Category Archives: Products

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.

Sweetener Firm Based in Sugar Land

New brand name is Wholesome! — with a bang! at the end.

Wholesome!-Organic-Sweeteners_resizedI sometimes (make that often) have wondered by rebranding mania. It’s expensive and it runs the risk of losing loyal customers. When a big corporation, say, Esso becomes Exxon or First National City Bank becomes Citibank, changes its name and its logo, it gets a lot attention. Perhaps that’s reason enough.

But I wonder what the point is for Wholesome Sweetener to become Wholesome! with an exclamation point at the end. It is a well-respected line of organic, fair trade and non-GMO sugars and sweeteners founded by Nigel Willerton and endorsed by Gale Gand, a well-known pastry chef, cookbook author and Food Network personality, described by a company spokeswoman as “a great friend of Wholesome!. Still, this rebranding is relative modest, and the name doesn’t really change all that much.

I am tickled that this line of gourmet sugars, syrups, molasses, stevia and honeys is based in Sugar Land, Texas, which is what drew my attention in the first place. Actually, I answered my own question by concluding that rebranding might partially be to capture the attention of bloggers like me in addition to trade and consumer publications. New packaging with its now-punctuated logo with a heart will be introduced at a trade show next month.

A Tasty Oil & Vinegar Shop Visit

New shop for gourmet condiments, pasta and gifts at FlatIron Crossing Mall.

001I have met the folks from Oil & Vinegar at food events in the last few months. They were congenial and enthusiastic, and they kept urging me to come visit their new store at Broomfield’s FlatIron Crossing Mall. Although I tend to prefer real downtowns to indoor malls, I promised that I would stop by — and now I have. And I was impressed. This light, bright store is filled with kegs of some 50 interesting olive and other oils and vinegars on tap, plus bottles of the exotic expensive stuff. Condiments, artisanal pastas, sauces, herbs, spices and beguiling tableware are temptingly displayed.

Liquid deliciousness from stainless steel kegs fills bottles of customers' choices.
Liquid deliciousness from stainless steel kegs fills bottles that customers select.
Tasting station for a variety of olive and other oils. The first thing you notice are the different colors and shades of oils. Spear small pieces of bread on toothpicks, dip and taste away.
Tasting station for a variety of olive and other oils. The first thing you notice are the different colors and shades of oils. Spear small pieces of bread on toothpicks, dip and taste away.
Pasta, sauces and plates to serve them on are grouped in one section of the store. It sparks ideas for the foodies on our gift list.
Pasta, sauces and plates to serve them on are grouped in one section of the store. It sparks ideas for the foodies on our gift list.

To further tempt, everything that comes in a jar or bottle is available for tasting. In fact, customers are urged to sample whatever they’ve stopped to look at. My downfall was the first item I tasted: Delizia al Barolo e Tartufo, a blend of vinegar made from Barolo grape, which many think makes Italy’s greatest wine, and blended with summer truffles. One seductive taste and I was in love with this vinegar that is as thick as syrup, a little sweet and has two of the finest flavors on the planet in one pretty little bottle. The Oil & Vinegar website suggests using it in salads, sprinkling it on grilled meats and adding to hearty vegetable dishes. I’m thinking more that I’ll use it with next summer’s caprese salad and pouring a bit on vanilla ice cream. It’s that good.

The current object of my vinegar affection -- or perhaps obsession.
The current object of my vinegar affection — or perhaps obsession.

Olive & Vinegar is a Dutch company with hundreds of retail locations on the Continent. There are only about 20 in the US, and the FlatIron Crossing Mall location is currently Colorado’s only one. It is on the mall’s upper level, across from Williams-Sonoma, which is a bonus for foodies or those who are shopping for foodies for the holidays. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 12 noon to 6 p.m. It will be closed on Christmas, as it was on Thanksgiving. The franchise-holders want employees and customers to spend holidays at the table, not at work.

1 West FlatIron Crossing Drive, Unit 2253, Broomfield, 303-404-1762.

Green Bean Casseroles by the Numbers

Del Monte’s study of cliché Thanksgiving casserole.

DelMonte-logoMy husband often teases me, saying that that I am not a “real American,” foodwise, because I have never made a casserole of any sort, country gravy, a Jello salad or other such staples on the American food scene. Guilty of food treason, I suppose. But I am oddly fascinated by statistics. So when an Email from Del Monte announcing that Colorado is #8 in the country for its love of green bean casseroles, presumably made with canned ream of mushroom soup mixed in with the canned green beans, according to something called the Del Monte Green Bean Index, I was intrigued and, frankly, amused.

