Denveater - Deconstructing Colorado Cuisine, Dish by Dish

So What’s This About a) Murray’s Cheese Shop & b) Pho Pasta?

a) So apparently, on August 15, King Soopers—yeah, that King Soopers—is opening a Murray’s Cheese Shop: yeah, that Murray’s Cheese Shop. Word is it’ll serve “more than 175 cheeses” plus an antipasto bar. May the mongers be encyclopedic & meticulous.

b) Drove by Pho Pasta this evening, & either I was hallucinating or it’s been gutted. A phone call didn’t yield a disconnection, but nor did anyone answer at 7pm. Where’s an investigative reporter when you need one?

Dish of the Week: Downward Dogs at The Corner Office (plus a word on Kachina Bar)

The Corner Office & I have a funny, on-again, off-again relationship (chronicled here). We flirt, we have a good time, then we hit a sour note, then I avoid it for awhile, then I ease back in one day on a whim & the cycle continues.

Or so it did before the arrival of exec chef Will Cisa. With a solid talent like him on board I feel so safe & warm inside…But never so excited as when I bit into the Downward Dog.

Here’s what it is: 2 snappy, juicy New York dogs; a spunky combo of spicy mustard, sweet soy & Kewpie mayo; plus nori, pork fu & housemade tsukemono on a buttered, toasted, split top bun. I’m not a frank fiend, I suppose because the range of variations is generally so limited, beginning & ending with some sort of tangy sauce &/or some form of chili or chile. But this here’s a whole different ballgame with its Japanese flavors & array of textures, from the feathery, flaky fu to the poppy pickles.

By the way, here’s what else usually bores me: fish tacos.

And here’s why Cisa’s didn’t, aside from the smooth, fritter-like crunchy batter on the healthy chunk of mahi mahi: lots & lots of condiments that blended together into a vibrant, squirting, dribbling mess: excellent, smoky red salsa, guacamole & what some (not me for sure) might deem too much crema, plus citrusy slaw.

The Corner Office, like Second Home, is part of the multi-state Sage Restaurant Group, which has a flair for realizing visions that feel organic, not corporate. So I was psyched to discover that they’re working on a new concept, slated to open this fall: Kachina Bar, a neo-Southwestern eatery in the Westin Westminster. Bring on the sopaipillas.

 

Local Girl Does Good, As Always: Elise Wiggins Hosts Summer Local Week at Panzano

Okay, Panzano chef Elise Wiggins isn’t Colorado-born, but she’s a local girl through & through now. I love that laid-back yet saucy gal—& as for her cooking, she’s easily my pick for Denver’s most underappreciated talent (see here, here).

From July 25 through 31, in conjunction with Kimpton Hotels’ Summer Like a Local campaign, she’ll be preparing a prix-fixe 4-course tasting composed entirely of Colorado-grown & -raised ingredients & optionally paired with all-local pours ($25/$39 at lunch; $38/$52 at dinner); 5 percent of all proceeds will go to the Denver chapter of Dress for Success. Did I mention she’ll be roasting the Triple M Bar Ranch lamb right on the Panzano patio? Yes I just did!

1st Course
Pan-seared scallop with grilled local corn, prosciutto & basil
Infinite Monkey Theorem Semillon

2nd Course
Grilled Caesar salad
Avery White Rascal

3rd Course
Whole-roasted rosemary Colorado lamb with gnocchi, walnuts, mint pesto, dried pomegranate & goat cheese
Guy Drew Syrah

4th Course
Rocky Ford Melon Sorbetto
Infinite Monkey Theorem Black Muscat

Midsummer Spurt: Food & Wine Festivals in Crested Butte, Castle Rock & Snowmass

Good luck coordinating your calendar without triggering an aneurysm this week:

The Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival kicks off Wednesday & runs through Sunday. A sort of small-scale Aspen, its focus is national & international, not local, as the list of participating wineries & distributors shows. Major perk: the attendance of a number of Colorado’s own Master Sommeliers.

