December 22, 2009

Wines for the Holidays (and a Frugal Pocketbook)

Last week, Denver wine distributor Chip Lazzara (yes, he is related to our dear Molly), stopped by with a selection of affordable wines for the holidays. We tasted. We liked. And we were quickly convinced: These wines need to be a part of our celebratory spread. But we realize that many of you didn’t get to sample these sips because of the holiday card extravaganza—or if you did, by now, you’ve probably lost your tasting notes. So here’s a quick recap of what we tried.

Le Colture “Cruner” Prosecco
Prosecco is a clean, crisp bubbly with pear, apple, and citrus notes. The Cruner reflects a slightly creamier style than the typical “Brut” prosecco, and it’s harvested from the prestigious Valdobbiadene region.
Pair it: Aperitif, salads, light pastas, New Year’s Eve
Buy it: $18.65 (750 ml), $37 (1.5L) at Harvest Wine & Spirits (Boulder) or Sip (Denver)

Santa Barbara Verdicchio
The coastal winds of “La Marche” fill this Italian white with citrus flavors and a mineral touch. While it rings of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, the Verdicchio stands alone, as a different, deeper flavor for the table.
Pair it: Oysters, seafood, chicken
Buy it: $12.99 (750 ml) at Harvest Wine & Spirits (Boulder) or Sip (Denver)

La Calonica Sangiovese Toscana
The rolling hills of Tuscany (the same ones where “Under the Tuscan Sun” was filmed) are responsible for this delightful and earthy red. The medium-bodied pour has notes of chocolate and cherries, but pairs well with a meal.
Pair it: Burgers, pizza, red meat, game
Buy it: $10.99 (750 ml) at Harvest Wine & Spirits (Boulder) or Sip (Denver)

Feudi San Nicola Nero d’Avola + Syrah blend
This modern blend is big on body and fruit. Look for deep, juicy sweetness from the Nero d’Avola and spice and weight from the Syrah.
Pair it: Mature cheeses, pork roast, beef tenderloin
Buy it: $9.99 (750 ml) at Harvest Wine & Spirits (Boulder) or Sip (Denver)

Ocaso Malbec
Strong body and big structure give this classic Argentine wine a smooth, vanilla bean and coffee finish.
Pair it: Anything
Buy it: $13 (750 ml) at Harvest Wine & Spirits (Boulder) or Sip (Denver)

Cathryn Olchowy
Culinary Director

December 16, 2009

Gastrocart:Denver's First Gourmet Street Cart

These days, visit New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco, and you can easily eat your way through those cities without ever entering a restaurant. Street carts are providing upscale eats (entrees to desserts) from refurbished trucks and simple curb-side griddles. Los Angeles residents enjoy open-air Korean barbecue, and New Yorkers drop by the Dessert Truck for slow-baked apples and warm chocolate bread pudding.
But while gourmet street eats have boomed elsewhere, Denver has stayed relatively quiet. Until now. About a month ago, Mike Winston and Bryan Hume, former cooks at Table 6, opened Gastrocart on the corners of 18th and Curtis streets in Denver. The duo dishes up sophisticated, international snacks. Next time, you have a client meeting—or mid-day date—in Denver, head to Winston and Hume’s weekday, lunch-time only stand for specials like a corn crabcake sandwich on a sesame roll—or everyday options such as grilled lamb gyros or spicy chicken and kimchi tacos. The price is right ($3-$7)—and this is a great example of the Luxury Re-valued Culinary Shift.

For more information on Gastrocart, check out:,, or

Cathryn Olchowy
Culinary Director

December 2, 2009

5280’s Best New Restaurants Issue is on Newsstands. Buy One. Start Eating.

With Thanksgiving memories fresh—and turkey, cranberry sauce, and pie still in the fridge—you’re probably not thinking about your next restaurant outing. Time to change that. 5280 magazine, just released its annual best new restaurants issue, and the 10 spots it features represent not only the city’s most interesting, new eateries, but also several of the trends we talk about in Shifts. So ditch the turkey and start immersing yourself in these Shifts-related restaurants.*

More with Less

The Squeaky Bean
3301 Tejon St., 303-284-0053,
While the menu of this airy Highland bistro changes with the season, you can find a few key dishes on it year round. Thank goodness, because its rillettes—a buttery, slow-cooked meat spread—are not only the perfect complement to toast, but they are also a great expression of the rustic, peasant foods movement. Rillettes, like other charcuterie (pate, prosciutto), are a classic form of meat conservation.

Arugula Bar e Ristorante
2785 Iris Ave., Boulder, 303-443-5100,
Ever since his training at the Natural Gourmet Institute, chef Alec Schuler has made sustainable dining a mission. But it was only when he opened his Boulder Italian restaurant this year that he truly got to put his beliefs into practice. Arugula offers wholesome dishes in a dining room made of recycled building materials. (According to 5280, the “beams decorating Arugula’s kitchen window are reclaimed; the floors are made of refabbed bits and pieces of wood…from furniture manufacturers; and Argula’s menu” is printed on recycled paper. )

Luxury Re-valued

Colt & Gray
1553 Platte St., 303-447-1447,
The gastropub trend finally hit Denver with this LoHi eatery. The restaurant offers beers like New Belgium’s tiny batch-brew, Lips of Faith, and bottles of Belgium beers to go along with its hearty appetizers (bacon caramel corn, roasted bone marrow) and dishes (herb-crusted lamb).

701 Grant St., 303-860-2929,
Jammed into this busy and boisterous restaurant, you might feel like you’re on a street corner in Asia, slurping up a bowl of noodles. The truth, though, is that Bones is much more than a hurried Asian noodle bar. Using local produce and products, the restaurants elevates the Asian fast food into a flavorful, layered dish.

Cultural Curiosity

719 E. 17th Ave., 303-861-5050,
The second venture of Duo’s owners and chefs, Olivea focuses on Spanish cuisine (with a touch of southern French and Italian flavors). Try chef John Bronning’s classic Spanish flavors like oven roasted potatoes (patatas bravas) with alioi or his grilled octopus with fennel.

Simple Refuge

1047 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-444-7258,
If you’ve seen Shifts, you’ve heard Cathryn and me talk about Salt’s pre-prohibition cocktails. Time to go try them.

Hutch & Spoon
3090 Larimer St., 303-296-2317,
After-school snacks. Grandma’s cooking. So go the comparisons to Hutch & Spoon’s eats. The tiny, breakfast/lunch spot near downtown Denver serves up dishes like a meatloaf sandwich with melted cheddar or grilled cheese with peach chutney. Be sure to order a homemade soda (watermelon-lemonade, cucumber) to accompany it.

Vert Kitchen
704 S. Pearl St., 303-997-5941,
This French-inspired shop focuses on one thing: sandwiches. Try the tortilla española (a Spanish potatoe omelet on a baguette) or the tangy braised pork shoulder.

Venue Bistro
3609 W. 32nd Ave., 303-477-0477,
Diners drive across the city for Venue’s shrimp and grits. The creamy corn concoction is laced with Emmenthaler cheese, drizzled with a thai chile and cilantro sauce, and topped with blackened shrimp. No wonder the restaurant has been tagged as the spot for “progressive comfort food.”

Break Free

1441 Larimer St., 303-996-9985,
Order the amante picante (a blend of tequila, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeño, and lime), and then the kona kampachi appetizer (topped with candy Pop Rocks) at this sleek Larimer Square spot, and you’ll quickly realize that ingredients don’t need to play by the books to please.

*For more information on any of these restaurants, pick up the December issue of 5280.

Cathryn Olchowy
Culinary Director