Category Archives: Colorado

Denver’s Bones on National List

The Daily Meal selects casual spots with memorable food — only one in Colorado.

DailyMeal-logoYes, I’m at it again — scouring  yet another list of noteworthy eateries to see which (if any) Colorado restaurants appear. This time, it’s The Daily Meal’s annual list of “The 101 Best Casual Restaurants in America.” In Colorado, the site likes Bones, one of Frank Bonanno’s Denver restaurants, and only Bones. I give The Daily Meal credit for acknowledging that Colorado is one of the fly-over states, but the 101 selected are so top-heavy with New York (with strong representation from Texas, California and New Orleans) that there’s little room for others. Sigh. The Daily Meal wrote:

#82 Bones, Denver, Colo.
The home page animation on Bones’ website shows old-timey Chinese warriors invading Paris, and that’s basically Bones in a nutshell: French-inspired Asian noodles and buns, with menu items you probably won’t find anywhere else on earth. Escargot potstickers; chilled vermicelli with shrimp ceviche and chimichurri; lobster ramen with edamame, beurre blanc, scallion, and miso lobster broth; green chile ramen with braised pork shoulder, hominy, queso fresco, and a fried egg… Wait, that last one isn’t French, it’s Tex-Mex! Well, whatever, it’s still insanely delicious. Bones is a culinary jumble in the best way imaginable.

Boulder — An Underrated Food City?

Thrillist-logo Thrillist.com the latest to “discover” Boulder’s vibrant food scene.

I’m always pleased when national media shine the spotlight on Colorado’s food scene — even more so when Boulder is singled out. But I was startled when Thrillist.com selected Boulder as for its roundup of “The 7 Most Underrated American Food Cities in 2015.”

Underrated? Boulder’s highly regarded, even nationally known restaurants are written about all the time, and Boulder  boasts one of the best farmers’ markets in the land and has been the wellspring for natural and organic food companies starting with Celestial Seasonings to whichever food or beverage startup will launch next weekend.

Thrillist.com tasked Cindy Sutter, the Boulder Daily Camera food editor, with writing about the Boulder food scene. She focused on the restaurant aspect, understandably including “the usual suspects.” Here’s what she wrote:

“When people think of America’s culinary capitals they usually look to the coasts: New York, San  Francisco,      and New Orleans all regularly top the lists of the best American food cities. But hiding in the ‘flyover states’ and in ‘harbors-that-not-many-people-live-in’ is a cache of culinary talent that’s just as worthy of sinking your teeth into.

“We’ve already touched on seven of these underdog cities, but our country’s cupboards are hiding so much more deliciousness and so many cities’ scenes have exploded in the past year, so we thought it worthwhile to give props to seven more gastronomically obsessed towns. And to show just what makes each great, we tapped a local writer to share what makes that food scene unique. Here are seven cities you’ll immediately want to visit.”

About Boulder: “Boulder residents would likely be surprised to find their town on an underrated food city list. And it’s not only because Bon Appétit magazine picked Boulder as America’s Foodiest Town in 2010. Take a walk down Pearl Street in downtown Boulder, and you’ll see what the magazine folks saw.

“Start at Frasca Food and Wine, where co-owners Lachlan Mackinnon Patterson and Bobby Stuckey have two James Beard Awards. Stuckey is one of 118 Master Sommeliers worldwide, as are six other Boulder residents. Not bad for a town with a population of 100,000 and change. Head west (toward the mountains) and make another stop at OAK at fourteenth, where local meats, vegetables, and even luscious Colorado peaches take a turn in the restaurant’s wood-fired oven.

“Veer a block or so off Pearl to find the Black Cat, whose chef-owner, Eric Skokan, raises the restaurant’s vegetables (including heirloom dent corn for GMO-free polenta), as well as ducks, pigs, and beef cattle on his farm on county-owned land preserved for agricultural uses. This year, Skokan released a cookbook, ‘Farm Fork Food’, that he edited on his smartphone from the seat of his tractor. Or try The Kitchen, which has nourished relationships with local organic farmers since it opened in 2004; its nonprofit Kitchen Community builds school gardens, placing more than a 100 in Chicago, where it also recently opened a restaurant to positive reviews. You also might want to try Salt, where the food is local, seasonal, and GMO-free.

“Food, health, and sustainable agriculture have a long, intertwining history in Boulder. The bustling Boulder County Farmers’ Market, also near Pearl Street, got its start in 1987. The town that popularized herbal tea and tofu also had a strong hand in craft beer, with Boulder County boasting 40 breweries and counting. After you’ve taken in the scene, do what Boulderites do: eat and run (or hike or bike). There are trails just a few steps away from those amazing restaurants.

“And if that’s not enough for you, go east a couple of miles and find ‘Top Chef’ winner Hosea Rosenberg’s Blackbelly, which received well-deserved national attention when it opened last year.” – Cindy Sutter, Daily Camera food editor.

Rounding out the “most underrated list” are Baltimore; Birmingham, Ala.; Kansas City, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Portland, Maine and Providence, R.I.

