Category Archives: Trends

Focus on Food This Election Year

Getting food issues off the back burner.

plateoftheunion-logo-jpgEven though First Lady Michelle Obama has made valiant efforts to bring to public and media attention on fresh and healthy food, such issues as food deserts, wide-spread hunger, food waste and the awful power of the agri-chemical industry still plague the country. The next administration is unlikely to build on the Mrs. Obama’s legacy. The White House organic garden might even be plowed under.

One effort to bring food issues to public and political attention is the Plate of the Union Food Truck Tour, which started over this past summer to calli for action on food and farms. In Cleveland for the Republican National Convention and Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, organizers of the Plate of the Union say the food truck drew  crowds, underscoring that legions of  Americans care about healthy, fair, sustainable and affordable food. At each convention, organizers say that they were “joined by delegates, members of Congress, media and everyday people who agree: we need presidential leadership to fix our food system.”

The post-convention road trip included stops in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Ohio, Illinois, Iowa and North Carolina. This ambitious road trip did not appear to include Colorado. The truck staff gathered petition signatures and say that they heard from concerned farmers, food business owners, teachers, parents, workers and more. Aa New York Times article, “When Will Food Issues Be on Politicians’ Plates?”, featured the Plate of the Union. It reminded readers that food is not a red or blue issue, and it raises how food intersects with so many critical national issues this election season: immigration, labor, health, trade and more.

I doubt that upcoming debates will spend much, if any time, on food issues, but it won’t be for the of the Plate of the Union’s efforts.

First U.S. Baguette Vending Machine in San Francisco

Le Bread Xpress beach-head in the Castro.

LeBreadXpress-logoParis reportedly boasts 100 baguette vending machines to compete with or to complement the boulangeries that  grace the City of Light. Colorado does not yet have a vending machine that has been called “a baguette ATM” and an “on-demand bread bakery, ” with San Francisco not surprisingly getting the country’s first.

Le Bread Xpress in San Francisco's food court-plus called The Myriad. Photo: SFGate.com
Le Bread Xpress in San Francisco’s food court-plus called The Myriad. Photo: SFGate.com

Le Bread  Xpress brought its first machine to our shores and installed it at The Myriad, a food court and food-biz incubator where the first machine is located. Fresh-baked loaves are $4.25 each. According to SFGate.com, which sent a reporter to investigate, it works like this:

  • A bakery in Burlingame preps and partially bakes the dough (much like those finish-in-the-oven loaves at grocery stores).
  • The dough is then loaded into the machine, which has a built-in fridge and oven.
  • Baguettes are baked regularly throughout the day; worst case scenario, your baguette is a mere two hours old.
  • When you order, the baguette is then ready in about 20 seconds.
  • Tear into it with your bare hands (or take it home to consume with cheese).

I don’t know about you, but I’d be happy to find one around here, even though Breadworks is nearby and several French bakeries dor the greater metro area. Shall we start a write-in campaign? Contact info@lebreadxpress.com and get something started.

‘Blended Burger’ Combines Meat & Mushrooms

Project to cut down on red meat consumption & up taste.

BlendedBurgerThis is the second year for the Blended Burger Project, designed to make burgers “better” by combining ground meat with chopped mushrooms. Not a promotion directly aimed at consumers (that is, you and me), it challenges chefs to create “an incredibly delicious burger that’s healthier for your guests and more sustainable for the planet.” The burgers, which are to be on the restaurants’ menus from Memorial Day through July 31, must be made with at least 25% cultivated, chopped mushrooms.  Foraged wild fungi need not apply.

The James Beard Foundation is behind the project, and winning chefs based on diners’ votes get a trip to prepare their blended burgers at the JBF Food Conference, October 17-18, the prestigious James Beard House in New York. I’m not clear on whether any Colorado chefs were involved last year, when it was called the Better Burger Project. The five winners were respectively from Indiana, Louisiana, Tennessee, California and Pennsylvania), but three of Denver’s best are offering a sneak peek to the 2016 project, and others are invited to participate, so there’s hope for this year. Chefs Alex Seidel (Fruition, Mercantile), Justin Brunson (Old Major, Masterpiece Deli) and Troy Guard (Guard & Grace, TAG Burger, Sunnyside Burger Bar and more) have each created their own renditions of a blended burger.

BlendedBurger

A media preview is scheduled at Fruition later in the month, but I’ll be out of town so won’t be able to attend. I regret the timing, because A) I believe that for environmental reasons, even the most responsibly raised beef cattle take their toll on the environment; B) for health reasons, many people need to cut down on their red meat consumption; C) I like mushrooms.

