Category Archives: Slow Food

Resolve to Eat Better

Follow the lead of modern epicures.

ChefClipArtIt’s New Year’s resolution time, and Slow Food USA has some suggestions for the coming year. I don’t generally do soapbox posts, but I do believe these points are excellent and timely, as American chefs and American foodies have learned to eat well — for the body and the planet as well as the palate. Here’s what Slow Food USA reminds us, linking the resolutions to the upcoming Super Bowl (which I like most card- carrying Coloradans hope will be won by the Denver Broncos):

“It’s 2015! No longer are we nibbling at the edges of the century. We are now deep into another one. Look around: There is much to rejoice! Evidence of a promising new world is everywhere: Be it the birth of craft beer, the morphing of school gardens into a full-fledged farm-to-school universe, and consumer concern for fast food workers. However, so too do the embers of this old and faceless world glow. Consider the buckets of agri-money poured into state referenda to squash GMO labeling and animal welfare. Or, how is it possible to purchase pork shoulder for 99 cents a pound? Amidst such turbulence and transition, we must be ever mindful of the decisions we make individually and collectively to shape our future. So, consider a few New Year’s Resolutions that might inch you closer to the bright new world.

  1. Make a Resolution to Eat Better Meat: Serve your friends cleaner wieners and better burgers at the Nationwide Nose-to-Tailgate Super Bowl Party as we advocate for Better Meat in sports stadiums. Join the event and invite friends near or far to party with us for the cause.

  2. Make a Resolution to Eat Less Meat: After a Super Sunday night fixating on pigskin, tackle Monday, February 2nd head-on by planning a year of Meatless Monday menus.

  3. Make a Resolution to Eat Local: C’mon. Take the challenge. Channel the spirit of Jane Jacobs and her hunger for the principles of import substitution with your family, friends, and neighbors by taking the 10-Day Local Challenge.

  4. Make a Resolution to Serve Local: If you’re a restaurant chef, you possess a lot of power in the equation for the local flavor/local economy. We want to hear from you. Raise your hand now to help create the new Slow Food Chefs Alliance.

  5. Make a Resolution to Be Better Informed: Learn about the world around us. Study the Slow Meat playbook with these excellent coaches: Nicolette Hahn Niman’s Defending Beef, Patrick Martins’ The Carnivore’s Manifesto, Andrew Lawler’s Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?, Ted Genoways’ The Chain Never Slows, and Christopher Leonard’s The Meat Racket. My (re)reading list also includes some of the better food books published in 2014: Dan Barber’s The Third Plate, Paul Greenberg’s American Catch, Stefanie Sacks’ What the Fork Are You Eating? and William Powers’ New Slow City. And, of course, regular trips to the Slow Food USA Blog. Yes, I believe food is paramount, but it shouldn’t be all consuming. Explore economics, politics, music, art and fashion. The wider you explore, the more you’ll recognize common themes that link the food system to everything else.”

And happy, healthy, delicious 2015 to all.


New Year’s Resolutions: Creating a Better Food World

Resolving to eat better and support a healthier, more sustainable food global system

‘Tis the time of the year to make make resolutions, and I am pleased to offer this guest post by Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson, founders of the brand new Food Tank: The Food Think Tank. Danielle is based in Chicago and Ellen is based in San Diego, and I here in Colorado have added a few personal notes in italics to their guidelines, as well as links to resources they cited.

Cultivating a Better Food System in 2013

As we start 2013, many people will be thinking about plans and promises to improve their diet and health. But we think a broader collection of farmers, policy-makers and eaters need new, bigger resolutions for fixing the food system — real changes with long-term impacts in fields, boardrooms and on plates all over the world. These are resolutions that the world can’t afford to break with nearly one billion still hungry and more than one billion suffering from the effects of being overweight and obese. We have the tools—let’s use them in 2013!

Growing in Cities:  Food production doesn’t only happen in fields or factories. Nearly one billion people worldwide produce food in cities. In Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, farmers are growing seeds of indigenous vegetables and selling them to rural farmers. (Claire’s note: Kibera dwellers, many of them women, grow food in “vertical gardens,” as reported by Nourishing the Planet.) At Bell Book & Candle restaurant in New York, customers are served rosemary, cherry tomatoes, romaine and other produce grown from the restaurant’s aeroponic rooftop garden.

