Boulder cookware & more store one of nation’s 10 best.
Colorado chefs and restaurants – especially in metro Denver and occasionally Boulder — find their way onto national “best” and “top” lists, mainly because the food sites have stringers in the Mile High City. The Food Network magazine, which I’ve occasionally contributed to, just compiled a list of specialty stores that carry cookware, bakeware, kitchen, small appliances. gadgets and more. One that sells more — much more — is Boulder’s divine Peppercorn. I’ve often said that I’d like my whole life to look like Peppercorn. I’m afraid that it doesn’t.
Cookbooks and chocolate and cookware, oh my! Peppercorn, located on Boulder’s historic downtown pedestrian mall, gets the culinary shopping experience right. What better way to fuel a cook’s imagination than to offer creative bites alongside kitchen utensils? Though it carries a great selection of cookware, barware, bed and bath basics, cutlery and appliances, this shop is also known for its esoteric collection of specialty foods. Rocky Mountain Poo (chocolate-covered sunflower seeds), anyone? Bring a sense of humor, your appetite and your biggest tote bag.
Cured has opened a second smaller shop just a few blocks from my house. Color me happy that exquisite charcuterie, excellent cheeses, unique imported and artisanal American grocery items and small assortment of mouth-watering sandwiches and salads are to be had less than a 10-minute walk from my door. Oh yes, and chocolate.
Will and Coral Frischkorn’s original Cured a few blocks east of the Pearl Street Mall has a greater selection, but proximity has its benefits. The shop is simple, pared-down and classy with quality finishes to its shelves, counters and islands as a suitable backdrop for the quality items.
I’ve passed B&F Mountain Market in Nederland, say, a million times and never been in the store. Until today. I’ve seen the sign for Mountain Burgers but never spotted a storefront. And that’s because there is none. Today, after a gorgeous fall hike, we finally went in to put puzzle pieces together. The little market in Ned’s shopping center is whistle-clean and stocks a find variety of good food — lots of organics include. In a corner is a small stand that sells burgers and other hot foods.
We opted for burgers and something cold to drink. The grill was really busy, so there was a bit of a wait, but definitely worth it.
Avalanche Cheese Company’s exemplary goat cheese burst on the Roaring Fork Valley culinary scene in 2008 and quickly became a major player on the Colorado artisanal cheese scene. Fast forward to 2014, and owner Wendy Mitchell opened Meat & Cheese, a combination restaurant, farm market and gourmet food market on the order of Alex Seidel’s Mercantile Dining & Provisions in Denver’s Union Station and Hosea Rosenberg’s Blackbelly in East Boulder that are restaurants plus something else.
At Meat & Cheese, the “something else” comprises Avalanche and other cheeses, salume and sandwiches fill the glass cases near the front door, while a long, skinny dining area along the left side of the space is for eat-in guests.
Even in the off-season between Thanksgiving and Christmas when i it’s mostly locals in town, the restaurant was buzzing, and with good reason. Locals know what’s good, whether a long-time favorite or, even more so, when there’s a new place. Meat & Cheese has a Continental air about it — what with the farm shop component, the superb artisanal cheeses and cured meats, house-made deli meats, seasonal produce, imported or America gourmet foods in cans, packages or jars on a tall shelf. And of course, there are craft beers and interesting wines by the glass and bottle.
Meat & Cheese is also a terrific place to go for lunch (order from the counter) or dinner (table service), which I truly enjoyed with two companions. We happily shared “boards” and other items, just the way the menu was designed.
Price check: At dinner, “boards,” $6 (bread board), then $12-$40 (single to double) and local rotisserie chicken ($24 for half and $48 for whole); dinner, $-$28; desserts, $7.
I just alerted urbanspoon.com to Meat & Cheese. Until they add their graphic, know that it is at 319 East Hopkins Avenue, Aspen; 970-710-7120.
Vindaloo adds distinctive flavor to two local artisanal products.
Savory Spice Shop, a Denver-based provider of fresh-ground spices and handcrafted seasonings, has partnered with The Real Dill and Elevation Organic Ketchup to provide new spice-infused pickles and ketchup respectively. These products are available for a limited but unspecified time beginning on October 1, and The Real Dill actually had some jars at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market (we bought one). They both use Vindaloo curry powder, one of Savory’s original signature blends. Savory takes the Vindaloo heat level down to what it calls “an approachable level so we could highlight those other flavors, particularly the cinnamon.”
This is the first co-branding in Savory’s 10-year history. The shops are now found in 13 states (California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington). Savory Spice Shop offers more than 500 high-quality spice-related products, including freshly ground herbs and spices, specialty salts and more than 175 handcrafted signature seasoning blends.
At a recent dinner at The Fort, dessert was accompanied by a sweet, spicy coffee from Mexico. Turns out that this is one of the few items that this landmark restaurant does not make from scratch. They served Coffee de Olla, a balanced blend of Arabica coffee, an unrefined cone-shaped brown sugar called piloncillo, cinnamon, anise, cocoa and some other unnamed spices.
Wimpy coffee drinker that I am, I loved it. Traditionally, café de olla is made in a small clay or earthen pot called an olla. It involves grinding the coffee beans, dissolving the piloncillo, mixing, stirring and such. How much more efficient to make the prepared mixture in a French press.
The Fort sells the brand called Coffee de Olla, but I don’t even have to go that far. Piece, Love & Chocolate, which is right around the corner, also carries it. When we use up the gift bag that I brought back from dinner, I know just where to find it. It is also available by calling 720-236-8008.
The “foodshed” concept is an interesting aspect of the locavore movement.
I learned a new word yesterday evening: “foodshed.” Inspired by and analogous to the “watershed” concept, foodshed turns out to be an early 20th century word that has been revived as part of the locavore movement. A foodshed is a small geographic area that includes the boundaries of where food is produced, transported and consumed. Our foodshed encompasses Colorado’s Front Range and Plains. Click here for a resource directory.
That includes the land our food grows on, the routes it travels, the markets it goes through and in the end, the tables where it is eaten. It involves farmers’ markets, CSAs, food retailers, seasonality, restaurants and members of the public committed to buying food produced as nearby as possible, including growing some of your own. One of the Local Food Shift’s initiatives is the 10% Pledge, which asks members of the community to commit to spending at least 10% of their food budget locally, a big increase over the average 3% now. FoMoInfo or to sign up, click here.
The September floods that devastated many of the canyons and foothills communities also harshly impacted many farms and ranches on the Plains, plunging local food production into a state of uncertainty. There were immediate crop losses, loss of soil, loss of livestock feed, damage to and loss of infrastructure (including the critical ditch irrigation system) and of course, loss of income at the very peak of harvest season. Ironically, little of the millions in flood relief funds that flowed into Colorado was available to local farmers. The Boulder Community Foundation and the Boulder County Farmers’ Markets spearheaded the Front Range Farm Relief Fund to help out afflicted farmers.
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.