2015 Food Trends According to NYC Publisher

GCP-logo

Grand Central Publishing, which prides itself on keeping up with food and other lifestyle trends, has declared that 2014 trends that passed their expiration dates include “‘healthy’ gluten-free products, all-juice cleanses, coffee with butter, cronuts, cupcakes (Sex and the City ended 10 years ago), $18 small plates of brussel [stet] sprouts, uni, foraging and vocado toast (thanks, Instagram).”  FWIW, I didn’t know that coffee with butter was a trend. Shows how our of the loop I am. No excuses for this year however, if I pay attention to the publisher’s list top health and food trends for 2015.

  • Fermented foods. Who knew that pickles would become a health food? Turns out that fermented food contains good bacteria and is a digestive aid. So, it’s kind of like the Activia of 2015. In addition to pickles, foods like yogurt, kimchee, kefir, miso and kombucha all share this gastro health benefit.
  • Bone broth. From newspaper articles to your hip restaurant down the street, bone broth is everywhere. And for good reason! There are numerous health benefits to consuming this nutrient-rich comfort food. Bone broth is even known to help eliminate cellulite thanks to the wealth of vitamins, collagen and keratin.
    Nourishing Broth contains all the recipes you need! (Click here for my recent post about the broth bar at Boulder’s Fresh Thymes.)
  • Hybrid vegetables. Kalettes (mash-up of kale and Brussels sprouts) and broccoflower (broccoli and cauliflower) may seem like a foreign language now, but soon they’ll be familiar to everyone. They’ll bring new life into vegetable dishes and will have chefs creating new recipes with these hybrid flavors and textures.
  • Matcha: Green tea is amazing for boosting metabolism and promotes weight loss. Matcha is even better. Matcha green tea has 130x more antioxidants than your standard bag of green tea. There are numerous health benefits from consuming matcha, but the drink contains less caffeine so it provides a more even, soothing energy boost
  • Coco loco. Sure coconut water may seem totally 2013, but be prepared for even more coconut in the coming year! Coconut sugar, coconut aminos, coconut oil, and coconut flour will all be prominent in diet recipes and in health food stores. Coconut sugar boasts a lower glycemic index than traditional sugar, and coconut flour is gluten free, is high in good fats, and is high in dietary fiber and proteins.
  • Hemp seeds. Unlike their cannabis sativa cousin, hemp seeds do not contain THC. However, they are full of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, fiber and much more. They can be consumed raw or toasted, have a mild nutty flavor and can be used in salads, smoothies, oatmeal, and more. (In Colorado, with legalized recreational marijuana, hemp is a non-issue.)
  • Noodle bowls: Japanese-inspired restaurants are cropping up all over, and not just in New York City—ramen bowls in all varieties, from vegetarian to soft boiled egg-topped creations; there is something for everyone to love. Here’s a recipe to try at home from Half Baked Harvest.Fat: But don’t get too excited and start taking bites out of a stick of butter: we mean good fats, not the trans fats found in processed foods. Good fat is derived from both natural sources, so expect to see lots more full-fat yogurt, cultured butter, eggs, and oils being advocated for in a healthy diet. Trust us, this is a good thing. (Click here for my post about Sushi Tora’s weekend ramen bowls. Kasa Japanese Grill on the east end of the Pearl Street Mall is now also offering midweek ramen lunches.)
  • Millet: Millet has been around for a while in granola and breads, but it will become more prominently featured as recipes’ main ingredient in 2015. It’s gluten-free and rich in protein, fiber, and other minerals like magnesium. Also, it’s grown predominantly in the United States, which should help to avoid the backlash that the quinoa farming is generating.
  • Poutine: We’re closing our top 10 list with a much more indulgent food trend. If you’ve been to Montreal, you’ve probably had a plate of these wonderful French fries, slathered in cheese curds and gravy. Well, the trend is spreading, and with more variety from pulled pork, coq au vin, olives, vegetables, and more. Savour!

Broth Bar at Boulder’s Fresh Thymes

Natural foods restaurant quick to hook onto hot trend.

FreshThymes-logoRich, hearty broths are suddenly a current food trend. Boulder’s Fresh Thymes Eatery has jumped on the “brothwagon” and is making the “good stuff our body craves – collagen, gelatin, bio-available minerals and amino acids,” according to a press release. The restaurant’s house-made broth is served from a new Broth Bar, with herb- and spiced-up flavor “in our nutrient dense broths, added a condiment bar and are calling it righteous”

New York’s Rotisserie Georgette, known for its slow-cooked poultry, had an excess of chicken bones and parts from the daily operations and started making broth early last year. The head chef, Chad Brauze, formerly at Daniel Boulud’s Michelin-starred Daniel, liked bone broth’s sustainable aspect. “We are basically getting a second delicious, valuable dish from otherwise discarded items: necks, feet, roasted chicken carcasses—all things our Upper West Side audience wouldn’t care to order,” wrote alternate.org in a piece called “Why Drinking Bone Broth is the Next Hot Thing in Cuisine.”

