Category Archives: Locavore and farm-to-table

Organic, Seasonal, Local & Tasty Sandwiches in Boulder

The new Organic Sandwich Company lives up to its name.

008I’ve ordered from the Organic Sandwich Company’s stand at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market, but until this evening, I’d never eaten in the store that opened in the challenging month of January. The invitation-only tasting of many of the sandwiches provided a sequential comparison of flavor combos.

Trays of small sandwich samples were passed around.
Trays of small sandwich samples were passed around, allowing each guest to select what s/he wished to try.
Owner Marcy Miller demonstrated how to make bacon jam. The Organic Sandwich Company currently is using it with sliced turkey.
Owner Marcy Miller demonstrated how to make bacon jam. The Organic Sandwich Company currently is using it with sliced turkey.

There were caprese sandwiches — delicious, but hardly exotic. There were Beetniks, a cleverly named and unusual combo of roasted beets, almond feta and pea shoots. Then there’s the glory of any sandwich made with the house-made bacon jam, the preparation of which owner Marcy Miller demonstrated. What better way to cap an intro to a sandwich joint than with a dessert of gelato sandwiches?

Gelato between cookies makes for a terrific dessert sandwich.
Gelato between cookies makes for a terrific dessert sandwich.

Right now, Turkey and Bacon Jam, Turkey and Brie and Spicy Veggie are the top sellers on the menu that changes according to what’s fresh at the market This is Boulder, so of course, there are gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo and dairy-free options, as well as offerings for easy-to-please omnivores.  But mercifully, nothing is taste-free at the Organic Sandwich Company. And because Marcy herself is the mother of two young children, there are kid-friendly items too.

The Organic Sandwich Company is on the southwest corner of 16th and Pearl, Boulder. Phone: 720-639-3986.

Broth Bar at Boulder’s Fresh Thymes

Natural foods restaurant quick to hook onto hot trend.

FreshThymes-logoRich, hearty broths are suddenly a current food trend, and Boulder’s Fresh Thymes Eatery has jumped on the “brothwagon” and is making the “good stuff our body craves – collagen, gelatin, bio-available minerals and amino acids,” according to a press release. The restaurant’s house-made broth is served from a new Broth Bar, with herb- and spiced-up flavor “in our nutrient dense broths, added a condiment bar and are calling it righteous”

New York’s Rotisserie Georgette, known for its slow-cooked poultry, had an excess of chicken bones and parts from the daily operations and started making broth early last year. The head chef, Chad Brauze, formerly at Daniel Boulud’s Michelin-starred Daniel, liked bone broth’s sustainable aspect. “We are basically getting a second delicious, valuable dish from otherwise discarded items: necks, feet, roasted chicken carcasses—all things our Upper West Side audience wouldn’t care to order,” wrote alternate.org in a piece called “Why Drinking Bone Broth is the Next Hot Thing in Cuisine.”

Brodo, a take-out broth window appeared in downtown Manhattan in December 2014, serving three types of bone broth: organic Pennsylvania Amish chicken broth, grass-fed beef bone broth and a signature broth with chicken, beef and turkey bones, according to alternate.org.  It usually takes far longer for a trend to make it this far from one of the creative coasts, foodwise, so kudos to this Boulder purveyor of natural, organic, local, nutritious and tasty fare for its Broth Bar.

Broth seems especially suited for winter enjoyment. The present both list comprises just three items: Ginger Garlic Beef, Roasted Turmeric Chicken, and Sundried Tomato and Caramelized Mushroom. The latter sounds vegetarian, which means it’s not bone broth but simply broth. They sell it by the cup and pint Mason jar, and customers who bring in their own mug, cup or jar get 20% off their broth purchases.

Fresh Thymes is located at 2500 30th Street, #101, Boulder; 303-955-7988. It is open Monday through Saturday.

