Category Archives: Products

New Soda Flavors from Stiff & Sons

Oskar Blues soft drinks line quintuples its varieties.

OskarBlues-logoThanks to the richly deserved reputation for their roles in super-sizing America’, Coke and Pepsi are contributors to the country’s obesity epidemic and related health problems. I haven’t drunk either of ’em in years.  So I would advise that if you must drink soda, make it sugar-reduced, flavorful and local.

Stiff and Son’s Old Fashioned Soda Pop Company,  the kid-friendly branch of the Oskar Blues family tree, is adding four new flavors of craft soda to their product lineup. Their B. Stiff & Sons Root Beer is  the top-selling local craft Root Beer in Colorado.

The four new flavors of small-batch sodas are zingy Ginger Beer, citrusy sweet Orange Cream, smooth Cream Soda and sweet-and-tart Black Cherry. These are old-school flavors reinvented by the B. Stiff wizards reinvented with their own creative twists. The original Root Beer recipe is revamped as well, with a 20% reduction in sugar, a change made in response to consumer feedback. It shoul go without saying that all B. Stiff & Sons products are gluten-free and also caffeine-free.

These new flavors are offered at top independent retailers throughout Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, as well as at multiple large grocery retailers starting April 1st. The full line-up will remain available at all Oskar Blues restaurant locations (Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids and Solids, Grill & Brew, CHUBurger, CyclHOPS) and the new  RiNo locations of CHUBurger and Hotbox Roasters Coffee Shop set to open in June of 2016.

The soda line was named for Brian Stiff, a Lyons local, bike-riding buddy and father of two, who passed away unexpectedly in February 2012. A portion of soda proceeds continue to provide support for the Stiff family.

Cheesecake in a Jar & On The Air

Grand Junction company adds line of savories.

Decadence-logoChef Lee Mathis’s great gimmick was to offer his tasty cheesecakes in cute little Mason jars. I happily ate some of those delicious well-named Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes  a number of years ago, he has added a line of savories to his traditional sweet flavors. Because people can’t wrap their noggins around savory cheesecakes, Mathis calls them savory spreads. I caught Mathis’s interview on Colorado Public Radio’s ‘Colorado Matters.’ The segment was called “Colorado Chef Took a Long Strange Trip to Create Cheesecake in a Jar.”

Decadence-jar

They are sold close to home (meaning at Western Slope farmers’ markets, fairs and festivals, at Grand Junction area retail locations) and in/around Richmond Virginia. They can also be ordered for shipping.  The jars are shrink-wrapped and packed frozen in custom cardboard holders or in custom-made mini-wooden crates, then packed in a thermal cooler with composite, reusable gel packs, and shipped via FedEx right to your door. When a cheesecake craving hits, just thaw and eat.

Casa Alvarez Green Chili Comeback

Popular chili now available at retail.

Remembering the restaurant.
Remembering the restaurant.

When I tasted the green chili — both pork and veggie/vegan — at Lucky’s Market over the weekend, my palate rewound to Casa Alvarez, which for two decades was arguably Boulder’s most popular Mexican restaurant. Their green chili was the stuff of local legend. Customers used to pick it up by the pint or quart.

Evan Cormane, a member of the original Casa Alvarez family, sampling the new Casa Alvarez Foods green chili at Lucky's Market.
Evan Cormane  sampling the new Casa Alvarez Foods green chili at Lucky’s Market. His mother is Betty Artes, so he grew up in the restaurant, and the food line remains in the family.

Even though Ernesto Alvarez and Betty Artes shuttered the restaurant in the Willow Gardens shopping center, their fabled chili is back. Casa Alvarez Foods is up and running, making these great chilies for retail sale, and Lucky’s is among the first (if not the first) to carry it. Frozen versions are to make their appearance soon as well, and salsas are probably in their future too.

The company’s website is not functioning yet, but news and recipes are posted on its Facebook page.

Easiest Garlic Bread Ever

Salt from Grand Junction the magic ingredient.

001A lifetime ago, when I was quite young, garlic bread seemed like an exotic food item. Over the years, I’ve often made it — usually with a salad or soup, or perhaps with a pasta entrée.  I’ve done it the “pure way,” mincing garlic and mixing it with softened butter. Then I began getting lazy and started using Lawry’s Garlic Spread* from the supermarket.

As I’ve become more ingredient-savvy and also more interested in supporting independent food enterprises, especially in Colorado, I tried lightly buttering both halves of a baguette cut lengthwise and sprinkling with a bit of garlic/jalapeño salt from the Colorado Buffalo Salt Company in Grand Junction,wrapping in foil and then baking as usual. Verdict: The Bufffalo Salt and butter combo was the best of the three that I’ve tried.

*If you want to make your foodie hair stand on end, here are the ingredients in Lawry’s Garlic Spread: Partially Hydrogenated Soybean And Cottonseed Oil, Water, Salt, Sugar, Tapioca Maltodextrin, Garlic Powder, Mono- And Diglycerides, Parmesan Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate And Sodium Benzoate (Used To Protect Quality), Garlic Oil, Butter Oil (Milk), And Carrot Oil (For Color).” I’m just glad I never binged on the stuff.

Easy & Interesting Dessert With Colorado Yogurt

Noosa’s new flavor worth tasting.

