Thursday, November 4, 2010


Ugh. I have neglected this blog. I've eaten some pretty fantastic stuff lately, but have not felt inspired to record it here. I write this blog for myself, so that I can remember some of these great meals, and I'm going to regret this laziness. But sometimes you can't force things...or maybe you can, and I should.

Off the top of my head, where have I eaten that I should have blogged about? Very briefly, there was

  • Fruition for my birthday: simply fantastic.
  • Mizuna for our anniversary: just as good as Fruition, maybe even better. Plus we got the special treatment.
  • There was a simply awful experience at Black Pearl (although the food was good). Done with them.
  • There have been fun Justice League of Street Food parties.
  • A so-so meal at The Corner Office.
  • Fantastic service and fun times at Cafe Brazil. Plus free tapas at Happy Hour! Book your reservation early. We did tapas and then a meal.
  • Awful service and blah food at The Lobby.
  • Possibly the best service of all at SmashBurger in Wheat Ridge, of all places.
  • Many great meals at Udi's Pizza Cafe Bar in Arvada. We like it because it's close, the kids like it, and we like the food and the cocktails/wine. So hard to find that combo.
  • I've reported on it before, but yesterday I treated myself to the chicken pho at Pho 95. Went all by myself and perhaps enjoyed the meal best that way, because I could really focus on the food. So good for a Fall day.
  • A wonderful warm, cozy, and incredibly tasty meal at Venue Bistro.
  • Great bar food and whiskey at Rackhouse Pub.
  • Culinary adventures in Columbus (!?!) and Vegas.
  • Romantic tapas and Spanish wine at 9th Door.

Tonight is girls' night out at TAG. Will it inspire me to jump back on the blogging bandwagon? If the above didn't, it'll be tough. But who knows...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chef Roy Yamaguchi Answers My Question About Hawaiian Cuisine

Check out this article by Gorging Global and The Mouthful at Denver Magazine. I got a chance to ask Hawaiian Chef Roy Yamaguchi a question of my choosing. I asked the following:

Because Hawaii is relatively small and composed of islands, I imagine that much of its food is flown in from other places. Has the local food movement gained popularity there like it has in many other states? If so, has this changed the typical Hawaiian cuisine in any significant ways?

Thanks for giving me the opportunity, Denver Magazine!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Grilling with Whiskey-Ginger Marinade

When it's hot out (like it is right now), we usually grill. We probably grill close to 75% of our meals during the summer. One of our favorite marinades/sauces is this Whiskey Ginger marinade. The recipe in the link is specifically for chicken, but I would think you could use it on just about anything. We've used it on pork chops and it was great. We've served it to guests a few times and they all practically licked their plates.

You certainly don't have to use Stranahan's whiskey. In fact, you might want to save that one for sipping and use a lesser quality whiskey for cooking. It'll still be good. But since Stranahan's is a local obsession of mine, I wanted to post that picture.

Whiskey - Ginger Grill

4 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or equivalent amount of other meat)
1/3 cup bourbon
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin.

Combine bourbon and next 9 ingredients (bourbon through garlic). Reserve 1/3 cup marinade. Pour remaining marinade into a zip-top plastic bag; add chicken. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.

Preheat grill to medium-hot using both burners.

Turn left burner off (leave right burner on). Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Coat grill rack with cooking spray. Place chicken on grill rack over right burner; grill 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Move chicken to grill rack over left burner. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until done. Slice each breast diagonally into thin strips; place chicken on a platter. Cover loosely with foil.

Combine water and cornstarch, stirring well with a whisk. Place reserved 1/3 cup marinade in a small saucepan; stir in cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil; cook 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Drizzle sauce over chicken; sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My New Favorite Zucchini Recipe

Photobucket Zucchini Latkes

The zucchini have started producing and it's going to be a bumper crop this year. Friends and family: you know they're comin' at ya! As always, I am on a never-ending search to use these fertile critters. I found a recipe for zucchini latkes that I'd clipped from who knows where, but didn't have most of the ingredients. Switched a ton of stuff out, made changes here and there, and voila! What turns out to be my favorite dish of the summer so far.

1 C shredded zucchini
1 large egg (2 if they're smaller, or batter seems dry), beaten slightly
~ 2 T minced shallots
3 T flour
1/2 C corn (I used frozen, but fresh would be better)
1/2 C bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

That's it! These were sweet and savory and all around delicous.

Just mix the ingredients. Coat your pan with olive oil and heat on medium. Form the latkes into patties about 1/2 inch thick and fry on both sides until golden brown, turning once.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Root Down Green Restaurant Tour

Not long ago a friend, L, and I attended the Green Route Restaurant Tour stop at Root Down. When we got there, we still weren't sure what to expect from the "tour." We thought there would be a tour of the kitchen (which is pretty laughable if you see the size of Root Down't kitchen--plus it's pretty open and you can see it when you walk by it to your table). It turned out to basically be free appetizers and drink specials. Woohoo!

