Romesco Sauce from the Rockies

Classic Spanish sauce made by local Boulder company

TarragonaMapA message from Peter Guarino caught my eye for two reasons. First, he alerted me to a fairly new enterprise, a local food purveyor that he calls Peo’s Foods, and second, the food he currently purveys is Romesco sauce. The origins of this an intriguing and complex sauce are said to be in the seaside town of Tarragona in the Catalonian (or Catalunyan, as it is now spelled) region of eastern Spain. Tarragona is known for its Roman amphitheater by the sea, its remarkable double aqueduct and its beautiful cathedral.

The Mediterranean Sea forms a blue backdrop to Tarragona's Roman amphitheater .
The Mediterranean Sea forms a blue backdrop to Tarragona’s Roman amphitheater .

A lifetime ago, my first husband and I went to Tarragona on what was to be a day trip from Barcelona, where in a café, we met another couple from the US with whom we had a lot in common. I worked at Swissair at the time; she was with Air India. My heritage is Austrian; she had been born there. Our husbands had both served in the US Navy. They were renting a house in Tarragona and invited us to spend a couple of nights. My strongest food memories are of the fig tree growing outside the kitchen door and of her gone-local cooking. I had my first, unforgettable tastes both of aioli and of Romesco.

Traditionally,  fishermen from that region would bring in their catch, sell off the best fish for maximum profit and then concoct a stew of what was left with Romesco as a base. I’ve since tried my hand at both, and they turned out well. At heart, I am a from-scratch cook, but sometimes I am happy to be able to shortcut the process and serve a quality prepared product.

Peo's Foods' Romesco brings the taste of Tarragona to Colorado store shelves.
Peo’s Foods’ Romesco brings the taste of Tarragona to Colorado store shelves.

Peo’s Romesco sauce is very Boulder, being a product made from organic tomatoes, organic spices, organic olive oil, organic vinegar and nuts that are free of chemical pasteurization. Also, It is vegan-friendly, and this version his also gluten-, dairy- and GMO-free. Sometimes I think I’m the only person in Boulder with no food allergies or sensitivities, but avoiding GMO foods is one of my hot buttons.

Guarino recommends his complex sauce both for dipping and cooking.  He calls it “the Queen of Spanish Sauces.” If you are intrigued, click here for Colorado stores that currently carry it.

Cross-posted to Travel Babel.

Wine-Plus Event at Beaver Creek in January

Beaver Creek hosts winter food and wine fest

FBeaverCreekFWine20014ood & Wine magazine is enamored of Colorado. In addition to the fabled Food & Wine Classic at Aspen every June, the Beaver Creek Food and Wine Weekend, this year from January 23 to 26, offers interactive cooking demonstrations by local and visiting chefs, innovative wine and spirits events, gourmet wine pairing dinners and skiing, snowshoeing and other winter pleasures wrapped into the festival, extras that naturally are not on the June calendar.

Tickets for individual events range from $40 for an Après-Ski Burger, Beer & Bourbon to $200 for a swank dinner by F&W Best New Chef, Gavin Kaysen and Kirk Weems, executive chef of Allie’s Cabin, where the dinner takes place. It is among the sold-out events.  Click here for events and ticket availability.

‘Most Anticipated’ Denver Restaurants for 2014’s list includes two in Denver., the national foodie site, has included two upcoming Denver restaurants on its list of “The 50 Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2014.” Curious names prevail, no surprise in an era when the ampersand (&) is favored while traditional punctuation seems as obsolete as the eight-track player. But hey, restaurateurs, chefs and marketers are in change of naming — and they’ve decided such oddball nomenclature is cool. And maybe it is. But for me, it’s the culinary prowess that counts, and the folks behind these two have great track records:

Stoic & Genuine, another eatery from James Beard Award winner Jennifer Jasinski and her business partner Beth Gruitch (Rioja, Euclid Bar and Bistro Vendôme), is going into Denver’s exciting Union Station makeover. It is scheduled to open in July. The inspiration was the storied century-old Oyster Bar that is undergoing renovation this year in the bowels of New York’s Grand Central Station. Stoic & Genuine’s menu will feature a selection of raw oysters, lobster, clam rolls, smoked fish and more.

Argyll Whisky Beer, slated to open this summer on 17th Avenue in Uptown, is an heir to Argyll, a pioneering Denver gastropub in Cherry Creek North. The plan is to offer Colorado’s largest whisky selection, along with a menu from chef John Broening (Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar and Spuntino).

