Category Archives: Restaurant & multiple restaurants

Akranes Goes Gourmet with Galito

Commendable restaurant in West Iceland town.

P1090685Reykjavik has a number of very good restaurants, but the rest of Iceland? Not so much. Therefore, Galito Restaurant came as a pleasant surprise. The attractive restaurant features pared down contemporary décor (I love the slate gray walls) and an eclectic menu. The menu includes Indian-accented dishes, seafood, an array of pizzas and some the most Americans not ever order, including minke whale sushi and grilled horse tenderloin.

Decent bread (crisp crust, pedestrian inside) with excellent Icelandic butter and a condiment slightly reminiscent of romesco.
Decent bread (crisp crust, pedestrian inside) with excellent Icelandic butter and a condiment slightly reminiscent of romesco.
Excellent seafood food with aa trio of ultra-fresh mussels, a couple of shrimp, a scallop and a chunk fish in a soup that ws lightly foamed on top.
Excellent seafood food with aa trio of ultra-fresh mussels, a couple of shrimp, a scallop and a chunk fish in a soup that ws lightly foamed on top.
A big moist burger with ramekin of Béarnaise sauce and a heap of skin-on fries.
A big moist burger with ramekin of Béarnaise sauce and a heap of skin-on fries.
Espresso drinks are just about universal now. Galito does a pretty cappuccino.
Espresso drinks are just about universal now. Galito does a pretty cappuccino.

Galito is at Stillholt 16-18, Akranes, Iceland; 430 6767.

Topflight Brunch at Under the Sun

Chef-driven menu elevates comfort food & pub fare.

001The Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries has grown from a single microbrewery in downtown Boulder to a tight trio of locations that includes the popular Southern Sun in South Boulder’s Table Mesa Shopping Center and Denver’s Vine Street Pub. The South Boulder location is a two-fer, with the original pub (and large sunny patio) on the upper level and the newer and cleverly named Under the Sun below.

013I’ve been to Mountain Sun any number of times and to Southern Sun’s upstairs brewpub for after-hike or after-ski refreshment and downstairs for happy hour. I didn’t even realize that Under the Sun served brunch, but 3½ years after it opened, Southern Sun has hired a real, classically trained executive chef, Nick Swanson. His credentials are sterling — Boulder’s Bácaro Venetian Taverna and PastaVino (both now gone), a stage at Michelin-starred Relais Villa D’Amelia in Italy’s Piemonte region. Then New York’s French Culinary Institute, graduating with honors. A resume sprinkled with glamour names in the food world: Chefs Fabbio Bocchi and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, cooking for big-name celebs (Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Jim Carrey, Calvin Klein.

But enough dropped names. What counts here and now is his position as executive chef of Under the Sun, where he has moved toward seasonality and reasonable price points while putting out creative cheffy takes on classics. I’m not wild about most “comfort food,” but Samson’s spin has me rethinking my preconceptions, and a sampling of the new brunch dishes convinced me that he’s one of the best in town.

The Captain's French Toast, a bizarre-sounding but actually yummy dish made of Captain Crunch-coated challah bread with Chantilly cream and fresh strawberries.
The Captain’s French Toast, a bizarre-sounding but actually yummy dish made of Captain Crunch-coated challah bread with Chantilly cream and fresh strawberries.

Continue reading Topflight Brunch at Under the Sun

Sampling Samples’ Small Plates

A cool time at downtown Longmont eatery.

006Samples World Bistro has been on my radar screen since I learned about its international cuisine. More importantly, I was impressed when I read a piece in the local paper about its self-imposed mandate of employing people with physical or developmental disabilities in “real” jobs — not in isolated sheltered situations.  I admired that, but I also really like its Main Street location, since I far prefer real downtowns to new developments.

With all that, it still took what I now realize was too long to finally get there. After all, food and beer aficionados Mark and Carmen Sample opened it a couple of years ago.  A Longmont friend suggesting meeting there for hapy hour on Friday. On the roof. For drinks and small plates and live music. On a mellow spring evening. Everything went according to plan — except the mellow part. It was chilly and windy. We didn’t last as long as we’d anticipated. But the food was good, the music listenable  (and not too loud) and the company terrific. We shared some plates but ordered others individually.

