Denveater - Deconstructing Colorado Cuisine, Dish by Dish

DFS Hosts Film & Fork on Colfax, 6/1–8/30

The Director & I have built our entire lives on the dinner-&-a-movie model, so naturally I’m gung-ho for the summer-long promo his colleagues at the Denver Film Society are launching in conjunction with the Colfax Business Improvement District: FILM & FORK ON COLFAX.

It all starts with the Taste of Colfax Launch at the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax next Wednesday, June 1, from 5pm to 8pm, catered in Henderson’s Lounge (otherwise known as the theater lobby) by the entire roster of participating restaurants (as well as the chefs from local B&Bs Adagio, Castle Marne & The Holiday Chalet):

The Cheeky Monk
citygrille
Denver Tea Room
Okinawa Japanese Cuisine
Pete’s Kitchen & Pete’s Satire Lounge
Spices Café
Taki Sushi
Uptown Brothers Brewing Co.
XBar

It continues every Tuesday evening thereafter through the end of August, as each one of the featured eateries will be on-site to feed filmgoers in similar nibbly fashion.

Finally, throughout the promotional period, you’ll be able to flash your dining tabs for free movie passes; full details to come.

And the DFS’s commitment to cinephilic foodies won’t end there—stay tuned for future news on that front as well.

OTOTO Food & Wine Launches Brunch, 6/5

As of June 5—to coincide with the return of the Old South Pearl Farmer’s MarketOTOTO will begin Sunday brunch service from 10am to 3pm. The working menu:

MAIN
Seasonal Fruit Plate 7
Grilled Ciabatta Toast, housemade seasonal preserves 5
Bagels & House-cured Gravlax, whipped cream cheese 11
Wild Mushroom Omelet, jamon Serrano, crème fraîche, house fries 13
Chilaquiles, two farm eggs, tortilla, red chile broth, queso fresca, pickled onion 10
Steak & Eggs, braised beef short rib, two farm eggs, house fries 16
Smoked Salmon Benedict, farm eggs, pickled ramp hollandaise, house fries 17

SPECIALTY DISHES
Egg in a Jar, black truffle potato puree, jamon Serrano, farm egg, caviar 12
Duck Confit Hash, confit duck leg, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, house fries, farm eggs 15
Brioche French Toast, freshly baked brioche dipped in cinnamon-vanilla batter, topped with whipped honey butter, Grade A maple syrup
Short stack 5
Large stack 9
Seasonal preserves 2

À LA CARTE
Applewood Bacon 3
Housemade Sausage 2
Farm Egg 1.5
House Fries 3
PJBC Bagel 3
Grilled Toast 3

FROM THE BAR
B.Y.O Bloody, your choice of the housemade traditional Bloody mix or spicy chipotle mix 8
Bottomless Mimosas, La Marca Prosecco, fresh squeezed orange juice 12
Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice 5
CODA Coffee 3

Vail Valley News: Chef Pascal Coudouy Takes Over Gore Range Brewery

When a chef with a pedigree like Pascal Coudouy leaves a swank resort destination like 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill to run a brewpub that trades in wings & burgers, ya gotta rub your eyes with that squeaky cartoon noise, because what? But even though he’s not talking about the extent of the overhaul yet—“Our first priority is to get the deck ready for summer, plant our herb garden & remain true to what patrons love: fresh, local, organic whenever possible, great ingredients. Time will let us discern the changes in the months to come”—when you see a mug with a mug like this, ya gotta feel fine about the possibilities.

Vaguely Interesting News About iFish, Joyce’s Famous Pizza

A, it appears Jake Rand has already bolted from brand-spanking-new Ballpark sushi joint iFish. That was quick.

B, it looks like Joyce’s Famous Pizza on S. Broadway is moving all of half a block further south; its former digs, according to a sign in the window, will now house another Original Famous Pizza. Just because it’s news doesn’t make it exciting.

I wish these 2 tidbits had something to do with one another, if only for the sake of narrative elegance, but they don’t. Still, it’s nice to know there is such a thing as sushi pizza, as well as fast-food sushi (close enough)—both signs of the apocalypse if ever there were any. And the end of days is certainly big news at present, right?

Republic Tequila Dinner at Elway’s Cherry Creek, May 26 (+ bonus cocktail recipe!)

I get press releases all the live-long day, but some jump out at me—like this one, because hey, free recipes! On Thursday, May 26, at 6:30pm, the Cherry Creek branch of Elway’s is hosting a 5-course Republic Tequila dinner; $65 pp gets you the following:

1st Course: Passed Apps
Al pastor skewers, Mexican bay scallop spoon with charred tomatillo
Spiced Savory Paloma Cocktail (see below for details!)

