Rayback: A Hotspot at the End of a (Mostly) Cool Week

Boulder food truck central is also a meetingand mingling place.

At the end of a mostly cool, damp week and a day that included a quick dash of hail, the sun came out on Friday evening — and so did a crowd looking for good food, good brewskis and a good vibe. The destination by bike, by car or on foot was the buzzing Rayback Collective.

The Friday evening crowd skewed young — 20s and 30s, mostly, and some with kids in tow.

It had been a while since our last visit, and since then, Rama Ramen has become a regular that has built its own buzz. There is room for just four food trucks, and last night, the noodle four-wheeler shared space with Colombian food, pretzel and smokehouse meat purveyors.

Rama Ramen has a small, very focused menu.
Spicy Garlic Ramen lived up to its name, especially the “spicy” part. Radishes aren’t often found as an ingredient in hot dishes, but here, they added color and texture.

The Rayback Collective is on Valmont Avenue, just west of 28th Street. Zomato.com lists neither it nor the Rama Ramen truck.

Julia Child’s Cottage in Provence on AirBnB

Stay in a culinary legend’s equally legendary country home.

Anyone traveling France whose lodging budget is on the threshold of $700 a night can stay at Julia Child’s home in Provence via Airbnb — if it is available and not being used for cooking classes. This is where she herself mastered the art of French cooking. Child, a traditionalist in the kitchen, died in 2004 and could hardly imagine such a lodging set-up.

Julia Child’s French kitchen, as it appears today. The pegboards are a legacy of Paul Child, who customized kitchens for his wife, the beloved French Chef.

Here’s how the decorating magazine, Domino, described it:

Foodies rejoice: Julia Child’s picture-perfect cottage in the Provencal countryside—dubbed La Pitchoune (“The Little Thing”) by Child and her husband Paul—is now available to rent on Airbnb. For just under $700 a night, the legendary bungalow, designed and built by the Childs in the 1960s, could be all yours, including the kitchen that helped spark the French cooking movement of the 1970s.

Nestled on several acres of rural land just North of Cannes, the cozy cottage once owned by Child offers three bedrooms (that can sleep up to six) and three-and-a-half bathrooms, as well as multiple gardens, terraces, and a saltwater swimming pool. Variety reports that the current owners bought the house in 2015 from the family that originally leased the land to the Childs. It has been updated since Child’s time, but many original details remain.

Click here for the AirBnB listing, noting that few dates remain for 2018 and reservations are being taken for 2019.

Cross-posted to http://travel-babel.com.

A New Spin on New Mexican Ingredients

Hotel Andaluz chef cooks out of the culinary box.

As award-winning Cordon Bleu-trained chef Marc Quinones was cooking his way around some of the top restaurants and resorts in the Southwest, he prepared a lot of excellent versions regional favorites. But when the recently appointed executive chef of downtown Albuquerque’s historic Hotel Andaluz was asked to cook for a Denver media reception on behalf of New Mexico travel interests, his imagination took wing, and he offered contemporary dishes from various traditions but using New Mexican-grown and -raised ingredients.

Some of the dishes:

Pineapple, watermelon and grape salad with Marcona almond crumble and pimenton. oil.
“Peas & Carrots,” a whimsical name for toasted corn and white Balsamic/sambal chile dressing.
New York strip steak (two levels of doneness) with jalapeno butter. Thick slices of toasted sourdough were in a separate dish. Since it is New Mexico-raised cattle, perhaps it should be called New Mexico strip steak.
Hatch Green Chile Hummus on Broken Lavash with cilantro oil and red pepper gel.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with caramelized onion ragout and Cascabel chile Romesco sauce.
For sheer creativity, my ad hoc award goes to the Pinon Brittle, a clear sugary rectangles topped with oreango gremolata and lemongrass yogurt.

I think I was too busy eating and sipping cocktails made with Colkegan single malt whiskey or gin from Santa Fe Spirits, a craft distillery, to take pictures of two terrific dishes: the Berkshire pork belly with Anasazi bean ragout, yellow corn and harissa-sherry reduction  and the super-fab Mew Mexico ceviche — Bay scallops in tangerine, Maldon salt, pickled red onion and Chimayo chile vinaigrette.

