RIP: Roger Vergé, Pioneering French Chef

RogerVergeRemember when nouvelle cuisine was, in fact, nouvelle? I do. It was in the ’60s when the American mainstream media was reporting more on the counterculture than the culinary culture.  But the buzz among chefs and gourmands (“foodie” was not yet a concept) was about the lightened up French fare introduced by a group of daring young French chefs, who steered their country’s heralded haute cuisine in a lighter and more artistic direction. I had visited France as part of a college summer trip to Europe, and while there was nothing haute about the food my friend and I ate, it was a palate-tickler. When I lived in New York soon thereafter, Biarritz and Le Mont St. Michel were on my block, and other moderately priced French restaurants were not far away. My interest never waned.

Chefs like Roger Vergé, Paul Bocuse, the Troisgros brothers and Michel Guérard were on the vanguard of this revolution, whose after-effects linger to this day. The Moulin de Mougins restaurant that Vergé established in a village near Cannes earned two Michelin stars. He was an early celebrity chef, a restaurateur, hotelier and author of several cookbooks. He called his food Cuisine du Soleil, cuisine of the sun. He died on June 5 at the age of 85. The New York Times ran a lengthy obituary.

Kathmandu Opens Location in Boulder

Nederland restaurant comes down the hill.

002First Backcountry Pizza,  which started in Nederland, opened a second spot in Boulder. Now Kathmandu has done the same. It took over the space of the shuttered Golden Lotus, changed little except for the addition of a buffet station so typical of restaurants serving the foods of India and neighboring countries. The buffet was all that was offered the first few days it was open, but come Monday, the buffet will be served at lunch with full from-the-menu service at dinner. At this Nepalese restaurant, I expected to see more  acknowledgment of the devastating earthquake that its namessake city suffered, but there was virtually none.

A bit of the buffet.
A bit of the buffet.
My plate.
My plate.

Kathmandu is at 1964 28th Street (the old Golden Lotus location), Boulder. I have no phone number.

Chili Heat & Cool Brews at Snowmass

Mammoth Fest features chili cook-off.

mammoth-logoMore than a dozen top chili cooks from Colorado and beyond turn up the heat during an International Chili Society (ICS) sanctioned regional cook-off on the Snowmass Village Mall during Snowmass Mammoth Fest.  Free tastings of red chili, chili verde (green chili) and salsa, along with live music, are offered to the public on Friday, June 12 from 5 to 9 p.m.  Tame the heat with premium microbrews available for purchase.

The next day if your palate has recovered, taste free chili and salsa tastings from 12 noon, along with, a 25-Microbrew Grand Tasting grand tasting on Saturday at Town Park. Cooking starts early in the day. Once the tastings begin, come sample chili and salsa, mingle with the cooks and vote for the People’s Choice Award for the best red chili. Following International Chili Society rules, a panel of expert judges will select the three top winners in each category. All 1st place winners will advance to the ICS World Championships.

THE COOKS & THEIR CHILI (SALSA,TOO)

  • Edward Huffman (red chili, chili verde, salsa), Iron Horse Chili, Peyton, CO
  • Hank Wedemeyer (red chili, chili verde), Medicine Man, Littleton, CO
  • Judy Wedemeyer (red chili, chili verde), Flam-N-Go, Littleton, CO
  • Kathy Weiss (chili verde, salsa), Rocky Mountain Harmony Chili, Centennial, CO
  • Mary Parker (red chili, salsa), Dragonfly Chili, Peyton, CO (1st place winner from 2014 ICS World Championship)
  • Matthew Levy (red chili, chili verde, salsa), Hunt Valley, MD
  • Mick Weiss (red chili), Rocky Mountain Harmony Chili, Centennial, CO
  • Mike Rook (red chili, chili verde), Rook’s Road, Highlands Ranch, CO
  • Priscilla Licon (red chili, chili verde, salsa), Scilla’s Chili, Pueblo, CO
  • Sean Richardson (red chili, chili verde, salsa), Maverick’s Grill, Granby, CO
  • Stephanie Richardson (red chili, chili verde, salsa), Maverick’s Grill, Granby, CO
  • Stevan Rodriguez (red chili, chili verde, salsa), Glenwood Springs, CO
  • Steve Vedora (red chili), Coogee Mountain, Denver, CO
  • Jeff LeBeck (red chili, chili verde, salsa), Voodoo Moon, Westminster, CO
  • Greg Virant (red chili), Going Up Chili, Omaha, NE
  • Lynn Kost Virant (salsa), Going Down Chili, Omaha, NE