Note: Turns out that two more Boulder purveyors are introducing bone broth. According to a piece in Denver Eater (or is it Eater Denver?; I’m never sure), Hosea Rosenberg’s Blackbelly and Will and Coral Frischkorn at Cured are about to introduce bone broth too.

 

All About Iceland’s Hot Dogs

Mostly lamb, steamed buns and distinctive condiments.

Reykjavik hot dog stand -- one of several.
Reykjavik hot dog stand — one of several.

When we were in Iceland last September, the most-raved-about foods were the seafood (natch) and hot dogs (who knew?). The Icelandic word for hot dog is pylsa, but it isn’t necessary to know that, because you can’t miss the hot dog stands that dot Reykjavik, and for road trippers, there’s a hot dog counter at nearly every convenience store/gas station around the island. The most popular of the stands would have lines out the door if outdoor stands had doors. I have been intending to research what makes them so special, but Icelandair Hotels has done the work for me. I didn’t buy any at the airport, but I kind of wish I had. So thanks to Icelandair Hotels for the Iceland hot dog story.

Resolve to Eat Better

Follow the lead of modern epicures.

ChefClipArtIt’s New Year’s resolution time, and Slow Food USA has some suggestions for the coming year. I don’t generally do soapbox posts, but I do believe these points are excellent and timely, as American chefs and American foodies have learned to eat well — for the body and the planet as well as the palate. Here’s what Slow Food USA reminds us, linking the resolutions to the upcoming Super Bowl (which I like most card- carrying Coloradans hope will be won by the Denver Broncos):

“It’s 2015! No longer are we nibbling at the edges of the century. We are now deep into another one. Look around: There is much to rejoice! Evidence of a promising new world is everywhere: Be it the birth of craft beer, the morphing of school gardens into a full-fledged farm-to-school universe, and consumer concern for fast food workers. However, so too do the embers of this old and faceless world glow. Consider the buckets of agri-money poured into state referenda to squash GMO labeling and animal welfare. Or, how is it possible to purchase pork shoulder for 99 cents a pound? Amidst such turbulence and transition, we must be ever mindful of the decisions we make individually and collectively to shape our future. So, consider a few New Year’s Resolutions that might inch you closer to the bright new world.

  1. Make a Resolution to Eat Better Meat: Serve your friends cleaner wieners and better burgers at the Nationwide Nose-to-Tailgate Super Bowl Party as we advocate for Better Meat in sports stadiums. Join the event and invite friends near or far to party with us for the cause.

  2. Make a Resolution to Eat Less Meat: After a Super Sunday night fixating on pigskin, tackle Monday, February 2nd head-on by planning a year of Meatless Monday menus.

  3. Make a Resolution to Eat Local: C’mon. Take the challenge. Channel the spirit of Jane Jacobs and her hunger for the principles of import substitution with your family, friends, and neighbors by taking the 10-Day Local Challenge.

  4. Make a Resolution to Serve Local: If you’re a restaurant chef, you possess a lot of power in the equation for the local flavor/local economy. We want to hear from you. Raise your hand now to help create the new Slow Food Chefs Alliance.

  5. Make a Resolution to Be Better Informed: Learn about the world around us. Study the Slow Meat playbook with these excellent coaches: Nicolette Hahn Niman’s Defending Beef, Patrick Martins’ The Carnivore’s Manifesto, Andrew Lawler’s Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?, Ted Genoways’ The Chain Never Slows, and Christopher Leonard’s The Meat Racket. My (re)reading list also includes some of the better food books published in 2014: Dan Barber’s The Third Plate, Paul Greenberg’s American Catch, Stefanie Sacks’ What the Fork Are You Eating? and William Powers’ New Slow City. And, of course, regular trips to the Slow Food USA Blog. Yes, I believe food is paramount, but it shouldn’t be all consuming. Explore economics, politics, music, art and fashion. The wider you explore, the more you’ll recognize common themes that link the food system to everything else.”

And happy, healthy, delicious 2015 to all.

