Category Archives: Denver

Wonderful Wine Pairing at 1515 Restaurant

Four courses and eight wines make for indulgent evening,

001I had long heard about 1515 Restaurant on the fringes of Denver’s LoDo district, known for great dining options, but I had never eat there — until last night. Owner Gene Tang, executive chef Joseph Arena and master sommelier Emily Papach tag-teamed to present a four-course feast, each one paired with one wine from Cambria Estate Winery and one from Freemark Abbey, both in California’s Napa Valley, several being single vineyard wines.

A table set with starched linens, multiple wineglasses and a an artillery of flatware is always a promise of fine food and wine to come.
A table set with starched linens, multiple wineglasses and a an artillery of flatware is always a promise of fine food and wine to come.
Emily Papach table-hopped after each course to ask us all which wine we thought paired better with the dish we just ate. Our little pod of four seemed to agree that some wines tasted better by themselves and some worked better with the food.
Emily Papach table-hopped after each course to ask us all which wine we thought paired better with the dish we just ate. Our little pod of four seemed to agree that some wines tasted better by themselves and some worked better with the food.
The first course was an artistic presentation or a wonderful crisp-crusted egg prepared sous-vide so that the white and yolk cooked evenly, a frog leg (
The first course was an artistic presentation or a wonderful crisp-crusted egg prepared sous-vide so that the white and yolk cooked evenly, a frog leg (“tastes like chicken”). edamame, bits of spring green onion, sherry and butter sauce (called vin jaune) and red olives. Yes, red olives! Both wines were 2012 Viogniers, the Napa Valley label from Freemark Abbey and Tepusquet Vineyard from Cambria.
Roasted golden tilefish. which tastes something like snapper, buerre blanc, asparagus tips arranged in a tic-tac-toe pattern and capers.
Roasted golden tilefish. which tastes something like snapper, buerre blanc, asparagus tips arranged in a tic-tac-toe pattern and capers. The wines were both 2013 chardonnays Freemark’s Napa Valley and Cambria’s Katherine’s Vineyard.
My little camera cannot ever capture beef dishes as beautiful as they are on the plate. This course of 7X Wagyu beef topped with crisp tidbits of bone marrow, plus rainbow chard and a wonderful ragout of wild mushroom Bordelaise. The beef was flavorful but not especially tender, but what left a bad taste was learning that 7X Cattle Company is a holding of one of the Koch brothers. Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 and Cambria Benchbreak Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 went a long way in helping me overlook that knowledge.
My little camera cannot ever capture beef dishes as beautiful as they are on the plate. This course of 7X Wagyu beef topped with crisp tidbits of bone marrow, plus rainbow chard and a wonderful ragout of wild mushroom Bordelaise. The beef was flavorful but not especially tender, but what left a bad taste was learning that 7X Cattle Company is a holding of one of the Koch brothers. Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 and Cambria Benchbreak Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 went a long way in helping me overlook that knowledge.
The exquisite composted dessert was a fitting finale to this wonderful meal. A deep chocolate terrine topped with a perfect vanilla tuile with salted caramel ice cream called for fabulous wines. Cambria's Tepusquet Vineyard Syrah 2012 was fine, but the Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard Caber Sauvignon was over the top. Aged in new French oak plus a year of bottle-aging, it retails at $107 per bottle and was by far the most expensive wine poured at this wonderful dinner.
The exquisite composted dessert was a fitting finale to this wonderful meal. A deep chocolate terrine topped with a perfect vanilla tuile with salted caramel ice cream called for fabulous wines. Cambria’s Tepusquet Vineyard Syrah 2012 was fine, but the Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard Caber Sauvignon was over the top. Aged in new French oak plus a year of bottle-aging, it retails at $107 per bottle and was by far the most expensive wine poured at this wonderful dinner.

1515 Restaurant on Urbanspoon

BurgerFi’s Green Practices & Better Food

Selective franchise built on ethically raised ingredients & recycled décor.

006I don’t really know the inspiration for this franchise chain’s name, but I do believe, that like Colorado-based Chipotle, BurgerFi is committed to environmental stewardship and quality ingredients. A burger place that uses natural, grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free Angus beef is noteworthy. And where else would you find a hot dog made with Kobe-style beef? The furniture is made from recycled materials, so it’s a fast-casual place that does strain my conscience or offend my taste buds.

Environmentally conscientious messages
Environmentally conscientious messages re-enforce BurgerFi’s philosophy.
BurgerFi sears its brand into the buns. Here, a cheeseburger with a choice of cheeses.
BurgerFi sears its brand into the buns. Here, a cheeseburger with a choice of cheeses.
Skin-on, hand-cut fries are available in three sizes. This is the small, and it was plenty big enough to share.
Skin-on, hand-cut fries are available in three sizes. This is the small, and it was plenty big enough to share.

BurgerFi franchise locations are scattered around the country. The one kitty-corner from the History Colorado Center, across the street from the new Art Hotel and around the corner from the Denver Art Museum is the only one in Colorado — for now.

Price check: Burgers, $6.09-$7.9, plus $10.59 for a double burger made with 28-day dry-aged brisket and loaded: also build-your-own, $4.59 single, $6.09 double, $7.59 triple with some toppings included and others additional; “dogs,” $3.99-$5.49; $3.29-$6.99 with a choice of toppings 59¢-$1.79 extra; “custards” (shakes, malts and ice ream desserts, $3.99-$5.99.