Denver's Green Route, it turns out, is "a green map for the City of Denver, showcasing the cutting edge sustainable businesses and organizations that make Denver a global leader in sustainability." The "tour" was a series of evenings at green restaurants in Denver, featuring free apps and drink specials to encourage people to try a new green restaurant (or re-visit an old one). The tour is over for now, but the Green Route host told me there would be another one this summer, so watch their site for announcements. You do need to reserve a spot and have a pass. Definitely worth attending.

I love the retro decorations of the restaurant. It's in an old garage with doors that can be pulled up when the weather is nice. They have this wall of rotary phones in the bar area (photo courtesy here). They have a similar wall of retro scales in the ladies room, which I took a picture of, but can't seem to find now. Check out this slide show at Metromix for some good pictures of the decor and food.

Green Route served us a number of appetizers including sweet potato fries with a toasted curry-lime yogurt dipping sauce, smoked portobello wontons with leeks, shallots, mascarpone & soy-mint "dunk," and sweet potato samosa "spring rolls," my favorite. Some people were lucky enough to get oyster sliders (but sadly not me). We really liked all of the appetizers. L and I drank “42 Below” rosemary-lavender lemonades, which were refreshing and delicious.

We also had dinner reservations. Our server was super nice and wearing some great jewelry. I commented on one of her rings and it turns out they're her own designs. She takes old vinyl records and other materials and melts them down to make really cool designs. She doesn't have a website yet, but she does sell her items at Eve, Inc. boutique on Larimer. I'm pretty certain the black rings and cuffs here are hers. Just go there and ask for Junky Funk Designs jewelry.

Anyways, back to the food. We shared a nice cheese plate and seared diver scallops with plantain hash, lemon-habanero tartar Sauce & crispy leeks. The scallops were a bit underdone for my taste and the accompaniments were super salty. We each had a different slider plate. I had the hoisin duck confit slider with lemon creme fraiche, shoestring sweet potatoes, and arugula, served on an Udis challah bun. This dish was WAY too sweet for my taste (a common problem with duck dishes, I've found), and L had buffalo sliders with Mongolian BBQ, shitake mushroom relish, and arugula, also served on an Udi’s challah bun with burdock root chips, which she enjoyed.

While I didn't love all the dishes, I still had a great time and would definitely go back--especially for appetizers and cocktails.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tips for the Farmers' Market

Here's a good article from Serious Eats for shopping your local Farmers' Market:

10 Tips to Take to the Farmers' Market.

I would add an 11th tip: be sure to ask whether the produce is actually local. You'd be surprised how often it is not (unless you're at the Boulder market, where it is required).

Friday, May 28, 2010

Moroccan Carrot Soup

I made this recipe from Bon Appetit last night and it was great. It was probably not the best idea to make it on the hottest day of the year so far, but the results were worth my sweat. Also, I wouldn't exactly call it a "quick" recipe. Maybe a "moderate amount of time" recipe.

Moroccan Carrot Soup


2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped white onion
1 pound large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 2/3 cups)
2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
red pepper to taste
1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred to loosen


Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Mix in carrots. Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir cumin seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes; cool. Finely grind--you can do so in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle like I did. Bon Appetit also recommends that you can seal the seeds in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag, and use the flat side of a meat mallet or a heavy-duty metal rolling pin to pulverize them.

Remove soup from heat. Puree in batches in blender until smooth. Return to same pan. Whisk in honey, lemon juice, and allspice. Season with salt and pepper. The original recipe does not call for red pepper, but when I make it again, I will add it. A little heat would make it just perfect.

Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle yogurt over; sprinkle generously with cumin.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Squeaky Bean

B and I recently had one of the most fun nights out we've had in a long time, with a night out with another couple at The Squeaky Bean. L and I met the guys (our husbands) there. It was loud and packed and they were waiting at the bar and VERY happy that they were drinking "Man Beer," which is a beer from Bull and Bush. When you order, make sure you do so in a very manly voice.

I ordered a "Squeaky Spritz," which consists of Prosecco, Aperol Italian Aperitivo Liqueur, Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water, and is garnished with a Castelvetrano olive. I had to get it because it sounded like such an odd combination withe the olive. It looks like an orange pop (although this pic looks red)--pretty much the color of that nasty orange drink from McDonalds that you used to get in the big yellow and red jugs. Ick. But it was surprisingly refreshing and not too sweet--just the way I like my cocktails. I'd venture to say it's one of my new favorite cocktails, but unfortunately one I probably won't try to recreate at home, due to the unique ingredients. And the olive Weird. I got the photo to the left from a nice photo essay on The Squeaky Bean from Metromix.

