Category Archives: Farming

Culinary Treasure in Old Town Erie

24 Carrot Bistro serves great cocktails & sublime food.

p1120723Until last night, I’d only eaten one dinner in Erie — years ago at my friend Kuvy Ax’s birthday dinner at a now-defunct Mexican restaurant. It was at Kuvy’s behest that I ate there again last night. This divine dinner was at 24 Carrot Bistro, a farm-to-table restaurant with a stellar pedigree. The eatery’s name comes from a play on words — 24 karat relating to the finest gold and carrots referencing a key ingredient in fine classic cuisine.

Not only are partners Bianca Retzloff and Kevin Kidd both chefs, but Bianca is the daughter of Mark Retzloff, founder and owner of Alfalfa’s Market  (now Markets, because there are three).  Between them, Bianca and Kevin had worked at Alfalfa’s and in various Boulder County restaurants (SALT, Colterra, Jax and others) before crossing the line to Weld County and Erie. This town has exploded with housing developments, but it lacked any good restaurants until July 2015 when 24 Carrot Bistro opened in an 1880 building, originally a butcher shop and most recently a steakhouse. Now exposed brick walls and exposed joists create a warm, rustic and hospitable look.

24 Carrots Bistro exemplifies the aesthetic of paring a building down to its bones -- exposed brick walls, exposed joists and minimal distracting decorations. Along one side is the bailiwick of D.J. Riemer and his behind-the-bar team, who mix great cocktails and conduct monthly mixology classes.
24 Carrot Bistro exemplifies the aesthetic of paring a building down to its bones — exposed brick walls, exposed joists and minimal distracting decorations. Along one side is the bailiwick of D.J. Riemer and his behind-the-bar team, who mix great cocktails and conduct monthly mixology classes. (Oliver Retzloff photo, courtesy 24 Carrot Bistro)
24 Carrots' skilled bartenders work with house-made liqueurs, digestifs, shrubs and spirits of various sorts. Their speciality is pre-Prohibition contails -- and contemporary ones too.
24 Carrot’s skilled bartenders work with house-made liqueurs, digestifs, tinctures, shrubs and spirits of various sorts, including on-site barrel-aging. Their specialty is pre-Prohibition cocktails — and contemporary ones too.

A blackboard near the entrance lists the local vendors they buy from, but being from Scituate, Mass., executive chef Kevin Kidd has a soft spot for fresh seafood so he has it flown in six days a week.

Elsewhere, calamri can be rubbery, but 24 Carrots' tender and crsisp-fried version might just be the best I've ever had. Chef Kevin soaks it buttermilk, coats in seasoned flour and fries it till it's
Elsewhere, calamari can be rubbery, but 24 Carrot’s tender and crisp-fried version might just be the best I’ve ever had. Chef Kevin soaks it in buttermilk, coats it in seasoned flour and fries it till it’s “just right” — like Baby Bear’s calamari would be. It comes with smears of basil aioli and Romesco, two Mediterranean-inspired sauces.
An elegant and delicious salad of roasted cauliflower, sliced apple, cpinack, celery. some cheddar, hazelnuts for crunch and an elegant cherry vinaigrette.
An elegant and delicious salad of roasted cauliflower, sliced apple, spinach, celery, some cheddar, hazelnuts for crunch and an elegant sherry vinaigrette.
The lighting did not flatter the roasted quail, but the cornbrad stuffing, bacon-braised collards and apple-cranberry compote made for a lovely homage to Thanksgiving.
The evening lighting did not flatter the roasted quail, but the cornbread stuffing, bacon-braised collards and apple-cranberry compote made for a lovely homage to Thanksgiving.
Pan-roasted red snapper with seared sweet potato, spinach, fennel and pistachio in a pool of red pepper/paprika butter sauce.
Pan-roasted red snapper with seared sweet potato, spinach, fennel and pistachio in a pool of red pepper/paprika butter sauce.
The interesting sweet potato cheesecake had a moist crumbly texture, not dissimilar to a rum cake. It is served with a cranberry-tarragon couli, some maple pecan pieces and a crown of whipped cream.
The interesting sweet potato cheesecake has a moist crumbly texture, not dissimilar to a  booze-free rum cake. It is served with a cranberry-tarragon coulis, some maple pecan pieces and a crown of whipped cream.
On a warmer evening, we might have had drinks on the cute little patio, but on a cold night, we went out for a peak at the near-dormant raised boxes where 24 Carrots chefs grow their own herbs,
On a warmer evening, we might have had drinks on the cute little patio, but on a cold night, we went out for a peak at the near-dormant raised boxes where 24 Carrot chefs grow their own herbs.

