We had plenty of OK but forgettable food in Paris, eating wherever we happened to be when our stomachs rumbled. But dinner on September 9, my birthday, was one to remember. Our AirBnB host recommended Maguey (“expensive but very good”), and it was both — and happily is located just down the street from where we stayed.
We had to leave for the airport early, so made a reservation for 7:30 — early by Parisian standards. The small, stylish restaurant was empty half-an-hour before anyone else arrived, but when we left at 9:30 or so, it was packed. The suave, efficient waiter explained the restaurant’s intriguing format. The “menu” consists of two adjectives and three courses. The diners select the adjectives that best suit their tastes (convivial, exuberant, playful, silky) tell the waiter what they might be allergic to — and the chef, whose name I do not know, tweaks the dishes to order. Beverage pairings are suggested for each course, but with an early morning departure for the airport, we each ordered just a glass of celebratory champagne.
At the end of the meal, the waiter brought small menus (in French) of what was selected. Here are some of the gorgeous and delicious items we had with just the most basic labeling of each dish. No time to translate the full roster of components.
We haven’t been eating lunch in San Martino di Castrozza every day, but yesterday, we were hungry at mid-day. We were almost the only customers at the Bar dai Maestri, a pretty little place with an abundance of light pine furniture.
Denver chef selected to showcase American food at world food fair.
My husband and I are winding down a week in the Dolomites in northeastern Italy, and when we were planning this trip, I made some efforts to plug a visit to Expo Milano 2015 into our itinerary. The theme is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. This embraces technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity and how they relate to food and diet.” Right up my interest alley.
I couldn’t fit it into an itinerary that includes the resort town of San Martino di Castrozza deep in the mountains, Paris and New York, but Denver chef Jennifer Jasinski is there. Now. She and her Rioja crew are cooking at the James Beard American Restaurant at Seven Stars Galleria this weekend. They left for Italy on Monday, August 31 to prepare for the meal.
Other US chefs featured in the September lineup are Ming Tsai, Norman Van Aken and Hugh Acheson, with Tom Collichio, David Kinch, Andrew Carmellini among those scheduled for October, final month of the fair.
“I was blown away and honored to be invited by the US. State Department and the James Beard Foundation to join this incredible lineup of chefs at Expo Milano,” said Jasinski when the invitation was announced. “Expo Milano has been described as the first world’s fair that’s all about food and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Jasinski is serving 70 guests each night at the Milan dinners. She is showcasing contemporary American-accented cuisine for the diverse Expo crowd. These dishes, many including local Italian ingredients, sound awesome:
Crispy bacon cannoli “BLT” with rocket, heirloom tomato, avocado
Grilled Virginia ham wrapped peaches, Pedro Jimenez gastrique
Apple crisps with tuna tartare, apple, fennel anise vinaigrette
Local oysters with citrus-chile granite
Fresh cornbread served with cultured butter and Hawaiian sea salt
Savory ricotta tart, marinated heirloom tomatoes, pine nut crust, pickled shallots, pine nut pistou, herb salad
Alaska turbot, white corn grits, green tomato gazpacho, fresh baby corn, preserved lemons, radishes, watercress
Piedmontese beef filet, smoked sweet corn risotto, squash alla Montava, romano beans, sauce bordelaise, bone marrow butter
Strawberry rose Bavarian, pistachio-cashew phyllo, Pernod honey, candied rose petals
Sanity & taste buds required a break from hotel food.
The other day, we stopped at the Ranch Bar in San Martino di Castrozza for kicks. Yesterday, needing a break from both the Hotel Colfosco’s truly mediocre food and the constant wailing of one or another baby or toddler at this family hotel, we escaped to the Ranch Bar for dinner. Plus we were really curious about the backstory and food at this Western-theme outpost in Italy’s Dolomites.
But what of the burgers?, you might ask. They’re huge! Three young guys at the next table each order two. Two of the trio picked them up American-style, while the third earnestly sawed away at his with a knife and fork.
Restaurant/pub puts on a good approximation Western ambiance.
A taste of the American West improbably is located in the Italian mountain town of San Martino di Castrozza. The Ranch Bar is tricked out in all sorts of stereotypical Westernia up to and including saddles as barstools. Country and cowboy songs play. The menu features ribs, burgers and more American specialties, but we just stopped in for afternoon drinks after hiking. It was quiet on a late summer Monday, but I imagine that it rocks during ski season.
Truth be told, the food at the pleasant Hotel Colfosco (half-board required) is so boring that we might skip one night an come here for a burger. It’s tempting.
When we booked a last-minute RCI timeshare trade to Italy, we knew we wanted to stay in the magnificent Dolomites. Cortina d’Ampezzo and other mainstream resorts were not possible, so we are in the Hotel Colfosco in San Martino di Castrozza that is on the RCI program. Half-board (breakfast and dinner) is mandatory (48€ per person, per day additional — ouch!) Most guests check in/out on Sunday, so the hotel schedules its gala dinner for Saturday evening, which is just when we arrived. The night’s offering is a set menu — take it of leave it. Meat, cheese and pasta predominated. Vegetable matter was minimal. I kept thinking, “Toto, we’re not in Boulder anymore.” But I have to say, it was all very tasty — not haute cuisine, but solid Middle European cooking. On the bright side, I know that there’s a salad bar every evening from here on.
Three art forms were showcased at yesterday evening’s Flatirons Food Film Festival fundraiser: cinematic arts, musical arts and, of course, culinary arts. The event opened with food samples from some of the city’s finest chefs and adult beverages. Then there was a fast-moving live auction (some guests scored great deals). Then came short films on food subjects curated by James Beard Award-winner The Perennial Plate, which documents what it calls “adventures in sustainable eating.” Each chef viewed one of the films that inspired the dishes he presented, and in addition to the resulting food/film pairings, four fine singers from Opera on Tap Colorado performed operatic pairings.
Query, who founded and operates the entire Big Red F Restaurant Group, of which Jax is just one concept, said that “10 Things We love About Italy” inspired him to offer fresh, simple food, preparted with “not a lot of over-thought, just thought.”
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.