December 9, 2010

Refined Comfort Food

When Bon Appetit awarded Boulder the Foodiest Town in America this fall, it praised our small city for its farm-to-table mentality and restaurants, like the Kitchen and Salt, which brought refined comfort flavors to local ingredients. And that was before Oak at 14th opened.

The latest addition to the Boulder dining scene, a stylish, understated restaurant, takes familiar dining up a notch more. In the kitchen of Oak at 14th is Steven Redzikowski, a former Frasca sous chef, and at the bar, Bryan Dayton, previously Frasca’s bar manager, mixes drinks. Which is why Oak’s grits are arguably the lightest, fluffiest on the Front Range and why its cocktails (both alcoholic and booze-free) taste precisely of the bright ginger, lemon, and other juices that they are made of.

Oak’s menu covers the gamut of familiar foods, fried pickles to tacos to black-bottom banana crème pie, and it brings those flavors to life with creativity and precision.
Bon Appetit was even more spot on than it knew.

1400 Pearl St., 303-444-3622

--Kazia Jankowski

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

December 6, 2010

Our Gift Guide for the Foodie

The leftovers from Thanksgiving have all disappeared so now it's time to shift gears to gift giving. Finding the perfect gift can be tricky so to help you this holiday season we've rounded up some of our favorite foodie gifts. A little something for everyone, from the cocktail enthusiast to those interested in a greater good, happy shopping!
1. For those interested in expanding their culinary knowledge: Culinary Artistry talks about plate composition, juggling flavors, insights from highly regarded chefs, and a plethora of flavor combinations that would make any home cook seem like a well educated food person. 2. Pastry lovers will rejoice when they open their doors and find this Rustic Burlap Sack filled with William Werner's (formerly of Quince and Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay) delicate confections, preserves, pastries, and savory breads on their doorstep. For $35 a month you can send a delicious bag of goodies like Apple-Praline Butter, Pear Pate de Fruit, Smoked Almond Brittle, and Oak Bourbon Caramels. 3. Every cook in training needs a good knife and the Wüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife is a great knife for preparing any meal, no matter how simple. The German made knife is great for chopping, dicing and slicing and will be their go-to in the kitchen for years to come. 4. For the true cocktail junky give them the gift of perfect ice. With the Spherical Ice Tray Set you can make sure they have cool drinks from the first sip to the last. 5. For those looking to give a gift that keeps on giving buzz over to Heifer International and order a beehive that will help struggling families earn income through the sale of honey, beeswax and pollen. 6. Need another sweet gift? Check out Savannah Bee Company Tupelo Honey, one taste of this and they'll never touch one of those honey bears again. 7. Spice up their life with the Magnetic Artisan Salt and Spice Rack. A sleek stainless steel rack that comes with five round magnetic tins to seal in flavor while allowing for easy accessibility. It even includes gourmet salts like smoked serrano, vanilla bean, and thai ginger. 8. Give the gift of knife skills they'll be sure to want to show off. The de Buyer Kobra Adjustable Slicer is a user-friendly adjustable slicer from France for uniform and precise slices without taking years of practice in the kitchen.

--Bryce Clark

Bryce Clark
Culinary Assistant

November 24, 2010

Pie Times

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and pie is on the mind. Tomorrow a pumpkin or pecan pastry will grace almost every house in the country. But that’s not the only reason we’re thinking of pie.

This month, pie is also at the center of the national culinary conversation. Trendologists, like Andrew Freeman, have declared pie the big thing for 2011, and last week, the New York Times officially stated that the cupcake’s time was up, and pie is in line to be our nation’s next sweet obsession.

Indeed, pie shops have begun to spring up in across the country. The culinary capitols of San Francisco and New York have the largest concentration of stores. In those cities, bakers are turning out classic pies, as well as innovative plays on familiar flavors, like apple green-chile pie with a cheddar crust.

Locally, pies are just beginning to make an appearance. Last Wednesday, chef Frank Bonanno (Mizuna, Luca ‘d Italia) opened Wednesday’s Pie, a once-a-week pie shop in Larimer Square that serves up pumpkin, banana cream, and caramel apple pies. Around the corner from Wednesday’s Pie, Euclid Hall dishes up fried pies. Try the chocolate, cheesecake, or peach preserves. And across town in Highland, the bakery Cake makes the classics: pumpkin, pumpkin praline, apple, pecan, and more.

All these options should offer plenty of choices for Turkey Day and the year to come.

--Kazia Jankowski
Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

November 10, 2010


The movement to reduce childhood obesity gained momentum in the last year with Michelle Obama, Jamie Oliver, and Bill Clinton joining forces with the “George Washington of the movement” Alice Waters. And now San Francisco has taken one more step in fighting childhood obesity. Last week they became the first major city in the country to forbid restaurants from offering a free toy with meals that contain more than set levels of calories, sugar and fat (600 calories and less than 35% of the calories coming from fat to be exact). The ordinance will also require restaurants to provide fruits and vegetables with all meals for children that come with toys. Although the ordinance isn’t scheduled to take effect until December 2011, its acceptance has created quite the buzz online and on television, with supporters arguing that it will reduce childhood obesity, and opponents, including the McDonald's spokeswoman, seeing it as “San Francisco wacked out”.