Price check: At dinner, appetizers, $7-$12 plus $14 for an artisanal cheese plate; salads, $6-$8; small plates, $12-$17; entrées, $17-30 plus $12 for a Bistro Burger; desserts, $7-$8 plus just $2 for a daily selection of mini-bites and ice cream/sorbet tastes.

24 Carrot Bistro is at 578 Briggs Street, Erie; 303-828-1392.

24 Carrot Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Focus on Food This Election Year

Getting food issues off the back burner.

plateoftheunion-logo-jpgEven though First Lady Michelle Obama has made valiant efforts to bring to public and media attention on fresh and healthy food, such issues as food deserts, wide-spread hunger, food waste and the awful power of the agri-chemical industry still plague the country. The next administration is unlikely to build on the Mrs. Obama’s legacy. The White House organic garden might even be plowed under.

One effort to bring food issues to public and political attention is the Plate of the Union Food Truck Tour, which started over this past summer to calli for action on food and farms. In Cleveland for the Republican National Convention and Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, organizers of the Plate of the Union say the food truck drew  crowds, underscoring that legions of  Americans care about healthy, fair, sustainable and affordable food. At each convention, organizers say that they were “joined by delegates, members of Congress, media and everyday people who agree: we need presidential leadership to fix our food system.”

The post-convention road trip included stops in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Ohio, Illinois, Iowa and North Carolina. This ambitious road trip did not appear to include Colorado. The truck staff gathered petition signatures and say that they heard from concerned farmers, food business owners, teachers, parents, workers and more. Aa New York Times article, “When Will Food Issues Be on Politicians’ Plates?”, featured the Plate of the Union. It reminded readers that food is not a red or blue issue, and it raises how food intersects with so many critical national issues this election season: immigration, labor, health, trade and more.

I doubt that upcoming debates will spend much, if any time, on food issues, but it won’t be for the of the Plate of the Union’s efforts.

Harvest Week Dinners Set

Fab food at annual Colorado food showcase and fundraiser.

Harvest-Week-logoHarvest Week is coming up next month at GrowHaus, a fantastic community resource in an underserved northeast Denver neighborhood. Its mantra is “Healthy Food Is a Right, Not a Privilege.” Each Harvest Week dinner is prepared by a different independent restaurant, and each has a different theme.

The event, co-sponsored by The GrowHaus and Eat Denver, showcases Denver’s vibrant food culture and the Colorado-grown foods that are such a part of the current scene. Each evening’s description below is the organizer’s words.  I’m heading out of the country on October 16, so I can’t get to any of them — but I hope  you will. Cost is $75 per  person per evening, plus a $4.75 fee. Click here FoMoInfo and to buy tickets.

Sunday, October 16 – Spanish Night 
Experience The Growhaus filled with rich aromas of deep Spanish flavors prepared by some of the most adventurous culinary minds in town. Colorado fare will be transformed with Spanish preparations and key ingredients, all served family style.

Monday, October 17 – Italian NIght
For one night only, The Growhaus will turn into an Italian food lover’s mecca, featuring dishes thoughtfully crafted with flavors of the Italian Mediterranean. As the Italians do, all dishes will represent our region, complete with various styles that all fit within a cuisine far too complex to be represented just one way.

Tuesday, October 18 – Veggie Asia Night
A night designed for the seasoned herbivore and anyone intrigued by the endless possibilities within produce, this dinner will explore the exotic cuisines born from Southeast Asia. Some of Denver’s most creative culinary minds will team together to serve a meal both of the familiar and surprising.

Wednesday, October 19 – French Night
It’s no secret that French cooking is the root of all culinary lineage, with a landscape both wide in technique and flavor. Prepare to experience Colorado ingredients composed with old school technique, a new school approach, and a twist only some of the top classically trained chefs can deliver.

