Craft brewery cited for innovation and also coming to Boulder.
Mid-country restaurants and other purveyors are largely like the Rodney Dangerfield of the food and beverage biz: They “don’t get no respect,” or not enough respect. Coastal myopia, I’m afraid.
Denver and other Colorado locales have a robust craft brewing industry, from giants like Fort Collins’ New Belgium (the country’s 4th-largest brewer) and Blue Moon (Coors’ craft-beer sidekick) to tiny breweries in very small towns (Silverton Brewery and the Crestone Brewing Company, respectively deep in the San Juan Mountains and in an off-the highway community in the San Luis Valley). The Denver Festival is one of the largest in the country.
But when it came to listing “The 25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever Brewed,” Food & Wine could think of only one (Longmont-born and -based Oskar Blues) and that was for its retro innovation (packaging), not for any of its beers or ales. Relying on a perhaps biased panel that includes a number of brewmasters, F&W wrote:
Not all innovation happens in the brewing process. In 2002, Colorado’s Oskar Blues did something with a solid, but otherwise unassuming pale ale that changed craft beer forever: They put it into cans, becoming the first craft brewery to do so independently. Dale’s Pale Ale launched a movement (currently 2,162 beers strong, according to CraftCans.com) and this once-lowly container now holds some of the world’s most coveted beers.
On another note, Oskar Blues is coming to Boulder’s Pearl Street, taking over the space at No. 921 vacated by the World of Beer. Sometime late this summer, the location just west of the Mall will become taproom and live-music venue. I’m not sure what, if any, food service there will be, but the food at Oskar Blues brew pubs, CHUBurgers, CylceHops Cantina and other Oskar-owned venues is very good and very fresh.
Shops and galleries host restaurants, wineries & distilleries.
Fifteen downtown Boulder shops and galleries are again the venues for tastings from 15 local restaurants and 15 Colorado adult beverage purveyors during this year’s Taste of Pearl. Terrific tasting and a congenial stroll-about along Boulder’s Pearl Street on a (hopefully sunny) spring afternoon — Sunday, April 23 from 2 to 6.
Click here for participating restaurants, here for wineries and distilleries and here for shops and galleries, some of which offer discounts to Taste attendees. Ticket for general admission price is $65 in advance and $75 on event day, if any are left. VIP ticket is $75. Note that the Flagstaff House and Frasca Food and Wine, on the pinnacle of Boulder’s top restaurants, are participating. Doesn’t happen that often.
Delicious almost-end to epic ski season food and wine event.
The early-April timing of the annual Taste of Vail couldn’t be better. Spring conditions are great — whether on late season corn or after a spring snowstorm. I’ve written about the Taste of Vail before. This year’s dates are April 5 to 9. Be there if you can.
For locals, a trip up to the mountains for a day or a weekend of wine, bites and more. is restorative and delicious. The 27th Annual Taste of Vail Festival features more than 30 guest chefs, restaurants and sommeliers as well as more than 55 top wineries from around the world—it is one of the nation’s top food and wine festivals named by Forbes.com and the Travel Channel. The five-day festival includes such in-town and on-the-mountain signature events such as The Mountain Top Tasting, Debut of Rosé, and of course, The Grand Tasting. Clickhere for tickets.
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.
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.
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.