Category Archives: Ice Cream

Back to Pizzeria Basta

Pizzeria  in the Peleton has developed a  following. Frasca’s Bobby Stuckey was there on his night off

My husband and I were in a pizza mood last evening, and we thought we’d try Pizzeria da Lupo, recently opened by Jim Cohen of Louisville’s Empire Lounge & Restaurant. The tables were set, the lights were dim and a sign on the door explained that they were closed that evening for some last-minute finishing touches — which in new-restaurant-speak could mean pretty much anything.

We had to come up with Plan B. Since we were already in the car and on Arapahoe Avenue, we decided to continue a few blocks farther east to Pizzeria Basta. It remains a hidden gem in the sparsely occupied Peleton development, but it has a definite following, even on a Sunday night. Our last visit six months ago was on a mild June day, and we enjoyed the patio and fab pizza. Yesterday was, of course, an indoor evening. The restaurant’s hard-edge, industrial materials — concrete, metal, bare wood, tile and glass — don’t create a cozy feel, but the warm welcome and attention without hovering compensate. And the pizza is still fab.

We were seated on a small table with an oblique view of the open kitchen area and the blazing pizza oven. If I hadn’t already been primed for pizza when we got there, I would have wanted one after seeing the crust being hand-formed and -tossed, and each pizza being watched, rotated, watched some more and rotated until it the center was hot, the cheese melted and the crust puffy and charred just a little — very Neopolitan-style.

Owner/pizzaiolo Kelly Whitaker (left) readying a pizza for the inferno.

We decided each to have starter and then to share a pizza. I ordered a salad and my husband the tomato bisque. The waiter misunderstood and brought him the caprese-inspired salad, interestingly that we had shared and enjoyed a lot last summer. When my husband reminded the waiter of the original order, he offered to bring soup as well — no charge. Remembering how much he had liked the dish the last time, my husband thanked him and said he was happy with the  plate put before him. And he was.

House-made mozzarella topped with roasted red peppers and fresh basil, with olive oil and a bit of sea salt.
A salad of baby lettuces, spiced walnuts, chopped dates, potent Point Reyes blue cheese and bacon bathed in a red wine vinaigrette balances wildly contrasting flavors and textures.
At Pizzeria Basta, the pizza changes seasonally. This one featured a center topped of neutral-flavor white sauce, house-made mozzarella, Grana Padano cheese and fresh basil wreathed with a puffy, slightly charred crust.
A trio of housemade ice creams and two spoons: roasted vanilla bean, espresso (or was it cappuccino?) and chocolate hazelnut, the combo that used in fabulous Nutella.

Price Check: Charcuterie and cheese, $7-$16; small salads, $5-$7 and large salads, $9-$11;  “Market Menu” (four dishes), $12-$17;  pizza, $9.50-$14.50 and $1-$4 for additional toppings; sides, $5.-$7; desserts, $2-$6.

Detouring to Frasca

Now a story illustrating what elevates a restaurant from very good to great: We hadn’t expected to see anyone we know at Pizzeria Basta and paid no attention to parties who came in, including a couple who sat at the bar with their backs to us. When we got up to leave, they popped up, their food cooling on the bar. It was Bobby Stuckey, partner at Frasca Food & Wine, and his wife. Frasca is closed on Sunday nights, BTW.  

Bobby recognized me, remembered my name and asked about my son, who had taken a sommelier course with him. Much as we’d love to be a regulars at Frasca, it is beyond our budget to dine there as often as we’d like. It is an understatement to say that I was impressed, not just by Bobby’s recall but that he paid attention to who was eating in a restaurant that isn’t even his. 

Frasca’s greatness comes both from the kitchen and from Stuckey’s front-of-the-house attentiveness and his excellent waitstaff. When he is not greeting a party at a table, consulting on wine or otherwise interacting with guests, he stations himself in the middle of the restaurant, watching everything. He turns his head left and right, his gaze sweeping the entire dining room.  I’ll bet that he misses nothing — or very, very little — and discreetly corrects even the smallest blips. As I noted, such attentiveness has elevated Frasca to the pantheon of the finest American restaurants. We’ll be there again in early 2011.  

