Category Archives: Seafood

Culinary Treasure in Old Town Erie

24 Carrot Bistro serves great cocktails & sublime food.

p1120723Until 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.

24 Carrots Bistro exemplifies the aesthetic of paring a building down to its bones -- exposed brick walls, exposed joists and minimal distracting decorations. Along one side is the bailiwick of D.J. Riemer and his behind-the-bar team, who mix great cocktails and conduct monthly mixology classes.
24 Carrot Bistro exemplifies the aesthetic of paring a building down to its bones — exposed brick walls, exposed joists and minimal distracting decorations. Along one side is the bailiwick of D.J. Riemer and his behind-the-bar team, who mix great cocktails and conduct monthly mixology classes. (Oliver Retzloff photo, courtesy 24 Carrot Bistro)
24 Carrots' skilled bartenders work with house-made liqueurs, digestifs, shrubs and spirits of various sorts. Their speciality is pre-Prohibition contails -- and contemporary ones too.
24 Carrot’s skilled bartenders work with house-made liqueurs, digestifs, tinctures, shrubs and spirits of various sorts, including on-site barrel-aging. Their specialty is pre-Prohibition cocktails — and contemporary ones too.

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.

Elsewhere, calamri can be rubbery, but 24 Carrots' tender and crsisp-fried version might just be the best I've ever had. Chef Kevin soaks it buttermilk, coats in seasoned flour and fries it till it's
Elsewhere, calamari can be rubbery, but 24 Carrot’s tender and crisp-fried version might just be the best I’ve ever had. Chef Kevin soaks it in buttermilk, coats it in seasoned flour and fries it till it’s “just right” — like Baby Bear’s calamari would be. It comes with smears of basil aioli and Romesco, two Mediterranean-inspired sauces.
An elegant and delicious salad of roasted cauliflower, sliced apple, cpinack, celery. some cheddar, hazelnuts for crunch and an elegant cherry vinaigrette.
An elegant and delicious salad of roasted cauliflower, sliced apple, spinach, celery, some cheddar, hazelnuts for crunch and an elegant sherry vinaigrette.
The lighting did not flatter the roasted quail, but the cornbrad stuffing, bacon-braised collards and apple-cranberry compote made for a lovely homage to Thanksgiving.
The evening lighting did not flatter the roasted quail, but the cornbread stuffing, bacon-braised collards and apple-cranberry compote made for a lovely homage to Thanksgiving.
Pan-roasted red snapper with seared sweet potato, spinach, fennel and pistachio in a pool of red pepper/paprika butter sauce.
Pan-roasted red snapper with seared sweet potato, spinach, fennel and pistachio in a pool of red pepper/paprika butter sauce.
The interesting sweet potato cheesecake had a moist crumbly texture, not dissimilar to a rum cake. It is served with a cranberry-tarragon couli, some maple pecan pieces and a crown of whipped cream.
The interesting sweet potato cheesecake has a moist crumbly texture, not dissimilar to a  booze-free rum cake. It is served with a cranberry-tarragon coulis, some maple pecan pieces and a crown of whipped cream.
On a warmer evening, we might have had drinks on the cute little patio, but on a cold night, we went out for a peak at the near-dormant raised boxes where 24 Carrots chefs grow their own herbs,
On a warmer evening, we might have had drinks on the cute little patio, but on a cold night, we went out for a peak at the near-dormant raised boxes where 24 Carrot chefs grow their own herbs.

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.

24 Carrot Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Seafood in Sydney

Fresh seafood market, cooking school & eateries.

011I 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.

Fishing boats still unload at docks right beside the market.
Fishing boats still unload at docks right beside the market.
A lot full of trucks bespeaks the market's wholesale might.
A lot full of trucks bespeaks the market’s wholesale might.
Watchful gulls.
Watchful gulls.
Shops and stalls lime the market's corridors.
Shops and stalls lien the market’s corridors and cater to the market’s retail customers. Good Friday, predictably is the busiest day of the year. It was stlll a month off when we visited.
Beautiful seafood in retail stall after retail stall. Some also prepare seafood platters to be purchased on-site.
Beautiful seafood in retail stall after retail stall. Some also prepare seafood platters to be purchased on-site.
And a close-up.
And a close-up.
Man and woman do not live by seafood alone. Here's a market cafe with fresh-baked items.
Man and woman do not live by seafood alone. Here’s a market cafe with fresh-baked items.