The 8th Annual Castle Rock WineFest is a Saturday-only, Colorado-centric affair, featuring tastings from 25 area wineries. Major perk: a discussion with Doug Caskey of the Colorado Wine Board, whose insights into the future of the state’s wine industry are always compelling.

The Snowmass Culinary & Arts Festival runs Thursday through Saturday. I’m attending this one myself, & looking forward to workshops & demos with not only Denverites like Hosea Rosenberg, Alex Seidel & Frank Bonanno but also the mountain townies, including six89‘s Mark Fischer & Artisan‘s David Von Holten.

After which I will attend the Bread & Water Detox Expo in my own kitchen.

Hey Kids, Wanna Win a Copy of The Farmer’s Kitchen Cookbook?

Of course you do. So click here for details.

An Unforgettable Taste of Alto Adige/Südtirol

The northernmost province of Italy in the region of Trentino–Alto Adige on the Austrian border has 2 names—Alto Adige in Italian, Südtirol in German. It has 2 faces as well, a dual character—historically Alpine/Austrian, additionally Mediterranean/Italian.

Having spent a remarkable few days there in conjunction with the Festival del Gusto Alto Adige in Bolzano—where my room in the Hotel Greif, which looked like this,

offered views of Piazza Walther like this—

I’ve got myriad stories to tell, beginning with an extraordinary meal at the Michelin-starred Zum Löwen in the tiny mountain town of Tesimo. Over the next few weeks, check the Globeater section of my blog for further glimpses, tastes, sheer sighing vicarious pleasures.

Color Me Intrigued: New Menu at 1515 Restaurant

I’ve never set foot in 1515—not as a matter of principle or anything, it’s just one of those places I haven’t gotten around to. But a press release I just received is giving me pause—or rather, the menus it links to are. I don’t really know what the claim that “Chef Chuck James Uses His Own Method of Cooking With the Heart and Mind” means, but I do know that the following concoctions sound at least intriguing, at most terrific (check out the ravioli that turns the raspberry-walnut-goat cheese cliché on its head):

Seared Diver Scallops
Shattered spring vegetables, Arnold Palmer bubbles, huitlacoche sauce

Gin & Lime Cured Ahi Tuna
Truffled egg yolk jam, cilantro gel, shiso, quail egg, basil seed

Colorado Bacon-Wrapped Fried Chicken
Ricotta mashed potatoes, haricots verts, waffle chip, buttermilk demiglace

Sous-Vide Colorado Lamb
Cauliflower puree, crab hash, hazelnut reduction, mint powder, hazelnut dust

Raspberry–Goat Cheese Ravioli
Walnuts, goat cheese, raspberry, watercress, grapefruit-butter sauce

Blueberries
Raspberry sorbet, spruce ice cream, crispy brioche, lemon balm, thyme oil

Compressed Melon
Honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, basil gelato, raspberry fluid gel,
18-year balsamic pipette

But wait, there’s more; click here to see for yourself. Whether the execution lives up to the promise remains to be seen, but I intend to find out soon.

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Do at the Zoo, R&B’s Mo’ Betta Green Marketplace, CAUTION’s Inaugural Tapping!

Aspen Food & Wine isn’t the only game in town (never mind the fact that it isn’t in town).

TONIGHT at 7pm, the 22nd Annual Do at the Zoo features a whopping line-up of 79 participating eateries, a slew of live performers—including Danielle Ate the Sandwich—& the immeasurable satisfaction that comes with donating funds (tix start at $175) to help the Denver Zoo build a new home for its 1-horned rhinoceros & Malayan tapirs (pictured on right). It just so happens I’ll be a judge at the cooking competition; expect a few Tweets (@Denveater) about my favorite eats.

Saturday 6/18, from 9am to 2pm, the first R&B’s Mo’ Betta Green Marketplace kicks off at the 2500 block of Welton Street. Or so the flyer below tells me. I tried to e-mail the manager for details with no luck, but this website seems to confirm it. I like my markets mo’ betta, so, you know, worth a look.