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Culinary School of the Rockies’ Ice Cream Sandwich Recipe

Cooking school’s timely Fourth of July sweet treat + first-ever recipe contest

I was traveling all last week with no time to post, no notes from recent culinary experiences and no access to my image files on the netbook I had with me. I’m still trying to catch up and will start posting on my usual topics ASAP. Meanwhile, I am grateful that a Culinary School of the Rockies recipe for home-made ice cream sandwiches landed in my inbox.I’m not sure why they’re desribed as “sparkler” sandwiches, except that it’s almost the Fourth of July, and I haven’t made them myself, but they look like all sorts of fun to prepare — and I’m sure they’re tasty too. So with thanks to CSR, here’s the recipe:
Chocolate Sparkler Ice Cream Sandwiches
Ingredients
1½ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup large sugar crystals (optional)
1 pint ice cream, any flavor
Method
1. Whisk flour, cocoa powder and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract. Beat in sugar in 3 additions. Add egg and beat until blended.
2. Add dry ingredients and beat just until blended (dough will be sticky). Divide dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using plastic wrap as aid, form dough on each into a 3 inch diameter log. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate dough until well chilled, at least 2 hours. (Dough can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
3. Preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap cookie dough logs; roll briefly on work surface to form smooth round logs in sugar crystals, if desired. Cut logs crosswise into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until tops and edges are dry to touch, about 8-12 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and let cool completely.
4. Once the cookies cool, spread a large scoop of ice cream onto one cookie and sandwich with another cookie to adhere.
5. Continue until all the sandwiches have been made and return to a cool baking sheet. Freeze the cookies for about 1 hour or until the sandwiches are fully frozen
Yield: About 12 ice cream sandwiches.

CSR Ice Cream Recipe Contest

It you think you have a great ice cream recipe using local ingredients, enter CSR’s “Splendid Scoops!”  recipe contest, the school’s first. They say, “All you need is creativity in the kitchen and a trip to the farmers’ market to churn the winning bowl.” Contestants must use at least one local ingredient. Submit the recipe and photos to office@culinaryschoolrockies.com for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to the CSR, $100 in Boulder County Farmers’ Market bucks and a spotlight on the school’s home cooking blog. Deadline is July 23.

Seafood Lunch in Alexandria (Egypt, Not Virginia)

Seafood restaurant on main tourist itinerary serves good starters, fresh fish and Baskin & Robbins ice cream

It is always a pleasant surprise when a tourist-oriented restaurant serves good food. The large complex of three eating places along Alexandria’s waterfront Corniche is such a place. Locals know it as the Tikka Grill. (below).

The Fish Market, the seafood restraunt component, is geared for groups, including day-excursioning cruise ship passengers, but in the winter off-season, many locals were in evidence too. They order off the menu, while groups are served a set lunch. There’s a flight of stairs (below) to reach the dining room.

The view of Alexandria’s impressive waterfront (below) is worth every step, even for those who normally avaoid stairs. Th large white structure in the photo is the Medieval Citadel, built on the site of the third-century Pharos Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.


Starters, from left, are served family-style. Below is the quantity for four. From upper left, a selection of olives, a sliced filled tomato, pickles and veggies; a white dip described as a mixture of mayonnaise and garlic but tasting more like Greek or Middle Eastern yogurt; babaganoush, and hummus.


The bread guy (below) extracts a steady crop of hot, puffy pita from the brick oven.

The fish guy (below) keeps local fish iced and fresh until ready for the grill. Unlike at Seattle’s Pike Street Market, these folks don’t toss fish around.

The fish served to fortunate tourists is a trifecta. From top (below) grilled whole sea bass, grilled jumbo shrimp and crisp-fried calamari.