Well-Priced Wine Pairing with Master Somm’

1515 Restaurant’s May 27 dinner promises great food & wines to match for $65.

1515Restaurant-logoI don’t usually post news about wine-pairing dinners because there are so many, But this one caught my eye for two reasons. First, the wines will be introduced by Emily Papach, the 19th woman in the nation to have earned the title of Master Sommelier (out of 21 total). She will lead a very special wine dinner (menu below) at 1515 Restaurant in Denver on Wednesday, May 27 at 6:00 p.m.  Second was the price. The dinner including paired wines is only $65 per person (plus tax and gratuity).  Believe me when I say that this is a helluva a deal for such a dinner. Food alone at wine-pairing dinners is often that much, with the wines additional.

1515 Restaurant is a fine-dining restaurant known for modern American cuisine in a relaxed yet elegant setting. “This is a rare opportunity to get to know one of the most respected wine experts in the US and taste wines paired with food she recommends,” said restaurateur Gene Tang. himself a First Level sommelier.  “We’re going to have a lot of fun with this event. I’m sure there will be some spirited debates over which ones go best with each course.” I’m really looking forward to this evening.

This splendid disk of roast duck with mixed greens and duck cracklings on mac-and-cheese is not on the Chappalette dinner menu. I offer it here only to show a 1515 Restaurant presentation.
Roast duck with mixed greens and duck cracklings on mac-and-cheese is not on the Chappellet dinner menu. I offer it here only to show a 1515 Restaurant presentation.

About the Sommelier

Papach.
Papach.

Emily Papach got on the fast track to Master Sommelier certification, sometimes called the toughest education in the world. After graduating from the University of Virignia in 2044, she started working at Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern in New York City. She was a wine captain and cellar assistant, while completing the Diploma studies for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.  In 2008, she relocated to her home state of Virginia, to become a salesperson for specialty importer and Master Sommelier, Fran Kysela.  Emily then enrolled in the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory Course in 2009 and completed the Certified Exam that same year.  In the spring of 2010, she passed the Advanced Exam in Anaheim on her first attempt. Not many Master Somms pass the first time. She is currently the national sales analyst and wine educator at Chappellet Vineyard, a family-owned Napa Valley winery that was founded in 1967.

Below is the menu that Gene Tang has planned and the wines Emily Papach has selected to pair with it. A bonus: Each guest at Wednesday’s dinner will be entered into a drawing to win a 1.5-liter bottle of Cambria wine.

The Menu

First Course

Crispy Fried Hen Egg | Frog Leg ragout, Spring Pea, Ramp, Vin Juane
Wine: Cambria “Tepusquet Vineyard’ Viognier 2013

Second Course

Roasted Sturgeon | Lemon Beurre Blanc, Fiddlehead Fern, Caper
Wine: Cambria “Katherine’s Vineyard” Chardonnay

Third Course

Seared Beef Tenderloin | Bone Marrow Crusted, Rainbow Chard, Wild Mushroom Bordeaulaise
Wine: Freemark Abbey “Sycamore Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Fourth Course

Chocolate and Sea Salt  – Cocoa Nib Tuiles, Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Wine: Cambria “Tequsquet Vinyard” Syrah 2012

Reservations can still be made by calling the restaurant at 303-571-0011 or online.

Cortez Could Anchor Colorado’s Next Big Wine Region

Plenty of potential acreage in Four Corners area.

ColoWine-logoWe’ve all heard about the Hatfields and the McCoys, a couple of eternally feuding families on West Virginia-Kentucky line. Southwestern Colorado, specifically McElmo Canyon near Cortez, has its equivalent in the wine biz. Guy Drew and John Sutcliffe are neighboring wine-growers and wine-makers there, but they reportedly get along as well as the Hatfields and the McCoys. I don’t know why, and I don’t really care, but it seems that if they could smoke a peace pipe, they could create a fantastic wine region to both rival and complement Colorado’s two existing American Viticultural Areas, the Grand Valley (i.e., Palisade area) and West Elk AVAs.

A New AVA in the Future?

Godot Communications, a Boulder agency with wine accounts, hosted an intimate tasting the other evening. We sampled wines from just two producers: the Winery at Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City and the Guy Drew Vineyards in Cortez. And we talked about vineyards and wineries and wines. I learned that there are roughly 1,000 acres planted in wine grapes in Colorado, 85% of that in the Palisade area. Drew and his wife, Ruth, moved from the Denver area not to the Grand River Valley but to Cortez and began transforming a former hay farm into a vineyard, creating a winery and building a straw bale home under the big skies of the southwestern Colorado.