What do YOU think? Do you think government should make laws like this? Do you think this type of effort will help reduce childhood obesity? Comment with your thoughts!
-Bryce Clark

Alice Waters Push for Local, Organic Setting National Agenda

San Francisco Bans Happy Meals

photo courtesy

Bryce Clark
Culinary Assistant

November 5, 2010

Ready, Set, Eat... First Bite Boulder is Almost Here

Get your appetites ready for some serious eating. The fifth annual First Bite Boulder starts Friday, November 12th, and runs through November 20th. More than forty of Boulder’s top restaurants (and even some from Longmont, Lafayette, and Louisville) are offering a special three course $26 prix fixe dinner menu for nine days. See our Culinary Shifts in action with First Bite Boulder menu items like Isabelle Farm Pumpkin Cannelloni at Café Aion or Munson Farm Squash Soup at Arugula Bar e Ristorante for a taste of Community Connected. Or try the Housemade Bread Pudding at The West End Tavern to experience Simple Refuge. The questions is, how many restaurants can you fit into nine short days? Search through the prix fixe menus and make reservations at

--Bryce Clark
photo courtesy

Bryce Clark
Culinary Assistant

October 27, 2010

Pop Pop - Making Caramel Corn for Halloween

Halloween often means too much sugar and enough orange and black to last a lifetime, but it can also mean deliciously simple caramel corn. This Pepita Honey Caramel Corn is sticky and sweet, with a nice hint of smokiness from the mezcal. It’s perfect for your grown-up Halloween parties, or just a treat while curled up watching movies.

Pepita Honey Caramel Corn
adapted from

Makes about 12 cups
Active Time:20 min
Start to Finish:1 hr

• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
• 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
• 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
• 1/2 cup honey
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 cup pepitas
• ½ tablespoon mezcal

Special equipment: a candy thermometer

• Heat oil with 3 kernels in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, covered, over moderate heat until 1 or 2 kernels pop. Remove lid and quickly add remaining kernels, then cook, covered, shaking pan frequently, until kernels stop popping, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and uncover.
• Line bottom of a large shallow baking pan with foil. Lightly oil foil. Melt butter in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat. Add brown sugar and honey and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring, then boil, without stirring, until syrup registers 300ºF on thermometer, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
• Using a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula, stir salt, mezcal and baking soda into syrup, then quickly stir in pepitas and popcorn to coat. Immediately spread mixture in baking pan as thinly and evenly as possible. Cool completely, then break into bite-size pieces.

-Bryce Clark

picture courtesy 101 cookbooks

Bryce Clark
Culinary Assistant

October 26, 2010

Mexican Street Food in Boulder

For a western town, Boulder has had a surprisingly limited selection of Mexican restaurants. Sure, there’s Agave and Efrain’s. But where can you grab the Mexican street food (tortas, tacos, and tamarind soda) that have captivated the rest of the nation? Up until a couple of months ago, we shrugged in response.

But now, thanks to the opening of two new restaurants, you have a choice of two tasty options: Pica’s Mexican Taqueria or Restaurante 100% Mexicano.

Pica’s dishes up a variety of street food flavors—and Restaurante 100% Mexicano the authenticity. In Pica’s bright, causal, Baja-style dining, try warm corn tortilla tacos of carne asada or fish (pictured here) with a Jarritos taramind soda. Or try chilaquiles, fried corn tortillas smothered in red sauce.

At Restaurante 100% Mexicano, order a cantelope agua fresco, red chile and pork tamales, and a slice of creamy tres leches cake.

--Kazia Jankowski

Photo courtesy of Pica's Mexican Taqueria

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

October 19, 2010

Ethnic Flavors in the Grocery Store Aisles

Last week, Kazia spoke on behalf of the SRG Culinary Practice at Expo East, the East coast natural foods tradeshow. She sat on a panel about emerging ethnic flavors and talked up the taste and ingredients of India, Latin America, and the Mediterranean. Then, Kazia hit the tradeshow floor—only to find that several new business are already embracing authentic foreign flavors.

Saffron Road Founded by a former exec of Terra Chips and Alexia foods, this Connecticut-based start up offers a line of frozen Indian foods (chicken tikka masala, lamb saag). But what makes it unique are its meats, which are are halal (as well as hormone and antibiotic free) so that Muslims can eat them.

Julian’s Recipe Culinarily Belgium is known for its frites (French fries), beers, and waffles—and it’s the last that another ex-exec of Terra Chips and Alexia foods has decided to bring to U.S. freezers. The sweet, golden pastries are authentic down to their sugar nibs (crunchy bits of sugar baked into the waffle).

TIAS! Kettle Chips has decided to embrace Latin American flavor and launch its own line of tortilla chips. Called TIAS!, which means AUNTS! in English, the brand adds an element of fun to recipes that your tia would make.

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

October 5, 2010

Dirt Re-Defined

Who knew that my 7th birthday celebration – a flower party, with dirt cake, would be cutting edge? Edible dirt, one of the most interesting new fads in haute cuisine, is now showing up on menus throughout the world. And thankfully chefs are getting a lot more interesting then my birthday cake that was simply made from crushed Oreos and whip cream. They’re making dirt from dried or charred ingredients, like malt, mushrooms, onions or olives. Although the “dirt” varies in consistency and ingredients it all has one purpose, to redefine sides. And why dirt? What better way to celebrate where our fruits and vegetables come from then by having land right on the plate.

Find out more about edible dirt in this recent article in TIME Magazine.

Yes - the photo is an edible dirt cake, courtesy of Food Wishes

Bryce Clark
Culinary Assistant

September 29, 2010

Street Food Party on Friday

Friday night, when you don't want to cook and you're debating dinner destinations, consider the Justice League of Street Food's third outdoor party. This pop-up event is a gathering of Denver's best food trucks--and it's a rarity that these taco makers, burger masters, and biscuit bakers actually get out in the evening. (These mobile modern restaurants are easier to find at lunchtime or during morning farmers' markets.)

The trucks will gather in an empty lot outside of Coors Field, and there, you can try warm, gooey mac 'n' cheese balls from Deluxe Little Orange Rocket, brothy drunken noodles from Steamin' Demon, spicy Mexican from Pinche Tacos, and more. And if you stick around long enough you might catch a party, too. The Justice League likes to dish up its gourmet street eats with style, and Friday night is '80s themed. The Denver Film Society will be showing '80s movie clips, DJs will spin '80s tunes, and you're encouraged to throw on your jean jackets and leg warmers.

