max McKissock, Blake Edmunds and Juan Padro and Katie O’Shea Padro. For McKissock, it’s a bit like old home week, since he was the chef at The Squeaky Bean, when it occupied the LoHi space.
Denver: Señor Bear
Built by the powerhouse team behind Bar Dough, this bright, breezy, instant destination in LoHi showcases the flavors of Latin America — from Peru to Puerto Rico — in both food and drink.
Must-order: Start with a pisco cocktail and any of the elegantly executed dishes comprising the mariscos section of the menu, including mofongo with shrimp and crab (pictured).
Insider tip: If you’re noise-sensitive, ask to sit on the patio — the small dining room can get extra-festive.
Don’t expect Tom Coohill to be at his namesake Denver restaurant or Daniel Asher to be at Boulder’s River & Woods over the next few days. They join such star chefs as Tom Colicchio, José Andrés and Andrew Zimmern at the second meeting of the 2017 Plate of the Union Farm Bill Summit today and tomorrow in Washington, D.C.
Chefs and food industry leaders from around the country are there to review and discuss food policies surrounding the 2018 Farm Bill. This is a follow-up to the first session in April, when the group, led by the agricultural advocacy organization Plate of the Union, reported its findings and recommendations to the House and Senate.
Every five years, Congress is tasked with passing the farm bill, which affects things such as how food is grown, what it costs the consumer, the safety of drinking water and whether all Americans have access to healthy, affordable food.
“One of the main goals of this program that we’re working hard on is addressing hunger,” Chef Tom says. “We’re looking to revamp the labeling system in this country which, if it were done accurately with a standardized approach on the sell-by date, we could be feeding way, way more people with the food that just gets thrown away at the grocery store every day. If we were to get this through, it would basically cure hunger in the United States, because 40 percent of food just goes to waste right now.”
Plate of the Union is a food advocacy organization with a stated mission of encouraging U.S. agriculture to focus on organic and sustainable practices with positive impacts on land and water, resulting in everyone being able to access “healthy, affordable food – regardless of their zip code – that is fair to workers, keeps farmers on the land and protects our environment.”
Engaging, inventive restaurant in repurposed factory.
The Annette referenced by the name of Caroline Glover’s restaurant called Annette Scratch-to-Table is her grandmother, The gastronomic pedigree includes New York’s Spotted Pig gastropub under star chef April Bloomfield and Denver’s Acorn, where she was sous-chef. Acorn is located in The Source, a repurposed foundry in RiNo. so it’s no stretch that she felt comfortable committing to Stanley Marketplace, a repurposed aviation equipment factory next to the old Stapleton Airport.
Glover calls her cuisine “scratch to table” with an emphasis on small plates and shareable dishes. That was just right when we were taking my bother-in-law and sister-in-law to Denver International Airport and wanted something to do and someplace to eat en route. Stanley Marketplace fit the bill — an aviation theme, interesting shops, many places to eat and a short run to DIA.
We decided that Annette looked interesting for a late afternoon/early evening stop. The restaurant is attractive and welcoming, but we opted for a patio table. Salads and sandwiches both for adventurous eaters (beef tongue, octopus sandwich) and for those who aren’t (grilled cheese, potato soup — but each with a twist). The wine list is small, but as with the food, there’s something for all tastes.
Price check: At dinner, snacks, $3-$4; “plates,” $7 (fries) to $30 (whole roasted fish).
Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street, Suite 108, Aurora;
720-710-9975. Astonishingly, Zomato has not yet found Annette.
Need I mention that this restaurant, bar and artisanal butchery (plus a farm) is the brainchild of Hosea Rosenberg, Boulder’s celeb chef for winning “Top Chef,” season 5? I thought not.
Since the last time we visited Blackbelly in warm weather, the south patio has been improved with roll-down plastic curtains in case of inclement weather (and maybe even heaters so it is usable in the spring or fall). My husband and I were the first there for happy hour, so we had a long table all to ourselves.
We were almost finished when the next people — three guys — came in. I like everything about this walled-in patio except for the occasional truck or motorcycle noise from Arapahoe Avenue. Nothing to be done about that.
Price check. At happy hour, oysters, $2 each (I neglected to take pictures); bites, $3; daily charcuterie, $5; also wine and beer specials.
2606 Conestoga Street, Boulder; 303-247-1000.
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.