Category Archives: Market

Outdoor Dining Season Has Started

Six months and 20 days ago, I wrote my first post for this blog, noting that the 2006 outdoor dining season seemed to have ended in Boulder. Although we optimistically uncovered and cleaned the outdoor furniture on our south-facing deck several weeks ago, and although we have grilled on the Big Green Egg, last night was the first time we actually had dinner outdoors. And was it ever nice to look down on the cleaned-up backyard where the last of the tulips were blazing beautiful colors, the grape hyacinths and vinca were showing purple blossoms, and the sweet woodruff’s delicate white blooms contrasted against the green. The trees are leafing out, and the lawn is still spring-green. No remarkable culinary feats here. Just a quick dinner made mostly from ingredients purchased at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market that is now in full swing.

Sunday Night Dinner for Two

Boneless chicken breast from Wisdom’s Natural Poultry, sauteed in butter with shallots, a splash of wine, several kinds of mushrooms from Hazel Dell (Wisdom’s natural chicken breasts are so large that one amply served both of us)
Pasta Bozza‘s pasta
Garlic bread (using a few slices of leftover Breadworks rustic baguette)
Green salad with home-made vinaigrette

A Bad Day at the Fairway Cafe

Yesterday, my Upper West Side-dwelling friend and I went to the second-floor Fairway Cafe (right) for a late lunch. Fairway is the one of the best-stocked, worst-looking food stores I’ve seen in this country. This scruffy crowded place is a purveyor of an incredible variety of gourmet goodies: pasta, bread, dairy products (including a fabulous cheese assortment), condiments, imports, artisanal domestic foods and superlative fresh produce, meat and seafood. Plus. Plus. Plus. It is like one big market stall. I love it. Upstairs is a cafe, presided over by one Mitchell London — former art student, culinary student, chef to then-Mayor Ed Koch and foodinarian.

We were seated at the table with the sign that declared, “Ignore These People,” that was visible only to the waitstaff. Eventually someone brought us menus. Eventually someone brought us water. Eventually someone took our order: a BLT and iced coffee for my friend, and a composed salad and a lemonade for me. Our waiter disappeared. Whenever he reappeared, he looked in every direction by at our table. Eventually, he stopped by to confirm our orders: one BLT, one Cobb salad, one lemonade and one iced tea. We corrected the 50 percent that he got wrong. He disappeared again.

Sometime later, an iced tea and a lemonade appeared. We traded the tea in for coffee. He disappeared again. He reappeared. We got his attention. “Two minutes!” he declared. And disappeared. The cafe emptied out. Our food didn’t arrive. Our waiter wandered into our range of vision again. “What about two minutes?” we asked. “I’ve just been fired,” our waiter said — and disappeared for good. A waitress came over with our order: one BLT and one Cobb salad. We were too exasperated to complain. If we’d sent the Cobb back in favor of the composed salad, we might still be there.

Through it all, Mitchell London sat across the room from us, chatting on his cell phone, conversing with staff and patrons who stopped by. He had crutches leaning against the wall behind him, so I’m not surprised that he wasn’t patrolling the floor. Bit he did seem curiously disinterested in what was going on. And while I will continue to visit Fairway and even buy something exotic to bring back to Colorado, I am disinterested in ever eating at the cafe again.

First Farmers’ Market of 2007

Actually, the Boulder County Farmers’ Market kicked off its 2007 season last Saturday, but A) the weather was icky, and B) I was on the road back from Telluride and couldn’t be there anyway. Therefore, today was my my first famer’s of the year and, judging from the crowds and the overheard comments, the first for many other people too.

Because much is local and everything is from Colorado, early season mainly means greens (various lettuces, spinach), a few root vegetables (radishes, new potatoes), plants and cut flowers, plus, of course, an assortment of organic cheese, preserves, mustard, honey, granola — things that didn’t have to be picked yesterday. And by noon, many booths had little left. Many familar favorite vendors were there and some new ones too.
In addition to lining 13th Street between Canyon and Araphoe, several new (or new-to-me) booths were set up along Canyon between 13th and 14th. These included Pasta Bozza run by pasta-maker Michael V. Bozza of Boulder, Wisdom’s Natural Poultry from Jay and Cindy Wisdom farm in Haxton, which is east of Sterling, and Destiny Dairy, a goats’ milk dairy (dips, beverages, yogurt) in Eaton, run not by anyone named Destiny but by a veterinarian named Dr. Jennifer Zindel.