So that takes care of animal & vegetable. As for mineral—at long last, CAUTION Brewing Co. is in business! After a long, looonngg wait, Bettina Fey & Danny Wang will be at Lao Wang Noodle House, which provides the secret spice blend that flavors the brew, this Sunday, 6/18, at noon to tap their flagship, Lao Wang Lager. In a word, woohoo.

RSVP Wine Dinners: Uncorked’s Argentine Patio Party, 6/12; Cliff Lede at Elway’s, 6/15; Bin 36 at Row 14, 6/21

Jeez. I’ve been home from the Festival del Gusto di Bolzano for mere hours—more on that later—& already there’s so much news in my face. None of the following will suck in the least.

First up, on 6/12, 5pm: Uncorked Denver‘s Argentine Patio Party at Second Home featuring the wines of Mendoza’s Gauchezco Vineyards—run by, of all people, a CU grad, Eric Anesi. In the JW Marriott’s swank little courtyard, he’ll be pairing the following wines with passed apps:

Torrontes 2010
Malbec Rosé 2010
Malbec Classico 2009
Malbec Plata 2009
Malbec Oro 2008

Note that reservations ($28 pp) are already 75% booked, so sign up quick here to ensure your spot.

***

Next, on 6/15, 6:30pm, Jack Bittner, VP & GM of Cliff Lede Vineyards in Yountville, CA, will be on hand for a 5-course wine-paired dinner at Elway’s Downtown ($100+ pp; call 303.312.3107 for reservations).

Course 1
Scallop carpaccio with spicy guava drizzle, frisée, red chili
2010 Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

Course 2
Oak-smoked duck breast with new potatoes, chard, berry jus
2008 Breggo “Ferrington Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley

Course 3
Wild boar ravioli with tomatoes, olive oil, Mahon cheese
2007 Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag’s Leap District

Course 4
Lamb osso buco
2007 Cliff Lede “Poetry” Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag’s Leap District

Dessert
Housemade chocolates

***
Last but hardly least, on June 21 at 7pm, Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar welcomes Brian Duncan, acclaimed wine director of Chicago’s Bin 36 (the former stomping grounds of co-owner David Schneider) & a winemaker in his own right for a 6-course dinner ($95 pp, 303.825.0100) featuring Bin 36’s proprietary vintages.

Passed hors d’oeuvres
Chef’s selection of appetizers
2001 Brut Rosé

Course 1
Cured Scottish salmon with pink pepper crème, cucumber noodles, mustard seed tuile
2010 Sauvignon Blanc

Course 2
Tombo ceviche cocktail with spicy chile-lime broth, cilantro, popcorn
2009 Chardonnay

Course 3
Duck & fig sausage with shaved pear, mâche salad, Szechwan pepper gastrique
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon & 2007 D&S Cabernet Blend

Course 4
Grilled NY strip with broccoli di Cicco, rösti potatoes, citrus chimichurri
2007 Syrah

Dessert
Local artisan cheeses & mignardises

Cherry Blossom Street Fare at Super Ordinary Gallery, 5/28

The poster below’s just for show; since, you can’t actually read it, allow me to assist. The fact that it’s co-hosted by the inimitable Andrew Novick of Gimme Gimme Pillow Toast (& Warlock Pinchers legend) is pretty much an advance guarantee of fabulosity.

CHERRY BLOSSOM STREET FARE at SUPER ORDINARY GALLERY

Saturday, 2pm-6pm, $5 admission

—Gaijin 24886 Sake Tasting

—Cherry Sweets and Baked Goods Swap
Everyone is invited to bring cherry-themed sweets & baked goodies to swap with others!

—Traditional Japanese Street Food: takoyaki & okonomiyaki
Aka octopus fritters & savory pancakes!

—Fun Japanese Street Fair Party Games & Crafts

—Wa-Lolita Fashion Show produced by Colorado Gothic Lolita Society (5pm)