Bank Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009; Phone Monday – Friday, 7 a.m – 4:30 p.m.,  +61 2 9004 1100 .

Sockeye Salmon Specials in 2 Area Restaurants

Kelly Whitaker’s Basta and Cart-Driver celebrate Sockeye Week.

BristolBayFishermanChefs 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.

IKEA Improving Its Seafoods

Furniture retailer’s café offering upgraded.

IKEA-logoPeople 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.”

Denver Fest Celebrates Sustainable Seafood

Go Fish!  tasting event on Wednesday.

Fish-clipaartTop 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.

Abbott’s on National Seafood List

Connecticut institution cited as great lobster shack.

DailyMeal-logoWhen 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.

Any New Englander worth his or her salt knows how to deal with a whole lobster, given nutcrackers and a pick. I like my lobster plain -- no drawn butter needed to compete with the sweetest of all seafoods. Photo: Flickr/outdoorPDK
Any New Englander worth his or her salt knows how to deal with a whole lobster, with a nutcrackers and a pick. I like my lobster plain — no drawn butter needed to compete with the sweetest of all seafoods. Photo: Flickr/outdoorPDK

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.”

L’Hostaria’s Bar is Congenial for Solo Dining

Tuscan-style restaurant a good option for lone diners in Aspen.

L'Hostaria's welcome mat.
L’Hostaria’s welcome mat.

I’m in Aspen for just a couple of days, my prime purpose being to write about the recently opened Aspen Art Museum. A side benefit is always eating. When I arrived I was tired and hungry, so I was looking for a quick bite of something tasty and not too pricey. A local friend suggested L’Hostaria Ristorante— coincidentally across from the museum where I will be tomorrow.

The décor is Tuscan. The menu features a range of starters, meats, seafood, pasta, sides and desserts. There was something vaguely familiar about the look of the place (a bar area separated from the dining area) and even the way the menu is written. When I returned to write and looked up the restaurant, it turns out that the owner(s) opened Bacaró in Boulder. Bacaró is closed, but if a Monday evening in low season in a ski town is an indication, L’Hostaria is still doing strong.

I asked the waitress about the cool bicycle hanging over the bar. She said,
I asked the waitress about the cool bicycle hanging over the bar. She said, “The owner likes cycling.”

The bar area seating includes the bar itself, a salume bar and tables — a set-up that provides options for lone diners. Because my companion was author Mark Adams in the form of his book, Turn Right at Machu Picchu, I picked a table with the best lighting. A glass of chianti, a savory and a sweet sufficed. The ambiance was very pleasant, though I’m guessing later in the evening, there was more noise from other patrons, which would have made dining solo less pleasant. Like Bacaró, the food was good — but not great. Still, it was a good choice for me.

Good bread gets any eating experience off on the right chew.
Good bread gets any eating experience off on the right chew.
Even in land-locked Colorado, seafood appeals to me -- as long as the restaurant is good and serves it fresh and well prepared. L'Hostaria's Zuppa di Pesce features salmon, clams, mussels, crab claw and shrimp in a delicious tomato-lobster broth with toasted crostini for dipping.
Even in land-locked Colorado, seafood appeals to me — as long as the restaurant is good and serves it fresh and well prepared. L’Hostaria’s Zuppa di Pesce features salmon, clams, mussels, crab claw and shrimp in a delicious tomato-lobster broth with toasted crostini for dipping.
Tiramisu is composed of mascarpone cheese, ladyfingers soaked in coffee,  cocoa and a heap of whipped cream with  smiley face made of chocolate syrup.
Tiramisu is composed of mascarpone cheese, ladyfingers soaked in coffee, cocoa and a heap of whipped cream with smiley face made of chocolate syrup.

Price check: I can’t give you the usual range, because I didn’t take notes or take a menu, but my food and wine at the bar came to about $30. And the pleasant atmosphere and congenial service? Priceless.

L'Hostaria on Urbanspoon