Thursday, October 20 – Southern U.S. Night
Experience The South with a Colorado perspective as some of Denver’s most inspired chefs ban together to honor a region known for its heart and soul. The Harvest Week finale will feature dishes both nostalgic and those you’ll soon never forget.

The GrowHaus is located at 4751 York Street, Denver.

Colorado Proud Dinner Coming in Centennial

South suburban ViewHouse hosts feast of in-state products.

ColoradoProud-logoIf I posted news of every wine-pairing dinner and fundraising feast in Colorado, I’d write about nothing else and (I probably wouldn’t have much time to sleep either), but fresh from the Governor’s Cup wine event, I have things grown, raised and in Colorado on my mind. August is Colorado Proud Month, highlighted by a Colorado Proud dinner party on August 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Centennial ViewHouse’s fabulous open-air dining room.

Executive chef Jose Guerrero has crafted a ‘Colorado Proud’ four-course dinner made with local meats and produce, craft cocktails and wine, plus live acoustic music (which I hope won’t be so loud that guests won’t be able to talk about the food made from  agricultural products that are grown, raised or processed in Colorado.

THE MENU*

  •  First Course. Braised Tender Belly Pork Belly with Pueblo Peppers, CO Popcorn Grits, Grilled Tricolor Corn, Pork Belly Jus and Micro Bulls Blood.
  • Second Course. Mixed Beet Confit served with Baby Arugula, Colorado Nut Brittle, Colorado Honey-Goat Emulsion and Micro Chives.
  • Third Course. Peppercorn Glazed Colorado Striped Bass and Lamb Chop with Disanti Bean Succotash, Roasted Fingerlings, Tender Belly Lardons, Lamb Jus and Micro Lolo Roassa.
  • Fourth Course. Dessert Trio with Cantaloupe Mouse, Peach Tart and Honey Dew Sorbet in a Sugar Cookie Sandwich.

*The menu above came from the organizer. I am not familiar with some of the products, so if you have questions or an issue, I’m afraid I can’t help you.

Purveyors from around the state include Denver’s Tender Belly, Parker’s Mountain Man Nut & Fruit, Longmont’s Haystack Goat Cheese and Rocky Mountain Eggs. Spirit and wine pairings come from Loveland’s Spring 44 and Denver’s Infinite Monkey Theorem.
Tickets for the dinner and beverage pairings are $55 per person (plus tax or gratuity), and guests must be 21 or older to attend. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the restaurant at 303-848-3366. It is located at 7101 South Clinton Street, Centennial.

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

Boulder Farmers’ Markets to Run One at Union Station

Wynkoop Plaza a natural location for local food market.

BCFM-newlogoThere is a happy cross-fertilization between the Denver and Boulder food scenes.  Boulder-born Zoe Mama and The Kitchen have taken root in Denver (at Union Station, in fact). Now comes the announcement that the Boulder County Farmers Markets will manage the seasonal marketplace on Wynkoop Plaza on the north side of the station. It will take place every Saturday from June 4 through October 24 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is said to be city’s first growers-only farmers market.

With 29 years of experience in operating growers’ markets, BCFM coordinated a pilot market this past October 10 that attracted approximately 1,670 visitors to shop among 25 farm, bakery, restaurant and food-producer vendors. That tested the feasibility for the new Union Station Farmers Market, which is supported by the Union Station Alliance, RTD and the Downtown Denver Partnership. BCFM was awarded a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant in October to assist with launching and promoting the new market.

LoDo, the Platte River Valley and LoHi are among the booming Denver neighborhoods whose residents can be expected to make the farmers’ market a Saturday morning tradition.  In addition to the big seasonal markets in Boulder and Longmont, BCFM runs a small year-round stand as part at the Boulder Public Library’s Seeds Cafe and a two-day December market at the Boulder County Fairgrounds.

Boulder County Farmers Markets are growers-only markets in Boulder and Longmont that  support local farmers, ranchers and food producers and earned recognition as the  nation’s number one farmers market by USA Today readers in August 2015.

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.”