We started off with the Pig Platter and the fonduta. Seriously, how can you go wrong with something called a "pig platter?" And it is served on the cutest wooden pig tray ever. Basically, it was an assortment of cured pork (duh).

The fonduta was made out of gruyere and pureed potato and was served with grilled bread. Decadent and delicious! I could bathe in the stuff. Seriously.

After we got a table we ordered the crispy medjool dates with cambazola and prosciutto--always a crowd pleaser. We also got the burrata, which comes with butternut squash agro-dulce, micro fennel, and grilled bread. This was the only "disappointment" of the evening and it really was quite good. It just didn't stand up to the other dishes. (Plus I'm totally spoiled by Osteria Marco's burrata and should know better than to order it anywhere else).

We also got the roasted cauliflower salad with medjool dates, smoked trout, curry vinaigrette, and parsley coulis. I would never think to order this, if it hadn't been for this post from Denveater. Please go there to see a gorgeous pic of this amazing dish. Cauliflower is just not something that usually interests me particularly. I have nothing against it. This salad elevated cauliflower to a higher level. Although, I suppose if you mix just about any vegetable with medjool dates, smoked trout, curry vinaigrette, and parsley coulis it's going to be amazing, right?

After so many small plates, we got just two entrees to share between the four of us. By this time (ie., after several Squeaky Spritzes--and let's not even talk about the boys and their Man Beers), I wasn't taking pics and not paying attention to the details of the menu, but one had pork belly and one had kobe beef. The pork belly was awesome and the kobe wasn't my favorite as the sauce was really salty. I seem to recall there being a lot of mint and peas on the dishes, since SB focuses on seasonal ingredients. In fact, I swear I could still taste peas the next day. Plus I was ridiculously full all day the next day too!

At some point in the evening I also tried the Tejon Fizz cocktail, which our server described as tasting just like a gummy bear. It's made of Van Gogh pineapple vodka, muddled cardamom pods, fresh lemon juice, a whisper of agave nectar, and club soda. It was definitely sweet and a little too sweet for me. Plus I just liked that Squeaky Spritz so damn much...

I did not see the kitchen, but I've heard that it is very tiny and has only one convection oven. How they put out so many incredible dishes is truly a feat. This is now one of our favorite places in town. Can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Making the Most of Your CSA Bounty

Here's a good article from Serious Eats on making the most of all the wonderful fruits and veggies you get from your CSA.

You can find a CSA here. If you're not familiar with the term, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is where you buy "shares" of a farmer's crop and get a weekly box of whatever produce they have available. I currently do something like a CSA with Door to Door Organics. I'd prefer to do a CSA, but I need that home delivery with our hectic lifestyle. I love getting that weekly box of fruits and veggies, but sometimes they can be overwhelming and I hate hate hate letting stuff go to waste. So the above article has some common sense, but still useful tips.

If anybody knows of a local CSA that delivers and I don't have to pick up the box, let me know!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ruth Reichl Cancelled

Her Boulder book store and Denver Tattered Cover readings are cancelled. Apparently she broke her foot. Now I have no excuse to not go to the Cub Scout Pack meeting. :-(

Another Reason to Love Asparagus

Eat Asparagus to Prevent a Hangover

My favorite way to eat asaparagus is to brush it with pesto and grill it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Orecchiette with Rapini, Sausage, and Garlic Crumbs

Orecchiette with Rapini, Sausage, and Garlic Crumbs

This dish was a huge hit in our house!

I get a weekly delivery from Door to Door Organics, a company that delivers organic food to your house. It's kind of like a CSA, but of course, in the winter, you're not getting much local food. They do try to do local as much as possible. It's fun to try cooking with new vegetables. This last week I got rapini or broccoli rabe, which I've eaten but never cooked with before. I searched the internet and found this recipe, which is going to stay on our regular menu rotation.

For garlic crumbs:

2 cups fresh (not dry) breadcrumbs (made from approximately 5 slices bread)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 Tablespoons olive oil

For meat sauce:

4 sweet or mild Italian sausages, casings removed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
1 bunch (about 1 lb. / 450 grams) blanched rapini, chopped into 2" pieces
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 (500 g) package orecchiette or penne

To make garlic crumbs:

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic and sauté on medium heat for about 20 seconds. Add breadcrumbs and stir until all crumbs are coated with oil.
Sauté crumbs on medium heat, watching carefully, until they turn brown and crisp. Remove from pan and set aside. Crumbs can be made in advance and kept in a dry, covered container.

To blanch the rapini:

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Boil rapini for 4 minutes and drain. Plunge rapini immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking.

