Category Archives: Europe

Cured Offers Tour de France Matches

Regional cheeses and drinks echo Grand Tour route.

Cured-logoOnce again, Will Frischkorn is preparing for the Tour de France. The greatest of all the Grand Tour stage races in Europe starts on Saturday in Holland, whisks through a bit of Belgium before its grueling route around France with the traditional finish in Paris. But these days, he’s not getting his body and mind into shape to ride 3,360 kilometers.  Rather, he and his wife, Coral,  who own Cured, have again put together a little Tour of their own. Boulder’s wonderful gourmet shop is set to assemble a special Tour-appropriate offering for who customers with a love of fine cheese, a passion for French wine and a good appetite.


Will broke the Tour into eight stages, each corresponding to 3 to 4 days of racing, and for each region, he has chosen a cheese and a beverage. As the riders make their way around France, it is possible to follow along with region-appropriate cheese and wine and the Tour on the tube or on your computer.

Each stage, available individually for $40 or as part of the whole package for $295, comes with a chunk of cheese and a beverage to pair.  While mostly wine, they also have an exceptional beer and even a bottle of Calvados this year, paying homage to the route that the organizers chose for this 102nd edition of the Tour. Participants in Cured’s entire tour receive a Team Garmin Cannondale musette bag filled with Will’s favorite cycling ride and recovery snacks. This year’s Tour is available for pickup at Cured, or for $90 each week, they’ll deliver a box to  your doorstep with that week’s stages. Call Cured at 720-389-8096 to purchase a Tour and visit their website to learn more and read about the individual stages.

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World’s Fair Focuses on Food

Milan’s Expo 2015 theme is feeding the world.

Expo2015-logoExpo Milano 2015 is the Universal Exhibition that Milan, Italy, hosts from May 1 to October 31. Over this six-month period, Milan will become a global showcase where more than 140 participating countries will show the best of their technology that offers a concrete answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the planet and its equilibrium.

In addition to the exhibitor nations, the Expo also involves international organizations. It expects to welcome more than 20 million visitors to its 1.1 million square meters of exhibition area.

As the organizers put it, ” A platform for the exchange of ideas and shared solutions on the theme of food, stimulating each country’s creativity and promoting innovation for a sustainable future, Expo 2015 will give everyone the opportunity to find out about, and taste, the world’s best dishes, while discovering the best of the agri-food and gastronomic traditions of each of the exhibitor countries.”

A tall order, but a necessary world conversation. Wish I could be there.

Iceland Eats on Show at Culinary Fest

Jaw-dropping scenery, Viking culture and centuries-old history of Iceland plus fresh fare.

IcelandFoodFest-logoI wouldn’t even mention this if I weren’t so taken with Iceland, but I am, so I am — if you get my drift. The 14th annual Food ‘n Fun Festival in Reykjavik from February 25 to March 1 brings together chefs who ply outstanding culinary skills, fresh natural ingredients, Icelandic outdoor adventure and the island nation’s famed nightlife to create the ultimate recipe for fun.  Renowned chefs  from America, Europe and specifically Scandinavia join forces with Reykjavik’s best restaurants to vie for the title of “Food & Fun Chef of the Year.” Think it’s trivial? This honor gained respect in the culinary world since Rene Redzepi, owner of Noma Restaurant in Copenhagen, won the award in 2004.

Competitors include Hussein Mustapha, chef de cuisine at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl, a conceptual gourmet restaurant also in Copenhagen; Adam Dahlberg from Adam & Albin Matstudio, a gastronomic hotspot in Stockholm; London’s Robin Gill of The Dairy and The Manor, and James Beard Award winner Douglas Rodriguez from the U.S. Each chef is assigned to one of the participating restaurants to prepare a special menu consisting only of Icelandic ingredients. The menu is then presented by the chefs to the public during the festival week.

Among the restaurants hosting festival events this year are Dill, Apotek, Kjallarinn, Lava at the Blue Lagoo, and Smurstodin. There’s a lot of serious cooking going on, so I’m not sure where the “fun”  comes in. On the last day of the festival, the chefs compete head-to-head with three courses, again all made solely with Iceland ingredients such as Arctic char, grass-fed lamb, fresh caught cod and haddock, local plum tomatoes from a geothermal greenhouse and an Icelandic yogurt called skyr. 