A smart feline (below) parked itself on a roof just below the dining room windows. Some slide open, and I’m sure the cat has been the beneficiary of many treats.


Baskin & Robbins ice cream (below) with raspberry syrup over cubed fresh fruit.


As we returned to the bus, the inevitable postcard hawker (below) was waiting.

Savory Ice Cream — The Next Big Thing?

Boulder ice cream creator supplying local restaurants with non-sweet treats

Yesterday’s Daily Camera Taste Section featured a front-page story called “Cold Passion” about Peter Arendsen and his Ice Cream Alchemy, which is supplying several leading Boulder restaurants with such over-the-top ice cream flavors as cornbread with cheddar and chives, bacon, rouille, caper and other savories that pair astonishingly well with non-dessert foods. Chefs who are using them are enthusiastic, not surprisingly, since Arendsen credits Trattoria on Pearl’s owner Guillermo Casarrubias and former executive chef Daniel Cofrades for teaching him to “think like a chef,” wrote food editor Cindy Sutter.

Ice Cream Alchemy’s all-natural product list changes seasonally and includes some 150 sweet and and savory ice cream and sorbet flavors from almond to white truffle chive (no zucchini to anchor the alphabet). I don’t believe there’s a retail outlet yet, but perhaps one or more will come, though I don’t know whether they would stock savories.

EYT Opens in Denver

Light fare in the booming Platte River Valley.

A casual new Denver cafe and gelateria spelled EYT but pronounced “eat” dishes up the kind of quick and sometimes light fare that New Year’s resolution makers intending to eat healthy go for at this time of year. Executive chef Tommy Lee prepares a soup of the day and eight signature salads, including the Little Raven (buffalo chicken, carrots, tomatoes, romaine, celery and blue cheese), the Garbage (bacon, corn, avocado, pine nuts, mushrooms, goat cheese and red wine vinaigrette, which is light only when compared to, say, a cheeseburger with fries) and the Bench Press (grilled steak, spinach, egg, mushrooms and homemade ranch, ditto). There’s also a salad bar where resolution makers can be resolution keepers by building their own.

The gelato is made by Mimi and Edwin Yang (she attended the “gelato university” in Bologna, Italy). They make fresh gelato in-house and rotate flavors on a regular basis. EYT also dishes up delicious homemade frozen yogurts (just 25 calories an ounce) and reportedly uses the same recipe as Los Angeles-based Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt chain, which I understand has lines out the door, both in California and New York, where it has also landed. Frozen desserts might move faster in balmy L.A. than in chilly Denver in January, but come spring and summer, those cold treats will be welcome.

Located on the plaza in Riverfront Park, EYT (I’m sorry, but I keep wanting to pronounce it “Ite”) is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Salads start at $7, gelato at $3.50 and frozen yogurt for just $2.50. It is located at 1590 Little Raven Street , Denver; 303-825-1500.

Great Ice Cream in Colorado

In Colorado’s Front Range, it’s been hot lately — really hot. Ice cream weather. It’s also been ice cream weather elsewhere, so gayot.com has released its list of best ice cream parlors in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami/South Florida, New York, Orange County, Philadelphia, Phoenix/Scottsdale, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington DC — but not Colorado. So here are some of my favorites, and a few even make their own ice cream:

  • Aspen – Boogie’s Diner might not serve the world’s best ice cream, but its hokey ’50s diner/ice cream parlor ambiance makes up for any slight lapse in quality. The inspiration was a Baltimore diner of owner Lenny “Boogie” Weinglass’s childhood. 534 E Cooper Avenue (970-925-6610).
  • Boulder – Lots of faves here, ’cause it’s local, so I’ve tried them all. Boulder is one of the few places where the HäagenDazs (1148 Pearl Street; 303-443-9032) subdivided its space and Cold Stone Creamery gave up, but which still supports local products. In addition the Boulder Ice Cream and Glacier Ice Cream (sold in markets and carts on the Pearl Street Mall), we have several really good local/regional ice cream parlors and dipping stores. We live a few blocks from the Pearl Street Mall so usually just stroll down there, but when driving or riding a bike, my favorites are Bliss Organic Ice Cream at 2425 Canyon Boulevard (303-443-9596) and Hatton Creamery at 3980 Broadway (303-444-9100). Glacier ice cream is made fresh daily and is available at 3133 28th Street (303-440-6542); 4760 Baseline Road (303-499-4760); 1350 College Avenue (303-442-4400); the cart on 1400 block of Pearl Street, all in Boulder, and in Longmont at 1749 Main Street (303-485-8834). For those in South Boulder, the Boulder Ice Cream Shoppe at 637 South Broadway (303-494-2002) is convenient.
  • Castle Rock – The Olde Towne Creamery, located downtown, is a favorite local sweet stop — or should I write, sweete stoppe? It’s at 350 Perry Street (303-688-1301).
  • Colorado Springs – RIP Michelle’s Chocolatiers & Ice Cream, a downtown institution for 55 years that has now closed. I’m not sure where to stop downtown for ice cream now. In Old Colorado City, as far as I know, the Colorado City Creamery is still in business at 2602 West Colorado Avenue (719-634-1411).
  • Denver – I’m downtown more than anyplace else in Denver and have become fond of Gelazzi at 411 Larimer Square (303-534-5056), whose wonderful gelato flavors are made fresh daily. In Cherry Creek North, my gelateria of choice is Gelato d’Italia Cafe at 250 Detroit Street (303-316-9154). Elsewhere, The Daily Scoop near Congress Park at 3506 East 12th Avenue (303-388-3245) scratch-makes one daily special flavor that sells out quickly. I’m sure the city is awash with other great ice cream options, but it’s not my pattern to have ice cream there.
  • Durango – The Durango Creamery at 600 Main Avenue (970-382-9278) is a tiny store that serves much better ice cream than the Cold Stone Creamery across the street. You might think I have it out for Cold Stone, but the truth is, while I like the idea of custom-mixed ice cream, I don’t find theirs very good.
  • Fort Collins – It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Kilwin’s Chocolate & Ice Cream (114 South College Avenue; 970-221-9444) or Walrus Ice Cream (125 West Mountain Avenue; Fort Collins; 970-482-5919 ), but I remember them both as being tasty. Time to head up there again.
  • Glenwood Springs – I love the name Chocolate Moose Ice Cream Parlor, which is at 710 Grand Avenue (970-945-2723), but I haven’t yet stopped there. Next time.
  • Grand Junction – No personal experience here either, but a friend who lives there loves Pappy’s Ice Cream Parlor at 560 Main Street (970-241-9565).
  • Idaho Springs – Sunrise Donuts is closed (the owners retired), but last time I looked, Skipper’s Ice Cream Parlor was still dispensing ice cream in a funky, toyland-style store at 1501 Miner Street (303-567-4544).
  • Longmont – Sugar’s is located in the Prospect development, one of the first (and still finest) examples of New Urbanism in Colorado. That would make it worthwhile even if it didn’t carry such first-rate products as Glacier ice cream, excellent gelato and sorbet, Wen chocolates and house-baked pastries. Sugar’s is at 645 Tenacity Drive (303-459-7942). As indicated above, there’s also a Glacier dipping store at 1749 Main Street (303-485-8834).
  • Steamboat Springs – You don’t see too many old-style drug store/soda fountain combos anymore, but Lyon’s Corner Drug & Soda Fountain at 840 Lincoln Avenue (970- 879-1114) is one. You have to weave through the souvenir stuff to get to it, but the soda fountain is still around.
  • TellurideThe Sweet Life is a retro ice cream parlor in a downstairs location at 115 West Colorado Avenue (970-728-8789) is a visual symphony of black and white tile, turquoise banquettes and pink accents. And yes, they make their own ice cream.