 

Fine Brunch at The Nickel

Restaurant in the Hotel Teatro shines on a weekday morning.

008I attended The Nickel’s opening party last summer. The restaurant in the Hotel Teatro was jam-packed. I could tell that it was interesting-looking, the bites and sips I was able to sample were promising, but I had no real sense of what it looked like or how day-to-day food tasted. In fact, I didn’t know enough to write a coherent post for this blog. But a friend and I had brunch there this past weekend, and now I have a true idea of what it’s like, and it’s all good.

Contemporary elegance includes both new and repurposed materials.
Contemporary elegance includes both new and repurposed materials.

The hotel is located in the 1911 Tramway Building, and the restaurant is named after the streetcar’s nickel fares from that era that were stored in the building’s vault. Today, the place is attractive with light streaming in from windows on two sides, lofty ceilings, commodious but unfussy tables, wood floors, large lighting fixtures and a choice of seats (banquets, long communal tables surrounded by stools and upholstered chairs with winglets — not quite wingchairs but not straight ones either. Barrel-aged spirits are done in-house, and the barrels decorate the bar. The cocktail program looks divine, but it was too early.

Much is house-made, and many ingredients come from Colorado. Telluride-raised Chris Thompson is the talented executive chef who has a way with meat and brings  butchering and charcuterie/salumi to the restaurant. Our waiter was professional, efficient and knowledgeable. And he didn’t address us as “You guys,” which is all too common these days, especially in the college town of Boulder where I live, and which always gets my back up.

The house-cured meats, cheeses, pickles such “goodies” as marcona almonds and  house-made jams appear on a sushi-style menu and are priced by the 1-, 2- or 4-ounce portion.

The sushi-style charcuterie menu is held to a metal plate by  a nickel to which a small magnet has been glued.
The sushi-style charcuterie menu is held to a metal plate by a nickel to which a small magnet has been glued.
Our selections beautifully presented on board included jamon Iberico, Midnight Blue cheese from Colorado's Avalanche Ranch. Grana Padano Parmesan and jam, along with bread from Grateful Bread.
Our selections on beautifully presented on board included jamon Iberico, Midnight Blue cheese from Colorado’s Avalanche Ranch. Grana Padano Parmesan and jam, along with bread from Grateful Bread.
Neither of us had room for a full sandwich, so we shared a Porchetta sandwich. Its star was pork belly, rotisserie-roasted for six hours to delicious crispness, and stuffed into a Grateful Bread ciabatta roll along with fresh greens and Castelvetrano olive aioli. Fine-skin-on fries are in a paper cone alongside.
Neither of us had room for a full sandwich, so we shared a Porchetta sandwich. Its star was pork belly, rotisserie-roasted for six hours to delicious crispness, and stuffed into a Grateful Bread ciabatta roll along with fresh greens and Castelvetrano olive aioli. Fine-skin-on fries are in a paper cone alongside.

Price check: At brunch, “To Start,” $8-$13; sandwiches, $13-$18; plates, $13-$16; sides, $3-$5; charcuterie, priced by the ounce.

The Nickel on Urbanspoon

A New Aspen Avalanche of Great Food

Avalanche Ranch spawns from-the-farm market & restaurant.

033Avalanche Cheese Company’s exemplary goat cheese burst on the Roaring Fork Valley culinary scene in 2008 and quickly became a major player on the Colorado artisanal cheese scene. Fast forward to 2014, and owner Wendy Mitchell opened Meat & Cheese, a combination restaurant, farm market and gourmet food market on the order of Alex Seidel’s Mercantile Dining & Provisions in Denver’s Union Station and Hosea Rosenberg’s Blackbelly in East Boulder that are restaurants plus something else.

At Meat & Cheese, the “something else” comprises Avalanche and other cheeses, salume and sandwiches fill the glass cases near the front door, while a long, skinny dining area along the left side of the space is for eat-in guests.

