Winter Farmers’ Market in Fort Collins

FarmersMarket-logoTomorrow, January 30 and every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., a Winter Farmers Market is taking place in the Opera Galleria in downtown Fort Collins. I’m chagrinned that I just learned about these winter markets that run weekly from November until April.  I haven’t been to one — yet — so no personal experience here.

Organizers suggest: “Start your day with a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito from Wild Boar Cafe (located in booth 57) next to the NoCo Food Cluster/Market Bucks table, and then get all your shopping done with our great market vendors. We have fresh produce, meat eggs, honey, bread & pastries, wine, sangria, kombucha, teas, and tons of other locally produced foods, crafts, body care and jewelry. Find your favorite vendor on our interactive map.” 123 North College Avenue, Fort Collins.

Polish Pierogis in a Package


Denver’s Bistro Charlotte makes these filled treats.

BC-sealOnce upon a time, there was a cafe in Boulder that made divine pierogis, filled dumplings that could bring gustatory sunshine to a rare Colorado gloomy day. I wrote about them here, but that now is a nostalgic essay rather than a description, because the Eggcredible Cafe is no more.

I just received a heads-up message from Charlotte Pistek, whose frozen pierogis are available in high-end markets around the metro area. Preparing them takes less time than driving across town. Three flavors (traditional Potatoes and Cheese with Sautéed Onions, Kraut & Sautéed Mushroom Potato and the Colorado-inspired Cheddar with Roasted Jalapeño) are sold under the Bistro Charlotte label, though there appears to be no brick-and-mortar bistro.  Amanda Faison of 5280 Magazine has tried them and recommended them, so that’s good enough for me. She wrote:

Look to most any corner of the world and you’ll find a dumpling. Japan has the gyoza, Nepal the momo, Italy the ravioli, and Russia the pelmeni. But to many, the ultimate dumpling is the supremely comforting pierogi. The Polish finger food is usually stuffed with a starchy combo of mashed potato and cheese or potato and sauerkraut. A good pierogi is worth hunting for, especially as winter weather blasts us with cold and snow.

Enter Bistro Charlotte, Denverite Anna Postek’s boutique pierogi company. Postek began making and selling her own dumplings when she couldn’t find the quality she was looking for in the market. “Everything is so processed now,” Postek says. She looked in old books and pestered her Polish mother and family members and friends’ family members until she came up with a pierogi recipe that “is something like what used to be made.”

Postek works every batch from scratch using organic eggs and flour, and the results yield excellent chewy dough stuffed with creamy, satisfying fillings. She sells her Bistro Charlotte pierogi (there are three varieties: potatoes and cheese with sautéed onions, kraut and sautéed mushroom, and potato and cheddar with roasted jalapeño) at Marczyk Fine Foods, Whole Foods, and Sawa Meat & Sausage. The pierogi are so good, we keep a box or two in the freezer for a quick lunch, dinner, or anytime snack.

At Home Tip: We like serving the potato and cheese pierogi with balsamic-red onion jam.

National Pie Day is Today

This “holiday” started in Boulder.

NatlPieDayThere’s probably a “holiday” celebrating every food from abalone to zucchini, but there’s just one whose Boulder origin is undisputed — and that’s today, January 23 — National Pie Day. Local food/restaurant writer John Lehndorff’s peripatetic column called “Nibbles” started in the Daily Camera and is now at the Boulder Weekly. It is in that paper that he recently wrote “How Boulder became the birthplace of National Pie Day.” He should know, since he founded it along with Charlie Parpazian, who was instrumental in launching both National Pie Day, the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival.

In advance of National Pie Day, selected “The Best Pie in Every State,” Colorado’s would be Rocky Road Pie, if it actually existed. Here’s what the site whimsically posted:

“Rocky Road is a beloved ice cream flavor across America, but Colorado’s Rocky Mountains mean it truly belongs to this state. This pie, inspired by the ice cream flavor, is made with delicious ingredients like whipped topping, miniature marshmallows, chocolate pudding, and walnuts. Count us in.”

National Pie Day, BTW, is not to be confused with National Pi Day, which is March 14.


Squeaky Bean’s Bowie Cocktails

Lift a glass of a special drink to honor David Bowie.

SqueakyBean-logoDavid Bowie’s recent death at the age of 69, just after releasing his final album on last Friday, which was also his birthday, shocked and saddened his legions of fans. To commemorate the loss of this unforgettable icon, The Squeaky Bean created not just one, but for the first time, an entire menu of cocktails — pretty appropriate for a rocker who lived large.

The Squeaky Bean launches its Bowie tribute and shrine by introducing the David Bowie cocktail list on January 19, when it is offered special. The Bean will also play David Bowie’s music from 4 p.m. t o close. Guests are invited to dress “in David Bowie fashion,” which can mean that anything outrageous goes. The special cocktail list will be available from at least until the end of January.