Creating Better Access:  People’s Grocery in Oakland and Fresh Moves in Chicago bring mobile grocery stores to food deserts giving low-income consumers opportunities to make healthy food choices. Instead of chips and soda, they provide customers with affordable organic produce, not typically available in their communities. (Note from Claire: “The Apple Pushers,” an award-winning film about fi8ve pushcart vendors bringing fresh produce to underserved communities in New York touched my heart. When superstorm Sandy wreaked so much havoc in the New York area, I wondered what happened to these produce peddlers. Anyone know?) Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions: Creating a Better Food World

Californian’s Cooking School in Tuscany

Cooking school in Tuscany geared to Americans seeking culinary authenticity

The other day I wrote about my persnickety issues with Brio Tuscan Grille, an Ohio-based restaurant chain that promotes an image of Tuscany but is Tuscan mostly in name. Like many other Italian-style restaurants in this country, Brio serves food whose roots may be pan-Italian and whose dishes  toned down suit to middle American tastes. The food is better than, say, Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill, but still, it doesn’t speak to the increasing number of Americans who desire authenticity.

 Travelers to Italy who want to wake up their taste buds  with the real thing can sign up for a day or a week at Il Campo/Cucina in Radicondoli, Italy, a walled medieval village just west of Sienna with fewer than 700 residents. It doesn’t take long to feel at home.

Radicondoli with vineyards just beyond the village walls. (Marlane Miriello photos)

Campo is the Italian word for field, and cucina is kitchen. Founder Marlane Miriello describes the school as “culinary immersion richly seasoned with local culture, customs and kitchen wisdom.” Classes include hands-on cookingwith local instructors whose recipes and skills are handed down from generation to generation, plus opportunities to visit village homes, gardens, vineyards and farms to learn heirloom recipes and family trades, and locals serve as instructors.

Making pasta from scratch comes naturally to locals and is a learned skill for visitors.

Classes may include such varied culinary experiences as lunch with a shepherd, dining with a count, learning how to make cheese from fresh sheep’s milk,cooking with a Michelin one-star chef or making pasta with a local farm wife. Il Campo/Cucina reveals the value of living in a community where everyone knows everyone else and relies on one another.

Sisterhood in the kitchen as visitors learns cooking secrets from a local woman whose recipes and skills have been passed down through generations.

Miriello, once a California stay-at-home mom and freelance writer, discovered Radicondoli. Her own journey to establishing a cooking school in Tuscany was rooted in memories of her Italian grandmother’s homemade noodles, light-as-air tiramisu and other specialties. A trip to Tuscany in 2009 was transformational for her — and the beneficiaries are anyone who longs to  to follow in her footsteps. With the  (slowly) rising profile of Slow Food as part of the growing movement toward healthier eating, organic produce and local food sourcing, Marlane’s own journey reflects changing attitudes about what we eat, where it comes from and how it is prepared.

Classes are offered in spring and fall. The cost is ($3,450 per person, double occupancy, $400 single room supplement), all-inclusive except air and airport transfer. Anyone booking before January 31 gets a $500 discount. It’s a pricy week, to be sure, but then again, even local cooking classes at Colorado cooking schools can cost anywhere from $50 or more for just a couple of hours.  Click here for images from last season’s classes.  

Il Campo/Cucina, 826 Orange Avenue, P.O. Box 541, Coronado, CA 92118; 858- 375-5757 or

Hush Dinner in Denver is a Big Hit

No-longer-underground supper club firmly entrenched in the Mile High food scene

I’d heard about by-invitation-only supper clubs in other cities: Mysterious and movable, jumping from venue to venue every few weeks. One-night stands by different chefs each time. I read about such a club in Denver last December, when Jason Sheehan, then Westword’s restaurant critic, wrote a piece called “Hush: This New Dinner Club is a Secret.” It described this movable feast with different chefs, mostly new or upcoming, chefs cooking in different places once a month.

Phil Armstrong and Chance Humphrey, two partners with vast restaurant experience between them, brought the concept to Denver and launched Hush last December largely to showcase the talents of chefs who will most likely be the next local stars on the culinary horizon. Interesting sites. New tastes. Local food and wine. What a great holiday gift for local foodies. It’s taken me nearly half a year to get to a Hush dinner. My maiden voyage was the late May feast at the Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery just off South Santa Fe. Kate Horton (back to the camera, in flowery chef’s pants) of Denver’s Black Pearl Restaurant, where I’ve long wanted to eat, cooked in a challenging open-air kitchen.

The evening began with wine and passed hors d’oeuvre in the courtyard with plastic grape containers as standup cocktail tables and the big blue dome overhead. Had the organizers known how pleasant the weather would remain, dinner could have been set up al fresco, but in Colorado, that’s risky. Caution is rarely misplaced. We captured the last rays of th evening sun enjoying the appetite-whetter of melted Brie on crostini and on squares of baked puff pastry, accompanied by IMT’s divine 2009 Rosé (an inspired blend of 33% Malbec, 29% Cabernet Franc, 20% Petit Verdot and 18% Syrah).