The cheese counter right at the front door features Avalanche and other cheeses.
The cheese counter right at the front door features Avalanche and other cheeses.

Even in the off-season between Thanksgiving and Christmas when i it’s mostly locals in town, the restaurant was buzzing, and with good reason. Locals know what’s good, whether a long-time favorite or, even more so, when there’s a new place. Meat & Cheese has a Continental air about it — what with the farm shop component, the superb artisanal cheeses and cured meats, house-made deli meats, seasonal produce, imported or America gourmet  foods in cans, packages or jars on a tall shelf.  And of course, there are craft beers and interesting wines by the glass and bottle.

Stylish informality means flatware in mason jars is on the reclaimed wood tables.
Stylish informality means flatware in mason jars is on the reclaimed wood tables.

Meat & Cheese is also a terrific place to go for lunch (order from the counter) or dinner  (table service), which I truly enjoyed with two companions. We happily shared “boards” and other items, just the way the menu was designed.

We combined items for the meat and cheese boards -- in a sense honoring the eatery's name. Country pate, pork terrine, saucisson rouge, mortadella, triple-cream brie, Apppalachian tome, cornichons, Herlocher's mustard, pear chutney and Avalanche's own levain bread.
We combined items from the meat and cheese boards — in a sense honoring the eatery’s name. Country pate, pork terrine, saucisson rouge, mortadella, triple-cream brie, Apppalachian tomme, cornichons, Herlocher’s mustard, pear chutney and Avalanche’s own levain bread.
Three grain salad is a healthy heap of black ride, faro and bulgur with roasted winter squash, red peppers, blue cheese, pine nuts and house vinaigrette.
Three grain salad is a healthy heap of black ride, faro and bulgur with roasted winter squash, red peppers, blue cheese, pine nuts and house vinaigrette.
A trio of Wagyu meatballs with hoisin sauce and pureed sweet potatoes with toasted cumin.
A trio of Wagyu meatballs with hoisin sauce and pureed sweet potatoes with toasted cumin.

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Winter spice cake with lime whipped cream encircled by honey.
Winter spice cake with lime whipped cream encircled by honey.

Price check: At dinner, “boards,” $6 (bread board), then $12-$40 (single to double) and local rotisserie chicken ($24 for half and $48 for whole); dinner, $-$28; desserts, $7.

I just alerted urbanspoon.com to Meat & Cheese. Until they add their graphic, know that it is at 319 East Hopkins Avenue, Aspen; 970-710-7120.

America’s ‘Most Eco-Conscious’ Eatery Is in Boulder

Bramble & Hare tops national list.

CultureTrip-;ogo-jpgWhen I read the headline, “The Top Ten Eco-Conscious Restaurants in The United States,” I knew that one would be a Colorado restaurant (and probably Boulder, and I immediately thought: The Kitchen. But I guessed wrong. The Culturist selected Boulder’s Bramble & Hare, like the original Kitchen in downtown Boulder, to top the list. Perhaps it was not intended to be a 1-t0-10 ranking but rather a roundup of the top 10, But still….. Here’s what the site posted:

Black Cat Bistro

Chef Eric Skokan is one of the most ambitious farm-to-table chefs in the United States. He farms and ranches more than 130 acres in Boulder County, Colorado, to support his two restaurants – Black Cat Bistro and Bramble & Hare, in addition to his farm stand at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market and his Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Nearly all of the food at his restaurants comes from his very own fields: carrots, lentils, corn for polenta, lovage, lamb, eggs, heritage pigs, beef, goose and much more. From the menu, try the farm vegetable curry, which includes ricotta, beets and basmati rice cakes.

Black Cat Bistro, 1964 13th Street, Boulder, CO, USA +1 303 444 5500

Also, Colorado writer Douglas Brown, late of the Denver Post, did a Q&A with Skokan that appears in the current issue of Origin magazine under the title “Restaurateur Eric Skokan: Farm to Table the Skokan Way.”