Friday, August 28, 2009

Cake Wrecks Author at Tattered Cover


Jen Yates, the author of the very popular and very funny blog, Cake Wrecks, has a new book coming out called "Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong." She will be at Tattered Cover in LoDo on Sept. 29 at 7:30 pm. Guests are invited to taste cake samples and participate in a cake wrecks cupcake contest. Info on the event can be found here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


B and I had a fun night at Lola recently. The kids were with the grandparents, so we hurried out of work and tried to make happy hour on a Friday. It turns out that 5:45 (15 minutes before happy hour ends) is a great time to get there, because that's right about when they kick people off a few tables on the patio to make room for diners. Since we were planning on eating, we got one of these tables right away, and still got to get a round for happy hour--a margarita for B and some sort of basil and lime concoction for me. I was a little disappointed in the latter. While I don't want a strong basil taste in my drink, I'd like to taste it a little. The drink didn't taste much different than the margarita.


We ordered the chips and tomatillo-green apple salsa to start, but got the charred tomato-chipotle salsa (shown above). Call me greedy, but when a restaurant makes a mistake like that, it really peeves me when the server doesn't leave the "wrong" dish there for you to eat. It was whisked quickly away while she went to get the right one. We'd already tasted it--what is she going to do, give it to someone else? I hate wasted food. Plus I would have liked to have had both salsas, of course! If I were the server, I'd bring the requested dish, but leave the mistake one there for the table to eat. Anyways...the tomatillo salsa was especially good.

We ordered the agave glazed pork belly sopes with cactus pickles, green chile mustard, and crispy onions to start. It was tasty--especially the cactus--but a little bland.


I ordered the field greens salad with manchego, fried green tomatoes, and cilantro vinaigrette--mainly because I can't resist fried green tomatoes. And these were especially good. Another peeve--the server brought my salad with our entrees. My entree was the chile blackened yellowtail tacos. These were fresh, but a bit underseasoned. Here are both dishes:


B got the ranchera smothered relleno burrito:


I was a little underwhelmed with Lola. My food was a little bland. The stars were the tomatilla salsa and the fried green tomatoes on my salad. The service was okay, but not stellar (although my server had an adorable hair cut!).

Here we are, with me looking smuggy. We had fun anyway--we were out without kids!


After we stopped in Zio Romolo's Alley Bar for a quick drink. It was a spur of the moment thing and we stupidly didn't realize it's attached to Pasquini's at first. It's an adorable skinny bar with gorgeous bar work (see the website), but my favorite part was the pictures in the ladies room (actually in Pasquini's), like this one:


It makes me laugh, what can I say? The bartender was nice and they had a good selection of locally made booze.

We stopped at Indulge French Bistro on the way home, just to check it out. We sat at the bar with the very loquacious and self-deprecating bartender who looks a wee bit like Eric Stolz (it's gotta be the long red hair). He made me a Manhattan with St. Germaine liqueur, which was good, although very sweet. And, on a whim, we ordered the Island Creek Oysters on ice with mignonette aspic. Oh my, were they good! I swear I could have eaten 7 orders of them. Here's a really crappy pic that doesn't do them justice at all. I will definitely head back there for more tastes sometime.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Denver Harvest Week

September 12-18, 2009 is Harvest Week for the Denver Independent Network of Restaurants (DINR). A number of excellent local restaurants will feature menus that focus on local ingredients.

You can see the list of restaurants and their menus here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Man Who Ate the World

The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner by Jay Rayner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was surprised at how much I liked this book. I picked it up expecting to not like it, because he kind of annoyed me on Top Chef Masters, but I enjoyed it immensely. And I'm very jealous of his little project to find the best fine dining experience there is. He's pompous, but amusing, which makes the former okay. Now, if I were to see him on Top Chef, I'd appreciate him.

If good food photography is "food porn," then this book is "food erotica." I could read his descriptions of meals anytime.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mountain Feast

We had a fantastic lunch at the cabin on Sunday. Take a look at our version of food porn. Every vegetable came from either one of our gardens or a farmers market. My garden has actually been producing some since the disastrous hail storm. And check out the cool Hall dishes my mom has.

First some sliced tomatoes from my garden. I think these are Roma:


Sauteed green beans with onions from my sister's garden:


More of the grilled globe squash with pesto and parmesan (from the farmers market):


Corn bought directly from a local farmer in Eastern Colorado (by my sister):


Grilled yellow squash (I can't remember if this came from my or my sister's garden):


Palisade peaches from the farmers market:


We had chicken (not pictured), but also a little fish that my brother in law caught that morning. My dad grilled it with butter and lemon and it was delicious, even though we each only got a few bites. It's not such a pretty picture, but twas tasty. Here it is on the grill:


It was my sister's birthday and she asked for fruit pizza in place of a cake. Our recipe has a brown sugar, butter, and pecan crust, rather than the traditional cookie crust. Much better, in my opinion.