2nd Course
Lime & cilantro grilled snapper tostada with pickled jalapeño-radish slaw, smooth avocado
Republic Tequila Blanco

3rd Course
Ancho-braised goat empanada with grilled chayote squash salsa, ancho chile jus
Republic Tequila Reposado

4th Course
Beef cheek barbacoa with smoked posole cake, rajas onion slaw
Republic Tequila Añejo

5th Course
Mexican chocolate flan with chimayo-pepita tuille
Irish Cactus Cocktail

Call 303.399.7616 for reservations, & prepare thyself with an advance nip:

Spiced Savory Paloma

Ingredients:

•2 oz. Republic Plata tequila
•2 oz. pink grapefruit juice
•1/2 oz. lime juice
•1/2 oz. agave nectar
•1 1/2 oz. club soda

Instructions:

1. Rim a highball glass with spice mix (see below).
2. Ice up the highball.
3. Into a Boston shaker, pour all ingredients except the soda.
4. Shake well.
5. Strain carefully into the rimmed glass.
6. Cap with soda & stir gently.

Spice Mix: Take sea salt & a little table salt, combine in a saucer with cayenne pepper & smoked paprika, crush together, & mix well.

Win Tix to the GABF During American Craft Beer Week at Mellow Mushroom!

This is actually pretty cool: check in to either of Mellow Mushroom’s 2 Denver locations on Foursquare this week, or simply like its Facebook page, & you could win a pair of 1-time passes to the GABF.

No comment on the pies, I’ve never had them, although the version with red potatoes, applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, cheddar and mozzarella, sour cream & chives and spicy ranch dressing sounds ridiculous (in a good way).

La Scala Trattoria Coming Your Way 5/16; Healthy Asian Garden Open Next Door

Glad to see South Denver’s pasta void is finally about to be filled, following Westword’s announcement of the venture 2 months ago:

Its neighbor is a take-out multi-Asian place that I’ve been meaning to check out for the past month or so—

but now that their menu’s online I’m guessing I can mostly skip it; I think they left the word “Variety” off the end of their name. It’s your basic den of egg-fu this & happy that delight. There are a couple of curiosities: under appetizers, “green vegetable dumplings” (chive, by chance?) as well as “donut (10)” (who knows?); house specials list salt-&-pepper salmon & flounder (this slightly spicy fried preparation is usually reserved for shellfish); & the phrase “gon bao” pops up frequently, which is unfamiliar to me & yields only a couple of unhelpful Google hits. I’ve already cast a line on Chowhound; will edit this if someone bites with a definition.  EDIT: Oh, duh—it’s an alternate transliteration of kung pao. Never mind.

I Want to Go There: Dim Sum Karaoke Brunch at Happy Noodle House, 5/8

What better way to thank mom for all she’s done with pork buns, potstickers, & the sentimental stylings of 2PacOzzy! Just please, please, no Fountains of Wayne.

Tinto Torre Takes the Gold at the Rodney Strong Wine Blending Seminar, 4/12!

Yeah, that doesn’t really mean anything, but it’s fun to say. On Tuesday (mere hours after the BarSmarts shindig), I attended an intimate wine-blending seminar cohosted by Rodney Strong Vineyards & Uncorked Denver. It was held at Baca in The Inverness, which, along with the sunken Fireside Lounge at its center, looks like a Rocky Mountain ski lodge met a bed & breakfast in California wine country, fell in love, & had a weird but beautiful child. I want to go back & pretend like I’m rich enough to be there, see how that goes.

In the meantime, though, I felt rich, sitting down to a table intriguingly set with an array of glasses & bottles, beakers, droppers & a calculator

to be personally guided through the process of creating my very own meritage (a Bordeaux-style blended wine) by winemaker Rick Sayre & thereby understand how Rodney Strong Symmetry is made. Before me, along with a glass of Symmetry itself, were pours of 5 100% varietals from 2009: Cabernets Sauvignon & Franc, Merlot, Malbec, & Petit Verdot. I & my fellow guests were tasked with coming up with a blend of our own, which we’d share with our tablemates & pick the best to represent our table. Sayre would then choose an overall favorite, & the winning table would receive copies of down home : downtown, a cookbook collaboration between 2 California chefs in conjunction with the winery.