Brodo, a take-out broth window appeared in downtown Manhattan in December 2014, serving three types of bone broth: organic Pennsylvania Amish chicken broth, grass-fed beef bone broth and a signature broth with chicken, beef and turkey bones, according to alternate.org.  It usually takes far longer for a trend to make it this far from one of the creative coasts, foodwise, so kudos to this Boulder purveyor of natural, organic, local, nutritious and tasty fare for its Broth Bar.

Broth seems especially suited for winter enjoyment. The present both list comprises just three items: Ginger Garlic Beef, Roasted Turmeric Chicken, and Sundried Tomato and Caramelized Mushroom. The latter sounds vegetarian, which means it’s not bone broth but simply broth. They sell it by the cup and pint Mason jar, and customers who bring in their own mug, cup or jar get 20% off their broth purchases.

Fresh Thymes is located at 2500 30th Street, #101, Boulder; 303-955-7988. It is open Monday through Saturday.

Note: Turns out that two more Boulder purveyors are introducing bone broth. According to a piece in Denver Eater (or is it Eater Denver?; I’m never sure), Hosea Rosenberg’s Blackbelly and Will and Coral Frischkorn at Cured are about to introduce bone broth too.

 

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.

 

Zeal Introduces A New Chef

Former Greenbriar chef tackles & tweaks “clean” food menu.

001Zeal, a downtown Boulder restaurant catering to health-conscious food enthusiasts, opened November and developed a following from those allergic or averse to certain foods or food groups. Vegetarian? Zeal has many dishes for you, including sustainably harvested proteins of various kinds. Carnivore? They serve only pedigreed meats from grass-fed animals. Gluten-free? The only gluten is in the beer and the little spelt-flour bread that is served. Avoid processed foods or concerned about GMOs, pesticides and chemical fertilizers? Zeal is the restaurant for you. On the Paleo diet bandwagon? It’s easy at Zeal. Interested in the Conscious Cleanse? Jo Saalman and Julie Paleaz, authors of the bestselling book by the same name, are hosting a three-course, $39 Conscious Cleanse dinner at Zeal on November 11.

Zeal owner Wayde Jester at the chalkboard where the changing menu and the popular grab-and-go options are posted.
Zeal owner Wayde Jester at the chalkboard where the changing menu and the popular grab-and-go options are posted.
Leslie White, who joined Zeal after a stint at The Greenbriar. Being able to accommodate both restaurants' styles shows his versatility.
Leslie White, who joined Zeal after a stint at The Greenbriar. Being able to accommodate both restaurants’ styles shows his versatility.

From the beginning, Zeal has used whole fresh ingredients, served as simple flavorful combinations. But like many a new restaurant, Zeal has experienced some growing pains. In addition to the service glitches common to new restaurants, there has been turnover in the kitchen. It is on its third chef in less than a year. Opening chef Arik Markus had left by June, and his successor, Sean Smith, was replaced about a month ago by Leslie White (that’s a he-Leslie), who has made a rapid shift from the butter-and-cream kitchen of The Greenbriar to the “clean” ingredients used at Zeal. I don’t know any details about these changes, except to speculate that since founder/owner Wayde Jester, a prototypical Boulder endurance athlete, comes from the real estate realm and though a cooking enthusiast, didn’t have restaurant experience, the owner/chef combination has taken a few tries.

Zeal hosted a group of foodies and food bloggers to sample a few of White’s creations, plus artisanal cocktails, other adult beverages and the sensational cold-pressed juices.

Super-fresh cold-pressed juices in a rainbow of colors.
Super-fresh cold-pressed juices in a rainbow of colors. Juicing is a two-step process that can be seen through a window in a back corner of the restaurant.
Thai-style shrimp and tofu cradled in an endive leaf.
Thai-style shrimp and tofu cradled in an endive leaf.
Spicy eggplant puree in a hollowed cucumber.
Spicy eggplant puree in a hollowed cucumber with carrot and red cabbage slivers providing additional color contrasts.
It may be fall, but this is Zeal's spring mix salad with spiced pecans.
It may be fall, but this is Zeal’s spring mix salad with shredded carrots, spiced pecans and dressing on the side.
Cute bundles of sweetness, on this evening some orange-flavored and others pumpkin.
Cute bundles of sweetness, on this evening some orange-flavored and others pumpkin.

Zeal is participating in First Bite Boulder but has not yet posted its menu — perhaps to busy serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and recently added happy hour ($2 off beer, wine and spirits and $5 small plates). In addition to the popular bowls and sandwiches, Chef White is presenting more large and small plates and has brought dessert-making in-house. Zeal is pickling and fermenting in-house too (think kimchee and kombucha). During the warm months, the restaurant closed for two hours for Movement Mondays or Trailblazer Tuesdays so that staff and guests could go on a local hike. The concept might soon be transferred to a climbing gym or other indoor venue. And then there’s the Zeal food truck, which debuted at the Hanuman Yoga Festival and most likely dispatched to Uptown Denver, where Jester hopes to open a second restaurant. Stay tuned.

Zeal on Urbanspoon