Category Archives: Products

Ricky’s Lucky Nuts: Peanuts from Heaven

Its easy to go nuts over these delicious dry-roasted peanuts

In 1981, the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory started in a storefront in downtown Durango, Colorado, not far from the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot. Look at it now: a public corporation, well over 300 franchise stores and confections with scores of flavors. Ricky’s Lucky Nuts, established in 2006 on the other end of downtown, started a quarter of a century later and is already appearing on some of Colorado’s store shelves.

Paul Gelose, a gifted chef with wide-ranging experience, over the years held various positions in the kitchens of the Stein Eriksen Lodge, Deer Valley, Utah; Hotel Adula, Flims, Switzerland; Kulm Hotel, St. Moritz, Switzerland; Sheraton Steamboat, Colorado. He slid over to Telluride where he ran the Powderhouse, Joe’s Catering and Giuseppi’s at the Plunge, and also worked in Chicago as Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef in 1996-97. He moved to Durango to purchase the Palace Restaurant, also on Main Street between the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory #1 and Ricky’s Lucky Nuts offices. Durango’s Main Street is, in fact, a food row of sorts.

Gelose named the nuts after Rick Jensen, a fellow chef whom he worked with at Steamboat. Paul tried some of Rick’s dry-roasted, seasoned peanuts, which he really liked. On the hand-written recipe from his friend, Paul scribbled, “Ricky’s Lucky Nuts.” The the name stuck. Rick is now a chef in Hawaii at aTurtle Bay Resort restaurant, and Paul and his wife Carolyn Lamb are running the nut company and the restaurant in Colorado.

Ricky’s Lucky Nuts are all natural, dry-roasted, sweet, spicy and totally addictive. The original flavor, officially called Original Style, is lightly salted, lightly sweetened and lightly spiced. Everything is subtle and balanced. There’s a hot undertone (maybe wasabi, maybe pepper, maybe something else) and a spice combo that I can’t identify.The Bombay Curry Coconut is more curry than coconut, which is just fine with me. I’m trying to pace myself, so I haven’t yet opened the Spicy Chile Chipotle or the Black Pepper and Salt.

Ricky’s Lucky Nuts come in 2-ounce and 6-ounce packages, and are available at Whole Foods, Tony’s Markets, Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacies, independent grocers, specialty shops and even hotels. 1099 Main Avenue, Suite 105, Durango, Colorado 81301; 970-382-2264 or 888-RLN-NUTS (756-6887).

Impressive Colorado Pestos Top Terrific Pizzas

Ciolo and now Piccolo pestos pass the pizza taste test at Laudisio‘s

Antonio Laudisio makes his own pesto in big batches for use on pizzas and pasta in his Boulder restaurant. He has been doing so for nearly four decades — first at his mother’s restaurant in Florida and since 1988 in his namesake establishment in Colorado. In fact, Antonio makes them in a mortar and pestle made of South Dakota granite that came from the grandson of Gutzon Borglum, who carved the Presidential monuments at Mt. Rushmore from, of course, South Dakota granite — a culinary footnote to American history.

When Tellory, Inc., a Lafayette company, wanted to do a pizza sampling using their artisinal Ciolo and Piccolo brands of handcrafted pesto, the company approached Antonio Laudisio to turn the recipes into reality. Antonio and Adalberto Murillo (below) assembled pizzas using Tellory’s two lines of pesto products, plus quality ingredients and their own scrumptious pizza dough, popped the pies into the oven and sliced them for the mid-day pizza party. What a launch!

Among the the combinations (images below) that they assembled were: caramelized onion, feta, green olive and feta pesto, and slices of fresh tomato; jalapeño pecan pesto ad prosciutto; tomato, basil pesto and pancetta; fontina cheese, bacon and roasted red pepper pesto; roasted red pepper, mozzarella and pancetta. Pizza lovers, eat your hearts out, because these were excellent.

Piccolo (below) is Tellory’s new line of all-natural pestos, spreads and tapanades that are sold in King Soopers in Colorado; Fairway, Zabar’s, Westside Market, Amish Market and Zaytuna Market, all in New York, Kings Super Markets in New Jersey, and Eldorado Supermarket in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ciolo is the company’s earlier brand that is sold exclusively at Whole Foods. Products have a shelf life of 30 to 60 days and retail for $5.49 to $6.99.

Laudisio’s indvidual pizzas from the wood-burning oven are $4.75 at happy hour and $9.50-$11 at lunch and dinner. The restaurant is at 1720 29th Street, Boulder; 303-442-1300.