The date was Sunday, May 30, and while not every seat was occupied at the long tables that stretched down the length of the winery’s climate-controlled, barrel-line Quonset hut, most were. That was simply remarkable, considering that was the middle evening of a holiday weekend. The industrial space was made atmospheric with black table linens, candles and gleaming glasses. The food and wine were individually excellent and immaculately paired. The one problem was the noise. Quonset huts were not designed for conversation, even with racked wooden barrels absorbing some of the noise. You might say that this Hush dinner was hardly hushed.

The first course was a thick and flavorful Chilled Curry Soup topped with chopped shrimp. It did not have a stereotypical curry flavor but was rather demonstrated by a peppery kick that diminished soon after eating — or perhaps it was the remainder of the rosé that calmed it down.
The second course was lemon-dressed arugula with a crisp squash blossom stuffed with a fabulous goat cheese risotto — so enticing that would happily have a portion of that and that alone. The wine was a crisp 2009 IMT Sauvignon/Semillon blend.

A thick piece of perfect pan-roasted halibut with leeks braised in tomato jam leeks and a dollop of basil pesto comprised the third course. The accompanying wine was a robust and aggressive 2009 IMT Chardonnay.

Course number 4 was a very spring-like dish of three generous slices of beautifully grilled lamb tenderloin with topped with morels, fresh peas and andcippolini onions, beside a pool of lamb jus. Like all preparations, it was simple and neat. Winemaker Ben Parsons cracked his 2009 Syrah and poured barrel samples for Hush guests.

For dessert, the fifth and final course, the Black Pearl team presented cardamom doughnuts with cinnamon ice cream and caramel sauce — a beguiling combination with neither chocolate nor fruit. The tank sample of 2009 IMT Black Muscat was one of those wonderful nectar-of-the-gods dessert wines.

Price check: There is no set price, but upon arrival, guests are given envelopes and are asked for a “suggested donation,” $85 in this case. I consider it to be an excellent value for an innovative six-course meal (counting the passed hors d’oeuvre), including gratuity. In order to be invited to upcoming Hush events, you must register on the website.

Coming up: June 10, Speakeasy-style cocktail event with mixologist Kevin Burke of Colt & Gray, and a new TAG mixologist; ticketed event ($30) for three cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres from Colt and Gray. June 13, “Dinner and a Show” with Jeff Osaka of Twelve Restaurant, event at Cassleman’s at 2620 Walnut Street, Denver. June 20, Tim Payne, Terroir Restaurant, Longmont, fundraiser for Slow Food Boulder at Colorado’s Best Beef Ranch, 4791 Jay Road, Boulder. June 27, “Celebration of Denver Street Food” featuring the Gastro Cart, Biker Jim’s Dogs and Brava! Pizzeria Della Strada, Paris Hotel/Paris Lofts courtyard, 2193 Arapahoe Street, Denver, $25 per person for great street food, local beer and wine, street performers, and street musicians. July 11, “Gastro Gone Wild @ Great Divide,” Argyll Gastropub of Cherry Creek, event at the Great Divide Brewery, 2201 Arapahoe Street, Denver.

Bites at The Bison

Banff restaurant accentuates the local and sustainable

When I was in Alberta last weekend for speed skating and Alpine skiing World Cup races (and to do some skiing too), I actually did have a few free hours one afternoon. The temperatures were too bone-chilling even for me to  wander among Banff’s beguiling galleries and tempting shops. I went downtown for only one group dinner. Happily, it was worthwhile, because The Bison Restaurant and Lounge serves good food in a two-level establishment with a salumi and cheese bar on the ground floor and an upstairs restaurant and lounge separated by a wall.

The attractive restaurant features paintings hanging on putty gray walls, a sloping ceiling, slate floors, bare-wood tables, sturdy wooden chairs, an open kitchen and one wall of big windows that at this time of year look out onto a snow-covered deck that must be a summer evening delight. There is no official Slow Food convivium in Banff, but The Bison adheres to Slow Food principles. It buys as locally as possible — local extending west to neighboring British Columbia for Okanagan wines, seafood and some summer produce and east to Saskatchewan for berries and other farm products. The breads come from the  Wild Flour Bakery right next door, the crackers are Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps from Vancouver Island and instead of extra virgin olive oil, The Bison cold-presses rapeseed into its own canola oil using EV methods.