Then there was the chocolate — the wonderful chocolate from Cacao Santa Fe,  which produces fantastic chocolate bars, beautiful and interesting bonbons, workshops led by master chocolatier Melanie Boudar and Factory tours with owner Derek Lanter.

Then there was Clear Light, the Cedar Company, which has been producing Cedar Essence and other aromatic potions since 1971, giving complimentary hand and forearm massages. The boss’s business card is a thin slice of cedar.

It was wonderful to have New Mexicans bring their eats and drinks  (and more) to Denver. High time to head south to eat in situ.

Morel Fest in Michigan

Fabulous fungus celebrated in May.

I have no plans to visit northern Michigan later this month, but a little corner of me wishes I could go. The 57th Annual National Morel Mushroom Festival taking place May 18-21 in Boyne City, on beautiful Lake Charlevoix is enough reason. Petoskey is the city you might have heard of. I know the area in winter for its Boyne Country ski areas. I’ve eaten morels, but not in situ, and I do know they are a potent lure for foodies.

Organizers invite people to come forage the woods in search of the rare morel mushrooms. They even schedule a guided practice hunt on Friday the 19th for newbies. There’s a Wine & Dine dinner that evening, and  a morel breakfast on Saturday the 20th, followed by the National Morel Mushroom Hunting Championship. Yes, there is such a thing, with prizes in a variety of categories.

There’s a carnival with rides and games for the kids, mushroom seminars and the “Taste of Morels” where visitors can sample the best mushroom recipes from area restaurants. Click here for a full schedule.

Boulder Area Kitchen Tour Today

Annual Dream Kitchens Tour this snowy weekend.

The weekend snows are something of a nightmare for participants in Boulder’s annual Dream Kitchens Tour to support the I Have a Dream Foundation of Boulder County. Those who bought the $20 tickets in advance might tough it out, but I’m afraid there won’t be too many same-day sales. Nine fabulous Boulder County kitchens are open to view today, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and tomorrow, 12 noon-4 p.m., with a demonstrator on duty at each and samples available.

Project Angel Heart Fundraiser Today

250 Denver-Boulder eateries participate in Dining Out for Life.

I’m en route back from South Asia today and am not certain I will be back home in time to eat out — or, if I will have the energy after three flights across eleven time zones, but if I do, it will be at one of the 250 of so participating restaurants and breweries in the Denver/Boulder area that are donating 25 percent of their day’s sales to Project Angel Heart’s Dining Out for Life. This wonderful organization prepares and delivers medically tailored meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, kidney disease and other life-threatening illnesses. Funds raised from the Dining Out For Life event are used specifically to support clients living with HIV/AIDS.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Select a participating restaurant or brewery.
  2. Make plans to dine out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or drink a pint!) with friends, family, or colleagues. If possible, make a reservation at your selected restaurant or brewery. (Bonus points for letting them know you’ve selected their establishment because they’re participating in Dining Out For Life!)
  3. Enjoy a great meal or beverage, knowing you’ve made a difference for people in need.

Colorado Natural Wine Event

Organic and biodynamic wines showcased.

I’m in China and have been unable to attend any of the events of Colorado Natural Wine Week, but I turn your attention to the event’s Grand Showcase coming right up on April 19, 4:30 to 8 p.m.. It features more than a dozen winemakers and importers including winemakers, winery owners, importers and winery representatives from Artadi, Domaine Marcel Deiss, Fattoria Poggerino, Jack Rabbit Hill, Cooper Hill, Ovum, Scribe Craft Wine Company, Kermit Lynch, Rosenthal Wine Merchant, Becky Wasserman & Co, Louis-Dressner Selections, Jenny & François, Domaine Select and more in partnership  with Slow Food Denver. Cost is just $39 per person, $75 per couple. Location is the Space Gallery,400 Santa Fe Drive, Denver. Click here for tickets.

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.