Considering that a) precision is not this sloppy girl’s forte & b) my tablemates included a sommelier & the dean of culinary education at Johnson & Wales, Jorge de la Torre, I sat back & let them do the work. (Oh, I puttered around, but everything I made tasted like porch wine—not bad for a cookout if I do say so myself, but far from elegant & well-balanced.)

Smart move on my part. De la Torre nailed it, so we named it Tinto Torre in his honor—

& damned if we didn’t win those cookbooks.

Afterward, I had to split, but not so quickly I couldn’t get a feel for the 3-course tasting event held by Uncorked, a local meetup, which actually looked like a lot of fun. With more than 1000 members, executive director Stacey Gilbert is beginning to attract the attention of visiting winemakers, & the next get-together over Piedmontese wines at Russo’s on May 10 promises to be a winner. For details click here.

BarSmarts Comes to Denver: Liquor Legends Dispense Drinks, Wisdom

Too cool. Along with well over 100 local mixologists who are taking the BarSmarts exam at this very moment—I spotted crew from Colt & Gray, Vesta Dipping Grill & Steuben’s, LaLa’s Wine Bar & Bistro, Mateo, SALT the Bistro, & Summit at the Broadmoor, among others—I spent all morning at the Four Seasons in a seminar led by no lesser luminaries than Dale DeGroff, David Wondrich, F. Paul Pacult, Doug Frost, Andy Seymour & Steve Olsen, sipping spirits &, more importantly, soaking up knowledge. Below, a few random highlights.

  • In 1999, there were 11 craft distilleries (producing <10,000 cases/year) in the U.S. Today, there are more than 200. (A tenth of which, I might add, are right here in Colorado.)
  • “When in doubt,” says MS/MW Doug Frost on evaluating the nose of a spirit, “say lemon & pepper.'” Half-joking words to live by.
  • After a sip of any spirit, suck in your breath. Where there’s heat, there’s volatility. If you experience a cooling sensation, bingo—that’s the sign of a quality distillation, per Olsen.

  • Upon asking the audience what they sniff in glass #1: “Lavender.” “Citrus.” “Pine.” “Christmas.” “Rehab.” (Yes, it was gin.)
  • Well said: “Vodka is a platform,” observes Olsen. “You don’t taste the spirit [in a cocktail], you feel it.”
  • Ditto, upon comparing the pear-like notes of a Scotch & the apple-y tones of an Irish whisky: “The spirit itself can [taste of] bright-green malic acid, but oak makes it whiter, sweeter. Oak takes anything & makes it confection.”
  • Seymour on craft in relation to hospitality: “Don’t ever let the cocktail become the most important thing, when really it’s the person sitting in front of you.” (The corollary for us guests: Take the golden opportunity to learn from a seasoned bartender, to experience new flavors or give spirits you think you don’t like a second chance. That’s partly what going out is for, no, the social give & take?)
  • Per DeGroff, the best barware is coming out of Japan, Germany & Australia. If you’re a tool geek, look here, for instance.
  • Sours are the difference between the men & the boys,” says DeGroff. “Our friend calls it the Mr. Potato Head of bartending”: the 3 basic components are 1 sour, 1 sweet & 1 strong, but the variations & additions are endless.
  • DeGroff credits his former Rainbow Room boss Joe Baum with keeping craft cocktailing alive in the mid-century doldrums; “In 1959,” he notes with pride, “La Fonda del Sol had pisco sours & mojitos.” (Pacult points out that South America is once again a source of much inspiration.)
  • Seymour on menus: “You should be able to represent what you do in 6 to 8 drinks.” More than 12, in his opinion, means spreading yourself too thin. (A rough count, then, could be useful for drinkers in search of a serious cocktail program.)
  • Seymour again, on preciousness: “We all love a great drink with 3 ingredients. Don’t use a house-infused ingredient just to do it; do it if it makes sense for the drink.”
  • DeGroff, on an attendee’s doubts about Rose’s lime juice: “Actually, it has a flavor profile that the traditional gimlet-drinker wants.” In short, there’s a time & a place for bottled juices (or at least this one in particular).
  • “Stirring a drink is the most quiet & Zen-like moment at the bar”—DeGroff.
  • I drank a punch made on the spot by David Wondrich. That’s still sinking in.
  • “As long as the 21st century continues to suck, people will continue to drink.” Right on, Wondrich!

Right on, as well, to the locals, not one of whom, according to a show of hands (or rather a lack thereof), forgot their tools. “This has never happened!” we were told. “Another first for Denver!”  Congrats & good luck to them all.