Italian Christmas Eve feast coming to Jax in Old Town.
Several years ago, a friend and I conspired to prepare the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional southern Italian Christmas Eve feast. Eight or so of us had a great time. The food was good, but nothing compared to what a good restaurant kitchen can put out.
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar in downtown Fort Collins is putting on special Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, featuring fresh seafood and other exquisite dishes prepared by Jax Chef Ricky Myers. This is the third year that Jax has put on the Festa dei Sette Pesci, but the first time I’ve been aware of it. In fact, Jax is reportedly the only restaurant in the area that is offering this unique meal on Christmas Eve.
Oysters on the half shell; grapa mignonette
Big Eye Tuna Crudo, pickled fennel and celery, orange segments,
24 Carrot Bistro serves great cocktails & sublime food.
Until last night, I’d only eaten one dinner in Erie — years ago at my friend Kuvy Ax’s birthday dinner at a now-defunct Mexican restaurant. It was at Kuvy’s behest that I ate there again last night. This divine dinner was at 24 Carrot Bistro, a farm-to-table restaurant with a stellar pedigree. The eatery’s name comes from a play on words — 24 karat relating to the finest gold and carrots referencing a key ingredient in fine classic cuisine.
Not only are partners Bianca Retzloff and Kevin Kidd both chefs, but Bianca is the daughter of Mark Retzloff, founder and owner of Alfalfa’s Market (now Markets, because there are three). Between them, Bianca and Kevin had worked at Alfalfa’s and in various Boulder County restaurants (SALT, Colterra, Jax and others) before crossing the line to Weld County and Erie. This town has exploded with housing developments, but it lacked any good restaurants until July 2015 when 24 Carrot Bistro opened in an 1880 building, originally a butcher shop and most recently a steakhouse. Now exposed brick walls and exposed joists create a warm, rustic and hospitable look.
A blackboard near the entrance lists the local vendors they buy from, but being from Scituate, Mass., executive chef Kevin Kidd has a soft spot for fresh seafood so he has it flown in six days a week.
Price check: At dinner, appetizers, $7-$12 plus $14 for an artisanal cheese plate; salads, $6-$8; small plates, $12-$17; entrées, $17-30 plus $12 for a Bistro Burger; desserts, $7-$8 plus just $2 for a daily selection of mini-bites and ice cream/sorbet tastes.
24 Carrot Bistro is at 578 Briggs Street, Erie; 303-828-1392.
I love fresh seafood and I love markets, so the whistle-clean Sydney Fish Market has my name all over it. Located at Black Wattle Bay in the city’s Pyrmont section , it is the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and the third-largest seafood market in terms of variety in the world. This working fish market sources product both nationally and internationally and trades more than 14,500 tons of seafood represent some 500 species (100 of them sustainable) annually.
We didn’t get in early enough to watch the auction (no photography allowed, even when there’s no auction going on), because we spent time wandering around the parking lot watching buyers load trucks with seafood they had purchased and seagulls perching hopefully. Inside, workers were neatly arranging seafood at retail shops. Upstairs is the Sydney Fish Market Cooking School. Behind-the-scenes tours are also available.
Kelly Whitaker’s Basta and Cart-Driver celebrate Sockeye Week.
Chefs Collaborative, a group of influential chefs dedicated to promoting sustainable, natural food sources. The group has declared this to be Sockeye Restaurant Week through November 15. Restaurants and other businesses across the country are featuring wild sockeye salmon from Bristol Bay, Alaska, on their menus. No, sockeye isn’t fresh in November, but it was flash-frozen and is just about as good.
Bristol Bay is the world’s largest sockeye fishery. Today, it is celebrated by no less that President Barack Obama, a supporter of Bristol Bay’s pristine nature, who took action to protect the ecosystem and the fishing community. His actions assure that it will remain a sustainable and productive fishery. Until then, there was a long and ugly threat from the proposed development of the Pebble Mine, a porphyry, copper, gold, and molybdenum operation that would have put Bristol Bay and its population of all five types of salmon at risk if the mine were developed and its waste containment were to fail. Think of the Gold King mine mess near Silverton last August and the far worse situation in Brazil right now, where two burst mining dams have already cost 28 lives, safe drinking water and numerous small villages. Imagine that crap spilling into Bristol Bay. Fortunately, the mine project didn’t come to pass, and now, let’s think about delicious salmon again.