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McElmo Canyon presents vintners unique challenges, and Guy Drew for one has addressed them. The vineyards on the 155-acre property are sited to preserve the high desert piñon-juniper landscape, riparian wildlife areas and also the Ancient Puebloan ruins. Land stewardship, thoughtful growing practices, thrifty use of natural resources and respect for cultural resources allow Guy Drew Vineyards to continue crafting fine Colorado wine while safeguarding the future of its historic surroundings. In addition to his own land, Drew has a handful of growers tending 4- to 8-acre vineyards for him. He works with members of the Ute Mountain Utes to grow outside of the tribal park,

Godot’s Jacob Harkins, a friend of Guy Drew, told me that the winemaker has been crunching numbers and  believes that there are up to 40,0o0 acres suitable for vinifera in the Cortez/McElmo area. Think about it: that’s a potential of four times the current state-wide acreage. Once there were apple trees, but when the juice processing plant closed some time in the distant past, growers stopped maintaining the orchards. Just like the Palisade area with its abundant orchards is hospitable to grapes, so is this part of Colorado.

Guy Drew Vineyards has a new tasting room at Mesa Indian Trading Company & Gallery (which locals call “The Pottery”) on US Highway 160 just outside of Cortez. At this time of year, it is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. There is also a tasting room at the winery, where visitors are likely to meet Guy, Ruth or both. The address is 19891 Road G, which is about 1 mil southwest of town. Take l160/491 to the first traffic light and turn right. FoMoInfo, call 970-565-9211.

SmileWink-emoticonAnd if you are of a mind to visit Sutcliffe Vineyards too, the winery and tasting room are at 12174 Road G. FoMoInfo, call 970-565-0825. Just don’t tell either that you visited the other.

Tandoori Grill’s Lunch Buffet

001Last night, I watched some TV program about street food. It came to my screen via Netflix, so I don’t recall the name of the program. I do know that the only slightly annoying English host was in Mumbai and ate at lot food stalls. So when my husband and I wanted lunch to fortify ourselves for plant shopping, I was pre-disposed to an Indian buffet. The Tandoori Grill in the Table Mesa Shopping Center was convenient. We were at the front door (along with about a dozen others) when it was unlocked, so all the food was still hot and freshly prepared.

Side-long look at the buffet, with rich spinch saag right up front.
Side-long look at the buffet, with rich spinch saag right up front.
Wedges of hot naan are brought to the table and are included in the buffet price/
Wedges of hot naan are brought to the table and are included in the buffet price.
My selection comprised a little of almost everything.
My selection comprised a little of almost everything.

Price check: The lunch buffet is $9.89, plus tax. Beverages additional.
Tandoori Grill on Urbanspoon

Kelly Liken Sells Vail Restaurant Space

Acclaimed chef shutting namesake eatery.

Kelly Liken
Kelly Liken

Kelly Liken is one of Vail’s star chefs, but her name will soon be off the namesake restaurant she opened in the Gateway Building back in 2004, when she was just 27 years old. The last dinner service will take place on Saturday, May 16.  She says that Kelly Liken, the brand, is not going anywhere. She and her husband and partner, Rick Colomitz, are considering what the next iteration of the Kelly Liken brand will be. Meanwhile,  a new restaurant called Vintage will open in the Kelly Liken space in the Gateway building in June in time for the summer season. Brodie Broderick, owner and general manager at Vintage, says it will be “an all-day concept, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at ‘approachable price points’,” in addition to late night snacks.

She plans to continue working Sowing Seeds, a program in local schools that teaches students about the joy of growing, harvesting, preparing and eating their own food. She also plans to participate in events such as the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour and has plans to continue culinary programs such as the Annual Vail to Aspen Horseback Ride this summer.

Liken’s honors include being named one of the “Next Generation of Women Chefs” by Bon Appetit magazine and appearing on television shows as “Iron Chef America” and “Top Chef.”  She has cooked at the James Beard House in New York City. Most recently, she was part of the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour in Vail.  Fans are encouraged to enjoy one more handcrafted cocktail or savor one more sticky bun sundae, so Restaurant Kelly Liken will be open and taking reservations for dinner through Saturday, May 16. Currently on the website is a spring special — three courses for $45 and also a wine special. Reserve by calling 970-479-0175.

Trader Joe’s: Too Much Packaging

Too much packaging & too little organic.

TraderJoe-logoLike other Coloradans, I was excited to read the announcement that Trader Joe’s was coming to Colorado. By the time February 2014 rolled around, when the first three stores opened here (Denver, Boulder, Greenwood Village), I was underwhelmed — even disappointed. I used to make a point of shopping at TJ’s whenever I was in New Mexico, but I have changed my buying food habits to the point where I shop there much less than I thought I would.

I was increasingly buying organic (Trader Joe’s is light on organic) and I was very dismayed at the packaging. Not only is there too much waste from shrink-wrap — which as far as I know is not compostable or recyclable — but I don’t like someone in the California corporate office deciding how many sweet peppers or chicken breasts I should be buying at one time. One notable exception seems to be bananas, which are priced by the pound with organic each a dime more than conventional.

Now a petition on Change.org asks Trader Joe’s to revamp their packaging and waste less. It starts, “Please package all of your products— produce (lemons, lettuces, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes…), nuts, frozen goods etc. in 100% RECYCLABLE AND BIODEGRADABLE PACKAGING to ensure a sustainable and closer to zero-waste business model.” I signed. Will you?