New Cookbook from ‘5280’ Magazine

5280-cookbook-CoverSomehow, 5280s food editor Amanda M. Faison managed to find time to edit a cookbook — not a trivial undertaking. Not surprisingly called 5280: The Cookbook and subtitled “Recipes for your kitchen from Denver and Boulder’s most celebrated chefs,” the recently published book is sure to appear on every local cook’s shelf. Amanda is at the Tattered Cover on East Colfax on Wednesday, November 12 from 7 to 9 p.m. for a talk and book signing. Ryan Warner, Colorado Public Radio’s host of “Colorado Matters,”  interviews Faison and chefs Dana Rodriguez (Work & Class) and Kelly Whitaker (Basta, Cart-Driver), so it will also provide a sense of being in CPR’s studio. Of course, the direct topic 5280: The Cookbook but there will be plenty of discussion about Denver and Boulder’s vibrant—and ever-changing— restaurant scene. As a bonus, Rodriguez and Whitaker are bringing sample samples. The bookstore is at 2526 East Colfax Avenue, Denver; 303-322-7727.


Denver’s Upcoming Taste of Iceland

Food, music & art  form from North Atlantic nation in the Mile High City.

IcelandNaturally-logoI’ve just returned from Iceland, so I’m still a little obsessed by that wonderful little island nation. I soaked in the fabled Blue Lagoon, but I never got a chance to eat at the Blue Lagoon’s LAVA Restaurant. My loss, because it is considered one of Iceland’s best. My re-entry will be eased if I make it to try the special menu of authentic Icelandic cuisine served at Rioja from September 24 to 27.

Chefs Jennifer Jasinski, Viktor Örn Andrésson and Kuklinski.
Chefs Jennifer Jasinski, Viktor Örn Andrésson and Tim Kuklinski.

Viktor Örn Andrésson, the fabled restaurant’s head chef (and 2014 Nordic Chef of the Year), is flying in to prepare this special meal showcasing the best of Icelandic cuisine. He will work with Rioja’s owner/chef Jennifer Jasinski, whose accolades include James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest and Colorado Chef of the Year, and Rioja’s Chef de Cuisine Tim Kuklinski to offer the menu below ($65 plus $25 for optional wine pairing). Rioja is at 1431 Larimer Street, Denver. For reservations, call 303-820-2282. And if you don’t happen to be in Denver, Taste of Iceland events are also scheduled for Seattle, October 9 t0 12, and Toronto, November 13 to 16.

Taste of Iceland Menu at Rioja

F  I R S T • Arctic Char
Blow-torched and lemon-cured Arctic char
Beetroots, cream cheese, horseradish, chervil

S E C O N D • Icelandic Cod and Langoustine
Slowly cooked cod and dried seaweed ‘söl‘ from Stykkishólmur
Lightly smoked langoustine salad, apple, black salsify, pickled onion

T H I R D • Icelandic Free-Range Lamb
Roasted rack of lamb and slowly cooked lamb shoulder,  sun chokes, watercress, mustard, mushrooms and Madeira sauce

F O U R T H • Icelandic Viking Skyr
Skyr and red currant mousse, chocolate cremaux,
Marzipan cake, marshmallow, skyr and lemon ice cream

Music, Cocktails & Yard Storming

Denver’s Icelandic experience includes several other events. Music lovers can attend the free Reykjavik Calling Concert on Saturday, September 27 at 7 the 3 Kings Tavern. Mixologist Chris Sage conducts craft cocktail classes at Rioja’s sister restaurant, Bistro Vendome, featuring a variety of cocktails using Reyka Vodka and Icelandic ingredients. Classes from September 25 through 27 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. are free but are limited to 20 guests (21+ only) per class. Reservations are required (and might already be filled), but call 303-825-3232 and try.

BarbaKnit,jpgIceland is a nation of sheep (the four-legged kind) and therefore, also of knitters. Artist and knitter extraordinaire Linda Björk Eiríksdóttir (also known as BarbaKnit) invites experienced knitters and novice knitters alike to a free yarn storming party on Saturday, September 27 from 12 noon to 3 p.m. at the lawn just east of the McNichols Building at Civic Center Park (144 West Colfax). Guests will create an all-new art installation by “yarn storming” park trees with a splash of color and texture. Guests are encouraged to bring their own knitting needles, crochet hooks and yarn or any other fabric lying around. Linda is available to teach guests easy ways to get started in the wide world of knit art.