WP_20160211_001I had just finished a small container of Noosa 0% fat salt caramel  flavor yogurt the other day, when a package arrived. It held two containers of high-test Noosa blackberry serrano Greek yogurt, a new variety available only in Colorado. I opened one soon and loved the richness, the fruity flavor and the kick of serrano. But having only eaten non-fat and low-fat yogurt for years, I had to consume it in two helpings. Fortunately, it had a real lid and not that foil peel-off stuff.

I should add that I have a soft spot for Noosa Yoghurt, because it comes from tiny Bellevue, Colorado, north of Fort Collins and is made with local milk. My inspiration for the second container was a quick dessert recipe called “3 Ingredient Chocolate Strawberry Yogurt Bites” from a site called A Cedar Spoon and modified it to suit three main ingredients that I happened to have on hand. I didn’t take pictures, but here’s what a made for Valentines Day:

Chocolate/Blackberry Serrano Yogurt Bites

1 carton  of 15 ready-made phyllo shells
1 container Noosa blackberry serrano yogurt
2 ounces organic dark chocolate
4 strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place phyllo shells on baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes to crisp. Set aside to cool.
2. In a glass bowl, melt chocolate in a microwave set on medium power for about 8 minutes or until melted, stirring once or twice.
3. Stir yogurt into chocolate and spoon into shells.
4. Cut strawberries into small pieces and place a few bits on top of each.

Serve before the phyllo gets soggy.

Science Museum Explores Chocolate

Special exhibition follows cacao from rainforest to candy.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science debuted a new exhibition on chocolate, exploring its botanical, cultural, economic and culinary impacts. Called “CHOCOLATE: The Exhibition,” this modest visiting exhibition with its suitably bilingual captions was developed by Chicago’s exemplary Field Museum. It provides an enticing experience for the whole family during its brief stop in Denver.

As visitors progress from the Central American origins of the use of chocolate to the history and on to the present, the chocolate aroma becomes stronger. The captions are appropriately bilingual, as suits an exploration of a food that originated in Central America. At the exit, there is a chocolate  shop and a little café.  Double dare you not to stop.

The members’ opening event included tasting tables set up among the dioramas. Grand Junction-based Enstrom’s provided samples from dark and bitter to sweet milk chocolate. No special ticket is required, for this exhibition is included in the general admission. It is in town through May 8. Photography was challenging, so here are just a few images — the best I could manage:

Cacao tree in the rainforest.
Cacao tree in the rainforest with its robust pods that  produce a little seed that eventually yields what we know as chocolate.
Close-up in a case.
Close-up in a case.
Docent explaining the ins and outs of one the world's most beloved sweets.
Docent explaining the ins and outs of one the world’s most beloved sweets.
As chocolate reached Europe, it inspired a the development of elegant cups and pitchers to further its enjoyment by the elite,
As chocolate reached Europe, it inspired a the development of elegant cups and pitchers to further its enjoyment by the elite.
Café and chocolate shop at the exhibition exit.
Café and chocolate shop at the exhibition exit.

 

 

Polish Pierogis in a Package

 

Denver’s Bistro Charlotte makes these filled treats.

BC-sealOnce upon a time, there was a cafe in Boulder that made divine pierogis, filled dumplings that could bring gustatory sunshine to a rare Colorado gloomy day. I wrote about them here, but that now is a nostalgic essay rather than a description, because the Eggcredible Cafe is no more.

I just received a heads-up message from Charlotte Pistek, whose frozen pierogis are available in high-end markets around the metro area. Preparing them takes less time than driving across town. Three flavors (traditional Potatoes and Cheese with Sautéed Onions, Kraut & Sautéed Mushroom Potato and the Colorado-inspired Cheddar with Roasted Jalapeño) are sold under the Bistro Charlotte label, though there appears to be no brick-and-mortar bistro.  Amanda Faison of 5280 Magazine has tried them and recommended them, so that’s good enough for me. She wrote:

Look to most any corner of the world and you’ll find a dumpling. Japan has the gyoza, Nepal the momo, Italy the ravioli, and Russia the pelmeni. But to many, the ultimate dumpling is the supremely comforting pierogi. The Polish finger food is usually stuffed with a starchy combo of mashed potato and cheese or potato and sauerkraut. A good pierogi is worth hunting for, especially as winter weather blasts us with cold and snow.

Enter Bistro Charlotte, Denverite Anna Postek’s boutique pierogi company. Postek began making and selling her own dumplings when she couldn’t find the quality she was looking for in the market. “Everything is so processed now,” Postek says. She looked in old books and pestered her Polish mother and family members and friends’ family members until she came up with a pierogi recipe that “is something like what used to be made.”

Postek works every batch from scratch using organic eggs and flour, and the results yield excellent chewy dough stuffed with creamy, satisfying fillings. She sells her Bistro Charlotte pierogi (there are three varieties: potatoes and cheese with sautéed onions, kraut and sautéed mushroom, and potato and cheddar with roasted jalapeño) at Marczyk Fine Foods, Whole Foods, and Sawa Meat & Sausage. The pierogi are so good, we keep a box or two in the freezer for a quick lunch, dinner, or anytime snack.

At Home Tip: We like serving the potato and cheese pierogi with balsamic-red onion jam.