Taste of Iceland Preview at Coohills

Iceland food is part of Denver promotion of that island-nation.

015We were in Iceland last year for the Society of American Travel Writers 2014 Convention, and I instantly fell in love with the country, its people and most of its food. The Taste of Iceland encompasses four days of art, music and cultural events (September23 through 26), but for foodies, the one that counts is the series of Icelandic dinners at Coohills Restaurant.

Ylla Helgadottir, Tom Coohill and Diane Coohill presenting three of the Icelanic dishes.
Ylfa Helgadottir, Tom Coohill and Diane Coohill presenting three of the Icelanic dishes.

Executive chef and owner of  Reykjavik’s Kopar restaurant, Ylfa Helgadottir, took control over the Coohill’s kitchen for a media preview of the dinner with Tom Coohill a willing sous-chef. The Cocktails made with Reyka vodka and Brennivin caraway aquavit set the convivial tone.

Cocktails made with Reyka vodka.
Cocktails made with Reyka vodka. The pink one is Sun Voyager, and the foam-capped one is Borealis Sky. Those small dark flakes are not chocolate but crumbled seaweed, and it’s a good fit for this drink.
Almost-translucent Icelandic cod, seaweed and dill sauce.
Almost-translucent Icelandic cod, seaweed and dill sauce.
Sublime langoustine risotto with fennel salad, the nage in which the langoustines were poached, a grain called sol and fennel salad.
Sublime langoustine risotto with fennel salad, the nage in which the langoustines were poached, a grain called sol and fennel salad.
Roasted Icelandic lamb, fingerling potatoes, Port, mushrooms and garlic confit.
Roasted Icelandic lamb, fingerling potatoes, Port, mushrooms and garlic confit.
Double-up dessert: Skyr sorbet and white chocolate cream cheese mousse and raspberries.
Double-up dessert: Skyr sorbet and white chocolate cream cheese mousse and raspberries.

Price check: If these images have whetted your appetite, know that the dinner is $75 for four courses ($105 with wine pairings). To reserve,  call 303-623-5700.  I wouldn’t bother trying for Saturday night, but hopefully you can snare a table for one of the other evenings.

Coohills Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

5280 Mag’s List of 25 Best Restaurants

Some oldies but goodies and some new faves — and more honors for Frasca.

5280-cover-restaurants2015Come September 25, the always-anticipated October issue of 5280 Magazine will arrive. It’s the issue that features the monthly mag’s selection of the year’s 25 best restaurants in metro Denver. Andra Zeppelin of Denver Eater got the list first and noted that the newest entry is Boulder’s Blackbelly Market, launched last November, and Barolo Grill, which opened in 1992, is the most venerable. Here’s the list:

  1. 1. Acorn
    2. Frasca
    3. Mercantile
    4. ChoLon
    5. Populist
    6. Work & Class
    7. Beast + Bottle
    8. Sushi Den
    9. To The Wind
    10. Basta
    11. Oak
    12. Barolo Grill
    13. Mizuna
    14. Fruition
    15. Old Major
    16. Stoic & Genuine
    17 Guard & Grace
    18. Cart Driver
    19. Bistro Barbes
    20. The Plimoth
    21. Bittersweet
    22. Duo
    23. Rioja
    24. Blackbelly Market
    25. Uncle

Not only is Frasca Food & Wine Number 2 on 5280’s list, but it was included on Eater.com’s list of “12 Perfect Plates Across the U.S.” The Boulder restaurant was cited specifically for “spoon dumplings.”  Here’s what the national food site posted:

Frasca, Boulder

Spoiler: Frasca, whose gracious hospitality is matched by its earthy, clean-tasting northeastern Italian cuisine, will remain on the national Eater 38 in 2016. The summer dinner that cinched its place included zlkrofi, a variation on “spoon dumplings” from Slovenia filled with roasted chicken, prosciutto, and ricotta and garnished with fresh porcini mushrooms. 1738 Pearl St, Boulder, (303) 442-6966, frascafoodandwine.com

Rock-A-Belly Hunger Awareness Fundraiser

Program helps feed families on weekends.

I just watched a rerun of the devastatingly funny John Oliver’s segment on food waste in America on “Last Week Tonight.”

The notification of Food for Thought’s upcoming fundraiser just became all the more timely and poignant. The anti-hunger program provides students of participating Denver schools with “PowerSacks” filled with enough food to help feed a family of four for the weekend. Over 90% of the students enrolled qualify for free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs, but often come to school hungry on Monday mornings due to a lack of adequate nutritious food over the weekend.

Rock-A-Belly Festival (November 7, 5 to 9 p.m.) is a local hunger awareness event and fundraiser for Food For Thought Denver featuring food tastings, craft beer, and live music. Featuring food tastings from 10 of Denver’s finest restaurants and 10 craft breweries, such as Snooze, Steubens, Jax, and Work & Class, as well as  Tivoli Brewing Co., Backcountry Brewery, and others, with live music from Los Straitjackets and the Hillbilly Hellcats. 9News anchor Kyle Clark is the event’s MC. Tickets are $50. Click here to purchase.