To make meat sauce:

In a deep skillet, heat olive oil. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté on medium heat for about 25 seconds. Add sausage meat and break meat up with a spatula or spoon.
Cook sausage meat until browned and cooked through. Add blanched rapini to the pan and sauté for about 2 minutes.
While meat is browning, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 2 Tablespoons of the cooking water.
Add drained pasta to the meat and rapini mixture and reserved pasta water. Stir together until all ingredients are evenly combined. Add garlic crumbs to pasta and toss to coat. Add a drizzle of olive oil if the pasta seems dry.
Season with salt and pepper and serve with grated parmesan cheese.

This made quite a lot, so at first I added only half of the bread crumbs to half of the pasta. That way the breadcrumbs didn't get soggy for leftovers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chicken Sausage, Sweet Onion, and Fennel Pizza

This pizza was the bomb! Even my 6 year old loved it (we won't talk about the 8 year old, who didn't try it. But that was good because it left more for the rest of us). It also proved to my husband that fennel bulb tastes different than fennel seed--not so licorice-y. (See, honey? I'm always right.)

We served it with a nice salad and it made a perfect week night quick meal.

Chicken Sausage, Sweet Onion, and Fennel Pizza

3 ounces chicken apple sausage, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups vertically sliced Oso Sweet or other sweet onion
1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 1 small bulb)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) prebaked pizza crust
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Gouda cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives


1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan.

3. Add oil to pan. Add onion, fennel, and salt; cover and cook 10 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

4. Place pizza crust on a baking sheet. Top evenly with onion mixture; sprinkle with cheese, and top evenly with sausage. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle evenly with chives. Cut pizza into 8 wedges.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Dish Here, A Dish There

Seared foie gras with fried bacon bread pudding and fig compote at Solera:


Crappy picture. Great dish.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ruth Reichl at Tattered Cover April 27

One of my favorite memoirists (and so much more!) will be at Tattered Cover on April 27th to read and sign from her new book. I'll be there or be square.

From the Tattered Cover website:

Ruth Reichl
Tuesday, April 27, 7:30 pm, Colfax Avenue
A former New York Times restaurant critic, editor-in-chief of Gourmet, and the author of three bestselling memoirs, Ruth Reichl will read from and sign the new paperback edition of her memoir For You, Mom. Finally ($13.00 Penguin), her openhearted investigation of the life of a woman she realizes she never really knew—her mother.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Latest Obsessions

Just random thoughts on two food products I'm obsessing over these days. And they just happen to be local.

The first is Chocolove's (from Boulder) Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate bar.

At Christmas, a coworker gave me a Chocolove bar with cherries and almonds. It was great. So when I saw chocolove bars on sale at Vitamin Cottage I picked up some of the other flavors, the aforementioned obsession and one with crystallized ginger in 65% dark chocolate. That one could become an obsession if the almonds and sea salt one didn't exist. OMG, just enough salt to make the dark chocolate seem even richer. It is SO good.

My other obsession is Noosa yoghurt, also from Boulder.


And I'm not just saying this because 5280 Magazine just featured this as their obsession this week. I discovered it last week when I visited the relatively new In Season Local Market in Highlands--a very cute (VERY small) market that only carries local products. This place is about the size of a closet! I got one container of the Noosa raspberry yoghurt and the next day had to track down some more. Luckily my Whole Foods carries it. Yogurt doesn't usually excite me, but this stuff is incredible! It's really thick and tastes more like a pot de creme or something. I've tried all 3 flavors (that I could find) and love them all equally.

So run out and get both of these products, if you can. I'm not sure you can get the yoghurt outside of the Denver area, but you can order the Chocolove online.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Queen Creek Olive Mill, Arizona


My parents winter in Mesa, Arizona, since their WY cabin is too far off the grid to inhabit properly (or pleasantly) in the winter. We recently visited them and they took us to Queen Creek Olive Mill, Arizona's only operating olive farm and mill.

There, they have--in addition--to the farm and mill--a snack bar and shop. The snack bar, del Piero at the Mill, was really quite special.


I had a fantastic antipasto plate with fresh Mozzarella drizzled with fresh basil pesto, artisan cheeses, “Pork Shop” gourmet meats, fruit, roasted vegetables, local pistachios, del Piero Country Olive Mix, and grilled olive bread. I got the plate for one, but it was huge and I shared it with all. I had a glass of chianti with it. B had a sandwich and the boys got nutella and banana sandwiches (the place has kids meals!) with chips and a cookie.

We ate our lunch on their gorgeous, shaded patio area surrounded by herb gardens and lawns.