Del Monte says that “30 million green-bean casseroles [are] set to appear on Thanksgiving tables,” according to a study that was conducted by, ahem, bean counters at Del Monte. The survey asked 1,500 Americans to “go green bean” and rate their fondness for the classic green-bean casserole side dish. I took Statistics 101 AND 102, which makes me a little skeptical about a survey of 1,500 people representing 320 million or so in all 50 states. But I’m putting my skepticism aside. Here goes:

Del Monte’s Top 20 States With the Most Green Bean Casserole Lovers

1. Kentucky (78% of residents ‘really like or love the dish’)
2. Wisconsin (77%)
3. Missouri (76%)
4. Iowa (75%)
5. Maine (74%)
6. New Hampshire (73%)
7. Florida (72%)
8: Colorado (71%)
9. California (69%)
10 Mississippi (68%)
11. Oklahoma (67%)
12. Utah (66%)
13. Kansas (66%)
14. Texas (65%)
15. Maryland (64%)
16. Ohio (63%)
17. Massachusetts (62%)
18. Illinois (61%)
19. Michigan (60%)
20. New York (60%)

Top Five Ingredients for Green Bean Casseroles

Del Monte also asked state residents to rate their favorite “secret ingredient” — described as “a single, creative item that can be added to the casserole’s iconic green bean, cream of mushroom and French fried onion flavors to make it unique and different.” I feel snarkiness coming on, but that is mean, so I will simply post what Del Monte released:

1. Bacon (37% picked it as their favorite secret ingredient)
2. Cheese (19%)
3. Mushrooms (15%)
4. Bread crumbs, croutons, or crushed crackers (12%)
5. Almonds (8%)

Now, since I am posting this, I hope I qualify as a “real American” in my husband’s eyes. But I’m not ever making this casserole —  or serving canned jellied cranberries either.


Colorado Olives? Sort Of….

Real Greek olive stand at the Boulder farmers’ market a delicious surprise.

OleaEstates-logoAlong with the expected seasonal apples, pears, pumpkins and other local produce, today’s Boulder County Farmers’ Market brought something of a surprise: a stand selling olives and olive oil. We’ve got lots of great produce, but there are no olive groves in this state. Olea Estates was selling brined olives, olive oil and a few other products from Greece. Most of the foods sold at the market is Colorado-grown or -raised, but there is an adjunct category of local food artisans and distributors, and that’s presumably where Olea Estates falls, I’m thinking, similar to Wild Alaska Salmon, which fishes for sockeye in Bristol Bay, flash freezes it for transport but cures and packs it here.

Jake of Olea Estates.
Jake Burgart of Olea Estates and olives packed in accordance FDA guidelines to maintain its organic certification.

The Chronis family has been producing Olea since 1856 from olive groves in the valley of Sparta, Greece. They harvest, press and distribute from a single variety of olives, and as the website notes, “Nobody else interferes.” A few years ago, as the Chronis chronicle tells, it was costing the family almost twice as much to produce their organic olive oil as the wholesale price would bring. Most farmers were making a profit only from selling olives and were press the ones they could not  into olive oil and cut their losses. Single rather than multiple pickings at the right time saved costs, and use of fertilizers and insecticides increased. The Chronis family did not compromise their standards in that way, and in 2009, George and Demosthenis Chronis started Olea Estates to bring their quality products to the American market.

Jake Burgart, a distributor, is located in Colorado. It was he who manned the table at the farmers’ market (and does so at other food events around the state) and sold us some of the best olives I’ve ever had. We asked about pitted olives, and Jake said Olea Estates doesn’t carry them, because the inside softens too much when the  pit has been removed.

Of course, I had to find out more about these wonderful olives. The variety is Kalamon, which a Greek products website describes as “considered as a superior variety of edible olives which thrives in an arid environment with dry and low moisture soil in order the fruits to grow. It is cultivated in the areas of Messinia (formerly known as Kalamata) and Lakonia (known as Sparta) can also be found in the region of Agrinion in Greece. The Kalamon fruits usually ripen during mid-November to early January which is the late fall to midwinter.”

If you’re going to any of the following Front Range events, look for Olea there too: November 7-9, Colorado Country Gift Show, Denver;  November 14-16: Colorado Springs Holiday Food and Gift Show; November 20-21, Denver International Wine Festival, Broomfield;  December, 6-7, 2014 Holiday Market, Longmont; December 6-7, Sugar Plum Festival, Denver; December 21, Last Minute Gift Show, Longmont.

Savory Spices in Ketchup & Pickles

Vindaloo adds distinctive flavor to two local artisanal products.

SavoryKetchupSavory Spice Shop, a Denver-based provider of fresh-ground spices and handcrafted seasonings, has partnered with The Real Dill and Elevation Organic Ketchup to provide new spice-infused pickles and ketchup respectively. These products are available for a limited but unspecified time beginning on October 1, and The Real Dill actually had some jars at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market (we bought one).  They both use Vindaloo curry powder, one of Savory’s original signature blends. Savory takes the Vindaloo heat level down to what it calls “an approachable level so we could highlight those other flavors, particularly the cinnamon.”

This is the first co-branding in Savory’s 10-year history. The shops are now found in 13 states (California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington). Savory Spice Shop offers more than 500 high-quality spice-related products, including freshly ground herbs and spices, specialty salts and more than 175 handcrafted signature seasoning blends.



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.