BurgerFi on Urbanspoon

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.

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.

Denver on the Thrillist Donut List

Glazed & Confuzed cited for donut deliciousness.

Thrillist-logo“Here you go again,” you might be thinking. Yes, I’ve become obsessed with passing along word of every local or national award and honor or even recognition bestowed on Colorado food and beverage purveyors. This time, it’s Denver’s Glazed & Confuzed that’s on the site’s “Best Donut Shops in America.” The donuts sound delish (most of them, anyway) and I love the humorous name that plays off all the ampersanded eateries around the metro area. Here’s what Thrillist post:

“Step into some of Denver’s finest coffeeshops (Kaladi, Aviano, Pablo’s), and you can spot Glazed & Confuzed’s donuts pretty easily; aside pastries and muffin varieties so boring even your grandma would pass on them, you’ll find their donut-y take on the Girl Scout Samoa with a caramel glaze, toasted coconut, and chocolate drizzle, and the cheekily-named Guava D’s Nutz with a cream cheese cake donut and a guava glaze. In mid-2014, the donut boundary pushers behind G&C opened their first standalone shop in Mile High, giving donut lovers even more variety to choose from, where they have the capacity to make crazy donuts like… umm, a Boston Cream Pie. Sometimes the classics can be good too.”

It’s all the way down on Leetsdale, a haul from Boulder just to try the donuts, so I won’t be there anytime soon. But eventually, for sure.

 

Matushia Coming to Cherry Creek North

Acclaimed Japanese restaurant to open in Denver.

Matsuhisa-logoFirst Aspen, then Vail and next Denver. That’s been the trajectory that famed chef and restaurateur Nobuyuki Matsuhisa has taken in Colorado. Matsuhisa Cherry Creek will be a 7,800-square-foot restaurant at Steele Creek, which the developer describes as a “transformative” apartment and retail project at 1st Avenue and Steele Street in Denver. Steele Creek represents the best in Denver luxury apartment living. The 218-apartment mixed-use project boasts such amenities as a 24-hour concierge with premier resident services, a spectacular roof-deck pool and lounge, a fully appointed private entertainment lounge, a 24-hour fitness center and Matsuhisa with its world-renowned cuisine.

Matsuhisa Cherry Creek is expected to open at the end of 2015. The interior design will be handled by Denver- and Aspen-based Rowland + Broughton. Matsuhisa plans to service the roof deck pool atop the 12-story building. Residents will also be able to order food and drinks for their residences, as well as have Matsuhisa cater their events. And more prosaically, he restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner. Born and raised in Saitama, Japan, chef Matsuhisa is a classically trained sushi chef who developed his inventive style when he opened a sushi bar in Peru. His career has been defined by finding new ways of incorporating different cultures, ingredients and styles into Japanese cuisine. He opened his first Matsuhisa restaurant in the United States in Beverly Hills in 1987, and it soon became a magnet for food lovers and celebrities.

Matsuhisa was chosen as one of the Top Ten Restaurant Destinations in the world by the New York Times in 1993. Some of chef  Matsuhisa’s personal honors from the culinary community include being named one of America’s 10 Best New Chefs by Food and Wine Magazine (1989), Southern California’s Rising Stars by Los Angeles Times Magazine (1998), induction into the Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America by the James Beard Foundation (2002), numerous nominations for Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation (1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006), and being named One of the 11 Most Influential Chefs of the Decade by Madrid Fusion (2009).

Tortilla Chip Tasting (& Brunch) at Lola

Food Should Taste Good makes products that live up to the brand name.

018Food Should Taste Good is based in Minneapolis, but this line of tasty natural tortilla chips, crackers and other snack foods could be a Boulder area company. After all, the products are gluten-free, cholesterol-free, have zero grams of trans- fats and are even kosher, and some varieties are also certified vegan. Certified organic is the only desirable attribute that is missing, but you can’t have everything — and since it is part of giant General Mills, I’m not holding my breath for organic. What these products do have is great taste — hence the name that resonates with me, because I believe that taste is really important.

A public relations crew came out from Massachusetts on Saturday to host a tasting at Lola Mexican Fish House, a Highland eatery known as much for its brunch as its seafood. I have been wanting to go there for a long time, so I’m grateful to FSTG. Lola, part of the Big Red F Restaurant Group, is something of a melding of Jax Fish House (four metro area locations plus Kansas City) on the seafood side and Centro Latin Kitchen and Zolo Grill (both in Boulder) on the Latin side. This  chef-driven group was founded in 1994 by David Query with Jamey Fader as culinary director. Both are well-known veteran chefs in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

The tasting took place in the basement bar, a venue that along with good brunch drinks, gave the event an after-dark air. In fact, it was a bit of a shock to come upstairs into the bright light of the early afternoon. Lola’s chef de cuisine Kevin Grossi put out a selection of guacamole and assorted dips to mix and match with various Food Should Taste Good chips flavors. Blue corn chips are my favorites. I kind of liked dipping guacamole chips into Lola’s fine guac, but in truth, every combo was good.

I couldn't get the whole line of chips, plus salsas and guac for dipping into one picture.
I couldn’t get the whole line of chips, plus salsas and guac for dipping into one picture.

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