The Bison caters to groups with three limited menus. Our group was presented with a choice of two starters, three main courses and two desserts. Among us, we had each of the offerings that our waiter said are similar but not identical to a la carte selections. Our choice of house wines was between a white (Quail’s Gate Chardonnay from the Okanagan) and a red (Parducci Pinot Noir from Mendocino).


Below, attractively adorned Curried Coconut + Pumpkin Soup, with a strong curry flavor, a secondary pumpkin flavor and an undercurrent of coconut. The coconut, of course, is one exception to the local sourcing.

The House Mixed Greens provided a cornucopia of flavors, textures and colors: crisp green lettuces plus black mission figs, maple-roasted walnuts, watermelon radish, fennel and a fine Saskatoon berry vinaigrette.


A circle of color and flavor is the way The Bison plates its Pan Roasted Chicken Supreme (below). Fennel jus flows down over carrot puree and encircles it. The carrot and stewed navy beans together comprise the foundation for the boneless chicken breast that in turn is topped with a toasted almond and apple salad.

The thick-cut, grilled Alberta AAA strip loin is served atop mashed potatoes, braised winter greens, caramelized onion jus. This tall piece of meat is topped with fennel and a sprinkle of herbs for a bit of green.

Pan-seared Pacific salmon is served skin side up on a bed of braised vegetables and wild rice topped with cracked fennel butter.
To Finish
The Bison’s classic, chiffony cheesecake (below) is baked in a thick butter crumb crust and served with a fresh strawberry, a persimmon, Saskatoon huckleberry sauce and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

A clear glass holds the chocolate pudding with raspberry chantilly cream topped with  a persimmon, and a strawberry and two chocolate chip cookies share space on the plate.
The Bison Courtyard, 211 Bear Street, Banff; 403-762-5550.

Tasting "A Taste of Wyoming"

If people from elsewhere think of Colorado as a meat and potatoes state, no matter how sophisticated our cuisine really is, Wyoming has an even harder job convincing others that there is a culinary presence that defies the stereotype. Wyoming is, after all, nicknamed “the cowboy state,” and we all know that cowboys don’t go around wrangling tofu blocks and free-range chickens. Culinary lights illuminate corners of Wyoming too with chefs, restaurateurs, growers and foodies with 21st century food sensibilities.

One center is Jackson and nearby posh Teton Village at the base of the Jackson Hole ski resort that have their share of truly fine-dining restaurants with excellent food and wines to match. The kitchens at some of the more upscale guest ranches around the state hold their own as well. And then, there are scattered individuals like Pam Sinclair. This foodie, culinarian, writer and Slow Food advocate, based in Worland, has set a high culinary bar.

Sinclair is well known as the author of A Taste of Wyoming: Favorite Recipes from the Cowboy State, which was photographed by Paulette Phlipot, an award-winning photographer specializing in still life and food photography. She now maintains a blog called Fabulous Food featuring favorite recipes she has wrested from talented chefs beyond Wyoming’s borders and also beautiful photos. Fabulous Food: Signature Recipes from Distinctive Destinations, her next book, will feature signature recipes from distinguished chefs at the finest inns, lodges, and resorts in the country. The research must have been a kick. She tells me that she is including south-of-of-the-border (i.e., Colorado) recipes from some chefs as Kevin Taylor of the Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group and Elise Wiggins of Panzano.

Sensational Slow Food Potluck

Members of Slow Food USA’s Boulder group preach the gospel of good food — and practice it

The Slow Food movement celebrates and encourages the cultivation, preparation and enjoyment sustainably and locally grown, naturally prepared food. The movement started in Italy in 1986, formalized there in 1989, soon took root in the US and has grown into a global, grassroots phenomenon that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment. It is a cause after my own heart. I’m not a fraction as important as Alice Waters, Michael Pollan and Morgan Spurlock whose names have also been linked with the Slow Food concept.

Slow Food USA now has chapters all over the country, including eight in Colorado: Aspen/Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado Springs, Denver, Durango, Fort Collins, Vail Valley, Western Slope and of course, here in Boulder with a CU subchapter. (To reach chapters that do not have websites, go to local chapters page, scroll down to Colorado and find the appropriate Email address.) If this resonates with you, join by clicking here.

Tomes have been written about Slow Food and its repudiation of everything agribusiness, corporate cuisine and fast food stand for. That’s not what this post is about. It is an admiring tribute to the Slow Food members who brought their beautiful, bountiful dishes to a chapter potluck at the Culinary School of the Rockies. Here are some of the dishes we all shared and enjoyed: