Category Archives: Denver

Chef Tyler Wiard’s SPAM Tacos

Sample tacos al pastor with laughline meat or make them at home.

SPAMSPAM, the pork-in-a-can product not the E-mail annoyance, is a favorite in Hawaii and the subject of Mainland laughlines. But people stop laughing when they taste dishes prepared by name chefs using SPAM. The SPAMERICAN Tour visits 16 cities across the countries where chefs demonstrate that point with interesting recipes.

SPAM is also an iconic Army ingredient, and there-in lies the backstory of the SPAMERICAN Tour. It is partnering with Operation Gratitude, a volunteer based organization that sends care packages and letters to U.S. Service Members deployed overseas, veterans, wounded soldiers and their families, plus new recruits and first responders here at home. The tour is bringing Operation Gratitude’s letter-writing campaign into 16 communities, supporting its “March to a 2nd Million” goal with a $50,000 donation by pledging $1 for every letter written in-market and online at SPAM.com. I know it’s a little complicated.

But each stop is simplicity itself with free samples of Operation SPAM Gravy with Biscuits  and SPAM fries, plus creations of local chef partners. It comes to Denver’s Sustainability Park, where Tyler Wiard, the energetic culinary director of Elway’s restaurant and a recent “cheftestant” on Bravo’s Top Chef, prepares al pastor tacos. He uses crispy SPAM rather than the traditional pork butt. Taste them for FREE on Saturday, May 14 from 2 to 6 p.m. at The Big Wonderful, a sustainability fair at the park (2600 Lawrence St.).  Continue reading Chef Tyler Wiard’s SPAM Tacos

The Inventing Room on Tabélog’s Dessert List

Over-the-top desserts include a Denver original.

InventingRoom-logoAnother day, another appearance by a Denver eatery on some “top” this or that list. This time, it’s The Inventing Room’s “volcanic” root beer float, devised by the clever owner/chef Ian Kleinman, that is one of Tabélog’s 10 selections for “The 10 Most Outrageous Desserts in America!” Exclamation theirs — as is the mysterious accent aigu on the “e” in Tabélog. The selections are eclectic, ranging from a Michigan sports pub to Chicago’s ethereal Alinea. As usual, The Inventing Room occupies a category of its own. The site posted:

Our next outrageous dessert literally blows up in your face. The Inventing Room in Denver, CO is known for their crazy dessert creations. Unusual flavors of ice cream, frozen honey and frozen Cheetos are just a few of the tricks up their sleeve. But The Inventing Room got serious with their signature exploding whipped cream which provides a perfect topping for their root beer float. This normally fizzy dessert drink is made downright volcanic dessert thanks to the use of liquid nitrogen. Ask for some pop rock topping for maximum eruption.

The ice cream shop is at 2020 Lawrence Street, Denver; 303-885-2802.

500th Anniversary of German Beer Purity Act

Three ingredients mandated for Bavarian beer — and that’s all.

A German commemorative stamp celebrates the Reinheitsgebot, the world's first legal standard for the prodcution of a food or drink product.
A German commemorative stamp celebrates the Reinheitsgebot, the world’s first legal standard for the production of a food or drink product.

April 23, 1516, was not the date of William Shakespeare’s death. That wouldn’t happen for another hundred years. It was the date of the adoption of the Bavarian Beer Purity Act (Reinheitsgebot in German), decreeing that beer could be made only with three ingredients: water, barley and hops. Period.

This calls for all manner of celebrations, certainly in Germany where some festivals will stretch through the summer, but even in Colorado. Here are some:

AC Golden and Sandlot Brewery, both part of the Coors family, serve limited release of the Reinheit brew at select World of Beer locations. Master brewer Andreas Gahr from St. Johann Research Brewery in Germany has collaborated on this authentic, old-style German lager.

Boulder’s Bohemiian Biergarten is turning up the party juice this evening, even though Bohemia is now the Czech Republic, not Germany. Really, who cares? Beginning at 8 p.m. this evening, they are serving  $5 Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr Biers (both from Munich and now corporately related). Also, there’s a raffle for commemorative mugs. Austrian Connection plays live. At least Austrian and Germany share a common language (more or less, depending on regional dialects). Create some Reinheitsgebot-themed attire and  get a gift.

Mockery Brewing irreverently calls its its event Reinheitsgewhat?!.  It starts today at noon, and the irreverence continues as the brewery invites guests to “spend the day rocking and mocking beer laws.” They’ve got limited beer releases, live music by the The Polkanauts (“Metal by Birth-Polka by Choice”) and commemorative beer steins for the first 100 guests. They are putting details on their Facebook event page.

The Rackhouse in RiNo is serving specialty brews from Call to Arms and Fässer, Andechs Döppelbock monastery from noon on. The kitchen is turning out the Bavarian specialty, Leberkäse, a pâté beloved in southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Work Opinions of Women Fundraiser

Top women chefs in Denver raise money for their sisters.

WomanCook.-logoThe 12th annual Women Cook! dinner on May 2 from 5 to 9 p.m. seems bigger than the 11th annual, which seemed bigger than those that preceded it. The more women in professional kitchens, the more they rally in support of impoverished women, helping them gain skills and confidence needed to work their way out of poverty and become gainfully and permanently employed in the food service industry..

This year’s fundraising feast features:

  • Sandra Adams,  Grand Hyatt
  •  Nadine Donavan,- Vesta Dipping Grill,
    Steuben’s and Ace Eat Serve
  •  Jennifer Jasinski,  Stoic & Genuine, Rioja,
    Bistro Vendôme and Euclid Hall
  • Jenna Johansen, Epicurean
  •  Kathleen Kenny Davia,  Gateaux
  •  Sheila Lucero, Jax Fish House
  • Mary Nguyen, P17 and Olive & Finch
  •  Aniedra Nichols, Elway’s Cherry Creek
  •  Summer Polson,  Project Angelheart
  •  Cindhura Reddy, Spuntino
  •  Dana Rodriguez, Work & Class
  •  Samm Sherman, Craftsy
  • Carrie Shores, WOW Cafe
  •  Elise Wiggins, Panzano

It takes place at Temple Emmanuel, Temple Emanuel
51 Grape Street, Denver.

Tastes of Thailand at Aloy

Freshness stressed at stylish Ballpark restaurant.

027I was fortunate to attend an opening party at Aloy Modern Thai in the cold grasp of last winter.  The flames in the double-sided fireplace and the piquant cuisine  from a very warm country provided a welcome contrast to the nippy outside. There were so many courses and so many paired adult beverages that I hit the wall before the end of the feast, The many dishes were so very good, but I was really on overload. Read my post to see what awesome abundance came to the table. At the time I wondered how sisters Bo Bean and Arisa Chanchokpong who own this restaurant and another in Boulder stay so slim. Several months along and meeting them again, I still wonder.

I was therefore delighted that Visit Denver hosted its most recent media reception in this welcome and wonderful restaurant. Rather than the overwhelming inaugural dinner, there were select small plates. With an opportunity to savor came the full impact of the restaurant’s commitment to super-fresh ingredients, especially the seafood and vegetables that are so important in Thai cuisine. Ten local farms are credited on the men for for supplying sustainable ingredients.

Aloy's Mai Tai made with a Thai spirit called Mehkong, Triple Sec, lime, an orange/almond syrup made in-house orgaet and Aztec bitter.
Aloy’s Mai Tai made with a Thai spirit called Mehkong, Triple Sec, lime, an orange/almond syrup called orgaet made in-house  and Aztec bitters.

Continue reading Tastes of Thailand at Aloy

Culinary Odyssey in RiNo

Foods plain & fancy in River North.

A few days ago, my friend Julia Joun and I took ourselves on our own  food tour in River North (RiNo), an emerging neighborhood in Denver. Her foodie credentials are solid. She she runs the Flatirons Food Film Festival. At this point, my credentials reside mainly on this blog, which I’m proud to say has won several awards. We left Boulder at 9:30 a.m. and didn’t return until almost 6 p.m. What a great and delicious day.

Rosenberg’s Bagels

Rosenberg-logoWe actually started at Rosenberg’s Bagels in Five Points, near enough to RiNo to count. A couple of years ago, when bagel shop and deli were a bright gleam in Josh Pollack’s eye, he stopped by and dropped off a bag of New York-style bagels. Were they ever good! Read my post here.

The Welton Street light-rail stop is directly in front of Rosenberg’s door, while some customers, like us, come in the back way from Clarkson. The gal from one of the city’s Whole Foods came in that way too, to pick up the morning order. Whole Foods is fussy about its sourcing, so this is a testimonial to the quality, taste and authenticity. Knowing that we had a long day of eating ahead, we shared an everything bagel with salmon cream cheese.

Racks of bagels.
Racks of bagels.
Retro style interior.
Retro-inspired interior with big tufted banquette.

Rosenberg's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Babette’s Bakery at The Source

TheSource-logoIf one baked item for breakfast is good, two are better, so Julia and I proceeded to The Source, a renovated, repurposed and totally cool 1880s foundry that now houses restaurants, retailers, watering holes and other semi-related businesses.

011We made a beeline for Babette’s Bakery, which initially became known for its fabulous artisainal French country breads. The pastries fall in the to-die-for category too. We split one, bought things to take home — Julie snagged some bread to take home, and I bought a ham and cheese croissant for my husband.

Baker at work.
Baker at work.
Decisions, decisions, difficult pastry decisions.
Decisions, decisions, difficult pastry decisions.

Babettes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Continue reading Culinary Odyssey in RiNo

‘Blended Burger’ Combines Meat & Mushrooms

Project to cut down on red meat consumption & up taste.

BlendedBurgerThis is the second year for the Blended Burger Project, designed to make burgers “better” by combining ground meat with chopped mushrooms. Not a promotion directly aimed at consumers (that is, you and me), it challenges chefs to create “an incredibly delicious burger that’s healthier for your guests and more sustainable for the planet.” The burgers, which are to be on the restaurants’ menus from Memorial Day through July 31, must be made with at least 25% cultivated, chopped mushrooms.  Foraged wild fungi need not apply.

The James Beard Foundation is behind the project, and winning chefs based on diners’ votes get a trip to prepare their blended burgers at the JBF Food Conference, October 17-18, the prestigious James Beard House in New York. I’m not clear on whether any Colorado chefs were involved last year, when it was called the Better Burger Project. The five winners were respectively from Indiana, Louisiana, Tennessee, California and Pennsylvania), but three of Denver’s best are offering a sneak peek to the 2016 project, and others are invited to participate, so there’s hope for this year. Chefs Alex Seidel (Fruition, Mercantile), Justin Brunson (Old Major, Masterpiece Deli) and Troy Guard (Guard & Grace, TAG Burger, Sunnyside Burger Bar and more) have each created their own renditions of a blended burger.

BlendedBurger

A media preview is scheduled at Fruition later in the month, but I’ll be out of town so won’t be able to attend. I regret the timing, because A) I believe that for environmental reasons, even the most responsibly raised beef cattle take their toll on the environment; B) for health reasons, many people need to cut down on their red meat consumption; C) I like mushrooms.