Top Taste of Colorado Restaurants

Labor Day food-focused festival in Denver produces winners.

TasteOfColo-logoI was in Vienna when the 31st annual Taste of Colorado started, was traveling on a series of airplanes when it shifted into high gear on Saturday and since I just got home that evening (yesterday), not inclined so insert my jet-lagged self into the tumult and crowds into the final two days of this events. But if you are in Denver, looking for some diversion, I recommend it. So head over to Civic Center Park though Labor Day and enjoy yourself.

In addition to standard festival fun (carnival food, vendors, entertainment and more), a restaurant row features some of Colorado’s favorite food establishments offer tastings and demos, and a “Best of Taste” competition was held.

I don’t know the rules or the judges, but the following restaurants have been named the 2014 Best of Taste honorees:

Best Menu/Taste. 1. Little India 2. Tocabe 3. Tie- Mountain Diner and Rocks Grill

Best Value. 1. Rodizio Grill 2. Tocabe 3. Little India

Most Unique. 1. Rocks Grill 2. Little City Chefs 3. Tocabe

Best Décor. 1. Gigi’s Cupcakes 2. Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que 3. Spice Island Grill

Best of Taste Fine Dining winners:

Best Menu/Taste. Randolph’s Restaurant

Best Value. La Cour Bistro & Bar

Most Unique. Randolph’s Restaurant


Festival of Mountain and Plain … A Taste of Colorado is a community celebration that is produced by and benefits Downtown Denver Events, Inc., the Downtown Denver Partnership family’s community events nonprofit organization. The Festival is an opportunity for people throughout the region to come together to experience and appreciate our diverse cultural traditions, and to learn more about our state’s Western heritage. The Festival highlights visual and performing arts in addition to featuring educational programs and culinary demonstrations.

Vienna: Carb-Loading & Loving It

The breads, the pastries, the noodles and oh, the taste.

carbsLiving in carbohydrate-averse Boulder, I felt a delicious thrill of the forbidden when I again realized that central Europe hasn’t yet abandoned traditional foods. The Viennese seem immune to the current American dietary no-carb obsession. Yes, I know that for people with celiac disease, wheat products in particular a really are a problem, and diabetics and those with other issues must keep control of their intake.

For the rest of us, cutting out carbs completely is optional. I hold to Michael Pollan’s advice not to eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize, and I truly enjoy the Austrian specialties that my grandmothers both made, served and ate. During a short trip, I indulged. Did I ever! In addition to flour, sugar, heavy cream, chocolate and cooked fruit abounded. And was it all ever good! Here are some images from Vienna in no particular order:

Nudeln mit Eier, the
Nudeln mit Eier, the “noodles” are rough-cut dough that is dropped into boiling water, cooked, drained and scrambled with eggs. A small green salad comes with this dish.
Typical basket of different kinds of rolls, at least one of which had coarse salt on the surface.
Typical basket of different kinds of rolls, at least one of which had coarse salt on the surface.

Continue reading Vienna: Carb-Loading & Loving It

RIP Philippine de Rothschild

Grande dame of Bordeaux wineries passes.

Baroness de Rothschild
Baroness de Rothschild

Philippine de Rothschild, revered as the grande dame of Bordeaux wine and part-owner of the legendary Chateau Mouton Rothschild vineyard, died last week at the of age 80. Baronness de Rothschild was the controlling shareholder in the family-owned Baron Philippe de Rothschild house, which produces the Mouton Cadet claret, the gold standard of Bordeaux wines. She and her three children together owned the wine houses of Chateau d’Armailhac and Chateau Clerc Milon.

She helped modernize and diversify the estate’s wine production, developing partnerships with vineyards in California and Chile. Her artist instincts kicked in and she was also responsible for choosing the artists who illustrated the labels of Chateau Mouton Rothschild collector wines,  working with such famous painters such as Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon.

She was the only daughter of grand prix racing driver and banking heir Phillipe de Rothschild, but she made a name for herself as an actress using the stage name, Philippine Pascal, before being called up to take over the family estate after her father died in 1988. She had married twice.

The Home Ranch’s Growing Organic Farm

Dude ranch with a difference grows its own.

Clyde Nelson in the greenhouse.
Clyde Nelson in the greenhouse.

The Home Ranch, located in the Upper Elk River Valley north of Steamboat Springs, is known for luxury, style and cuisine that meet the international standards of hospitality for Relais & Chateaux membership.

General manager and executive chef Clyde Nelson, has been performing culinary magic there for some 20 years, and for the last three he, his kitchen staff, master gardener Adele Carlson and her crew have created an organic farm to produce local, sustainable, high-quality vegetables and soon livestock to create gourmet cuisine for guests, enhancing the The Home Ranch’s position as a high-end Colorado culinary destination.

As the Ranch’s website explains, “the only way to eat here is to stay here; which is why some of our guests come just to indulge in the food. In spite of all the wonderful activities and adventures we offer our guests, the meals and conversation served in Clyde’s communal dining room are the heart and soul of the Home Ranch experience.”

Having grown up tending a big garden and selling home-grown produce at a roadside stand, Nelson learned to love fresh ingredients and nurtured a passion for quality that carried over into his career. Clyde’s Farm, long a dream, is now a reality.

Nelson wanted “to give our guests the experience of eating and dining with the freshest ingredients they’ve ever had.” Also, his objective was “to show guests how a high-country organic farm in Colorado can thrive with hands-on care and attention to detail shown by our and the chefs.”