Friday, Oct. 1, 5-10 p.m., 29th Avenue and Huron Street, Denver

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

September 27, 2010

Salt's Customizable Cocktails

How many times have you waited in line for a Chipotle burrito? Or at the Apple store, for the new iWhatever? We are a culture that loves customization (whether it comes via burritos or iPads).

In our busy, cluttered worlds, we look for any opportunity to create true expressions of our tastes. And cocktails, Salt has decided, are the next best medium to do just that.

Our neighborhood bistro now has a DIY cocktail menu. Pick from one of six alcohols, a selection of herbs and seasonings, and a variety of drink styles to make the cocktail of your choice. And then do it again, changing it up according to your mood or preferences.

So just one question: What are you up for today?

1047 Pearl St., 303-444-7258

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

September 22, 2010

4 Forks and 7 Food Carts


we ventured down to Denver to examine one of our culinary shifts in action, Luxury Re-Valued. The Civic Center Park in Denver fills up with more than 15 street carts every Tuesday from 11am-2pm and it was finally time for us to taste what they had to offer. Colorful trucks, stands, and massive amounts of people filled the park. Steuben’s, Deluxe (and their “little orange rocket”), Gastro Cart, Sugar Lips, Denver Cupcake Truck, Denver Biscuit Co., and Paris on the Platte beckoned for us to try their creations. We munched down on Steuby Snaks, Chicken Tacos with kimchi, an Old Country Sandwich with olive tapenade, artichokes, gouda, and roasted red peppers, Biscuits stuffed with grape jelly and bacon, Cheese Grits, Chicken Bahn Mi, and deep fried Mac and Cheese Balls with truffle oil. And for dessert, Mini Donuts smothered in s‘mores, peanut butter and chocolate, and jalapeño bacon, as well as Lime, and Pistachio cupcakes. The real highlights of the tour - tacos from Gastro Cart, bahn mi from Deluxe, and the ever so moist and delicious cupcakes from Denver Cupcake Truck. Starting in October Civic Center EATS will be changing their format, with daily EATS, but less options. It's definitely worth the stop.

For more information: Civic Center EATS

Bryce Clark
Culinary Assistant

September 20, 2010

New Products Culinary Shifts Quiz

Once a year at the New Products Conference, Prepared Foods magazine and Mintel join forces to review what's happening in the world of food. Over the course of three days, the trade publication and powerhouse research firm (which we tap for many of our projects) approach new cereals, yogurts, frozen dinners, and more from several vantage points (consumer trends to ideation)--and they highlight some of the strangest, most inventive, and/or most trendsetting new products to reach the international market in recent months. Here are a few of our favorites from this year's conference, which took place last week.

Each one relates to a certain Culinary Shift. Read through and see if you can guess which Shift the product fits. (There's an answer key at the end.)

Kellogg Krave
Released January 2010
Country: UK
Chocolate-hazelnut-filled cereal puffs (a.k.a. nutella cereal)

What's the Shift?

Kit Kat Yoghurt Aloe
Released July 2010
Country: Japan
Kit Kat wafers coated in yogurt and aloe. Developed in conjunction with Tokyo Beauty Clinic.

What's the Shift?

Pepsi Throwback
Released April 2010
Country: USA
Pepsi made with its original recipe (with real sugar) and packaging.

What's the Shift?

Blood Energy Potion
Released March 2010
Country: USA
Fruit punch-flavored energy drink that claims to have similar nutrients to real blood. It promises four hours of iron, protein, and electrolytes.

What's the Shift?

Yoplait Simply GoGurt
Released April 2010
Country: USA
A version of the on-the-go yogurt that's free of high fructose corn syrup, as well as artificial colors and flavors.

What's the Shift?

Answer Key
1) Kellogg Krave: Luxury Re-valued
2) Kit Kat Yoghurt Aloe: Dr. Me
3) Pepsi Throwback: Simple Refuge
4) Blood Energy Potion: Break Free
5) Yoplait Simply Go Gurt: More with Less

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

September 15, 2010

Boulder: The Foodiest Town in America

The Boulder food scene has received some major national “ink” in 2009 and 2010. Last year it was named one of the top ten food cities in the world by Travelocity and just months later it was featured in the Wall Street Journal, calling it “the best small city for great meals we know of in this country.” And then Wednesday Boulder received one of the most notable food awards, Bon Appétit named it “The Foodiest Town in America.”

Andrew Knowlton’s (Bon Appétit’s restaurant editor) six day stint in Boulder included visits to Dish Gourmet, Frasca, Pizzeria Basta, Leaf, Cafe Aion, and Happy / The Bitter Bar. From vegetarian to Asian it was a whirlwind of Boulder's amazing local produce, chef creations,and craft beers with hiking, biking, and swimming on the side. Clearly burgers (and all food) tastes better after exercise. Check out the full article at Bon Appétit.

Photo courtesy of Bon Appétit

Bryce Clark
Culinary Assistant

September 8, 2010

Wines on Tap

In recent years, in an effort to be more sustainable, restaurants have ditched bottled water. Now, increasingly they are doing the same with bottled wine.

Across the country, restaurants are pouring more draft wine (wine served from a keg, like beer). Not only does this serving method offer diners a less wasteful restaurant, it promises better, more affordable wine. Tap wine reduces wine packaging as well as the amount of wine that restaurants throw away. (Restaurants commonly toss open bottles of wine that have oxidized and lost their freshness.) Tap wines, though, which are stored in a barrels, are never exposed to oxygen and stay fresh for weeks. Similarly, they don’t carry the cost of the wine bottle, which means that restaurants can sell them for as little as $4 or $5 a glass.

These advantages have had national restaurants like Daniel Boulud’s newest NYC restaurant, DBGB, and Father’s Office in Los Angeles selling tap wine for the last couple of years. And recently Denver has joined the movement as well. The newly opened Euclid Hall serves three tap wines from the local winery, Infinite Monkey Theorem. Table 6 pours one tap wine at a time, and Jax Denver also has a rotating wine on tap.

