Category Archives: New Mexico

Trader Joe’s: Too Much Packaging

Too much packaging & too little organic.

TraderJoe-logoLike other Coloradans, I was excited to read the announcement that Trader Joe’s was coming to Colorado. By the time February 2014 rolled around, when the first three stores opened here (Denver, Boulder, Greenwood Village), I was underwhelmed — even disappointed. I used to make a point of shopping at TJ’s whenever I was in New Mexico, but I have changed my buying food habits to the point where I shop there much less than I thought I would.

I was increasingly buying organic (Trader Joe’s is light on organic) and I was very dismayed at the packaging. Not only is there too much waste from shrink-wrap — which as far as I know is not compostable or recyclable — but I don’t like someone in the California corporate office deciding how many sweet peppers or chicken breasts I should be buying at one time. One notable exception seems to be bananas, which are priced by the pound with organic each a dime more than conventional.

Now a petition on Change.org asks Trader Joe’s to revamp their packaging and waste less. It starts, “Please package all of your products— produce (lemons, lettuces, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes…), nuts, frozen goods etc. in 100% RECYCLABLE AND BIODEGRADABLE PACKAGING to ensure a sustainable and closer to zero-waste business model.” I signed. Will you?

New Mexico Ranch Earns Animal Welfare Certification

CertifedGrassFed-logoPeople 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.

New Santa Fe Hotel Plans Fusion Restaurant

John Rivera Sedlar returning to his hometown with a fusion restaurant.

John Rivera Sedlar
John Rivera Sedlar

Who says you can’t go home again? Award-winning Santa Fe-bred, Los Angeles-based chef John Rivera Sedlar has been tapped  to open restaurant in the new Drury Plaza Hotel in the heart of Santa Fe. Sedlar  owns Rivera, a sleek, Los Angeles area pan-Latin fusion restaurant bearing his middle name.

He returns to his hometown of Santa Fe after four decades of pleasing diners in Los Angeles to open Eloisa, specializing in modern Latin cuisine. “Santa Fe has long been, and still is, the epicenter of the most flavorful, vibrant Southwestern foods found anywhere in the United States,” says Chef Sedlar.

“I’m so looking forward to returning to the Santa Fe cocina to cook once again my own contemporary versions of the wonderful foods I first ate as a child in my grandmother’s kitchen on Alto Street.” Sedlar’s father moved to New Mexico to work for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  His middle name, Rivera, comes from his mother’s family, an old Spanish family that has lived in northern New Mexico for centuries.

Sedlar was raised on bizcochitos, empanadita and tamales in the New Mexican kitchens of his mother, aunts and his grandma Eloisa, who was a professional chef. He spent three years in the Spanish cities of Sevilla and Zaragoza. Continue reading New Santa Fe Hotel Plans Fusion Restaurant

Keeping Up with the Food & Bev Business

Online resource for biz news from the Rocky Mountain region.

CompanyWeek-logoSuch food and beverage producing businesses as wine-making, brewing, coffee roasting or making artisanal foods in Colorado and elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain region are covered by Company Week, an online publishing operation that launched last summer but that I just learned about. With the decline of print publishing, this is a valuable resource for keeping up with news about and trends in the production of things we like to eat and drink. What I really like about the searchable website and the free weekly digital newsletter is that they highlight news from small, local entrepreneurial businesses. Print publishing veteran Bart Taylor helms Company Week.

Between the weeks of September 10 and March 10, Company Week’s Food & Beverage category profiled Crooked Stave (brewing), Polidori Sausage, Peach Street (distillery), Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Sushi Den (“equal parts manufacturing and art”), Zum XR (performance beverage), Epic Brewing Company, Patsy’s Candies, Fresca Foods, EVOL (burritos), Door to Door Organics, Good Belly (probiotics), Mile Hi Foods, Kitchen Coop, Boulder Soup Works, Ska Fabricating (brewing), High West Distillery, Two Rivers Winery & Chateau and White Girl Salsa.

The Lifestyle category as included posts from the making of longboards to mountain bikes, but also inexplicably such food and beverage enterprises as Epic Brewing Company and Growing Spaces (off-grid greenhouses for growing vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs of all sorts year-round, without the need for heating). Thanks to Bart Taylor for hiring Wendy Aiello, Denver public relations diva, for spreading the word on this valuable site. Click here to subscribe to the newsletter.