Each morning, Carlson offers a tour of the farm, walking guests through the greenhouse, garden, orchard, chicken coups and potager, explaining the crops and why it’s so important for The Home Ranch to get back to the immediate farm-to-fork philosophy. Clyde’s Farm currently has 24 vegetable crops, 20 herb varieties, 54 chickens and six pigs. Next year, they plan to add lambs, goats and turkeys, continuing to increase flora and fauna over time.

Clyde’s Farm grew out of founders Steve and Ann Stranahan’s vision to support and sustain a local ranching and farming community with “an ongoing commitment to the stewardship of the land” and the goal for the next generation of the Stranahans to “nourish and foster the growth of ideas and sustainable businesses in the Clark valley, and to remain true to its founder’s vision.”

The Home Ranch offers a Harvest Week program called Wineries, Artisans and Chefs program from August 31 to September 7. The Home Ranch is at 54880 County Road 129, Clark, Colorado 80428; 970-329-4797.

Crying Over Spilled Wine

Napa wineries hard hit by 6.3 California quake.

BrokenWineBottleNews reports of yesterday’s earthquake in California include millions, maybe billions in building damage, and 170 injured. To wine lovers, nothing matters quite as  much as the damage to some of the 500 or so wineries in the Napa region. There are a whole lot of unhappy fellas in the whole Napa Valley these days. The San Francisco Chronicle posted a preliminary report. It includes lots of images of broken buildings, broken pavement and broken wine bottles. Not visible are the broken hearts.

Seasons 52 Opens in Lone Tree


Light fare & lots of wines featured at new arrival in Lone Tree. 

Seasons 52, an Orlando-based chain, describes itself as “a celebration of what’s good now. Seasonally inspired ingredients at their peak of freshness. Rustic cooking techniques that bring out natural flavors and are inherently lighter—with nothing on the menu more than 475 calories. And an ever-changing selection of global wines. All in a casually sophisticated setting.” Most locations are in the sunbelt, plus a few on the East Coast and elsewhere, with the brand new Lone Tree grill and wine bar being the first in this region. I couldn’t be at the media preview, but here are some appealing images of items from the menu:

Duck Lettuce Wraps
Duck Lettuce Wraps with red chili glaze, Asian pear and ginger-lime vinaigrette.
Grilled Sea Scallops
Grilled Sea Scallops with butternut squash risotto, broccolini and lemon butter.
Roasted Harvest Squashes, truly seasonal with the season being autumn.
Roasted Harvest Squashes, truly seasonal with the season being autumn.
Spinach and Caramelized Pear Salad.
Spinach and Caramelized Pear Salad.
Mini Indulgences turns out to be a fleet of small sweet treats.
Mini Indulgences turns out to be a fleet of small sweet treats.

I know that the emphasis is on seasonal, but I have no sense that local and/or organic play a part in the concept. I do like the fact that Seasons 52 offers 52 wines by the glass, selected by master sommelier George Miliotes of Darden Restaurants, whose brands (Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Yard House) include various levels and price points on the American dining scene.

Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

Los Cabos Hosts Big Food Fest

Sabor a Cabo coming to southern tip of Baja California.

SaborACabo-logoOne way to deliciously fill part of the gap between the Thanksgiving and Christmas-New Year’s holidays is at the ninth annual  Sabor a Cabo (Flavors of Cabo) food and wine festival in Los Cabos from November 30 through December 6. For the first time it includes a weeklong series of ticketed events highlighting the renowned regional cuisine of Baja California Sur and the wines of Mexico’s celebrated Baja wine region. And did I mention that high-season lodging rates are not yet in effect then?

These schedule features Country Side Taste, November 30; Sunset Gourmet Gala prepared by Michelin Star Chefs and served aboard a luxurious yacht, December 2;  Oktobeer Fest showcasing artisanal beer, local cuisine and music,December 3; Wine & Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo (my favorite town in Los Cabos), December 4, and a Star Chef Dine-Around, December 5.  The main event on December 6 from 5 to 11 p.m. in the Sculpture Garden in Puerto Los Cabos features 50 participating restaurants putting out what organizers call the “best-of-the-best” of international cuisine and wine beneath the stars.

Confirmed are such world-renowned chefs as Federico Zanellato, chef and partner of Copenhagen’s NOMA Restaurant (ranked No. 1 in the world), and Richard Sandoval, whose 35+ restaurants world-wide include Zengo, Tamayo and two La Sandias in the Denver area and Venga Venga in Snownass. Also, Dieter Koshina, owner of Portugal’s Vilajoya Restaurant (ranked No. 22 in the world); Roberto Alcocer, chef/owner of Malva Restaurant in Ensenada, Mexico; Najat Kaanache, chef/owner of Souk Restaurant, Dallas and former chef of Spain’s sadly shuttered El Bulli Restaurant; Thierry Blouet, chef/owner of Restaurant de Los Artistas, Puerto Vallarta, and Eduardo Osuna, founder of non-profit organization Chef to the Rescue in Mexico.

Festival tickets, which are available online, are $100 for general admission tickets prior to September 30 and $125 thereafter. Special lounge area access tickets are $150, and seats at VIP tables are $1,000 per person.  All the money raised during the Saturday, December 6 gala are to l be donated to the Fire Department, the Red Cross and Children’s Foundation of Los Cabos.

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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.