And now that our environmentally friendly city has embraced this trend, we don’t expect it to go back to bottles. Rumor already has it that new restaurants (scheduled to open in 2011) are building entire bars around draft wine.

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

August 24, 2010

Celebrate Local Food during Harvest Week

For weeks local chefs have been slicing Colorado tomatoes into their salads and peaches over their desserts. But they’ve been doing it kind of undercover, using only their menus to mention the origins of their produce.

But last Saturday, Harvest Week kicked off, and Denver restaurants’ weeklong celebration of late summer product reminds us that Colorado peaches, Olathe corn, and Torpedo Farms Pork are all worth more than a simple menu mention. The 36 restaurants involved in Harvest Week have designed entire meals around local products, and through Friday, they will be serving up dishes dedicated to Colorado food. Table 6, for example, is serving a smoked Colorado trout brandade (think salmon cake, except trout) made of all Colorado products. Root Down kicks off its menu with Rocky Mountain cantaloupe and tomato gazpacho. These dishes, and the many more like them featured during Harvest Week, are worth celebrating for their Colorado ties, super fresh flavor, and culinary sophistication.

For a complete listing of Harvest Week restaurants or for more information on the event, click here.

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

July 13, 2010

Pop-Up Markets Build Community on the Coasts

Mention the word recession, and dark feelings are likely to bubble up. You think of all those lost opportunities. Unless of course, you want to start a food business. In that case, you might be feeling like you've hit the jackpot. Never before has it been so easy--or required less capital investment--to start a bakery, sandwich shop, or cookie company. It's just that your restaurant will probably be based out of a street truck--and your cookie company out of a pop-up market.

Pop-up markets are the latest manifestation of our newly frugal food society. In cities, like Brooklyn and Oakland, homegrown markets are the source of some of the cities best preserves and empanadas. The Brooklyn market, officially titled the Greenpoint Food Market, fills the basement of a local church one Saturday a month. All the eats are homemade, and although recent food safety restrictions will limit the number of participating vendors, you still find hand-crafted treats, like cherry jam and chocolate cheesecake cupcakes. In the Bay Area, the market is more spontaneous. A couple of days, before ex-Chez Panisse chefs throw open the doors of an old Oakland train depot, they post a notice on their website announcing their Pop-Up General Store. There's no fixed schedule or inventory, but you're likely to find fresh produce from Novella Carpenter, the author of "Farm City," delicate fresh pastas, and salted chocolate cookies.

Both of these markets have created an intimate sense of community within their cities. The founders of the Oakland pop-up market attribute their success to the "amazing connection between the person making the food and the person eating it." The Brooklyn vendors feel similarly. There's nothing like meeting the people who snap up your long-brined pickles or Japanese rice balls. So while these vendors haven't hit the actual money jackpot, they are making connections that are allowing them to shape the world of food.

Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

July 6, 2010

Connect to the Boulder Beer Community

With all the college bars and craft breweries in Boulder, beer drinking is easy. In one afternoon, you can pull up a seat at Avery Brewery, settle into a table at the Mountain Sun, or jump in a car and head to Lyons and Oscar Blues. Simple, right? And the good news is that all this suds sipping just got a lot easier--and more personal.

Earlier this summer, the West End Tavern launched the Boulder Brew Bus, a shuttle that tours three of the city's best breweries each Sunday evening. Hop on the bus (the very same that's used for Banjo Billy's Bus Tours), and head first to the state's newest microbrewery, Upslope Brewing Company, then to Twisted Pine Brewing Company, and finally to Avery Brewing Company. At each stop, sample beers, walk through the brewery, and meet brewmasters. You'll have a chance to try Upslope's legendary Pale and India ales and Avery's awarding-winning brews--and as you do, you can ask the brewmasters about the hops, fermentation process, and more. Access to Boulder beer--and its makers--has never been so simple.

For more information, click here or call 303-444-3535.

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

June 29, 2010

Cocktail Cakes at Kim & Jake's

Last week, we learned about the tiny shop Kim and Jake's Cakes, tucked into the shopping center at Table Mesa Road and Broadway. Word had it that the southern-themed spot had a knack for tender, boozy sweets, like margarita and dark-and-stormy cakes. So we quickly dropped all we were doing and headed south from the office.

Indeed, the bakery, run by two ex-professional cyclists, serves up generous, luscious slices of cocktail-inspired cakes, as well as more traditional offerings, like carrot cake and moon pies. All the options have nuanced, finely developed flavors, influenced by the southern recipes of the owners' pasts. And one forkful of cake provides an escape to slower times and places. Kim & Jake's is a Simple Refuge from our busy, highly wired lives--and it's a great example of how expansive the cocktail movement has become, as well as how classic beverage flavors are Breaking Free of their conventional forms.

If you have a chance to drop by, plan your trip for a Wednesday (happy hour with $1-off slices runs from 5 to 6 p.m.) and watch out for the margarita cake. Based on the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant's famous cocktail, the dessert layers tequila-laced cake with sweet strawberry puree and lemon curd.

641 S. Broadway, Boulder, 303-499-9126

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

June 22, 2010

The Kitchen Cafe Steps Out into the Community

Since it opened its doors more than six years ago, the Kitchen Cafe has worked closely with the Boulder community. Walk by early morning and you might see a chicken farmer dropping eggs off at the restaurant. Or simply read the Kitchen's menu: John Long pork, Monroe Farms beets. It reads like a directory of local farmers. This summer, though, the Pearl Street restaurant is pushing its community involvement beyond its four-walls. Which is a good reminder that as chefs increasingly look to connect with their diners, they are doing so both on their premises and beyond.

This summer, specifically, the Kitchen is joining forces with members of the Boulder food community and chef Ann Cooper. The group is raising money for The School Food Project, an organization dedicated to better equipping Boulder Valley school kitchens.