My husband ordered the Carolina BBQ Beef slider with shredded short ribs and white cheddar. Our friend's lamb slider had goat cheese and green harissa, These two meat sliders essentially look alike -- each sitting alone on an unadorned white plate. Both were pronounced to be very tasty, so presentation isn't everything.
My husband ordered the Carolina BBQ Beef slider with shredded short ribs and white cheddar. Our friend’s lamb slider had goat cheese and green harissa, These two meat sliders essentially look alike — each sitting alone on an unadorned white plate. Both were pronounced to be very tasty, so presentation isn’t everything.
Devils on Horseback is a delicious pair of dates stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in bacon and served with a bit of truffle honey.
Devils on Horseback is a delicious pair of dates stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in bacon and served with a bit of truffle honey.
Bacon and goat cheese flatbread comes with asparagus, caramelized onions and that tantalizing truffle honey.
Bacon and goat cheese flatbread comes with asparagus, caramelized onions and that tantalizing truffle honey. It comes cut into slides for convenient sharing.
Is one fried rice ball still called arancini or is it a single arancino? I don't know, but I do know that the crisp-fried exterior surrounding lush interior with tender rice, a bit of chili and cheese,
Is a single fried rice ball still called arancini or is it a single arancino? I don’t know, but I do know that the crisp-fried exterior surrounded a smooth interior of tender rice, a bit of chili and cheddar cheese atop a cool herb-flecked sauce., plus scallions.
The baba ghanoush with a smooth, subtle version of this Middle Eastern eggplant dish. It came with (not enough) flatbread, celery sticks, cucumber slices and carrot sticks. We asked for more, but nothing materialized before we had to leave. We were not charged for the add-ons that we did not receive.
The baba ghanoush with a smooth, subtle version of this Middle Eastern eggplant dish. It came with (not enough) flatbread, celery sticks, cucumber slices and carrot sticks. We asked for more, but nothing materialized before we had to leave. We were not charged for the add-ons that we did not receive.

Price check: At happy hour, small plates, $2-$6. Also, $2 off draft beers and wines by the glass.

370 Main Street, Longmont; 303-327-9318.

Samples World Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Meeting the Meat at Blackbelly

Full butcher shop and charcuterie maker now joins Boulder restaurant.

001First there was the Blackbelly food truck. And a catering operation, plus a bar and restaurant. Soon a secluded patio on the south side of the building. Then a second, larger and more open patio on the north side. And now, a large shop focusing on meat, meat and more meat joins the rest. Before this. the chefs and the butchers were competing for space. Now, there are two kitchens, the original and the new one on the meat side, where breakfast and lunch are prepared.

Nate Singer, born and raised in Cody, WY, runs the butcher operation. His family’s  steakhouse across from the rodeo grounds and his father’s passion for hunting were the “classroom” where he first learned butchery skills, overlaid with official courses resulting in various certifications. He  heads the full-fledged butcher shop that sells meat that has been broken down from whole animals and cut on site. The crew also makes all manner or sausages and cures meat. Getting US Department of Agriculture approval for such an operation is no mean feat, and what they produced is spectacular.  Media had the opportunity to taste some of the specialties.

Blackbelly Butcher's chalkboard menu
Blackbelly Butcher’s chalkboard explains the sourcing of the meats —  lamb and pork from Boulder County purveyors (including Blackbelly Farms) and beef from Wyoming.
Even in veggie-centric Boulder, Blackbelly's meat cases is a thing of beauty.
Even in veggie-centric Boulder, Blackbelly’s meat cases is a thing of beauty.
A selection of charcuterie put out for sampling, including such uncommonly good common items as prosciutto and such unusual ones as nduja, a fermented salami from southern Italy.
A selection of charcuterie put out for sampling, including such uncommonly good common items as prosciutto and such unusual ones as nduja, a fermented salami from southern Italy.
Meat cutters at work.
Meat cutters at work.
A temperature- and humidity-controlled room for aging and curing.
A temperature- and humidity-controlled room for aging and curing.
House-made bison brats on house-made pretzel rolls house-pickled slightly sour cabbage.
House-made bison brats on house-made pretzel rolls house-pickled slightly sour cabbage.
The humble corn dog isn't quite so humble when it comes from Blackbelly Market.
The humble corn dog isn’t quite so humble when it comes from Blackbelly Market.
Chocolate salami anyone? Not kidding. The pastry chef on the restaurant side makes up these treats.
Chocolate salami anyone? Not kidding. The pastry chef on the restaurant side makes up these treats.
And here's an Aperol spritzer toast to owner/chef Hosea Rosenberg.
And here’s an Aperol spritzer toast to owner/chef Hosea Rosenberg.

