Category Archives: Food Production

Morning Mocha with a Cacoa Shot

Liquid cacao from Cholaca is the real deal.

Not long ago, my friend Kuvy Ax and I met for coffee at OZO, a do-it-right café that in a very Boulder way adheres to the “ideals of community, coffee and a calling” in the way they source, roast and store their beans and other products. Kuvy ordered a mocha Cholaca, and so did I. It provided a power hit of well prepared coffee with the flavor boost of pure cacao.

My own bottle of Cholaca  liquid cacao now resides in my refrigerator, and I pour a shot into my morning coffee to try to replicate the OZO experience.  Even before this product,  I often put a spoonful of chocolate powder into my morning coffee (along with sweetener and soy creamer, because I’m a wimpy coffee drinker). No matter whether I started with coffee and stirred in the powder or vice versa, there was always some sludge left in the bottom of the mug because the  powder completely dissolved. Tasty sludge, but sludge nonetheless. Not so with liquid, which blends easily and totally with the coffee and my other add-ins.

I try to be a responsible consumer, so I like to see labels proclaiming “organic,” “single origin” and “fair trade,” which aims to give growers fair compensation for their products. My Cholaca is “lightly sweetened” with organic, fair trade coconut sugar. They also make unsweetened and more sweetened, as well as pure cacao wafers that must be a dream to bake with. (Next time I’m in cookie-making mode, I’ll use some.) I’m not a beer drinker, but the Boulder Beer Company’s St. Patrick’s Day release of Irish Blessing, a seasonal oak-aged coffee stout brewed with an abundance of black and chocolate malts for a bittersweet chocolate finish might have changed my thinking.

I get together with friends for coffee at The Laughing Goat every Friday morning. I it turns out that they also carry Cholaca, so I’ll order my weekly cappuccino with a shot. The cacao is grown in Peru and Ecuador, and the company is based in Boulder. That makes it appropriate for this Colorado-focused blog — that and the fact that I really like it.

Boulder Food Producers in the Spotlight

New York Times cites Boulder’s positive climate for food entrepreneurs.

Boulder restaurants are frequently featured in publications reporting on communities with great dining. They and their chefs are also recipients of numerous national and regional awards. But The illustrious New York Times business section recently described Boulder’s position as a leading hotbed of rising food businesses.  See “Foodies Know: Boulder Has Become a Hub for New Producers.”

But the it’s not all boutiquey food businesses in and around Boulder.  Smuckers is planning a 200,000-square-foot plant in East Longmont to produce something called Uncrustables, which are frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Sounds awful to me. My PB&J of choice crunchy, organic peanut butter, jalapeno jelly and whole grain bread. I’m not the company’s target market, am I?

Cochon 555 Tour Returning to Denver

Heritage pigs the spotlight of annual culinary tour.

Cochon555Cochon 555, which returns to Denver on March 19, features a roster of local chefs and sommeliers but stars heritage pigs. This cutting-edge culinary festival is nationally known for its signature nose-to-tail pig cooking competition with the expanded Heritage BBQ theme. The innovative flavors on offer include the Somm Smackdown, featuring wine/pork matching, and Punch Kings, where top barkeeps face off with cocktail punches. There will be 1,500-plus pounds of heritage breed pork plus a Heritage Rum Cart; Ramen Bar; Farmstead Cheeses; a Pop-Up Butcher Shop for Charity; Smoked Old Fashioneds, and fab artisanal wines.

The event is scheduled for 4 to 7:30 p.m. The chefs and somms are still to be announced, but the location has been firmed up as the Curtis Hotel. VIP tickets are $200 each and general admission is $125. Some of the proceeds go to charity. Click here to purchase — or just check out the great footage of past events to get an idea of the excitement.

Fourth Flatirons Food Film Festival

Celluloid celebration of all things food plus great speakers.

flatironsfoodfilmfest-squareThe fourth annual Flatirons Food Film Festival is coming right up (Thursday, October 20 through Sunday, October 24), but since I’m flying off to China on the 16th, I will miss it all this year —  both literally and figuratively.

In addition to films, local and visiting speakers and samples, Saturday is geared to young foodies with kid-friendly food films and pettable goats from a local dairy. Tickets to individual events and the economical and convenient, and  all-film passes are available through eventBrite.

Festival schedule

Thursday, Oct. 20
DOUGH screening, 7:30 p.m., Boulder Public Library
Speaker: Josh Pollack of Rosenberg’s Bagels, just reopened after a devastating fire

Friday, Oct. 21
Chefs Night at eTown Hall: A Celebration of Munchies Films,
6 to 7:30 p.m., VIP party
7:30 p.m., short films screening
Speakers: Chef Theo Adley, Hosea Rosenberg, chef and co-owner of Blackbelly market, Bryan Dayton of OAK at fourteenth, Chad Pettrone of Northeast Seafood Products
Munchies After Party. Dakota Soifer of Cafe Aion, Theo Adley, and Michael DeBoer of the French Twist food truck are cooking dishes that were created by some of the chefs in a film about a pop-up in honor of the Mission Chinese cookbook (Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese, Andy Ricker of the Pok Pok restaurants, and Jessica Koslow of Sqirl).