It takes place at the Tivoli Turnhalle, 900 Auraria Parkway, Denver.

Boulder Chef to Cook at James Beard House

Blackbelly’s Hosea Rosenberg at New York institution this week.

BeardHouse-signHosea Rosenberg, the owner/chef of Boulder’s Blackbelly Market & Catering, is cooking at New York’s legendary James Beard House this Thursday, September 24. His middle name might as well be “Winner of Top Chef Season 5,” because is always described that way.

The all-inclusive tab is $130 for Beard House members and $170 for everyone else. We were in New York last week, and if Hosea had been cooking there then, I might have been tempted to dip into the piggy-bank — deep into the piggy-bank — to attend. But he’ll be back in Boulder after what I am sure will be a triumphant evening, and we’ll go back to Blackbelly to congratulate him. Here’s the menu:

Hors d’Oeuvre 

Assorted Blackbelly Housemade Charcuterie
Chilled Corn Soup with Huitlacoche
Peach–Lardo Toasts
Fruition Farms Ricotta Tartines


Dogwood Farms Lamb Carpaccio with Tasmanian Pepperberry, Verde Capra Blue Cheese, and Baby Fennel

Skuna Bay Salmon with Summer Pistou and Nasturtium

Foie Gras–Sweetbread Sausage with Pickled Ratatouille and Herb Salad

100-Day Dry-Aged Beef Strip Loin with Chanterelles and Alliums

Apple–Green Chile Doughnuts with Bacon Jam

P.S. In a Facebook thread about this post, Denver publicity guru Wendy Aiello noted that she had arranged for Hosea’s first Beard House appearance, and he added that this is actually going to be his fourth time there — but the first time “as the headliner.”

Dominique Ansel at Last

My Cronut fantasy finally fulfilled.

P1050810    I don’t know what captivated me about Cronuts when I first heard about these fried items made from croissant dough, filled and topped with a frosting. New Yorkers were reportedly waiting in long daily lines at the Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo. There was a limit to the number prepared each day, and a limit to the number each customer could order — 2 at a time. If you want more, you have to go to the back of the line.  Part of the mystique, I’m sure.

I wrote a couple of blog posts here while dreaming about Cronuts and knew that I had to try one when next in New York. My husband and I are there now, and I lured him to Spring Street on a quiet Sunday morning, where we joined what appeared to be a fairly short line for the Dominique Ansel Bakery. It was about 8:20 a.m., and the bakery was to open at 9.

Part of the pre-Cronut
Part of the pre-Cronut “show” is this extroverted sidewalk host who keeps people entertained, or at least distracted, while they wait to enter the revered bakery.

Continue reading Dominique Ansel at Last

A Taste of Colorado by the Numbers

Revelers consumed thousands of pounds of food at Labor Day fest in Denver.

This is the 2013 logo; I can't fine a 2015 version.
This is the 2013 logo; I can’t fine a 2015 version.

I’m in New York, stopping over from Paris to Denver, and I was nowhere near the Mile High City when the annual end-of-summer city tradition, A Taste of Colorado, took place at Civic Center Park. But the organizers have released some numbers of the amount of food consumed at this popular event, which — despite its name — is not all about eating. Ostensibly celebrating Western heritage, it has all the aspects of a summer state or country fare — in the heart of Denver.

Continue reading A Taste of Colorado by the Numbers

J’ai Une Bonne Anniversaire a Paris

Translation: I had a wonderful birthday in Paris.

P1050721We had plenty of OK but forgettable food in Paris, eating wherever we happened to be when our stomachs rumbled. But dinner on September 9, my birthday, was one to remember. Our AirBnB host recommended Maguey (“expensive but very good”), and it was both — and happily is located just down the street from where we stayed.

Simple, stylish and understated décor lets the food shine.
Simple, stylish and understated décor lets the food shine.

We had to leave for the airport early, so made a reservation for 7:30 — early by Parisian standards. The small, stylish restaurant was empty  half-an-hour before anyone else arrived, but when we left at 9:30 or so, it was packed. The suave, efficient waiter explained the restaurant’s intriguing format. The “menu” consists of two adjectives and three courses. The diners select the adjectives that best suit their tastes (convivial, exuberant, playful, silky) tell the waiter what they might be allergic to — and the chef, whose name I do not know, tweaks the dishes to order. Beverage pairings are suggested for each course, but with an early morning departure for the airport, we each ordered just a glass of celebratory champagne.

The menu is deliberately vague, so that the specifics of what will appear on the table is a surprise.
The menu is deliberately vague, so that the specifics of what will appear on the table is a surprise.

At the end of the meal, the waiter brought small menus (in French) of what was selected.  Here are some of the gorgeous and delicious items we had with just the most basic labeling of each dish. No time to translate the full roster of components.

Continue reading J’ai Une Bonne Anniversaire a Paris

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.