If you're interested in getting involved in the Kitchen's summer activities, here's how:

Peggy Markel and Chef Hugo Matheson "A Night in Morocco"
When: Sat., July 10th, 2010
Cost: $75 per seat
Details: Please Join Peggy Markel and The Kitchen at the gardens of Rebecca DiDomenico and Stephen Perry for "A Night in Morocco.” Enjoy Moroccan-inspired food and cocktails and listen to the Tk sounds of north African music. All proceeds benefit The School Food Project. For more information and reservations, click here.

Meadow Lark Farm Dinners and Chef Hugo Matheson
When: Sat., July 17th
Cost: $175 per seat
Details: Cure Organic Farm hosts a special Meadow Lark Farm Dinner, in which all of the proceeds will go directly to Boulder Valley School District’s, The School Food Project. For more information and reservations, click here.

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

June 14, 2010

What's Up in Chicago

Last month, we turned our trend-spotting radar on Chicago. The city hosted the 21st annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) show--and as we walked the floor of the exhibition halls, we noticed that several of the presenting companies and speakers were expressions of Culinary Shifts. Mobi Munch, a consulting company for mobile food trucks, explained the practicalities of street food--the hottest trend in fine, casual dining (Luxury Re-valued). Chicago chef Rob Levitt, of Mado, showed how to butcher a whole cow (an example of getting More with Less). Twist Potatoes, a Korean company, served up elaborate, spiral-cut potatoes, dipped in bulgogi seasoning, a powdered version of the popular marinated, Korean beef dish (and reminded us just how important Korean flavors are to the Cultural Curiosity shift).

But NRA was only the beginning. The streets of Chicago--and the restaurants on them--were even better examples of how the city's food is evolving. Actually, Chicago was such a contemporary culinary hot spot, that we created an entire list of restaurants that play into Culinary Shifts. This way, you (and your clients) have a year-round resource for understanding the city in SRG Culinary terms. Keep reading for more information. Or wait until later today, and we'll send out a map of Chicago and the Shifts restaurants.

Nightwood Community Connected The savvy staff at this Pilsen restaurant starts every day with farmer meetings and a trip to the market. Then, they sit down to write the daily menu. Rest assured: You’ll get seasonal produce (such as rhubarb or ramps) and local proteins, like smelt (small, dark Michigan fish).

Mado More with Less
Waste is the antithesis of this popular Bucktown spot. Sustainable bamboo tables line the airy dining room. Chefs butcher the meat in house (and use head-to-tail cuts). And the owners adopted a BYOB policy to avoid high alcohol prices for their diners.

Karyn’s on Green Dr. Me Holistic health guru Karyn Calabrese has filled her menu with both nutrients and gourmet flavors at this contemporary vegan restaurant. Try dishes, like coconut curried cauliflower and wild mushroom risotto.

Belly Shack Cultural Curiosity The husband-and-wife pair that runs this spot put its cultural heritage into the menu. He added the ever-more popular Korean flavors, and she dropped in a touch of Puerto Rico. Order eats like kimchi and kogi and tostones and boricua.

The Publican Luxury Re-Valued This go-to spot has no white tablecloths or secluded dining nooks. Instead, it serves gourmet beer (microbrews) and bar food (European cured meats) on long wooden tables.

Big Star Always On This über-popular, taco stand-style, Mexican restaurant has built its relationships with diners via Facebook and Twitter—instead of a conventional website. Follow its social media sites and you’ll get updates on Big Star’s menu, patio, and more.

Violet Hour Simple Refuge
Sink into a plush chair here and you’ll return to the bygone era of English clubs and French salons. The space is dark and intimate, and the lengthy cocktail list offers classics like negronis, mai tais, and sidecars.

Alinea Break Free In the United States, Alinea is the beacon for molecular gastronomy. Its chef-owner Grant Achatz is known for using science and art to push the boundaries of food. His PB&J, for example, is a single grape encased in peanut butter.

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

June 7, 2010

Cooking Channel Offers TV for the Unpretentious, Modern Foodie

Last week, as you were gearing up to put the Memorial Day burgers on the grill, the Food Network was making its most valiant attempt in years to ensure that next Memorial Day (or even the 4th of July), you turn to its recipes for your holiday needs. On May 31, the network launched a sister station, the Cooking Channel--22 daily hours of programming for the contemporary foodie.

The Cooking Channel shirks much of the vanilla, well-manicured style of the Food Network in favor of programs that capture the true grit, flavors, and lifestyles of modern eating. "Food Jammers" follows three, young, Canadian guys who build taco vending machines. "Indian Food Made Easy" and "Chinese Food Made Easy" explore the authentic flavors of those ethnic cuisines. And "Drink Up" celebrates the modern obsession with cocktails.

This is programming (and cooking instruction) for the 20- to 30-something-year-old that brews his own beer, has experimented with veganism, or is curious to see how to make his own ketchup for his next at-home barbecue. This young foodie wants information, but not pretentiousness. Which is why the Cooking Channel only has a handful of the more typical, Food Network shows, like "Everyday Italian" with Giada de Laurentiis and "BBQ with Bobby Flay."

From a Culinary Shifts perspective, the Cooking Channel is a very unique expression of the transformative changes we are seeing in the world of food. Certainly, the individual shows tap into specific Shifts. (The ethnic shows tie into Cultural Curiosity. "Drink Up" plays into Luxury Re-valued. Etc.) But perhaps even more interesting is what the station, as a whole, means for our future food information. Looking at the Cooking Channel through the Always On Shift, we recognize that the Cooking Channel has the potential to bring a new kind of food information to the masses. This information will teach a more grassroots, get-your-hands-dirty approach to food. And we suspect that might be good things for your next Memorial Day barbecue.

