New Location & Headline Chef at International Wine Festival

Event at Omni Interlocken welcomes former White House Chef

DenverIntlWineFest2013-logoThe ninth annual Denver International Wine Festival’s Pairsine food and wine pairing competition adds a high-profile out-of-state contender. Not only will some of Colorado’s leading compete against each other, but also against Chef John Moeller, who cooked in the White House for 13 years. Having cooked across the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, he ranks as one of the longest tenured chefs. I could be snarky and note that two Texans and one Arkansan might not have set the highest of culinary bars, but that would be disrespectful so I won’t — except to note that there were also those state dinners, receptions and other events at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue where fried pork rinds were not offered. Chef Moeller will be signing copies of his recently published cookbook and memoir, Dining at the White House—From the President’s Table to Yours.

Pairsine (pronounced “pair-zeen”), Wine Country Network’s signature culinary event on Thursday, November 7 from 6 to 9 p.m., features 10 local chefs who each create two dishes to pair with a total of 20 gold medaling wines selected 300 international wines at the earlier 2013 Denver International Wine Competition. The chefs’ challenge is to create two spectacular dishes to pair with their each of their assigned wines.

I was honored to be a judge at earlier competitions. Last year, I was laid low by excruciating back and had to bow out in the last minute, and I’m afraid I fell off the radar this time around. This year’s judges are Kris Browning-Blas, food editor of The Denver Post, Amanda Faison, food editor of 5280 Magazine, Teresa Farney, food editor of The Gazette; Michael Long, previous honoree at the festival and now KEZW radio host of The Main Course, and Lori Midson, Café Society food editor of Westword.  Additionally, Pairsine attendees vote for the “People’s Choice” award.

Pairsine highlights the Denver International Wine Festival (DIWF,) a five-day wine and food festival (November 6 to10) at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield. The first one was at Denver’s Oxford Hotel, and since then, it has also taken place at the University of Denver, Mile High Station and the Hyatt Hotel in Denver. The Omni has hosted other Wine Country International events. And Fodors recently named DIWF was recently named one of the Top 10 Fall Wine Festivals in the U.S.

Pairsine tickets are are available online for $100 that includes an evening of tasting those outrageous food and wine pairings, plus a keepsake festival wine glass made by Riedel/Spiegelau. I have seen discount tickes on at least one deal-of-the-day site. None seem to be available today, but you might want to check. Click here for links to some of the leading sites.

The 2013 DIWF’s charity of choice is Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit that is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. DIWF host Omni Interlocken Resort has a limited number of special festival room rates available at $99 per night. Click here or call 303-438-6600 for reservations.

Click here more information on the Denver International Wine Festival.

Infinite Monkey Theorem’s 5+ Years of Innovation

Denver’s leading urban winery keeps innovating outside the wine industry box

IMT-logoThat Ben Parsons. You just never know what he has up his sleeve. The British-born winemaker honed his skills in the Commonwealth countries of Australia and New Zealand before landing in the US and started letting his creativity take wing. A little over five years ago, he opened a winery in a Quonset hut in Denver’s Santa Fe Art District. If that wasn’t enough of a surprise, he really had folks scratching their collective heads when he named it the Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery and had a simian face gazing out from the label.

The only thing that observers and fans of Parsons’ award-winning wines have come to expect is innovation upon innovation. With impressive growth, and evolving and ambitious plans, last year he moved the winery to the newly emergent River North District. (Click here for my post about my first visit.) He “bottles” wines in not only in bottles but also kegs, growlers and cans. After adopting these containers from the beer industry, and now with a real canning line, he says that he will be making beer too.

Winemaker Ben Parsons
Winemaker Ben Parsons

IMT has now released its first dessert wine (a luscious Orange Muscat) and three other new varietals (Cab Franc, Syrah and Malbec) in magnum-size bottles and a blend (the Blind Watchmaker, Petit Verdot and Malbec). All of these wines are made from Grand Valley grapes. And looking ahead, IMT plans to release its first sparkling wine, a Champagne-style Champenoise made of Colorado-grown Albariño grapes. Made in the traditional method, it will by produced by secondary fermentation in the bottle, manual rotation of the racked bottles so that the residual yeast (called lees) settles in the neck and after bottles are chilled, the neck is frozen and the cap is removed. The pressure forces out the ice containing the lees, and the bottle is then quickly corked to maintain the bubbles that make sparkling wines, well, sparkle. Expect IMT’s Champenoise wine, whose name Parsons won’t yet reveal, to be released in December 2015 — just in time for the holidays.

Rather than an elegant chateau in the rolling countryside, IMT is located in a gritty industrial and warehouse area. Now, IMT has a suitable down-to-earth neighbor — The Populist, a restaurant with cutting-edge New American cuisine served in a communal environment. The ‘hood is on the rise but is not yet trendy, with true substance not superficial style the watchword.

IMT offers tours and tastings and is an unusual event venue. 3200  Larimer Street,  Denver, 303-736-8376.

World Food Day Tomorrow

Dining and walking to end hunger

WorldFoodDay-logoTomorrow, October 16, is World Food Day, a global movement to end hunger with events in individual communities. The Colorado events are:

Oxfam World Food Day Dinner to  foster a conversation about where our food comes from, who cultivates it, and how we can take personal actions that will help protect farmers and farmland around the world. Takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. at  6732 S Marion Circle East, Centennial. FoMoInfo: Dinah Frey, dinah@hungerfreecolorado.org.