The main part of Mammoth Fest is actually  a big entertainment event with name performers. Click here or call 877-987-6487 for ticket information, prices and purchasing.

Organic, Seasonal, Local & Tasty Sandwiches in Boulder

The new Organic Sandwich Company lives up to its name.

008I’ve ordered from the Organic Sandwich Company’s stand at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market, but until this evening, I’d never eaten in the store that opened in the challenging month of January. The invitation-only tasting of many of the sandwiches provided a sequential comparison of flavor combos.

Trays of small sandwich samples were passed around.
Trays of small sandwich samples were passed around, allowing each guest to select what s/he wished to try.
Owner Marcy Miller demonstrated how to make bacon jam. The Organic Sandwich Company currently is using it with sliced turkey.
Owner Marcy Miller demonstrated how to make bacon jam. The Organic Sandwich Company currently is using it with sliced turkey.

There were caprese sandwiches — delicious, but hardly exotic. There were Beetniks, a cleverly named and unusual combo of roasted beets, almond feta and pea shoots. Then there’s the glory of any sandwich made with the house-made bacon jam, the preparation of which owner Marcy Miller demonstrated. What better way to cap an intro to a sandwich joint than with a dessert of gelato sandwiches?

Gelato between cookies makes for a terrific dessert sandwich.
Gelato between cookies makes for a terrific dessert sandwich.

Right now, Turkey and Bacon Jam, Turkey and Brie and Spicy Veggie are the top sellers on the menu that changes according to what’s fresh at the market This is Boulder, so of course, there are gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo and dairy-free options, as well as offerings for easy-to-please omnivores.  But mercifully, nothing is taste-free at the Organic Sandwich Company. And because Marcy herself is the mother of two young children, there are kid-friendly items too.

The Organic Sandwich Company is on the southwest corner of 16th and Pearl, Boulder. Phone: 720-639-3986.

Abbott’s on National Seafood List

Connecticut institution cited as great lobster shack.

DailyMeal-logoWhen I moved to Colorado in 1988, I was cheered to find prepared clam chowder from Abbott’s of Noank at my local King Soopers. A true taste of New England was much appreciated by this Connecticut native. I used to buy it all the time, until it disappeared from the refrigerated case. I guess there weren’t enough nostalgic New Englanders in Boulder (or all of Colorado) at the time.

Now Abbott’s gets top billing in The Daily Meal’s list of “America’s 40 Best Seafood Shacks.” Well okay. It is first because the list is alphabetical, but I’d put it right up there with Maine’s finest anyway.

Any New Englander worth his or her salt knows how to deal with a whole lobster, given nutcrackers and a pick. I like my lobster plain -- no drawn butter needed to compete with the sweetest of all seafoods. Photo: Flickr/outdoorPDK
Any New Englander worth his or her salt knows how to deal with a whole lobster, with a nutcrackers and a pick. I like my lobster plain — no drawn butter needed to compete with the sweetest of all seafoods. Photo: Flickr/outdoorPDK

Here’s what The Daily Meal posted: “According to the digital countdown clock on the Abbott’s website, at the moment this is being written there are 18 weeks, six days, seven hours, 19 minutes, and 36 seconds, oops, 37, oops…well, you get the idea, left until Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough serves their last lobster of the 2015 season. This reminder is convenient, because you do not want to miss out on this. Abbott’s has been in business for more than a half century, and they put a spin on lobster rolls by low steaming them and serving them hot with melted-on butter — not that it makes them shirk on buttering the roll. Local oysters are on offer, too.”