Don't you like how the olive leaves frame that last picture as if I photoshopped a border? (I didn't.) My only complaint about the place is that "for safety reasons" you can't tour the farm area and see the "real" olive trees. The ones on the visitor's center are all ornamental olives.

The "tour" was short and quick. It started with us seated outside while one of the workers told us the history, etc. of the place. We then moved inside where we got to see the olives being pressed. Here is the "caca," as they called it--or leftovers after the oil has been pressed out of the olives.


Mmmm...appetizing, eh?

But look at these beautiful olives:


We then got to taste the freshest olive oil I've ever tasted (less than 20 minutes after pressing) and a number of their olives.

In the shop, they also have all of their olive oils for tasting. I went a little nuts in the shop. I got truffle olive oil and Mexican Lime olive oil (my favorite--makes fantastic vinaigrette). As a gift for a coworker, I got blood orange olive oil and pomegranate white balsamic vinegar. I also got some sun-baked tomato basil stuffed olives and some Mexican Lime olive oil cakes (these were awesome!). You can order all, but the cakes, through their website.

Here is the recipe for the olive oil cake from their website:

Olive Oil Cake

3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups granulated sugar
10 oz. QCOM Mexican Lime Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10 oz. milk
2 oz. lime juice
3 tsp. lime zest
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 if convection oven). Grease a 10 inch pan. Whisk the eggs, sugar, olive oil, milk, citrus juice, and zest. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Whisk until blended. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour.

Queen Creek Olive Mill was low key and delicious. I highly recommend it if you're in the area.

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's All About the Music Today

Wheee! I just bought my Pavement tickets. Now I can right another old regret.

In addition, I was alerted that one of my favorite bands of the nineties, Th' Faith Healers reformed (apparently in 2006!) and played some dates last year. Now if only I could see them....

For your listening pleasure:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Denver Restaurant Week Update: Panzano

Last but not least, and a little late since Denver Restaurant Week. Panzano was really doing a nice deal because they offered four, rather than the usual three, dishes for $52.80 (for two people). As you can see on their published menu, they had 3-5 options for each course. They also had $5 glasses of a red wine and $4 glasses of a white, contributing to the good deal.

I started with the "Anatra Mousse con Zeppole," which consisted of duck liver mousse with thyme, parmesan doughnuts and a cranberry maple compote. I've been dying to try this dish ever since I read about it here on Denveater. Check out that link for some good pics too. Who knew that duck could taste so dessert-y? Because this tasted more like a dessert than an app. The donuts were light and a little sweet and a little savory. I believe the duck liver mousse had honey on it (or maybe maple syrup?) and was so creamy. When you put it with the the cranberry maple compote on the donuts, it was totally something I'd enjoy as dessert or as an appetizer.

For the second dish, I had the Truffled Potato Leek Soup. It was my least favorite dish of the night. Not bad, but didn't excite me.

For my entree, I had the Gamberi Griglia: "grilled jumbo shrimp stuffed with Medjool dates wrapped with house pancetta, served over polenta, and topped with gorgonzola cheese." This was a great dish: sweet from the dates, salty from the pancetta, pungent from the gorgonzola (but not overpoweringly). I loved it.

For dessert, I had the lavender Chocolate Pâté with sea salt, micro-basil, extra virgin olive oil, candied orange zest and toasted hazelnuts--quite the plethora of flavors! Yet, somehow it all worked. I've had a lot of things with chocolate, but not basil. I guess I shouldn't be surprised it worked, since dark chocolate and basil are two fo my favorite things. It was a small slab of chocolate, but was so rich and flavorful, you wouldn't want more. I could barely finish it!

Our server was great. Very friendly and helpful.

It's hard to choose which was better for DRW--Rioja or Panzano--if it hadn't been for the entree meats at Rioja they'd "win." I guess I'll leave it at they both were fantastic and a great deal for $52.80.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Denver Harvest Week - Black Pearl Report

Last Saturday we got a sitter and headed on over to Black Pearl restaurant to celebrate Denver Restaurant Week. They have a nice, cozy space. We sat in the loft area, which was crowded and warm, but overall pleasant none the less.

B was disappointed that they changed their published DRW menu and didn't have the short ribs. What was annoying was that the problem wasn't that they didn't have the short ribs, they just moved them to their "tasting menu" which was a (little) more expensive ($33) and had different choices for the other courses, which he didn't want. They also replaced with the buffalo chili with a curry carrot soup.

I, however, was happy with the changes. The soup was A. MAY. ZING. I could have licked my bowl. I got the cassoulet and B got the snapper (which replaced the short ribs). We both liked our entrees, but switched half way through, because we like the other's better.

For dessert, we shared the two options: a "Butterscotch" Pot de Creme with a chocolate cookie, which wasn't very butterscotchy--more like a custard--but was very tasty; and a cheese plate, which was small, but an okay size for me (and for a DRW menu).

