Project to cut down on red meat consumption & up taste.
This is the second year for the Blended Burger Project, designed to make burgers “better” by combining ground meat with chopped mushrooms. Not a promotion directly aimed at consumers (that is, you and me), it challenges chefs to create “an incredibly delicious burger that’s healthier for your guests and more sustainable for the planet.” The burgers, which are to be on the restaurants’ menus from Memorial Day through July 31, must be made with at least 25% cultivated, chopped mushrooms. Foraged wild fungi need not apply.
The James Beard Foundation is behind the project, and winning chefs based on diners’ votes get a trip to prepare their blended burgers at the JBF Food Conference, October 17-18, the prestigious James Beard House in New York. I’m not clear on whether any Colorado chefs were involved last year, when it was called the Better Burger Project. The five winners were respectively from Indiana, Louisiana, Tennessee, California and Pennsylvania), but three of Denver’s best are offering a sneak peek to the 2016 project, and others are invited to participate, so there’s hope for this year. Chefs Alex Seidel (Fruition, Mercantile), Justin Brunson (Old Major, Masterpiece Deli) and Troy Guard (Guard & Grace, TAG Burger, Sunnyside Burger Bar and more) have each created their own renditions of a blended burger.
A media preview is scheduled at Fruition later in the month, but I’ll be out of town so won’t be able to attend. I regret the timing, because A) I believe that for environmental reasons, even the most responsibly raised beef cattle take their toll on the environment; B) for health reasons, many people need to cut down on their red meat consumption; C) I like mushrooms.
Troy Guard’s steak place selected as Colorado’s best.
Thrillist.com created a list of the best steakhouses in every state (plus the District of Columbia). For Colorado, the site picked Guard & Grace in Denver. The write-up:
Colorado takes steak seriously. Its biggest city, Denver, was once a “cow town” that hosted a huge Livestock Exchange. Today, Denver (not to mention Fort Collins and Colorado Springs) supports a ton of top-notch, upscale steakhouses like Elway’s and Shanahan’s, and other steak palaces not owned by Broncos affiliates.
Guard and Grace hits all the right modern steakhouse notes — a vibrant feel that doesn’t recall a funeral home, in-house charcuterie, and a raw bar with sashimi; plus barrel-aged Manhattans, an eclectic wine list, and side dishes like handmade truffled gnocchi and chipotle-lime smashed potatoes. Steak-wise, there are grass-fed filets (including a filet “flight” with 4oz prime, Angus, and grass-fed cuts), plus the traditional assortment of prime and Angus selections.
Keystone was one of the first ski resorts in the Rockies to emphasize very good food. Keystone Ranch is an original 1930s homestead turned AAA Four-Diamond rated restaurant and Wine Spectator Award and DiRoNa winner. It is introducing a new menu when it opens for the ski season on Friday, November 20. In place of the earlier fine-dining approach, the Ranch now is presenting a Colorado steakhouse experience.
The Ranch décor — over-sized log cabin, river-rock fireplace, elk antler chandelier and such — really lends itself to the steakhouse format. Chef Steven Vlass and his culinary team are utilizing the finest meats, a variety of game, locally sourced products and sustainable practices. Menu items include Imperial Ranch Waygu New York strip, Rosen Farms lamb chops, garden herb-rubbed Red Bird chicken breast, pumpkin and quinoa croquettes and the Ranch’s signature soufflé dessert.
Previously, The Bighorn Bistro & Bar in the Keystone Lodge, which previously was a steakhouse, now offers fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere. Its focus is on seasonally inspired from-scratch appetizers and entrees, locally sourced when possible.
Cured has opened a second smaller shop just a few blocks from my house. Color me happy that exquisite charcuterie, excellent cheeses, unique imported and artisanal American grocery items and small assortment of mouth-watering sandwiches and salads are to be had less than a 10-minute walk from my door. Oh yes, and chocolate.
Will and Coral Frischkorn’s original Cured a few blocks east of the Pearl Street Mall has a greater selection, but proximity has its benefits. The shop is simple, pared-down and classy with quality finishes to its shelves, counters and islands as a suitable backdrop for the quality items.
Sanity & taste buds required a break from hotel food.
The other day, we stopped at the Ranch Bar in San Martino di Castrozza for kicks. Yesterday, needing a break from both the Hotel Colfosco’s truly mediocre food and the constant wailing of one or another baby or toddler at this family hotel, we escaped to the Ranch Bar for dinner. Plus we were really curious about the backstory and food at this Western-theme outpost in Italy’s Dolomites.
But what of the burgers?, you might ask. They’re huge! Three young guys at the next table each order two. Two of the trio picked them up American-style, while the third earnestly sawed away at his with a knife and fork.
Natural heritage pork is increasingly what’s for dinner.
Inc. magazine has announced that Denver-based Tender Belly, a nationally recognized purveyor of all natural heritage breed pork products, ranks No. 698 on the 34th annual Inc. 5000, a prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents what is said to be “the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy—America’s independent entrepreneurs.”
Tender Belly was founded in 2010 by brothers Erik and Shannon Duffy with the mission to provide the highest quality of pork products on the market. The result is natural, delicious pork that foodies can eat with clear consciences. Tender Belly’s array of products including bacon, franks, ham, ribs, various cuts and whole hogs. The brand is carried by major national distributors and in specialty stores throughout Colorado, Arizona and Texas.
Tender Belly is committed to environmentally responsible and fully traceable farming methods, as well as to animal well-being. As part of their focus on farm-to-table cuisine and local purveyors, they source from small family farms with generations of history that produce the finest quality pork.
All of the animals are fed a 100% vegetarian diet — with no rendered animal byproducts, antibiotics or hormones, and live with plenty of space to roam. This approach helps Tender Belly deliver a line-up of pork products to distinguished restaurants across the country including those helmed by big-name chefs. Click here for Colorado restaurants serving Tender Belly cuts of pork
People become vegetarians for a variety of reasons, including concerns about the quality of life of animals before they are slaughtered. It comes as good news that the L6 Cattle Ranches in Corona, New Mexico, has become the first agricultural business in the country to earn Animal Welfare Approved Certified Grassfed designation. As consumers learn about the damaging impact that intensive farming has on our health, the environment and animal welfare, many are seeking truly sustainable alternatives, including grassfed meat., with demand for increasing by 25-30 percent every year over the last decade.
Not surprisingly, the US Department of Agriculture’s standards are fairly loose, and AWA therefore issues the only certification and logo in the United States and Canada that guarantee food products come from animals that were fed a 100 percent grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range for their entire lives, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards on an independent family farm. While other grassfed labels exist, none has reportedly fully met consumer expectations when it comes to a grassfed and forage diet, environmental management and farm animal welfare.
Sharie and Bill Leibold, owners of the 4,000-acre L6 Cattle Ranch have been producing strictly grassfed and finished Angus-Jersey cross beef since 2006. Although the Leibolds were already certified by Animal Welfare Approved in 2009 for their high-welfare and environmental management practices, they were eager to gain Certified Grassfed by AWA status for their grassfed cattle herd when the new program was launched in January. Congratulations to the Leibolds — and may other ranchers follow their lead.
Click here for purchasing and pickup-delivery information.
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.