Everything’s Coming Up Rosé

Celebrating a favorite wine for the warm months.

RoseWinesWhen my husband and I visited Greece last year, I started drinking the country’s rosé wines. It started a summer of drinking these light and lovely wines almost every evening. Therefore, I’m cheered that the first-ever Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival is coming to the Omni Interlocken Resort’s Outdoor Pavilion in Broomfield on Thursday, June 11.

Chris and Darcy Davies, the fine folks who run the Denver International Wine Festival and other events celebrating adult beverages and interesting food, are presenting Drink Pink Vino. Davies clears up a common misconception of what rosés are: “Far from being a diluted red, rosés are produced from the same grapes as more full-bodied reds, but the juice is only allowed to ferment with the grape skins for a few days, giving rosés their delicate pink color.  Rosé wine consumption in the U.S. is growing by double digits. More and more producers are releasing their versions of incredibly food-friendly Rosés. The Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival offers wine enthusiasts the chance to sample over sixty new releases right before the summer Rosé drinking season.”

Rosé brands committed to pour at the event include Ponzi Vineyards, Chêne Bleu, Presuqu’ile, Buglioni, Schramsberg, Scharffenberger and Henri Gaillard Rosé Côtes, Barton & Guestier, Saved, Rosatella , Mouton Cadet, Simi, Wild Horse and Creekside Cellars.

Celebrity hosts will include Top Chef Season 5 Winner Hosea Rosenberg of Blackbelly Market and Restaurant and Madeleine de Jean (aka, “Madame Champagne”). Participating restaurants include Blackbelly, Oceanaire Seafood Room and Big Mac & Little Lu’s Seafood Room.

Click here to purchase general admission or VIP tickets.

Peruvian Fare in Longmont

Strip mall a surprising locale for cuisine of this South American country.

001When it comes to the foods of Latin America, Mexican and Tex-Mex reign in Colorado in general and Longmont in particular. So I was cheered to learn, shortly after returning from Peru, that there’s Peruvian restaurant just up the pike from Boulder. It took my husband and me several weeks to get around to trying Rosario’s Restaurant in a strip mall. I’m always delighted to find interesting, authentic cuisine in such a locale.

The menu offers charming mistranslations.
The menu offers interesting variations on common foods as well as charming mistranslations. Pictures are helpful.

Rosario’s is warm and inviting. Wine-red walls,  mellow music over the sound system and an incredibly busy, efficient and friendly waitress added to the foundation of good food at surprisingly good prices. I would have liked to launch with a pisco sour or a glass of South American (though not Peruvian) wine, but Rosario’s has no liquor license. Once I started eating, I didn’t mind the absence of an adult beverage.

The soup of the day, quinoa and cream was mellow and features the additional  sweet taste of corn and a few peas for color that sink to the bottom of the cup.
The soup of the day, quinoa and cream was mellow and features the additional sweet taste of corn and a few peas for color that sink to the bottom of the cup.
Causa is a cold tower of yellow Peruvian potato seasoned with Aji Amarillo, cream and fresh lime juice, layered with tender shredded chicken between. On topm, an olive and a slice of hard-boiled egg. On the side, sliced avocado. And decorating the plate, the word
Causa is a cold tower of yellow Peruvian potato seasoned with Aji Amarillo, cream and fresh lime juice, layered with tender shredded chicken between. On top, an olive and a slice of hard-boiled egg. On the side, sliced avocado. And decorating the plate, the word “Peru” so there’s no mistaking the origin of the dish.
My husband declared this Papa Rellena to be a
My husband declared this Papa Rellena to be a “perfect dish”: potato stuffed with seasoned beef, onions and tomatoes, fried and served with lime-marinated onions and hot sauce on the side. It too is signed “Peru.”

Price check: The menu is so complicated that I didn’t want to try to simplify all the options and variations. But know that these three dishes plus a sizable side salad with house dressing came to $25 and change, including tax. We just drank water, so no beverages. Rosario’s also serves breakfast.

Rosario's on Urbanspoon

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.