Our server was very nice. There was a snafu with our bread, but she was so nice it didn't matter. BTW, they serve their bread with butter that has a smoky-flavored salt on it. I've seen this salt (or something similar) at Savory Spice Shop and almost got it. Now I definitely have to stop in and pick some up. Yum!

After dinner, we stopped in at Pearl Martini Lounge, above India's Pearl, for one drink. I had a cardamom martini, which was downright nasty, even though I love cardamom and martinis. The cardamom was just too concentrated and perhaps they're too tastes which don't go together). However, it was a nice space and the smell coming from India's Pearl was amazing. We'll be heading there soon, fo sho.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Denver Restaurant Week Update: Steuben's

We hit Steuben's up for Denver Restaurant Week, because a) it's a place we can take the kids and b) I've been wanting to try their lobster roll. For $52.80 (for two), you each get a big bowl of clam chowder, their lobster roll, pudding, and a Sam Adams. They list "R.W. Pudding" on their published menu, which is a butterscotch pudding, but the night we went, they also had a chocolate pudding. These are all items on their regular menu, except the desserts (I think).

The clam chowder was decent but not thrilling. The lobster roll is served on grilled, buttered Texas Toast and I liked it very much, but B wasn't thrilled. Here's a picture from Westword's Cafe Society:


I had the off-menu chocolate pudding which was salted and had a hint of chile. If you don't like salt with your chocolate, you wouldn't like this, because it was uber-salty. But I must admit I like it that way. The meal itself was pretty darn salty. Our server was not the friendliest I've ever had, but adequate.

The highlight of the meal was the Scorpion Bowl--or as B and I like to call it, the Flaming Moe--which was not this:

but the possibly even more exciting this:


This is for 2-4 people, people--we had 3 and there was more than enough to go around. It's hard to tell in our picture, but that center well is filled with 151 Rum and FLAMING! The drink is 48 whopping ounces and consists of Myers's Original Dark Rum, Three Olives Cherry Vodka, Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, pineapple juice, OJ and cranberry juice (in addition to that flaming Bacardi 151). At first sip, I thought, ick. But the more you drink that baby, the better it tastes!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Green Eggs and Ham Pizza

In honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday, here's a recipe I made tonight called "Egg, Ham, and Spinach Pizza" by Ellie Krieger, but I've rechristened it "Green Eggs and Ham Pizza." (Actually when I made it I wasn't thinking about Dr. Seuss, but today I realized it's a happy coincidence.)

It smelled incredible, was tasty, and VERY easy. Can't beat that!

1 store-bought baked thin-crust pizza shell, preferably whole-wheat, such as Boboli (Or better yet, make your own. I used the easy way out, though)
4 cups (about 4 ounces) baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 ounces prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (1 1/2 ounces)
3 cloves thinly sliced garlic
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place the pizza shell on a cookie sheet. Scatter spinach all over crust. Drizzle with oil. Evenly distribute prosciutto, Parmesan and garlic on top of spinach. Crack eggs onto pizza, roughly positioning 1 yolk on each pizza quarter. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until spinach is wilted and egg whites are just fully cooked.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pavement Denver Date!

At last!

Pavement to Play Broomfield's 1stBank Center in September

Denver Restaurant Week Update: Rioja (and a little TAG)

The first night of Denver Restaurant Week we went to Rioja. Their DRW menu featured many of its regular items, but some with an upcharge. I started with some kind of pear/almond cocktail that was thick, since it had pear puree in it, but was delicious. They brought around their bread. One thing that Rioja does especially well is homemade breads and crackers. A server brings around a large basket of bread with several choices. I had the lavender sourdough and goat cheese-rosemary bread. I LOVE that lavender sourdough. I mentioned it before when I posted about Rioja's Sips and Snacks. I'm afraid I did not get pictures, so here is one from kevinEats.


For our appetizer, we got the Rioja “picnic” to share--a trio of artisan meats (prosciutto, soppressata, and salami if I remember correctly), gorgonzola, olives, almonds, truffle fennel salad, orange confit, and sweet goat cheese balls with pine nuts that were battered and fried. It came with homemade crackers. It was all delicious, but the salad, confit and goat cheese balls were out of this world. It's an appetizer for two and quite filling. I love me a meat/cheese/ snack plate and this one was exceptional. Here is a picture from Meal Makeover Moms.