Chefs Collaborative member Kelly Whitaker is hosting two sockeye specials at Cart-Driver (Denver) and Basta (Boulder). Cart-Driver is replacing its popular tuna mousse with sockeye mousse, and Basta is they are extending Sockeye Restaurant Week into First Bite Boulder with a sockeye special.
People go to IKEA for affordable, assemble-it-your-self furniture and home accessories, but they often return for the reasonably priced Scandinavian dishes served in its public cafeterias. It never occurred to me that the seafoods might not be sourced from sustainable fisheries. It appears that they weren’t but are shifting in that direction. IKEA has announced that it will make all of its seafood certified sustainable by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) or the Marine Stewardship Council (ASC). It is currently working with the MSC to certify crayfish fisheries.
Additionally, IKEA will be providing consumers with more nutritious and appropriately portioned menu options, and also update the look of its restaurants to reflect its Swedish heritage and “a more personal experience and ‘homey’ feeling.” I am assuming, but don’t know for sure, that food products sold at retail will be meeting the same standards.
“We will continue to serve delicious food, offering a taste of Sweden at affordable prices, but with increasing focus on the aspects of food that are really important to people: health and sustainability,” said Michael La Cour, managing director of IKEA Food Services AB. “We have high ambitions, and our journey in this direction has just begun.”
Top Denver chefs are coming together on Wednesday, August 26 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Baur’s Restaurant and Listening Lounge. The first Go Fish! Sustainable Seafood Tasting Event is described as a “luxurious strolling dinner” that includes ocean-friendly fish donated by Seattle Fish Co. — with gourmet beer wine and cocktails as well. The focus is on sustainable ingredients as identified by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s wonderful Seafood Watch program. During this fishy feast, guests can sample dishes by some of the top restaurants and chefs in Denver, including acknowledged local seafood specialists. The event is open to the public. Click here to purchase tickets ($40).
Dory Ford, Baur’s Restaurant and AQUA TERRA Culinary.
Sheila Lucero, Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar.
Kelly Whitaker, Basta and Cart-Driver.
Robert Grant, Baur’s Restaurant and Listening Lounge.
Alex Seidel, Fruition.
Troy Guard, Guard & Grace and others.
Paul Reilly, Beast + Bottle.
Shaun Motoda, TAG Raw Bar.
Matt Vawter, Mercantile Dining & Provision.
Kyle Mendenhall, The Kitchen Community.
Kevin Grossi, LOLA.
Bauer’s is at 1512 Curtis Street, Denver; 303-615-4000.
Connecticut institution cited as great lobster shack.
When I moved to Colorado in 1988, I was cheered to find prepared clam chowder from Abbott’s of Noank at my local King Soopers. A true taste of New England was much appreciated by this Connecticut native. I used to buy it all the time, until it disappeared from the refrigerated case. I guess there weren’t enough nostalgic New Englanders in Boulder (or all of Colorado) at the time.
Now Abbott’s gets top billing in The Daily Meal’s list of “America’s 40 Best Seafood Shacks.” Well okay. It is first because the list is alphabetical, but I’d put it right up there with Maine’s finest anyway.
Here’s what The Daily Meal posted: “According to the digital countdown clock on the Abbott’s website, at the moment this is being written there are 18 weeks, six days, seven hours, 19 minutes, and 36 seconds, oops, 37, oops…well, you get the idea, left until Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough serves their last lobster of the 2015 season. This reminder is convenient, because you do not want to miss out on this. Abbott’s has been in business for more than a half century, and they put a spin on lobster rolls by low steaming them and serving them hot with melted-on butter — not that it makes them shirk on buttering the roll. Local oysters are on offer, too.”
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.