Category Archives: Denver

Sockeye Salmon Specials in 2 Area Restaurants

Kelly Whitaker’s Basta and Cart-Driver celebrate Sockeye Week.

BristolBayFishermanChefs Collaborative, a group of influential chefs dedicated to promoting sustainable, natural food sources. The group has declared this to be  Sockeye Restaurant Week through November 15. Restaurants and other businesses across the country are featuring wild sockeye salmon from Bristol Bay, Alaska, on their menus. No, sockeye isn’t fresh in November, but it was flash-frozen and is just about as good.

Bristol Bay is the world’s largest sockeye fishery. Today, it is celebrated by no less that President Barack Obama, a supporter of Bristol Bay’s pristine nature, who took action to protect the ecosystem and the fishing community. His actions assure that it will remain a sustainable and productive fishery. Until then, there was a long and ugly threat from the proposed development of the Pebble Mine, a porphyry, copper, gold, and molybdenum operation that would have put Bristol Bay and its population of all five types of salmon at risk if the mine were developed and its waste containment were to fail. Think of the Gold King mine mess near Silverton last August and the far worse situation in Brazil right now, where two burst mining dams have already cost 28 lives, safe drinking water and numerous small villages. Imagine that crap spilling into Bristol Bay. Fortunately, the mine project didn’t come to pass, and now, let’s think about delicious salmon again.

Chefs Collaborative member Kelly Whitaker is hosting two sockeye specials at Cart-Driver (Denver) and Basta (Boulder). Cart-Driver is replacing its popular tuna mousse with sockeye mousse, and Basta is they are extending Sockeye Restaurant Week into First Bite Boulder with a sockeye special.

Palettes’ Wyeth-Inspired Menu

Museum restaurant pairs menu with Wyeth exhibition.

Palettes-logoWyeth: Andrew and Jamie in the Studio” is a ground-breaking exhibition at the Denver Art Museum from today through February 7.  Executive chef Austin Cueto of Palettes, the contemporary restaurant on the first floor of the museum’s North Building, has crafted a three-course prix fixe menu inspired by specific works in the show.

The Wyeths lived and worked in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, in the lovely Brandywine Country, and on the Maine Coast. Some of the dishes (notably lobster and pumpkin bisque, and cod) instantly bring Maine to mind. Too bad that fiddleheads are not in season now.


Best Donuts in Colorado? Guess.

Thrillist-logoYesterday, I posted an item about a Halloween pop-up by Old Major and Glazed and Confuzed Donuts. Today comes Thrillist’s list of “The Best Donut Shops in Every State.” Colorado’s is…..drum roll……Glazed and Confuzed. Here’s what Thrillist posted:


Glazed and Confuzed (address and info)
Alright, get your lazy McConaughey impression over with now. You done? Good, because there’s a lot more to this Denver shop than movie puns. Like donuts with Mediterranean sea salt caramel glaze and cups of joe from local favorite Pablo’s Coffee. (Specifically, the “Danger Monkey” kind.)

Harvest Market at Union Station

Boulder Farmers’ Market organizes 1-day market in Denver.

FarmersMarket-logoDenver’s Union Station hosts a Harvest Market this Saturday, October 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wynkoop Plaza. Expect market 10 Colorado farms, including The Fresh Herb Co., Cure Organic Farm, Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms, Jodar Farms, Oxford Gardens and Plowshares Community Farm. Union Station restaurants, including Mercantile Dining & Provision, Stoic & Genuine and Snooze, prepare foods for market day.

The exemplary Boulder County Farmers Markets, a nonprofit organization that has operated producer-only farmers markets in Boulder County since 1987, is organizing this market too. The Union Station Alliance, which BTW just won a Phoenix Award from the Society of American Travel Writers, is eager to explore “new ways to offer travelers and locals alike more quick and curated options at Denver Union Station,” said Joe Vostrejs, partner in the organization that redeveloped the historic building. A fine farmers’ market is one of those “new ways.”

‘Dining Out’ Mag Readers’ “Prime Picks”

Diners select their Denver & Boulder favorites.

PrimePicks-logoDining Out magazine — mostly menus but some features too — invited readers to select what they considered the best in various categories. Like all such reader selections, the results are heavily weighted toward what’s “hot” and “in” now, not necessarily the best. How, for example, would Black Cat and/or its sister restaurant, Bramble & Hare be left off the farm-to-table list? And not to put to fine a point on it, but Chez Thuy is not really Chinese and Sherpa’s is not really Indian. But here, with that caution, is the Prime Picks list. Clicking on a category should bring up details on the winner:


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Mezcal After a Subtle Facelift

Cantina vibe on Colfax + new kitchen.

001 - CopyWhen Mezcal opened in late 2003, it brought Mexican sizzle to East Colfax, a stretch that was not, to put it kindly, oversupplied with appealing restaurants where gifted chefs prepared interesting, seasonal food. Mezcal was bright and colorful, with appealing décor that was something of a play on south-of-the-border cantina kitsch. It was fun, it was popular and it served good food. Over the years, as ownership and chefs changed, and the kitchen saw a lot of hard use,  it was time for a makeover.

After several years living the expat life in Buenos Aires, owners Chris Swank and his wife, Loris Inez Venegas, are back running Mezcal — this time without additional partners. The restaurant was closed for three months while the dining room was refreshed, the bar expanded and most important, the kitchen was renewed. The couple also brought in the well-credentialed Chris Douglas as consulting chef to update the menu and chef Juan Ramirez to continue executing the dishes after Douglas’s gig is up. They’ve been tinkering with some dishes and bringing back some old standbys that they thought were history. Things have settled down sufficiently for Mezcal to invite some media for an early evening tasting. Here’s what we tried — in my case, along with delicious and potent margaritas:

Sensational queso fundido with roasted poblano peppers and a topping of chorizo jam.
Sensational queso fundido with roasted poblano peppers and a topping of chorizo jam.
Pozole rojo, a local fave featuring pork and hominy in a red chile broth, garnished with fresh cabbage, onion, radish and cilantro.
Pozole rojo, a local fave featuring pork and hominy in a red chile broth, garnished with fresh cabbage, onion, radish and cilantro.

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Don’t-Miss Food & Wine Events

Denver, Broomfield & Boulder host three very different events.

Denver Harvest Week, October 5-9

Harvest-Week-logoGrowHaus, a multi-pronged attack on north Denver’s food desert,  an educational enterprise and a supplier of sustainable foods, again hosts Harvest Week. Each night, a group chefs from independent restaurants come together to create pop-up parties (four dinners, one brunch at the GrowHaus, the city’s ultimate urban garden. Every day includes a full bar, copious amounts of food, and endless amounts of fun. All the festivities of the week go to support EatDenver and the Growhaus. Click here for details and tickets.

Flatirons Food Film Festival, October 19-24

FlatironsFoodFilmFest-logoSix days of films (six features plus shorts), special events, talks, a sushi walk and more taking place in several Boulder venues. The Films page contains descriptions and trailers for all of feature-length films, plus information about short films and events. The new Tickets page contains information about individual films and events, plus different types of passes. The big name is James Beard Award-winning chef Andy Ricker of the Pok Pok restaurant empire in Portland, Oregon, who appears Friday, October 23. He is supporting of “Farang,” a documentary chronicling his search for authentic flavor. He has appeared on Anthony Bourdain’s television series, No Reservations and Parts Unknown, and introduces the film and participates in a Q&A session after the screening.

Denver International Wine Festival, October 28-30

Pairsine-logo3The Denver International Wine Festival drops anchor at the Omni Interlocken in Broomfield with a packed schedule of tastings and seminars. Highlights are the Grand Vinters Dinner at the Omni’s Meritrage Restaurant on Wednesday, the Pairsine wine-pairing competition where top regional chefs prepare dishes to pair with gold medal award-winning wines from an earlier wine competition and the Grand Tasting on Friday. This year’s honorary host is Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible. Click here to purchase tickets.