Disappointment at Wild Oats (ex-Alfalfa’s)

Partially rotten apples and questionable mozzarella from natural foods market

For years — until Whole Foods opened on Pearl between 28th and 30th — central Boulder’s natural-foods supermarkets were Alfalfa’s at Broadway and Arapahoe, Ideal at Broadway and Alpine, the now-closed natural foods coop on Pearl Street, the nearby Crystal Market (which morphed into the Wild Oats concept) and since about 1992, Wild Oats at Broadway and Baseline. If I need to run out and buy a few things, Alfalfa’s is the quickest walk from my house. They are now all part of the merged Whole Foods-Wild Oats group (or so it seems), but all stores are not created equal.

I’ve had a few negative experiences at Alfalfa’s (as I still call it) since it was wrapped into Wild Oats, but usually they were caught before I left. On one occasion, I ordered a couple of house-made sausages. The butcher reached into the case, took a whiff. looked dismayed and quickly suggested that I select another flavor. I had a similar fish experience, where the fish guy realized that what I had ordered was, well, too fishy. I have occasionally found some produce that should have been culled, but I didn’t buy it.

On Wednesday evening, I walked over for a handful of items. I bought four apples (two gala, to red delicious), one container of Crave Brothers fresh mozzarella, a small container of house-made tortilla soup (that does not come with any tortilla strips, though the guy behind the deli counter suggested that I could buy a package of tortillas if I wished), a turkey wrap and a small container of kung pao tofu.

The soup was good and hot (even though without tortilla strips it really shouldn’t be called tortilla soup), and the wrap and the tofu were fine. So were the gala apples. Both of the red delicious apples, though gleaming in shiny-peel perfection, were half-rotten inside. I tossed them into the compost bin.

When I opened the mozz‘ yesterday afternoon, it had a real off-taste, even though the sell-by date is September 26. If I had noticed that small-print date, I probably would have bought another brand, because three weeks is way too long for fresh mozzarella — even longer, in fact, because Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese is actually located in Waterloo, WI, so heaven only knows how long ago the cheese was actually made.

Register receipts are usually around for days — in my wallet, somewhere in my purse, in the bottom of the bag in which I brought the groceries home. But this time, on my way home, I wrapped some gum into the receipt. If I still had it, I would have returned the offending mozzarella and told the customer service person or the manager about the decidedly non-delicious apples. The Wild Oats that used to be Alfalfa’s is now off my list of places to shop.

40 Years of Palisade Peaches

“Swell-egant” al fresco dinners added to long-running festival

Actually, Grand River Valley peaches have been around even longer, but the 40th annual Palisade Peach Festival is coming up August 14-17 at Riverbend Park. “Feast in the Fields,” an elegant, four-course dinner featuring Palisade peaches and other local products paired with Palisade wines, is a new feature. It takes place Friday, August 15 at Z’s Orchard with wine service by DeBeque Canyon Winery and St. Kathryn’s Cellars, and Saturday, August 16 at at High Country Orchards with wine service by Carlson Vineyards and Canyon Wind Cellars. Seating is limited, and reservations are required; call the Palisade Chamber of Commerce, 970-464-7458.

The Good Egg

Instead of the standard gas-fired grill, charcoal-burning kettle or even hibachi, my husband had been considering a Big Green Egg, a modern American rendition of an ancient Kamado cooker from Japan. Our brother-in-law, who grew up in a military family and lived in Japan, swears by it. It gets rave reviews on foodie message boards. With trepidation because it is expensive, I bought one for my husband for Christmas, and we finally tried it last night. Wow! We made simple chicken breasts that turned out perfectly: cooked through, still moist inside and, perhaps best of all, bearing some of that delicious char-grilled flavor that I hadn’t gotten in years.

Made of heavy, kiln-fired ceramic glazed in the green that gives it its trade name, the big Green Egg uses natural charcoal, lights without liquid starter and heats to cooking temperature in about 10 minutes. Adjusting top and bottom dampers controls the temperature, which is easily seen on an external gauge that shows both Fahrenheit and Celsius. The company sayd temperature accuracy is shown within within two degrees from 50 to 750 degrees. Closing both dampers kills the flame.

So far, we have only tried one cooking method and one food, but it seems that the Big Green Egg is a grill and a smoker and even an oven. Meats, seafood, veggies and pizza can reportedly all be cooked on (or should I write “in”?) a Big Green Egg.