CROP Hunger Walks are community events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by local congregations or groups to raise funds to end hunger at home and around the world. Colorado has 16 walks this fall, but some are already past. FoMoInfo: Church World Service, 888-297-2767.

Pizzeria Locale Denver on a New Hot List

PizzeriaLocale-logoThe relatively new Pizzeria Locale outpost in Denver made it to Eater National’s list of “The 24 Hottest Pizzas in the US Right Now.” The foodie site wrote:

“Boulder’s beloved Pizzeria Locale expanded to Denver earlier this year with its Neapolitan-style pies from the team behind Frasca Food and Wine. Pizzas here are cooked in less than two minutes with a menu that includes Neapolitan classics, American classics (cheese, pepperoni, veggie, and supreme), and an option to build your own. Westword critic Gretchen Kurtz called it ‘the finest iteration of fast-casual that the city — dare I say the country? — has ever seen.'”

More congratulations are in store.

Cronut Knock-Off Has Come to EDGE

Four Seasons restaurant to offer its own version, the CroDough

Under EDGE executive chef Simon Purvis (above), chef de partie Christina Hong and the culinary team developed the new CroDough
Under EDGE executive chef Simon Purvis (above), chef de partie Christina Hong and the culinary team developed the new CroDough

I’ve been waiting for a Denver or Boulder restaurant or bakery to offer a knock-off of the Cronut, the trademarked hybrid of a croissant and a donut that has taken New York by storm. Click here for my first post about this sweet sensation created by New York pâtissier Dominique Ansel. The Four Seasons Hotel’s chef de partie, Christina Hong, and a talented pastry team came up with the EDGE CroDough. Pumpkin is the introductory flavor.

As elsewhere, this is a pricey treat at $10 but it is large enough for two people to share. If even that seems to steep,  EDGE Restaurant is putting the  CroDough on sale for a good cause. On Wednesday, October 16 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., you can get an EDGE CroDough for just $3 or $5 including a small LavAzza coffee. October 16 is World Food Day, which is focused on ending world hunger. All funds from CroDough sales at EDGE will be donated to Community Food Share, a food bank serving Boulder and Broomfield counties, which were greatly impacted by the recent Colorado flood.  Funds will be given to assist in replenishing the food bank, which services more than 50 local agency partners.

The Four Seasons is at 1111 14th Street, Denver.

5280’s List of Denver Area’s Top 25 Easteries

Some that are old, some that are new on monthly mag’s annual list

5280-cover-2013While we were away, 5280 Magazine came out with its fourth annual issue naming its choices for the metro area’s top 25 restaurants, three in Boulder and the rest in various Denver neighborhoods. They range in “venerability” from Potager, which opened in 1997 to become a pioneer in serving seasonal and local foods, to Old Major, a creative paradise for carnivores that opened a year ago and Beast + Bottle that opened in late winter.  Again, Boulder’s Frasca Food & Wine is #1.  Here is 5280’s list: 1. Frasca Food & Wine 2. ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro 3. Sushi Den, 4. Mizuna 5. Bittersweet  6. Potager 7.  Fruition 8. Luca d’Italia 9. Fuel Café 10. Old Major 11. Oak at Fourteenth 12. The Populist 13. Beast + Bottle 14. Café Aion 15. Twelve 16. Colt & Gray 17. Table 6 18. Rioja 19. Duo Restaurant 20. Il Posto 21. TAG Raw Bar 22. Linger 23. Trillium 24. Euclid Hall 25. Spuntino

Kebap in Western Europe

Turkish fare found in every city and many towns — including at railroad stations

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A lifetime ago, when I started traveling by train in Europe, I was convinced that if someone blindfolded me and parachuted me down into some unknown city, steered me to the nearest restaurant and removed the blindfold, I’d know which country I was in just by the food. Not so any more. Cuisine has become multi-national, and nothing seems to have spread as widely as kebap places that have been established all over Western Europe by Turkish immigrants.

Through a total lack of advance planning,  we thought we could spend a few hours in Frankfurt, take an afternoon or evening train to Munch and simply change to an overnight train to Venice, arriving at a reasonable hour in the morning. We weren’t thinking that Munich is in the midst Oktoberfest frenzy, so we were routed and Venice via Villach, Austria, with something like 1½ middle-of-the-night hours in the quiet railroad station there. It wasn’t scary, but it was boring — unless there’s some appeal to a smoke-filled basement bar whose attraction is gambling (maybe slots) that appears in no online guides.

Order from the counter at this fast casual kebap stand at the Villach railroad station.
Order from the counter at this fast casual kebap stand at the Villach railroad station.

Not for us, so we wandered outside and spotted City Pizza & Kepab across the street. The lights were on, so in we went. It didn’t not seem to serve pizza, though we were just a few miles from the Italian border, but various Turkish dishes were on the menu. We hung out there for more than an hour, eating, watching the railroad workers who seemed to be regulars and grateful for any kebap joint in a storm.

Chicken schnitzel sandwich on brad that was neither pita nor any kind of recognizable roll.
Chicken schnitzel sandwich on bread that was neither pita nor any kind of recognizable roll.
Veggie option includes a slab of tasty goat or sheep cheese, plus lettuce and tomato.
Veggie option includes a slab of tasty goat or sheep cheese, plus lettuce and tomato.

Cross-posted to www.travel-babel.com.

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.