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

June 1, 2010

Zoe Ma Ma: A New Kind of Chinese Restaurant

Sesame chicken. Orange chicken. Chicken lo mein. So read the average Chinese-restaurant menu five or 10 years ago. And in spots where modernity is slow to take hold, you might still find this stodgy list. But you won't find it in new Chinese restaurants. As U.S. culture has become more familiar with authentic foreign foods, new Asian spots have popped up offering more honest versions of traditional Chinese dumplings, soups, and more. And Boulder now has a particularly interesting example: Zoe Ma Ma (pronounced like yo mama, but with a z).

Early last month, Edwin Zoe, a restaurateur from Northern China, opened an informal eatery on Pearl Street to showcase the authentic flavors he grew up with. He put his mom in charge of the kitchen, and she uses old family recipes (and local and organic produce) to make hearty noodles; tangy, peppery hot-and-sour soup; savory noodle bowls with fresh vegetables; and seasoned dumplings. Her food is wholesome fare that has none of the cloying sweetness or fatty batters of classic American Chinese food.

Like much of the new Asian food, Zoe Ma Ma's dishes taste of fresh ingredients and light sauces. But unlike the food in many of these spots, Zoe Ma Ma's dishes are definitely not chef driven. The meals are simple in their presentation and flavors--and they teach the flavors of Chinese home cooking, not Chinese restaurants. Which means that Zoe Ma Ma has a culinary edge even within the realm of new Chinese restaurants: Here, its not just traditional Chinese recipes, but also home-cooked ones, that define contemporary Chinese.

Zoe Ma Ma, 2010 10th St., 303-545-6262

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

May 25, 2010

Los Angeles Revamps its Dining Scene

For years, Los Angeles' food scene has been a strange balance of guilty-pleasure eating followed by uber-dieting. L.A. is the city of In-N-Out Burger, Disneyland churros, and heavy Mexican food. And for each time you eat one of those caloric dishes, you need six salads to make up for it.

But in recent years, the L.A. dining scene has begun to change—and it’s doing so along the lines of the Culinary Shifts that we are seeing across the country. Drive through Hollywood or Studio City, and you see more small plates restaurants (think Luxury Re-valued), appetizers with Spain’s Manchego cheese (Cultural Curiosity), and more old-school, rustic dishes, like roasted bone marrow (remember, Simple Refuge and More with Less).

To see what we mean, we recommend checking out a few particular spots. (Look them up on the internet, and check out their menus, even if you aren’t planning a trip to L.A. Or send your west coast clients/friends to taste test and have them report back to you.)

Father’s Office – This burger and beer spot has made a name for itself selling microbrews from across the country, and one burger—a beef patty with Gruyère, Maytag blue cheese, arugula, and applewood-bacon compote. It’s so delicious lines are common. Beyond burgers, Father’s Office dishes up Spanish-influenced small plates, like asparagus salad with Manchego cheese and hard-boiled egg. 1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, 310-736-2224; 3229 Helms Ave., Los Angeles, 310-736-2224

The Mercantile – Drop into this airy Hollywood spot, and either shop the cheese case (the spot is part market, part restaurant), or pull up a seat at the bar. If you do sit down, order a Spanish tempranillo, and small plates of bone marrow butter, deviled eggs, or chicken pot pie. 6600 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 323-962-8202

The Bazaar – Acclaimed Spanish chef Jose Andres opened this highly stylized restaurant (there's modern art for sale throughout the space) as a homage to both the food of his home country and modern cooking. Which means that here, amid over-sized ceramic vases, you can try simple Spanish classics (like toast with tomatoes and Manchego) or wild appetizers, like skewered cubes of foie gras swirled in cotton candy. 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-246-5555

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

May 17, 2010

iPhone Foodie Apps

Since the dawn of the iPhone App Store, there have been foodie apps. Recipes, diets, restaurants, you name it, if it relates to food there is probably an 'app for that.' Along with the apps, every foodie, techie, and foodie-techie has their own list of top 10 food related iPhone apps. Now Apple has take the matter into their own hands. Last week's App Store Spotlight highlighted exactly that. Check out Apple's list of top apps for people who love food.

May 12, 2010

Community Connected: The Evolution of Urban Farming

Watch this short film, and you'll get a good sense of the early days of urban farming, Novella Carpenter, the author of Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, is an obsessive, anti-conformist personality, who slowly built the vacant lot next to her west Oakland, CA, home into a hotbed for fava beans, tomatoes, chickens, rabbits, and goats. Her work was grungy under-the-radar urban farming. (She looted the dumpsters of organic, Bay Area restaurants for food for her animals.)

In recent years though as agricultural production has grown in densely populated areas throughout the country, urban agriculture has softened its rough edges--and in some cases, even come to represent cache and good taste. The latest issue of the New York Times Style magazine included an entire story on rooftop gardens. The roof of the city's luxurious Crosby Street Hotel hosts rows of heirloom tomatoes, lettuce and herbs--as well as a blueberry patch and coop for Araucana hens (which lay blue eggs). Roberta's, a Brooklyn pizzeria harvests chiles, herbs, tomatoes and beets from the 40,000-square foot rooftop farm it runs in conjunction with Brooklyn Grange, a commercial farm. And the super hip, Ace Hotel is setting plans for its garden too.

As urban farming has expanded, so has the type of product coming out of these gardens. Where fresh produce one predominated, there are more chickens and rabbits. And raising these animals in confined spaces has become easy because of companies like Omelet, which makes urban chicken coops.

Even Boulder has begun to catch this urban agricultural fever. For now, its efforts are personal or small scale. (Eric Skokan of Black Cat operates his own 10-acre farm and CSA. Big Red F restaurant group has a number of window boxes it uses to grow herbs.) But next year, downtown Boulder plans to launch an effort to develop rooftop gardens. We're crossing out finders that this becomes a reality. Just imagine what this might mean for local restaurant--or possibly even First Friday lunch.