There’s a Colorado connection at another “most anticipated” restaurant. Brooklyn Fare Manhattan, an intimate spot on Manhattan’s far west side, is a project of Cesar Ramirez and Jamie Sippel, who will be presenting the Mediterranean foods of Italy and France. Sippel is the chef and previously worked at Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine.

Beard Foundation Offers New ‘Junior’ Membership

Lower prices for 21- to 39-year-old foodies

JamesBeardFoundation-logoIn New York’s gastronomic world, being under the age of 40 now qualifies for a “youth discount” from the fabled James Beard Foundation.  Greens is a program for area foodies between the ages of 21 and 39. Greens guests are invited to discover the city’s newest restaurants, chefs, and culinary trends, all while enjoying great food and drinks. Held at the historic James Beard House and also at other venues throughout the five boroughs, Greens events include wine tastings, multi-course dinners and From Scratch Sessions, their series of hands-on cooking classes and demos.

The new Greens membership is for food lovers who enjoy JBF Greens programing and also want to receive new exclusive member benefits. The annual Greens membership dues are $75. The least expensive “adult” membership is $125 a year. Purchase online. If I were still under 40 and living in New York, I’d join in a heartbeat.

Denver FIVE Class of 2014 is All Female

New frontier for Colorado culinary promotion launched in 2008

DenverFive-logoA quintet of women who rock the local dining scene have been selected as the Denver FIVE, a trademarked name for the annual promotional strike force recruited to raise the profile for Colorado cuisine on the national scene. This brainchild of Leigh Sullivan, herself a promotional force of Denver dining, was launched in 2008. Previous FIVEs have been male-exclusive or at least heavily male-dominated.


The 2014 FIVE

The traditional schedule is on again for the class of 2014: FIVE@Five dinners, an appearance at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and the yearly pilgrimage to the James Beard House in September. A full schedule of events, tickets and locations will be available at online.


Hooray for Longmont’s Robin Chocolates

Top trade publication names Robin’s one of top ten on the continent

P1050442Dessert Professional, a trade publication, has named Robin Chocolates of Longmont one of the top 10 chocolatiers in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Founder Robin Autorino describes as “bold, beautiful and delicious chocolates and pastries” made  by hand, using traditional, time-honored artisanal techniques from top-quality ingredients imported from France, Belgium, Switzerland and Venezuela. Her suppliers work directly with growers and cocoa plantation owners to ensure that the GMO-free cocoa powders and additive-free fruit purees and nut butters are produced in a fair trade manner.


Autorino was a Navy satellite communications technician/ electronics tech for 14 years, a position most often held by men, and after getting out of the service, worked as a pastry chef at the Brown Palace Hotel,  the Flagstaff House and the Dushanbe Tea house, with a detour into the software business. Then, in February 2008, after years of making caramels and hand-rolled truffles for friends, Autorino received her first order for chocolates from a local florist for 12 four-piece boxes to sell for Valentine’s Day.

That was it. With the support of her husband, she quit her job and formed Robin Chocolates, first supplying local resellers and marketing via the company’s website. A retail shop followed  in October 2011. Robin has a way with truffles. Her  previous awards include:

The shop is located in the L-shaped shopping center with its back to the streets at the intersection of South Airport Road and Nelson Avenue. The address is 600 South Airport Road, Longmont; 720- 204-8003. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Stop in to congratulate her — and pick up some of those award-winning sweets.

SandLot Brewery: It’s Not Just for Baseball Season

Blue Moon is brewed in a venerable ballpark building

Sandlot-logoThe SandLot Brewery occupies the basement and first floor of the old Bankers Warehouse building on the corner of 23rd and Blake. Incorporated into Coors Field, it is the place where Blue Moon beers and ales are developed and produced, so it feels like an independent microbrewery rather than a part of the huge MillerCoors operation.

Designed for ticket holders, it was originally only open on game days. Now renovated with the bright, warm look of beetle-kill wood and brick, it is open year-round and welcomes the public on non-game days. It serves a pub menu plus permanent and seasonal Blue Moon beers and ales, and a couple of beer/wine hybrids that I — not a beer drinker — quite liked.

There are two types, Golden Knot made with the juice of Chardonnay grapes and Crimson Crossing made with the juice of Merlot grapes. Developed by Blue Moon brewmaster Keith Villa, who earned a Belgian doctorate in beer, this fusion beverage that are wheat ales brewed with Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon grape juices ” and Impulse, “wheat ale brewed with the juice of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. They aren’t new, but I have just tried them and am going to buy some bottles for those occasions when everyone else is drinking beer and I feel out of the loop with my dainty glass of wine.

Urbanspoon has not yet found SandLot, but it is at 2145 Blake Street, Denver; 303-298-1587.

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.