Before I get to the entrees, let's talk about dessert. You got to choose one dessert to share for their DRW menu (I don't know what they do if only person orders the DRW menu). We got their famous beignets--sweet goat cheese and black mission fig filled pastries served with a ruby port wine reduction. These beignets were on Denver Magazine's "100 Things You Must Eat in Denver" and rated the highest of that list on Must Eat Denver. Here is the latter's picture:


They definitely live up to the hype. Oh my, the texture. They literally melt in your mouth--it's not just a cliched saying in this case. They have a light crispy outside that starts melting away almost as soon as you put them in your mouth, revealing the sweet goat cheese. There is not an overpowering figgy taste. The figs just add a little more sweetness to the beignet. I swear their little pillows of heaven and may be one of my all time favorite desserts. My only complaint is that there were only 5 in the serving and that wasn't enough to share! If you go this week, order an extra one. You'll be glad you did.

For our entrees, I got the Muscovy duck breast with saffron manchego risotto, pistachio pine nut stuffed Medjool dates, a saffron almond cracker, and spiced citrus jus for a $7 upcharge. I was so looking forward to this and was so disappointed. Everything on the plate was amazing, except for the duck, and sorry, but the meat of your entree is kind of an important part of the meal. The duck was ridiculously tough and chewy. I couldn't cut or chew through it and finally gave up on it (I was afraid it would fly across the room while I tried to saw through it! BTW, Rioja, you need sharper steak knives). The risotto was great and tasted comfortingly like cheesy rice a roni, haha, and I mean that in a good way. The pistachio stuffed dates were sweet and nutty and I would love to try to make something like that for a party appetizer someday. The cracker was so good. And I don't usually get excited about crackers!

B had the Colorado lamb two ways for a $4 upcharge: grilled t-bone, house made lamb merguez sausage, crisp couscous pillows, caramelized fennel, tomato coulis, and preserved lemon yogurt. He was also disappointed. The sausage and couscous "pillow" was very good, but the grilled t-bone was gristly and also hard for him to cut. Bummer! This dish was pictured in the Denver Post article about Rioja recently:


Because the entree meats were so disappointing, we can't help but wonder if they used lower quality cuts for DRW. Or maybe we just got unlucky. Perhaps we have "sucker" stamped on our foreheads? I'm kicking myself for not saying anything. I don't know what I was thinking. So really I'm to blame as much as the kitchen.

But for that complaint, we still had an incredible meal. Everything else was so outstanding, including the service, that it more than made up for the one downside. The rest of the food really was ridiculously good.

I must add a little side note too. Prior to Rioja, we stopped in at TAG next door for a quick cocktail. They were busy, but there was room for a bar. They have the most amazing mise en place for a bar that I've ever seen (Is that term used for bars too? I think so). Check it out:


They had numerous fresh herbs, like thyme, cilantro, mint, etc. They had homemade tonic and grenadine; Little droppers of homemade bitters; and who knows what else. It was gorgeous and so cool! Our bartender was incredibly nice about all my questions and even explained how to make tonic, since I noted that I didn't realize real tonic is not clear and bubbly. To make it, basically you take a bunch of herbs and citrus juice, boil it up, and strain it, and add some sugar. Here's a recipe I found on the web. I don't know how close it is to TAG's recipe, but it'll give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

I had the Full Monty with gin, brandy, lemongrass/coriander syrup, and lemon. It was garnished with a cucumber slice and the bartender carefully placed some coriander seeds on the slice with forceps. So pretty! And delicious, of course. The bartender noted that this drink will be (or has been?) entered in a Hendrick's gin contest. I can see it as a winner. I definitely can't wait to go back to TAG for more than just drinks.

Postscript: The great thing about a restaurant like Rioja is that it's so popular people take pictures of their food and post them on the web. Thanks to all whose pictures I used. I'm never sure of the etiquette of using other pics on the webs, but if any site owners have a problem, let me know and I'll take them down. I enjoyed reading all your posts.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What's in Season...NOW...Where YOU Live

This is a cool site that foodista posted on Twitter:

You input your state and the time of the season it is and it tells you what local produce is available specific to you right now.

For example, in CO right now (late Feb.), the following are available:
Onions *
Pinto Beans

* Indicates availability from local hothouse or storage

There's also a full year list available, so you can plan ahead.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Denver Restaurant Week(s) 2010

In case you live in Denver and have been living under a rock, Denver Restaurant Week (which is actually 2 weeks) starts tomorrow. I love DRW, because it's normally so expensive for us to eat at nice restaurants because we have to pay the added expense of a sitter (which is usually $50 or more). So now, we can get a sitter, but try out a pricier restaurant for only $52.80 for the two of us (granted we usually end up paying much more with drinks!).

Tomorrow night we're going to Rioja, where they will feature most of their regular menu (some of it for an extra cost). Their restaurant week menu is posted on their website under "Events." I've been to their Tuesday night Sips and Snacks before (where we added on an appetizer), but never had a full meal there. Chef Jennifer Jasinski was just nominated for a James Beard award (Best Chef Southwest). Really looking forward to it!