The food court was jammed. People patiently waited in line, while a mellow duo sang classic folk and folk-pop tunes (CDs for sale, of course). My husband went to his favorite burger stand. I tried the spring rolls and ginger tea from a new Southeast Asian vendor. We are looking forward to a long season’s worth of farmers’ market lunches and ingredients to prepare at home. Tonight, we are grilling some of the Wisdoms’ chicken and making a green salad to go with it.

Asian Food Resources In and Around Boulder

Wok around the clock — and other thoughts about Asian foods and utensils

Many years and one marriage back, one of the wedding gifts my first husband and I received was a wok (along with a wok stand that fits over the burners of a gas range, a ladle, a Chinese spatula, a Chinese strainer, a Chinese cleaver and a basic cookbook). The wok wasn’t one of those American Teflon-coated, flat-bottom models — or, heaven forbid, an electric one. Round-bottomed and double handled (similar to the one on the right, sold by Asia Foods International), it and the accompanying utensils were made of iron and had to be seasoned so they wouldn’t rust. I seasoned them. They’ve never rusted. And I use them still.

While I’ve always loved to eat Chinese food, preparing it was intimidating, so I took some hands-on classes at the China Institute in New York — the first cooking classes I ever attended. I learned the Chinese way of chopping, stir frying, steaming and “red cooking.” I still have the recipes in a looseleaf binder, along with others that I’ve clipped (and of course other Chinese cookbooks too). Our instructor also took us on a field trip to Chinatown, where we focused on ingredients and the best places to buy them rather than which restaurant we were going to try. Chinese recipes haven’t scared me since then.

Over the years, I also started occasionally making dishes from other Asian cultures. A friend who was moving back to the US from Holland came to stay with us, laden with seasonings for an Indonesian rijstaffel. We planned a party for about 20 people and spent a great two days preparing the feast. I didn’t then own a food processor, so we did all the slicing, chopping and mincing by hand — hence the two days. I later prepared another rijstaffel by myself, that time with the help of a food processor. It took me a bit less than full a day — about the amount of time I usually spend making Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Over the years, I’ve also prepared Indian and Thai recipes, and I have a shelf full of Asian spices at hand.

When I need something now, there’s no Chinatown, so I wander around to Boulder’s Asian stores, down to Denver’s more abundant markets or to Broomfield’s enormous Pacific Ocean Market (at 6600 West 120th Avenue if you are looking for it). Boulder Daily Camera food editor Cindy Sutter did the same thing, exploring nearby Asian groceries. She wrote a pair of complementary features on where to get ingredients under the overall headline of “Spice Up Your Pantry.” I especially like the part titled “A Tour of Asia on the Front Range” that focused on select Asian markets.
That reminds me. I’m out of star anise. Time to go shopping again.

Cook’s Fresh Market is Back!

When I was researching Culinary Colorado, Cook’s Fresh Market was a bright spot in and near the Denver Tech Center. It was all things to all foodies: a gourmet grocer, produce market, cheese shop, butcher and fish purveyor; a place where hungry people could go for house-made soup, good sandwiches and more to eat in or take out; an on-the-way-home stop for high-quality prepared foods; caterer, and even a place for cooking classes. Then, landlord problems caused owners Ed and Kristi Janos to close the doors. The couple said they would reopen elsewhere, and Denver foodies held their collective breath. They can breathe again, though the Tech Center’s loss is downtown Denver’s gain.

Cook’s Fresh Market has reopened at 16th and Glenarm in the heart of downtown. If and when you are in Denver, stop in and take a look — and a taste. I never walked out of their old store empty-heanded, and I’ll bet the same will be true at the new location. Ed and Kristi are both graduates of the legendary Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, he in 1977 and she 15 years later. In 1993, Ed passed the grueling 10-day Certified Master Chef (CMC) exam, becoming one of only 68 such high-level culinarians in the United States.

In another unrelated development on the Denver gourmet retail scene, David and Kate Kaufman have sold The Truffle, a cheese and fine specialty foods shop at 2906 East Sixth Avenue, to Rob and Karin Lawler, well-credentialed on the Denver food scene. Rob is a chef and Karin has been a server and wine buyer. The Lawlers plan to shut down for a couple of weeks after the first of the year and reopen with a slightly broader selection of fine foods. Meanwhile, another local culinary couple, Pete Marczyk and Barbara MacFarlane, are still at the helm of Marczyk’s Fine Foods, their upscale grocery story and more at 770 East 17th Avenue.