The Squeaky Bean's David Bowie shrine with one of the cocktails created in his honor.
The Squeaky Bean’s David Bowie shrine with one of the cocktails created in his honor.
  • The Bowie Shrine Drink: Ziggy Stardust: Mescal, Aperol, Cocchi Americano, dehydrated Campari “Stardust”
  • Heroes: Woody Creek vodka, blood orange, honey, pear eau de vie, Moscato
  • Young Americans: Squeaky Bean Barrel Elmer T Lee bourbon, Amontillado sherry, orange olio sacchrum, bitters
  • Life on Mars?: Reposado tequila, Nardini Amaro, orgeat, lime
  • Space Oddity: Pisco, Meyer lemon, mandorla, egg white
  • Let’s Dance: Lillet Blanc, lemon oil, house apple liquor
  • Golden Years: Reagan Orange Bitters, Ron Zacapa Rum, Pommadine, lemon

Bowie isn’t the first star to be honored with a Shrine Cocktail. The current one is Meadowlark Limoncello in commemoration of the late Harlem Globetrotters star. And there will be a Shrine Cocktail during Denver Restaurant Week (February 26to March 6) commemorating the passing of Penny Parker, Denver’s beloved woman about town gathering news for her columns in the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News.

The Renaissance of ‘Nibbles”

John Lehndorff’s food column now in the Boulder Weekly.

BoulderWeekly-logo“Nibbles” has been part of my local food consciousness –I think since I moved to Colorado nearly 27½ years ago and if not that long, shortly thereafter. John Lehndorff wrote a column by that name for the Daily Camera for 15 years, then moved it to the late Rocky Mountain News when he reviewed restaurants for that paper, then took it first to Yellow Scene Magazine and then to the Aurora Sentinel. It has found a new home at the Boulder Weeklyand I for one am happy to read it again. Click here for the latest.

FIVE Colorado Chef Selection for 2016

DenverFive-logoFIVE Colorado, restaurant consultant Leigh Sullivan’s ninth annual selection of leading local culinary and beverage talent, has been announced. Originally called the Denver FIVE,  the list features five chefs, including an alumni chef from a past season, and a beverage team, to create five unique dining experiences throughout the city, represent the city and state at Aspen Food & Wine in June, and wrapping up their rein with a truly special dinner at the James Beard House in New York City on October 13 , 2016.

The 2016 FIVE chef roster:

  • John Depierro, Alumni Chef & Chef/Co-Owner, Mijo
  • Dana Rodriguez, Chef/Owner, Work & Class
  • Alicia Luther, Executive Pastry Chef, Black Eye Coffee
  • Thach Tran, Chef, Uncle Joe’s Hong Kong Bistro
  • Darrel Truett, Executive Chef, Barolo Grill

The 2016 beverage team:

  • Gerard Collier, Pinche Tacos
  • Ryan Fletter, Owner & CoMS advanced sommelier, Barolo Grill

NY Times Reviewer Slams Per Se

Boulder’s Frasca an heir to what Thomas Keller’s restaurants once were.

NYTimes-logoLike many foodies — even a low-key one like me whose only snobbism is that I won’t go to big national chain restaurants — I always had a secret wish to dine at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Yountville, CA, or Per Se, his over-the-top restaurant in New York,

Pete Wells, the New York Times dining critic, has experienced the cuisine and service at Per Se on an expense account, of course, and still he found the restaurant lacking and demoted it from four to two stars.  His review is scathing and the comments enlightening because they reflect the thoughts both of people who have dined there and those who are appalled by the price and would never spend that much.

This review is obliquely germane to Colorado. Celeb chef Thomas Keller has often appeared at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, about which he says, “The Classic is in a class by itself. You can’t compare it to other culinary events. This is it. This is the superstar. This is the place to come.”

But beyond that, Frasca Food & Wine, the highly honored Friulian  restaurant that more than any other has put Boulder American culinary map has its roots in Keller’s world. Frasca is owned by chef Lachlan McKinnon-Patterson and Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey, who met while working at the French Laundry in its heyday as the country’s best, and then came to Colorado to open their own fine dining restaurant.

We go there now and again for special occasions.  The food has always been exceptional, and the service flawless — at least when Bobby Stuckey is in command of the dining room. We went there once for my birthday when he wasn’t in the room,  and I felt a bit of the surprise that Peter Wells did at Per Se.

Most of the tables at Frasca are set with elegant crisp white linens. The two flanking the kitchen door were bare, and instead of comfortable chairs, seating was on a curved banquette. We were seated at one and at the other was a VERY LOUD party of five. The man at the end of the banquette was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts. One of his butt cheeks hung over the end of the bench, so he stuck out his hairy leg to keep from sliding off. They spoke at a volume usually reserved for sports bars. Other than placing us or them in such proximity, none of this is Frasca’s fault — but it did nothing to enhance the enjoyment of the evening.

What did surprise me was that we did not receive the customary Tajut, a small glass of apéritif wine. Had the restaurant stopped presenting this to every diner? I don’t know, and I was too distracted by the obnoxious group to our left to ask. We’ll be back for another birthday or anniversary or other occasion, and when reserving, I’ll make sure to ask whether Bobby Stuckey is on the floor that evening.

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.