Studio F’s Inaugural Pop-Up Dinner

James Mazzio’s new Studio F hosts star chef Charles Dale & winemaker John Sutcliffe in short-run “restaurant”

James Mazzio, an award-winning chef of considerable local renown, recently launched a multi-faceted, multi-layered food venue in LoDo’s landmark Ice House. At the entrance, the Red Star Deli is a weekday operation serving perhaps the best and most imaginative sandwiches in the city.  Pass through a set of doors to Studio F whose appearance reflects its origins as  the classy Mise en Place Cooking School. Studio F now accommodates  pop-up dinners (the first has been this week) and Chef Series cooking classes with top local and visiting chefs, and is suitable for team-building or a great private party.

James Mazzio, left, and Charles Dale, right, make for a star-studded platring team.

Star chef Charles Dale orchestrated the first of these pop-up dinners, two per evening Thursday and Friday, paired with really nice wines from Sutcliffe Vineyards in Cortez.  Mazzio and Dale have a long history. Charles Dale, then owner/chef of Renaissance in Aspen. gave Mazzio his first restaurant job. When Dale initially asked Mazzio about his butchering ability, he claimed to have the skill. He now laughs about the lie that helped launch a stellar career — and Dale laughs too. Dale was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs of 1995 when he ran Renaissance, a dazzling fine-dining restaurant, and James Mazzio was one of the 1999 honorees when he was executive chef at 1515 in Boulder. Both restaurants are long gone, but those of us who dined at either or both still remember them well.

I have concluded that too many cooks don’t always spoil the stew. As I watched these two chefs deftly plating some of the dishes on the expansive granite counters, I mused that rarely is so much culinary  talent performing such a routine task in public. Because the tasks are routine, it’s possible for guests to walk over and chat for a few minutes — something that is not possible in a restaurant setting, even with an open kitchen. Just an observation about one of aspects of close encounters with gifted chefs that I enjoy the most. For the menu, click Continue reading Studio F’s Inaugural Pop-Up Dinner

New Mexico Pastry Chef Won “Food Network” Challenge

Chocolate train takes top honors on television chef competition

Darci Rochaud

Darci Rochau, pastry chef at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa on the Santa Ana Pueblo, north of Albuquerque, recently won first place on the nationally televised  “Food Network Challenge.” Competing against three other teams and assisted by her husband, Greg, she won with“The Transcontinental,” an elaborate five-foot-tall chocolate train looping around a mountaintop that she created in less than eight hours.

"The Transcontinental," a TV prize-winner, too eight hours top construct.

The sculpture was made from more than 100 different pieces of chocolate. It was equipped with illuminating headlights and also puffed smoke out of its engine. Rochau practiced nearly every evening for six weeks before the competition in order to perfect the sculpture so the competition day would go smoothly. It certainly seems that it did.

FroYo News in Boulder

One shop de-franchises & two new frozen yogurt dispenseries

StockPhotoPro illustration.

Boulder has gotten a lot of publicity laterly for a spate of new, upscale pizzerias — Pizzeria Basta, Pizzeria da Lupo, Pizzeria Locale, Backcountry Pizza and before that, Boulder Organic Pizza. Premium frozen yogurt is grabbing foodies’ attention too. The operators of CéFiore just off the Pearl Street Mall have given up their franchise, developed their own recipes and have changed the shop’s name to Smooch. Despite the intended Italo-French (or Franco-Italian) implication of its name, CéFiore is in reality a subsidiary of a worldwide seafood and sushi buffet developer and  franchiser called Todai. CéFiore had interesting and unusual flavors and flavor combinations. The flavors were lush, but for whatever reason, I rarely saw many customers. There already seemed to be more people in Smooch Frozen Yogurt & Mochi the few time I’ve passed. Owners Michelle and Christopher Luu not have developed their own new flavors, but they also are working with local companies like Boulder Ice Cream, not permitted under the franchise agreement. I haven’t tried it yet, but will — for sure. 1926 Fourteenth Street, Boulder; 303-444-0690.

The space at the Sunrise Center at 30th and Arapahoe (aka, the King Soopers Center) now hosts Ripple Frozen Yogurt, which offers yogurt in ordinary and exotic flavors including vanilla, chocolate and strawberry and unusual ones like green tea or pumpkin. They boast that they always have 16 of the most popular flavors and another 50 in rotation, plus 50 toppings that include various fruits and home-made cookie crumbles. I haven’t tried it yet either, but will — for sure. 1632 30th Street, Boulder; 303-444-0690.

Aspen Leaf Yogurt, a new brand of frozen yogurt shops recently launched by Durango-born Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, will open when it opens in the Table Mesa Shopping Center. It promises sweet and tart flavors. I can hardly wait. The first store is open in San Antonio, and in addition to Boulder, others are open or will be soon in Farmington, Greeley and Boise.It isn’t open here yet, but when it is, I’ll try it — for sure.