Italian Elegance in Iceland

 Kolabrautin is an elegant aerie with a harbor view.

The restaurant sign inside Harpa IS vertical. Reflections trick the eye.
The restaurant sign inside Harpa IS vertical. Reflections trick the eye.

The Society of American Travel Writers did not fill 2014 convention attendees’ dance cards every minute, and on one free evening, my husband and I and three friends were going out together. The consensus was for Italian food, and upon several recommendations, we ended up at Kolabrautin. I don’t know what the name means, but neither it nor the food is stereotypically Italian. The small menu offers a selection of dishes that aren’t of the rough, red sauce tradition from southern Italy but a refined, contemporary style that takes advantage of Iceland’s abundant seafood and quality lamb and beef.

Kolabrautin is located on the 4th level of the Harpa Center, a spectacular convention center, concert hall and more. The harbor views are excellent, and the décor is elegant modern Scandinavian. The whole package is a distinctively Icelandic combination.

Simple, classy table settings foretell of fine food and fine service.
Simple, classy table settings foretell of fine food and fine service.
The gleaming open kitchen is where the magic happens.
The gleaming open kitchen is where the magic happens.

Many of our fellow diners seemed to be on expense accounts — tables where what appeared to be businessmen predominated. We were the down-market bunch, ordering judiciously and, in my case anyway, enjoying a small portion of deliciousness rather than pigging out on less refined food. Since it was our anniversary — a romantic dinner for five, of course — I ordered a glass of Proseco to begin. We also shared a bottle of wine.

Excellent bread served on a board, with fresh Icelandic butter.
Excellent bread served on a board, with fresh Icelandic butter and optional salt.
The kitchen sent out this lovely amuse, even though we were five low-rent diners.
The kitchen sent out this lovely amuse, even though we were five low-rent diners.


The waiter said that the spaghetti with langoustine, chili and garlic was spicy. It wasn't, but it was very good.
The waiter said that the spaghetti with langoustine, chili and garlic was spicy. It wasn’t, but it was very good.
Pan-fried cod with cauliflower, broccoli and crispy potatoes. You can't go wrong with cod in Iceland.
Pan-fried cod with cauliflower, broccoli and crispy potatoes. You can’t go wrong with cod in Iceland.
Rotolo di pasta with house made ricotta, spinach and porcini sauce.
Rotolo di pasta with house made ricotta, spinach and porcini sauce.

Price check: ISK2529-3950; primi, ISK3400-3850; secondi, ISK3980-5980; desserts, ISK1800, and a four-course set menu, ISK1800. You need to check current exchange rates.

The address and phone are Austurbakki 2,  101 Reykjavík, Iceland; Tel. +354 519 9700.


Authentic Icelandic Feast

Sjávargrillið serves upscale Icelandic cuisine.

Hsjavargrillid-seafoodákarl or kæstur hákarl fortunately is not on the menu at Sjávargrillið, a Reykjavik restaurant that specializes in Icelandic fare. I write “fortunately” because  hákarl is fermented shark that has been pressed in the sand for up to 10 weeks and then hung to dry for four to five months. It is usually described as having a rotten-fish taste and a peculiar ammonia-rich smell. Icelanders eat it eat year-round, but even the most adventurous visiting eaters can’t handle it. I was glad I didn’t have to try.

Owner/chef Gústav Axel Gunnlaugsson.
Owner/chef Gústav Axel Gunnlaugsson.

Enough about what I didn’t eat. This post is really about a restaurant called Sjávargrillið and the fine meal I had there. The Taste of Iceland is one of several four-course tasting menus devised by owner/chef Gústav Axel Gunnlaugsson, who was the 2010 Icelandic Chef of the Year while with Restaurant FiskfelagidHe soon went on to establish his own restaurant, Sjávargrillið. We ate in the atmospheric, low-light lower dining room, paneled with driftwood that Gustav and a friend collected. The exquisite dishes come from his creativity in interpreting traditional ingredients in a contemporary way and presenting them meticulously. Continue reading Authentic Icelandic Feast