Cathryn Olchowy
Culinary Director

May 4, 2010

Luxury Re-valued: Summer of Street Carts

This summer, the ice cream truck will get a run for its money. Denver and Boulder have finally caught onto the nation's street-truck craze. In addition to Denver's Gastrocart, once warm weather hits, the cities will have cupcake, taco, and breakfast carts, too. Here's a quick rundown of what you should expect to see about town.

Denver Cupcake Truck The sisters behind Park Hill’s Cake Crumbs bakery have launched this mobile sweet-tooth haven. Each day they, and their cupcake man, fill the truck with eight varieties of mini-cakes (the lemon’s delightful)—and plenty of milk. Then, they hit the road.

Pinche Tacos This month, Kevin Morrison—co-founder of the Spicy Pickle and Culinary Council member—will open his homage to Mexican street food on Denver’s 16th Street Mall.

Steuben’s Food Truck The beloved retro comfort food restaurant puts its menu favorites on wheels next month. Watch out for the vegetable oil- and solar-powdered, 1978 Chevy, which will make rounds during lunchtime.

Comida In Boulder this spring, brake for the pink truck of Rayme Rossello, co-founder of Proto’s Pizzeria. From her small movable kitchen, Rossello plans to dish up a variety of gorditas, quesadillas, and breakfast eats.

StreatChefs And finally, the street cart we’ve all been waiting for: Hosea Rosenberg and Michael Rice’s venture. Hosea’s blog suggests his restaurant-truck will be up and running next month—and word around the office, is that the internationally inspired foods are delicious.

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

April 26, 2010

Break Free Meets Community Connected in Hush Dinners

Imagine this: It's Saturday night. You want to try a new restaurant--and your choices are 1) the neighborhood bistro for its intimacy, 2) the downtown, new spot for the scene, or 3) both. Your answer's number three, right?

This scenario isn’t just stuff of day dreams. Denver’s newest restaurant, Hush Dinner, drops up-close-and-personal chef dinners into hip cool spots (design galleries, art museums, exotic car dealerships). Which means that this month you can enjoy a five-course meal of an up-and-coming chef while testing out sleek chaise lounges. And next month you can try the molecular gastronomy recipes of a chef, like Ian Kleinman, while checking out Ferraris.

This location-less restaurant is the hard work of Phil Armstrong, who most recently worked at SugarToad in the Chicago area and was a partner at the now-defunct Seven on Pearl. The duo currently hosts about five of its donation-only dinners a month in both Denver and Boulder and plans to expand into Aspen and Vail in the next year. Their restaurant is an invite only experience. You can’t simply walk in off the street and join. Instead, you must sign up via the website and await the sign-up.

But the experience is worth it—both for the experimental food, cool locale, and as a rare local expression of both the Break Free and Community Connected Shifts. Hush ignores the convention of a traditional restaurant with a standard address, in favor of offering its diners a chance to meet a chef and try his food uncensored. (No demanding restaurant clientele has shaped the Hush menus. This is a night when a young chef gets to be completely creative.)

Next chance to try one of these unique dinners will be in late May or early June. (The mid-May event is completely reserved.) Word on the street is that the early summer dinner will take place on a Boulder cattle ranch with Longmont’s Terroir restaurant manning the burners. Sign up for the invite list now, if you want to ensure a chance to go.

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

April 19, 2010

Always On: Food Photography Shapes Technology

Social media has found a new celebrity. Ashton Kutcher and Twitter, please step aside. Kanye and your blog, too. Food is the latest starlet, and it is driving online conversations--as well as the technology that records them. To give a sense of the growing presence of food in our wired lives, here are a few impressive facts.

1) Since 2008, the number of photos on Flickr tagged as "food" has increased ten-fold to more than six million.

2) The most active Flickr photo group, "I Ate This" has more than 300, 000 photos that have been contributed by more than 19,000 members.

3) Nikon, Olympus, Sony, and Fuji now all make cameras with "food" or "cuisine" modes, which allow for up-close shots with enhanced sharpness and color and texture saturation.

4) Grant Achatz of Alinea, Chicago, says that, on average, diners who take snapshots of their food take five minutes longer per course.

5) One of the hottest sites at this year's South by Southwest Interactive conference was, a website and mobile app, that allow users to exchange and rate food photos much like the social media site, Foursquare.

So confession time: How many of you snap shots of your meals?

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

April 12, 2010

Community Connected: Denver Chef Gets National Nod for Local Cooking

Last week, Food & Wine magazine released its list of the country's 10 best new chefs. In the world of food, garnering a spot in this annual story is akin to winning the NBA's rookie-of-the-year award. So it was quite an honor that Alex Seidel, the chef and owner of Denver's Fruition restaurant, snagged one of the few accolades.

Food & Wine was particularly interested in Seidel's commitment to local food. The chef has his own farm in Larkspur, Colorado, where he grows greens for his restaurant and 24 others. He also raises chickens and is working to pull together a sheep dairy so that one day he can make own cheeses.

Seidel's farming efforts stem from a deep commitment to serving his dinners the freshest, most true-to-Colorado food. Eating at Fruition is like eating at a lovely French, countryside restaurant. At both, you can taste the terroir, or the earthy characteristics, of a certain region. In Fruition's case, this means very brightly and precisely flavored dishes of chicken spring vegetable soup (confit chicken legs and chive dumplings) and bacon-wrapped scallops with a bright, spring-y English pea emulsion.

These delicious dishes certainly do set apart the Fruition menu--but interestingly, the farm-to-table philosophy behind them doesn't. Increasingly, chefs and bartender across the country are planting their own gardens or foraging for food. In Boulder and Denver alone, chefs like Eric Skokan of Black Cat, Amy Vitale of Tables, and Goose Sorenson, of Solera, all have farms or serious gardens. So what Seidel is doing at Fruition simply represents the best of a trend that's sweeping the nation.

Fruition, 1313 E. Sixth Ave., Denver, 303-831-1962

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

April 5, 2010

Cultural Curiosity: Does Boulder have real Mexican food? Finally, yes.

