When I encounter food sampling stations, I always try a bite, and when a Colorado product is involved, I pay extra attention. So it was at Alfalfa’s on Sunday, where two guys were offering squares of pizza with two different seasoning options. The guys were Matt Lenore and Mike Chen, co-workers in the field of finance. They are also pizza lovers — and now seasoning entrepreneurs.
Eight months ago, they launched the FlatIron Spice Co., working out of a commercial kitchen in Arvada, where they now blend spices and herbs into a tastier, more complex alternative to plain old hot pepper flakes to sprinkle on pizza slices. The red, called Four Pepper Blend, is hotter, with the heat coming on gradually. The green, called Hatch Valley Green, is quite mild.
The partners see commercially to pizza restaurants, online and now to retail grocers, initially Alfalfa’s in Boulder and Louisville, C+P Provisions in Denver’s Highland ‘hood and Venice Olive Oil Company in Florida. Expect to pay about $5 per jar — and based on my first tastes, worth every penny.
New York Times cites Boulder’s positive climate for food entrepreneurs.
Boulder restaurants are frequently featured in publications reporting on communities with great dining. They and their chefs are also recipients of numerous national and regional awards. But The illustrious New York Times business section recently described Boulder’s position as a leading hotbed of rising food businesses. See “Foodies Know: Boulder Has Become a Hub for New Producers.”
But the it’s not all boutiquey food businesses in and around Boulder. Smuckers is planning a 200,000-square-foot plant in East Longmont to produce something called Uncrustables, which are frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Sounds awful to me. My PB&J of choice crunchy, organic peanut butter, jalapeno jelly and whole grain bread. I’m not the company’s target market, am I?
Tom Coohill raises the bar for professional kitchenwear.
Tom Coohill, chef/owner of his namesake LoDo restaurant, is a notable local chef and also an avid outdoorsman. Chefs’ whites haven’t changed much in a very long time, while outdoor clothing keeps evolving with new materials and new styles.
IKONIC CHEF is a Denver apparel company that is committed to design, performance and function for today’s best kitchens, and if you like the latest and greatest in appliances and gadgets in your home kitchen. check out this high-function apparel that uses IKCoolThread.
IKONIC sought out leaders in fabric technology and designers of performance gear to produce breakthrough chef wear to address the challenges of modern kitchen environments. The result: a system that they say “has been tested, optimized, and proven to keep chefs clean and cool under pressure.” The coat doesn’t come cheap ($169, plus $39 for an optional gray T-shirt), but staying cool and comfortable in the heat of the professional kitchen: priceless. FoMoInfo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-925-2716.
Natural foods grocers now carrying this Colorado product.
Back in 2011, I wrote a feature on millet for edibleFront Range, a magazine that appears to be on permanent hiatus. I had a hard time finding millet for human consumption, either in restaurants or in products other than as one of the ingredients in multi-grain breads and other baked goods.
If I were writing that now, I would highlight RollinGreens’ packaged Millet Tots. This version of tater tots, made with an ancient seed, are small, crispy bites that are organic, gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO and soy-free. The product is now available in the frozen food sections of Whole Foods Rocky Mountain Region, Natural Grocers, Lucky’s Market, Alfalfa’s Market and independents throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.
Millet Tots debuted in May 2015, but a recent E-mail from Lindsey Cunningham, who runs it with her chef-husband, Ryan, is the first time I was aware of them. RollinGreens started out as a Boulder mobile food truck and catering service (hence the name). Its packaged product line features a variety of frozen handheld bites that are organic, nutritious and innovative. Pop frozen Millet Tots into the oven for 15 to 17 minutes or until crispy and thoroughly heated. The first type is made with sea salt, and two new flavors are set to launch in September 2016.
Oskar Blues soft drinks line quintuples its varieties.
Thanks 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.
Chef 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.