And I took picture of these awesome tongs that were my grandmother's just because I love them. They remind me of an archaic medical tool. I've already claimed it after the parents are gone, haha:




Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mountain Appetites

We're at my parents' cabin in Wyoming. They live off the grid, yet somehow have satellite internet. No phone, but internet. Strange, eh? They have solar power and well water. They live here all summer and then go to Arizona in the winter.

When we're here we eat like kings. What is it about the mountains (being outside? altitude?) that make your appetite so much bigger and make everything taste better. Yesterday we started with an afternoon snack of s'mores. Nuff said.

For dinner we had chicken grilled with olive oil, fresh basil, and salt. Our sides were some globe squash I picked up at the farmer's market. I'd never tried these before. They taste a bit like zucchini, but sweeter. Maybe even a little cucumbery.


I cut them into wedges and brushed them with pesto, then we grilled them. Just before they were finished I sprinkled them with parmesano romano. They were really good!

We also had one of my favorite dishes of all time: "camp potatoes with the B---- special sauce." This is a favorite dish from my childhood that we only made when camping. Basically, it's just sliced potatoes and onions fried in oil. Slice the potatoes thinly and fry them in vegetable oil. It's best to start the onions in a separate small pan if you can, so that they don't burn. They tend to brown more quickly. Cook them until translucent, then set aside. Add them to the potatoes when done. Pour the dish onto paper towels to drain some of the extra grease.

The "B---" (my maiden name) special sauce is just mayo and ketchup mixed together. Pure white trash heaven. Our family falls into two camps: the mayo camp (led by me) and the Miracle Whip camp (led by my Dad). And god forbid we have only one. The other side will whine like crazy. Poor mom. Each person has to mix up their own with their preferred ratios. Dip forkfuls of the camp potatoes into the special sauce and enjoy the deliciousness.

We also had corn on the cob and I brought tomatoes from my garden to slice and serve w/salt and pepper, but forgot, so I guess we'll have that for lunch. For dessert, my dad made his special homemade vanilla ice cream.

My dad is always in charge of breakfast and he does it well. Today we had bacon and almost silver dollar-sized pancakes. He cooked these on their wood burning stove.


Bacon is always yummy, but it tastes about 20 times better in the mountains. What's up with that?

The kids like to grind the coffee beans in the old fashioned grinder next to the stairs.


That's my mom's first place ribbon for a pie making contest next to it and my Dad's (Chuck) chuck wagon sign. We made the coffee in a French press--the stronger the better, in my opinion. And then sit on their back porch where they have a bunch of feeders set up just outside. It's teeming with birds, squirrels, and chipmunks. There's also a salt lick and water hole and if you're lucky and a mama moose and her baby will join you for coffee. Pure heaven!

I was so busy eating I forgot to take pictures of the food! I really need to stop doing that...

Friday, August 14, 2009

They All Beat Me To It

I've been eating lots of asian meals in a bowl lately. I've had these pictures to post and then found stuff about both restaurants on other sites today.

First, a recent lunch at Domo, an absolutely stunning Japanese restaurant. It's worth going there just for the decor and garden. But the food ain't bad either. Is it the "best in Denver" as so many say? Not sure about that, but it's pretty darn good. And yes, as everyone says, the service is lacking. And yes, it also annoys me that they are so hard core about the "no condiment" rule. I don't think I'd ask for condiments, but it bugs me that I can't. And they don't bring your food out at the same time as the person you're sitting with. Hate that. But look at these beautiful trays of food:

A noodle bowl with udon and shrimp tempura:


Nabemono with Kara miso (chili and Japanese bean paste) and Tori Nabe (chicken and vegetables):


Both served with 3 country side vegetables.

And delicious Jamaica iced tea: "Jamaica tea is made from the red hibiscus flower and is one of Domo’s most popular herb teas. Jamaica tea is rich in vitamin C and potassium, and said to be good for your heart and digestion. So this season’s harvest is fresh, delicious and good for you too! This robust, citric tea is imported directly from Mexico." It's so yummy and refreshing. Sadly they were out of Sapporo, so B had to make due with a Kirin.

So today, I see that Denveater has a post on Domo. Much more thorough than this one and lots of great pictures.

I also went to Pho 95 for the first time this week. All the rave reviews on that Yelp link are true. The food is so good and comforting and the service is so great. The waiter mentioned is so nice and gave my friend and I a lesson in eating pho.

Here's my seafood pho. My mouth waters every time I look at it.


And our spring roll and the pho "accoutrements" on the side:


So this morning, I see a post on Twitter with a link to "How to Eat a Bowl of Pho" and referencing Pho 95. Another good post with delicous pics.

