According to a report in the Boulder Daily Camera, Beau Jo’s Pizza will soon return to Boulder after about a decade’s absence. It will be located at 2690 Baseline Road, a hard-luck location that most recently was two incarnations of Fiasco’s Mexican Grill. When I first moved to Boulder, it was a Long John Silver’s. Subsequently in was an innovative fine-dining restaurant (Two Bitts), a steakhouse and a couple of forgettable Italian places.
The original Beau Jo’s, founded in 1973 in a tiny 18-seat space, now spreads across several storefronts along the main drag of Idaho Springs, and to me, that’ s Beau Jo’s. Shortly after I moved to Boulder, it because a refueling stop after skiing or hiking, especially on a weekend, when the traffic on I-70 slowed to a proverbial crawl. I’m generally not fond of thick-crust pizzas, and even Beau Jo’s thin crust is heftier than I prefer. In a way, it must be, to support the heavy load of toppings.
Beau Jo’s Mountain Pies hefty pizzas are built on a foundation of honey white or whole wheat crust, with an hand-rolled edge to keep the fillin‘ from spillin‘. There’s a choice of sauces, toppings and cheeses for one of the most easily customizable pies around. Prairie Pies are a lighter alternative.
I always loved seeing patrons’ napkin artwork tacked the walls (no longer such a feature of the decor), the mining memorabilia and even the salad bar atop an old clawfoot tub. The pizza was filling, the ambience was lively, the substitution of Mason Jars for glasses fitting and the honey for dipping the last of the crust a nice touch — a main course melding seamlessly into dessert. Even the wait for a table was rarely unbearable.
To me, the theme didn’t translate well to Boulder, not because the city can’t take funky, but because its location, tucked into a side of an old Montgomery Ward’s in the now-demolished Crossroads Mall, was weird. In addition to Idaho Springs, there are also Beau Jo’s in Arvada, Colorado Springs, Evergreen, Fort Collins and Highlands Ranch. I’ve never been to any of them, but I’ll sure give the cleaner, leaner, greener location coming to Boulder a try.
The new Beau Jo’s on Baseline could be the first of a new, possibly franchisable incarnation. The Camera reported that Chip Bair, Beau Jo’s founder and owner, could be a prototype for a more modern, less rustic, look, with such “green” features as photovoltaic panels and purchasing wind-energy credits. The trend toward more local sourcing and healthier options also will continue.
Local reporter highlights favorite street food from a recent trip
If you love Asian street food as much as Kelly Yamanouchi and I do, be sure to pick up today’s Denver Post and read her long feature in the food section called “From the Street to the Table.” You can link to it from this blog, but do get today’s paper so you can see the photos too. Fresh from a trip to Asia where she crammed one last “steaming bowl of noodles topped with fresh vegetables, slow-cooked beef and ladles of broth” in her final half-hour in Taipei before leaving for the airport, she sought similar tastes in Denver.
I remember my own last-minute food frenzies — scooting around the corner from a fancy hotel in Shanghai, where my bags were packed and ready to go, for one last portion of dumplings from a stand, or making time for one more order of chicken skewers with a divine peanut/chile dipping sauce before leaving Bangkok. Unlike me, however, when Kelly, a Post staff writer, returned to Denver, she researched places to get similar food here.
She wrote, “Taipei is known for its night markets, which bustle with tourists and locals jostling for food sold from dozens of different stalls. Street food throughout Asia appears in an array of places – at storefronts along the sidewalk, at festivals and in outdoor markets. While the American notion of street food tends to focus on hand-helds like hot dogs and pretzels, in Asia the selection runs the gamut — almost anything that can be prepared quickly and simply, from noodle soup to deep-fried stinky tofu to oyster omelets. In metropolitan Denver, street stalls aren’t prevalent and there’s no Taipei-style night market or Singapore-style hawker stand, but I found some selections at Asian restaurants and groceries that reminded me of the originals.”
Lao Wang Noodle House, 945-D South Federal Boulevard, Denver; 303-975-2497
H Mart, 2751 South Parker Road, Aurora; 303-745-4592
Spice China, 269 McCaslin Boulevard., Louisville; 720-890-0999
J’s Noodles & New Thai, 945-E South Federal Boulevard, Denver; 303-922-5495
US Thai, 5228 West 25th Avenue, Edgewater; 303-233-3345
A further resource if you love ethnic foods is The Gyro’s Journey (left)by Clay Fong. This guide to ethnic eateries on the Front Range is new from Fulcrum Publishing. I haven’t seen it yet, but it is described as “guide to authentic and affordable ethnic dining experiences in the Front Range. Written for the adventurous diner, this book describes family-owned businesses found off the beaten track that hold true to the traditions of their native lands.” Fong is now a restaurant and food writer for the Boulder Weekly.
The next few weeks bring at least two opportunities to visit other people’s kitchens and benefit good causes as well. You might be looking for ideas for your own kitchen remodel, or you might just be a masochist who enjoys the pain of kitchen envy when comparing your own cooking area with gorgeous designer kitchens furnished with the finest — exquisite cabinets, over-the-top granite countertops and the highest-end appliances.
Many years ago, when Corian was the trendy countertop surface and SubZero was just coming onto the scene as the first designer appliance (the first I knew about, at any rate), a friend an I went on a tour of fancy kitchens in New Jersey’s fashionable exurbia. We were living in then-unfashionable Hoboken. We both loved to cook (and she’s a terrific baker as well). We were managing quite nicely with kitchens that we fixed up only slightly from the 1950s updates we inherited from the previous owners when we bought our 1870s brownstones — icky salmon-colored Formica countertops (in both houses), forgettable cabinets (mine were knotty pine and mounted for someone 6 inches taller than I; hers were simply cheap and mounted for someone shorter than she), merely functional appliances (neither of our kitchens came with dishwashers; I bought a roll-to-the-sink model; she settled for a half-size under-the-counter machine). We walked through these pristine kitchens where only one had any evidence (i.e., a few cookbooks on a small shelf) that anyone actually cooked, and then went home and whipped up dinners in our considerable more modest settings.
Nearly 10 years ago, my husband and I spent two weeks in Thailand. The dishes that Nita prepared were the equals of those we oohed and ahed over at a dinner in the fanciest Bangkok restaurant we went to, and better than any others we had in the country and at Thai restaurants here. The reason that I was able to sample Nita’s fantastically fresh Thai fare in a matchless home setting setting is that Holly, the current president of the Colorado chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a group of culinary professionals, invited the chapter to her home. Holly’s husband, Jeremy Kinney, poured champagne, and we watched Nita cook.
In Holly’s spectacular kitchen, Nita prepared the following dishes:
Roll-your-own green lettuce leaves to be filled with a selection of dried shrimp, fresh garden mint, fresh lime pieces and fresh Thai ginger, with a tangy-sweet vinegar/chile dipping sauce
Lemon Grass Soup (the best I’ve ever tasted)
Chicken Thai Curry
Mee Crop Thai (crispy rice noodles with a deep fried crispy shrimp and a tangy tamarind sauce, right)
Thai Jasmine Custard (which Holly remembers so well)
Nita cooked specially for Les Dames on Tuesday evening, her one night off. One of my good LDEI foodie friends and I plan to go to Nita and Peter’s restaurant, Chada Thai (2005 East 17th Avenue; 303-320-8582).