Next Saturday, we're off to Black Pearl--another place I've been meaning to check out forever, but never had a chance to.. You can see the menu at that link.

I may also have a night out with the girls some place. I'm hoping for maybe The Argyll, Ondo's, Parallel Seventeen, Shazz, TAG, The Squeaky Bean (this probably would be my first choice since it's their entire regular menu!), or Venue. How to choose, how to choose? I suppose it will depend on where we can get reservations.

I'm also hoping to convince B that we should take the boys to Steubens (since it is M's THIRD favorite restaurant and all), because we can all go there and I've been wanting to try their lobster roll anyway.

It's going to be an expensive two weeks!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Terroir Restaurant in Longmont, CO

It's embarassing how long ago I had this meal (hint: First Bite Boulder), but it was a meal worth posting anyway.

We decided to trek to a far, far away land called Longmont. While it was a trek, it was also fun to take a mini "trip" for the evening. Terroir focuses on local, seasonal ingredients, so the menu probably changes regularly. While many of the dishes below were available on the regular menu at the time, they aren't now, although there are some dishes that are similar. I went with the recommended wine pairings with the dishes and they did well with the pairings.

For our first course, B had the blue cheese gnocchi made with White Mountain Farm potato, moucou creamy blue, and rosemary. The blue cheese was not over-done and this was our favorite of the starters.


I had a beet salad made with "My Momma’s Hat" beets (how cute is that name?), Haystack Mountain fresh chevre, candied walnuts, Oxford Garden greens, and a beet vinaigrette. If you love beets this is the salad for you. To me, beets are okay, but just okay. I try them on a regular basis to see if I can figure out the fuss, but I still haven't. This salad was very "beet-y" and was decent, but didn't thrill me. I thought it was a bit over-dressed too. But it was definitely a beautiful salad with the red and gold beets and red dressing.


My main was the hit of the night--for me at least--it was a bit sweet for B. I tell you, I am still dreaming of this dish. If I ever see it on their menu again, I'm making the trek to Longmont. It was maple-glazed duck confit with spaetzle, Long Family Farm bacon, and brussel sprouts. Heck, even the brussel sprouts were tasty! That can be difficult. Unlike B, I did not think the dish was too sweet. Everyone knows bacon tastes great with maple...yummy salty sweet goodness...but don't think there was anything breakfasty about this dish. It was a hearty and filling true "dinner" dish. I practically stuffed myself trying to eat every morsel, it was so good. If we hadn't been in public, I probably would have licked the plate.


B had the River Ranch oxtail ragu with house-made papperdelle, winter greens,and gremolata. This also was a nice, hearty dish for a cold winter night (which it was).


For dessert we had lavender crème brulee, which I really liked. Lavender in a dessert can be overpowering, but this was just the right touch--the lavender really stood out without tasting like a Crabtree and Evelyn soap. We also had a toasted coconut semi freddo, which really did not excite me, but wasn't bad. If they had added some dark chocolate, it would have tasted like an Almond Joy and that would have done it.

There were several hits and no true misses, so if you're up in the Longmont area, I would definitely recommend checking Terroir out.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Coming soon, I hope...

...a real post! I've had the death flu since before Christmas! January was a complete wash. I'm finally feeling better and once I get caught back up on life, I'll get back to blogging, I promise.
Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession by Julie Powell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I'm almost afraid to review this book positively, given how many people vehemently hate it. But I don't think the book was horribly written. I find Julie Powell absolutely despicable and was thoroughly disturbed by her while I read the book. But like a train wreck, that made it interesting.
I don't understand her actions and I don't understand her relationship with her husband. While I read the book, I couldn't stop wondering about how he feels about being a cuckold and how he can stand the way he is portrayed in the book. It absolutely confounds me that a marriage could survive her actions and especially the book. I actually found myself googling the guy to see if there were any comments from him on the book (I found none).
The fact that the book kept my attention and bothered me so much, makes it interesting to me, and therefore the good rating.
But I certainly have no desire to ever meet Julie Powell or anyone like her.
View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Loved this book! Novella Carpenter is a rad (as my friend K would say), ultimate do it yourselfer. She sets up a farm on an unused lot in urban (i.e. ghetto) Oakland. And I don't mean a big garden with maybe a few chickens. This gal also has ducks, turkeys, rabbits, and pigs(!)--all of which she harvests for food. She even befriended a chef who taught her how to cure the pig meat into fancy salume. Yum!

It was very readable and just a fascinating account of someone who's marching to the beat of a different drummer. Lots of lessons for us all to learn on where our food comes from, sustainable eating, etc.

View all my reviews >>