Given its prime Southwest location, Boulder is surprisingly devoid of authentic Mexican restaurants. Sure, there's the Rio, Zolo, and Centro. But each of those has a twinge of Americana that makes it too college-y or too upscale-international for true, south-of-the-border cuisine. This is a real shame, because it means that neither we, nor our visiting clients, get to experience the real Mexican flavors that are penetrating contemporary U.S. cocktails and cuisine.

Bars nationwide have taken on tequila and mezcal as their star spirits. Mayahuel in New York City serves only those liquors. Similarly, modern Mexican chef Richard Sandoval (of Denver's Tamayo and Zengo) just opened the East Village bar La Biblioteca de Tequila, which staffs a tequila librarian. Mexican street food has also risen in popularity. Lines outside Santa Barbara's Super Rica Taqueria frequently extend down the block, and the chef of Minneapolis' Barrio Tequila Bar--a hot-spot for tacos, empanadas, and sopes--received a James Beard's Best Chef Midwest award in 2009.

As our nation has expanded its relationship with Mexican food, Boulder--with one expectation--has sat back and watched. The exception, though, is a notable one. Our town's newly opened
Agave Mexican Bistro and Tequila House brings to life many of the traditional dishes and flavors that are inspiring chefs across the country. The spot, on 28th street, serves up red chile-stewed cactus, tequila-glazed catfish, shrimp tacos, and much more. Cathryn gives the menu, down to the coin-style margaritas, her two thumbs up--and we recommend that if you, or your clients, need a dose of true Mexican food, not to mention a fun lesson in food trends, this is the place to go.

2845 28th St., Boulder, 303-444-2922

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

March 30, 2010

Dr. Me: Pepsi's New Salt

The latest attempt to correct the U.S.’s failing health is not a White House initiative or even a savvy business plan. Instead, the newest effort is the brainchild of PepsiCo. The food industry mogul is in the midst of developing a new salt that will reduce sodium levels by 25 percent or more in Lay’s Classic potato chips, and eventually in its other products, like Cheetos and Quaker bars.

The salt—whose crystals are specially shaped and sized to dissolve more efficiently on the tongue—is Pepsi’s proactive step to offer snackers a tasty, better-for-you option. Assuming consumers pick up what Pepsi’s offering, the modified salt could indeed help minimize our national sodium crisis. Currently, the average American consumes about twice the daily recommended serving of sodium—and subsequently suffers from salt-related diseases, like high blood pressure. Cutting salt consumption could lessen the prevalence of such chronic illnesses.

This all sounds nice, doesn’t it? But we here in the SRG Culinary Practice are a little skeptical of this super salt. Of course, its purpose is well-founded. Reducing America’s over consumption of anything is a good thing. But why can’t Pepsi take the approach it’s currently taking with Lay’s Sour Cream and Onion? Since the designer salt won’t be released for another two years—and Pepsi has committed to cutting sodium in those chips this year—the company’s simply re-jiggered the Sour Cream and Onion recipe. Substituting natural ingredients and re-proportioning its flavors, Pepsi has already successfully reduced sodium by 25 percent in that popular chip flavor.

Ultimately, it will be the consumers that decide if they like Pepsi’s solution. If they do, they’ll enjoy their favorite snacks more salt—and guilt—free. Pepsi will rake in the rewards. And in twenty years, we can reevaluate whether this wonder salt is really as healthy as it seems.

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

January 21, 2010

Love Food? Love Beer? Love Food AND Beer?

Enjoy the Mountain Sun Winter Brewer’s Dinner at the Vine Street Pub in Denver on Feb 8th

For $50, come enjoy four courses of fine food paired with all Mountain Sun ales. To celebrate Stout month, Head Brewer Brian Hutchinson paired all stouts with the food creations of Executive Kitchen Manager Rob Green. Tickets are available now at all three pubs. (Mountain Sun and Southern Sun in Boulder and Vine Street Pub in Denver)

The 2010 Winter Brewer’s Menu:
1st course: Blue cheese stuffed bacon wrapped fig paired with Belgian Stout
2nd course: Posole soup paired with the Drop Kick Stout
3rd Course: Coffee rubbed beef with parsnip puree paired with Coffee Imperial Stout
4th course: Banana coconut bread pudding paired with Coconut Cream Stout

Cathryn Olchowy
Culinary Director

January 1, 2010

Pinxtos in Cherry Creek

If luck landed you in San Sebastian, Spain, for a night on the town, you’d probably begin with pintxos (pronounced pean-chos). The bite-sized snacks, usually served on thin slices of baguette, line Basque bars—so you can nibble Spanish tortillas (potato omelet) or marinated mushrooms while sipping a Rioja red.
As Spanish flavors make their way stateside, pintxos are increasingly common in the United States. New York City has a restaurant named after them, and Contigo recently opened in San Francisco to dish up single servings of chickpeas and anchovies.
Even Denver has its own pintxos spot. In late October, Kurt and Deicy Steinbecker, graduates of San Sebastian’s La Escuela de Cocina Luis Irizar, and long-time cooks in Spanish kitchens, opened Ondo’s in Cherry Creek North. Their ground-level restaurant serves up the Basque snacks just as you’d find them on bars in San Sebastian. Thin slices of mango, wrap creamy tuna, and sit atop toasts. Generous servings of salmon pate cover thin slices of bread. The Steinbeckers even offer bites of Spanish omelets.
But these ultra authentic snacks come at a cost. Since the couple imports all its product from Spain, its pintxos price out higher than they would in Europe. (Think $5-$9, instead of $3-$4.) Which makes Ondo’s a happy hour destination. From 4 to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, all wines and a few pintxos are $2 off. Those authentic prices fit the real Spanish eats.
For more information on the emergence of Spanish flavors in the U.S., check out the Cultural Curiosity section of Shifts 2.0.
Ondo’s, 250 Steele St. #100, 303-975-6514,

Cathryn Olchowy
Culinary Director