Saturday, Oct. 22 (all film screenings at the Boulder Public Library)
Children’s Tour of the Boulder Farmers Market. 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Food Films for Children, screening with presentations from Tim Brod of Highland Honey Bees, Dan Hayward of Savory Spice Shop – Boulder and Taber Ward and her Mountain Flower Goat Dairy goats, 10:45 a.m.

FEAR NO FRUIT screening, 1:30pm
Speaker: Hass Hassan, co-founder of the original Alfalfa’s Market
SOMM: INTO THE BOTTLE screening, 4 p.m. (followed by a wine sampling at 6 p.m. for SOMM and CITY OF GOLD ticket holders)
Speaker: Bobby Stuckey of Frasca Food and Wine. He is a master sommelier and therefore has gone through the arduous process.
CITY OF GOLD screening, 7:15p.m.
Speakers: Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times, Amanda Faison of 5280 Magazine
After party, 10 p.m., Bramble and Hare restaurant

Sunday, Oct.23  (both screenings at International Film Series, Muenzinger Auditorium, CU-Boulder campus; free shuttle available from downtown)
JUST EAT IT screening, 12 p.m.
Speaker: Philip Taylor of Mad Agriculture
THEATER OF LIFE screening, 2 p.m.
Speaker: Peter Svatek, director

Monday, October 24
Taste the Wild: Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon Dinner, 6 p.m., Basta (co-sponsored by Chefs Collaborative and the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association)
Salmon dish chefs: Josh Pollack, Kelly Whitaker of Basta, Kyle Mendenhall of Arcana

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.

First U.S. Baguette Vending Machine in San Francisco

Le Bread Xpress beach-head in the Castro.

LeBreadXpress-logoParis reportedly boasts 100 baguette vending machines to compete with or to complement the boulangeries that  grace the City of Light. Colorado does not yet have a vending machine that has been called “a baguette ATM” and an “on-demand bread bakery, ” with San Francisco not surprisingly getting the country’s first.

Le Bread Xpress in San Francisco's food court-plus called The Myriad. Photo: SFGate.com
Le Bread Xpress in San Francisco’s food court-plus called The Myriad. Photo: SFGate.com

Le Bread  Xpress brought its first machine to our shores and installed it at The Myriad, a food court and food-biz incubator where the first machine is located. Fresh-baked loaves are $4.25 each. According to SFGate.com, which sent a reporter to investigate, it works like this:

  • A bakery in Burlingame preps and partially bakes the dough (much like those finish-in-the-oven loaves at grocery stores).
  • The dough is then loaded into the machine, which has a built-in fridge and oven.
  • Baguettes are baked regularly throughout the day; worst case scenario, your baguette is a mere two hours old.
  • When you order, the baguette is then ready in about 20 seconds.
  • Tear into it with your bare hands (or take it home to consume with cheese).

I don’t know about you, but I’d be happy to find one around here, even though Breadworks is nearby and several French bakeries dot the greater metro area. Shall we start a write-in campaign? Contact info@lebreadxpress.com and get something started.

Science Museum Explores Chocolate

Special exhibition follows cacao from rainforest to candy.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science debuted a new exhibition on chocolate, exploring its botanical, cultural, economic and culinary impacts. Called “CHOCOLATE: The Exhibition,” this modest visiting exhibition with its suitably bilingual captions was developed by Chicago’s exemplary Field Museum. It provides an enticing experience for the whole family during its brief stop in Denver.

As visitors progress from the Central American origins of the use of chocolate to the history and on to the present, the chocolate aroma becomes stronger. The captions are appropriately bilingual, as suits an exploration of a food that originated in Central America. At the exit, there is a chocolate  shop and a little café.  Double dare you not to stop.

The members’ opening event included tasting tables set up among the dioramas. Grand Junction-based Enstrom’s provided samples from dark and bitter to sweet milk chocolate. No special ticket is required, for this exhibition is included in the general admission. It is in town through May 8. Photography was challenging, so here are just a few images — the best I could manage:

Cacao tree in the rainforest.
Cacao tree in the rainforest with its robust pods that  produce a little seed that eventually yields what we know as chocolate.
Close-up in a case.
Close-up in a case.
Docent explaining the ins and outs of one the world's most beloved sweets.
Docent explaining the ins and outs of one the world’s most beloved sweets.
As chocolate reached Europe, it inspired a the development of elegant cups and pitchers to further its enjoyment by the elite,
As chocolate reached Europe, it inspired a the development of elegant cups and pitchers to further its enjoyment by the elite.
Café and chocolate shop at the exhibition exit.
Café and chocolate shop at the exhibition exit.