Sample tacos al pastor with laughline meat or make them at home.
SPAM, the pork-in-a-can product not the E-mail annoyance, is a favorite in Hawaii and the subject of Mainland laughlines. But people stop laughing when they taste dishes prepared by name chefs using SPAM. The SPAMERICAN Tour visits 16 cities across the countries where chefs demonstrate that point with interesting recipes.
SPAM is also an iconic Army ingredient, and there-in lies the backstory of the SPAMERICAN Tour. It is partnering with Operation Gratitude, a volunteer based organization that sends care packages and letters to U.S. Service Members deployed overseas, veterans, wounded soldiers and their families, plus new recruits and first responders here at home. The tour is bringing Operation Gratitude’s letter-writing campaign into 16 communities, supporting its “March to a 2nd Million” goal with a $50,000 donation by pledging $1 for every letter written in-market and online at SPAM.com. I know it’s a little complicated.
But each stop is simplicity itself with free samples of Operation SPAM Gravy with Biscuits and SPAM fries, plus creations of local chef partners. It comes to Denver’s Sustainability Park, where Tyler Wiard, the energetic culinary director of Elway’s restaurant and a recent “cheftestant” on Bravo’s Top Chef, prepares al pastor tacos. He uses crispy SPAM rather than the traditional pork butt. Taste them for FREEon Saturday, May 14 from 2 to 6 p.m. at The Big Wonderful, a sustainability fair at the park (2600 Lawrence St.). Continue reading Chef Tyler Wiard’s SPAM Tacos→
Full butcher shop and charcuterie maker now joins Boulder restaurant.
First there was the Blackbelly food truck. And a catering operation, plus a bar and restaurant. Soon a secluded patio on the south side of the building. Then a second, larger and more open patio on the north side. And now, a large shop focusing on meat, meat and more meat joins the rest. Before this. the chefs and the butchers were competing for space. Now, there are two kitchens, the original and the new one on the meat side, where breakfast and lunch are prepared.
Nate Singer, born and raised in Cody, WY, runs the butcher operation. His family’s steakhouse across from the rodeo grounds and his father’s passion for hunting were the “classroom” where he first learned butchery skills, overlaid with official courses resulting in various certifications. He heads the full-fledged butcher shop that sells meat that has been broken down from whole animals and cut on site. The crew also makes all manner or sausages and cures meat. Getting US Department of Agriculture approval for such an operation is no mean feat, and what they produced is spectacular. Media had the opportunity to taste some of the specialties.
1606 Conestoga Street (Blackbelly is just north of Araphoe Avenue), Boulder; Butcher Shop and Market [breakfast & lunch], 720-479-8296.
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.
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.