Tonight: something different--Mexican at Lola. Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Rose Cake"

Okay, so the way I make this cake has nothing to do with roses. My family just calls it that. It's a recipe that came with a rose shape bundt pan my mother got from Williams Sonoma. I just use a regular bundt pan. Not as pretty, but tastes just as good. The version on their website is for a larger cake. Here is what came with the pan and that I use.

Rose Cake (or Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Lime Glaze)

2 3/4 C flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
2 sticks butter
6 oz. cream cheese
2 1/2 C sugar
5 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 T lime juice
2 t lime zest

For glaze:
5 T sugar
1 T plus 1 t lime juice (and more as needed)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour bundt cake pan.

Sift together flour, soda, salt.

In electric mixer with flat beater, beat butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth (30-40 sec). Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, approximately 5 min. Increase speed to medium-high and add eggs, beating well after each one. Beat in vanilla and lime juice. Reduce speed to low and add flour in 3 additions, beating each one until just incorporated. Stir in zest. Spoon into pan, making sides 1" higher than center.

Bake 65-70 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and granulated sugar until blended.

Invert the pan onto the wire rack and lift off the pan. Drizzle warm cake with the glaze.

This cake was a huge hit at a barbeque we went to this weekend. In fact, I heard the host refused to share the leftovers with the rest of his family! But seriously, how can you go wrong with a cake with two sticks of butter, cream cheese, and 5 eggs.

Monday, August 10, 2009

French Milk

French Milk French Milk by Lucy Knisley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What an adorable little graphic "novel," although really more a daily diary of a young woman's trip to Paris with her mother. Lots about the wonderful food she eats (my favorite) and some about the panic many of us have in our early 20s (I remember that panicky feeling of "Oh no, I'm an 'adult.' What the heck do I do now?")

You don't have to be a francophile to enjoy this book, but you just might become one after reading it.

View all my reviews >>

In the Heart of the Canyon

In the Heart of the Canyon In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. It didn't have much plot (I seem to be reading a lot of enjoyable books like that lately). It's about a group of people going on a raft trip down the Grand Canyon and what happens on the trip and the relationships that develop. It was a little unbelievable that so many bad things could happen on such a trip--can you say cursed trip? But it was a great story. I found myself unable to put the book down.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wine Bar Week - Wednesday

On Wednesday, we started with lunch at Sherpa House in Golden. Love this place! And hope to post more about it soon. I've tried numerous dishes there and all have been excellent. They have a gorgeous patio too and really cool decorations inside--it's practically a museum. They serve Nepalese, Tibetan, and Indian food.

On this particular day they had some fish specials and I got the salmon. The picture looks ridiculously yellow, because we were sitting under a yellow awning.


We ended up having dinner at Marrakech Cafe on S. Colorado and I was pleasantly surprised. We hadn't planned on going there, but ended up there after a day of mishaps. I judge a middle eastern restaurant by its baba ghanouj and theirs was really good.

We saw Food, Inc. at the nearby theater and it was good, but hey, they're preaching to the choir here.

On our way home we stopped at Sketch Wine Bar. Warning: despite their address and articles about them, they are NOT on Broadway, they are around the corner on 1st. We were full so did not eat, but I had a nice glass of red and some of their white sangria, which I really enjoyed. They limit you to three. I'd like to go to the limit some time. It was very refreshing and not overly sweet. The dj was annoying and unnecessary for a quiet Wednesday night (okay, not so quiet with her loud tunes). Do you really need a dj to play Hall and Oates, and not even mix it with something else? So we sat outside and enjoyed the night air and Baker people watching.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I actually got some tomatoes from my hail-beaten garden! Last night I used them to make my famous salsa--really a pico de gallo. I loosely use Molly Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook recipe, but it's best if you just eye the amounts and don't measure anything too exactly.

Tomato Salsa

3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
2 scallions, finely minced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
A handful of parsley, finely minced
A handful of cilantro, finely minced
1 teaspoon lightly toasted cumin seeds
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Crushed red pepper, to taste
1 jigger tequila

Drop the tomatoes into simmering water for 10 seconds. Take them out, pull off the skins and squeeze out the seeds.

Dice the remaining pulp. Combine tomatoes with remaining ingredients in a small bowl or container. Cover tightly and chill. Yield: 11/2 to 2 cups.

Now here's the most important step (and my variation on Katzen's recipe): while you're making the salsa, about half way through, stop and do the shot of tequila. I promise this will make your salsa taste better! You know, the whole making food with love kind of thing.

The longer you leave your salsa, the better it will taste. I often check after about an hour and end up adding more crushed red pepper. It will get hotter with time though.

I tried to take a picture, but apparently when you photograph salsa with a Blackberry it turns out looking like puke.