Category Archives: Locavore and farm-to-table

Annette at Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace

Engaging, inventive restaurant in repurposed factory.

The Annette referenced by the name of Caroline Glover’s restaurant called  Annette Scratch-to-Table is her grandmother, The gastronomic pedigree includes New York’s Spotted Pig gastropub under star chef April Bloomfield and Denver’s Acorn, where she was sous-chef. Acorn is located in The Source, a repurposed foundry in RiNo. so it’s no stretch that she felt comfortable committing to Stanley Marketplace, a repurposed aviation equipment factory next to the old Stapleton Airport.

Glover calls her cuisine “scratch to  table” with an emphasis on small plates and shareable dishes. That was just right when we were taking my bother-in-law and sister-in-law to Denver International Airport and wanted something to do and someplace to eat en route. Stanley Marketplace fit the bill — an aviation theme, interesting shops, many places to eat and a short run to DIA.

We decided that Annette looked interesting for a late afternoon/early evening stop. The restaurant is attractive and welcoming, but we opted for a patio table. Salads and sandwiches both for adventurous eaters (beef tongue, octopus sandwich) and for those who aren’t (grilled cheese, potato soup — but each with a twist). The wine list is small, but as with the food, there’s something for all tastes.

Price check: At dinner, snacks, $3-$4; “plates,” $7 (fries) to $30 (whole roasted fish).

Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street, Suite 108,  Aurora;
720-710-9975. Astonishingly, Zomato has not yet found Annette.

Happy Hour on Blackbelly’s Back Patio

Need I mention that this restaurant, bar and artisanal butchery (plus a farm) is the brainchild of Hosea Rosenberg, Boulder’s celeb chef for winning “Top Chef,” season 5? I thought not.

Since the last time we visited Blackbelly in warm weather, the south patio has been improved with roll-down plastic curtains in case of inclement weather (and maybe even heaters so it is usable in the spring or fall). My husband and I were the first there for happy hour, so we had a long table all to ourselves.

Long rustic tables onm the secluded south patio.

 

We were almost finished when the next people — three guys — came in. I like everything about this walled-in patio except for the occasional truck or motorcycle noise from Arapahoe Avenue. Nothing to be done about that.

Great bread and flavorful butter with salt on the side.
Excellent early-summer salad with fresh greens, radishes, cucumbers and carrots.
From the regular menu, towering burger with a mess of hot fries.

Price check. At happy hour, oysters, $2 each (I neglected to take pictures); bites, $3; daily charcuterie, $5; also wine and beer specials.

2606 Conestoga Street, Boulder; 303-247-1000.

Blackbelly Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A New Spin on New Mexican Ingredients

Hotel Andaluz chef cooks out of the culinary box.

As award-winning Cordon Bleu-trained chef Marc Quinones was cooking his way around some of the top restaurants and resorts in the Southwest, he prepared a lot of excellent versions regional favorites. But when the recently appointed executive chef of downtown Albuquerque’s historic Hotel Andaluz was asked to cook for a Denver media reception on behalf of New Mexico travel interests, his imagination took wing, and he offered contemporary dishes from various traditions but using New Mexican-grown and -raised ingredients.

Some of the dishes:

Pineapple, watermelon and grape salad with Marcona almond crumble and pimenton. oil.
“Peas & Carrots,” a whimsical name for toasted corn and white Balsamic/sambal chile dressing.
New York strip steak (two levels of doneness) with jalapeno butter. Thick slices of toasted sourdough were in a separate dish. Since it is New Mexico-raised cattle, perhaps it should be called New Mexico strip steak.
Hatch Green Chile Hummus on Broken Lavash with cilantro oil and red pepper gel.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with caramelized onion ragout and Cascabel chile Romesco sauce.
For sheer creativity, my ad hoc award goes to the Pinon Brittle, a clear sugary rectangles topped with oreango gremolata and lemongrass yogurt.

I think I was too busy eating and sipping cocktails made with Colkegan single malt whiskey or gin from Santa Fe Spirits, a craft distillery, to take pictures of two terrific dishes: the Berkshire pork belly with Anasazi bean ragout, yellow corn and harissa-sherry reduction  and the super-fab Mew Mexico ceviche — Bay scallops in tangerine, Maldon salt, pickled red onion and Chimayo chile vinaigrette.

Then there was the chocolate — the wonderful chocolate from Cacao Santa Fe,  which produces fantastic chocolate bars, beautiful and interesting bonbons, workshops led by master chocolatier Melanie Boudar and Factory tours with owner Derek Lanter.

Then there was Clear Light, the Cedar Company, which has been producing Cedar Essence and other aromatic potions since 1971, giving complimentary hand and forearm massages. The boss’s business card is a thin slice of cedar.

It was wonderful to have New Mexicans bring their eats and drinks  (and more) to Denver. High time to head south to eat in situ.

The Kitchen On Best Farm-to-Table List

Food & Wine asked bloggers and other food experts in every state about “The Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants” in the state where they live. A number of Colorado restaurants now have their own farms, but Toni Dash, who blogs as  Boulder Locavore, selected a pioneer in farm-to-table sourcing and sustainability. Her choice  was The Kitchen, a Boulder baby that now has other Front Range locations in Denver and Fort Collins:

Colorado: The Kitchen

“Over the past five years in Boulder and Denver, I’ve noticed a big shift towards a vibrant restaurant scene with a palpable verve around sustainability,” said Toni Dash of Boulder Locavore. “Restaurants like Black Cat, Potager, and Fruition have really stepped up to the plate to deliver inspired seasonal cuisine.” Paving the farm-to-table way in Colorado is The Kitchen, which has establishments in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins and applies its strong eco-friendly philosophy—that includes everything from the locally sourced ingredients to wind power to composting—in each location. Founders Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Husk have also created a nonprofit that’s built over 200 Learning Gardens in schools in Colorado, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Memphis for 120,000 students to discover the benefits of growing and eating fresh healthy food.

I don’t know who changed the spelling of the name of one of the co-founders. It’s actually Kimball Musk, not Kimball Husk. He’s the brother of Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, but his commitment to good, healthy food does not end at his restaurants. Late last year, he launched Square Roots, an urban farming incubator program in Brooklyn, New York.

The Kitchen Cited as Farm-to-Table Pioneer

Food & Wine picks The Kitchen for Colorado.

thekitchen-sign-jpgFood & Wine magazine selected its choices for the best farm-to-table restaurant in every state, where hey surveyed food writers and bloggers. Even though they didn’t contact me, I’m happy to note that Boulder-born The Kitchen was the Colorado choice.  I concur, because The Kitchen really pioneered the concept in this neck of the culinary woods.

Here’s what Toni Dash of Boulder Locavore wrote (but the fact-checking or proofreading was flawed. It’s Kimbal Musk, not Kimbal Husk):

Colorado: The Kitchen

“Over the past five years in Boulder and Denver, I’ve noticed a big shift towards a vibrant restaurant scene with a palpable verve around sustainability,” said . “Restaurants like Black Cat, Potager, and Fruition have really stepped up to the plate to deliver inspired seasonal cuisine.” Paving the farm-to-table way in Colorado is The Kitchen, which has establishments in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins and applies its strong eco-friendly philosophy—that includes everything from the locally sourced ingredients to wind power to composting—in each location. Founders Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Husk have also created a nonprofit that’s built over 200 Learning Gardens in schools in Colorado, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Memphis for 120,000 students to discover the benefits of growing and eating fresh healthy food.

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 "just nright" -- like Baby Bear's calamari would be. It comes with basil aioli and Romesco, two Medterranean-inspired sauces.
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

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.