1606 Conestoga Street (Blackbelly is just north of Araphoe Avenue), Boulder; Butcher Shop and Market [breakfast & lunch], 720-479-8296.

Blackbelly Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pizza Place in Alamosa

Satisfying pies in bowling alley building.

P1090515We came through Alamosa around lunch time on a blowy, snowy Friday. A pizza place next to a bowling alley would not usually be our first choice, but with the weather and the prospect of fogged-in La Veta Pass, the San Luis Valley Pizza Company seemed like a reasonable choice.

The decor features Checked tablecloths (oilcloth, of course) and framed pictures of sports teams (mostly local) on the walls.
The decor features Checked tablecloths (oilcloth, of course) and framed pictures of sports teams (mostly local) on the walls.

The big pizza that amply served three ended up being better than I’d anticipated. A salad bar was a bonus, because I was really feeling vegetable-deprived.

We ordered a meatless, thin-crust pizza, and our came a generous pie that filled the bill.
We ordered a meatless, thin-crust pizza, and our came a generous pie that filled the bill.

And then, we hit the road again to drive over La Veta Pass in a cloud.

Price check: “Gourmet pizzas come in three sizes (12, 14 and 16 inches) and cost from $14 for a simple small pie to $25 for a large loaded one.

San Luis Valley Pizza Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Durango Wine Experience This Weekend

Food & wine showcased in Southwest Colorado event.

DurangoWineExperience2016-logoI seem to remember being at the very first Durango Wine Experience a decade ago. If not that one, I must have been at the second. In any event, it was an early one and it was terrific. Seminars and tastings, chefs and winemakers occupied Durango‘s charming Main Street. It’s kicking off today for the 10th time. Wish I were there.

Half-dozen educational seminars start today. The Walk-About Durango, the signature tasting event, provides attendees to enjoy a casual, multi-location stroll in downtown Durango tasting wine, beer, spirits and drinking in the artsy atmosphere. It takes place tomorrow, Friday, May 6 from 4 to7 p.m.

The Grand Tasting is grand indeed, with top local chefs and scores terrific wineries, distributors, breweries and distilleries from around the world featured on Saturday, May 7 from 3 to 6:30 p.m. If you can still make it, click here for tickets. If not, put it on your radar screen for 2017. I am.

2016 Beard Awards to Grandin, Chimayo & Miller

Temple Grandin Colorado’s sole honoree; Chimayo also cited..

BeardAwardNo Colorado chefs or restaurants were James Beard Award winners at a glittering ceremony in Chicago last night, but the remarkable Dr. Temple Grandin, an animal rights expert and advocate at  Colorado State University, was named to 2016 James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America,  an honor roll of major influencers. Click here for the entire list of 2016 honorees.

Media awards are presented separately, and one Coloradan is coming home with one. Toni Tipton-Martin of Centennial was honored in the reference and scholarship category for The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African-American Cookbooks. The history of American-American food books appears to be a mini-niche in Denver. Historian Adrian Miller for his book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time.

P1090352Also recognized was Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante and owner Florence Jaramillo as being one of the 2016 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics honoree as a long-running heritage. As it happens, I ate at this sprawling half-century-old restaurant just last week as part of a day tour from Santa Fe.

Chimayo is famous for its chile-centric dishes, and this restaurant uses almost the entire annual crop. It accommodates groups in a large garden extension in the back and small individual parties in the front, which is the original ranch house. Note the similarities between the settings and the chairs.

A table set for group meals.
A table set for group meals.
Restaurant in the old ranch house.
Restaurant in the old ranch house.
Classic NM combo of a protein, beans and greens.
Classic NM combo of a protein, beans and greens.
Chile relleno with customary New Mexican accompaniments.
Chile relleno with customary New Mexican accompaniments  calabacitas (squash), rice beans and greens. The chile is either a poblano or an Anaheim. Chimayo chiles are too small to be stuffed with cheese.
Silky vanilla pudding with whipped cream and a crisp cookie.
Silky vanilla pudding with whipped cream and a crisp cookie.

300 Juan Medina Rd. (Santa Fe County Road 98), Chimayo, New Mexico 87522; 505 351-4444 or 505-984-2100.

Rancho de Chimayó Restauranté Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato