Monthly Archives: July, 2010

Cafe Aion – It’s Where to Eat This Weekend

July 30th, 2010 Posted by Boulder, Chefs, Culinary Connectors, restaurants No Comment yet

Dining at Café Aion is like stepping into a friend’s house. After completely changing the space that used to be Burnt Toast on the hill in Boulder, Chefs/Owners Eric, Dakota and Jason have created a comfortable and homey atmosphere. The long banquette with pillows, the personal touches like climbing equipment and photographs from friends are all just part of their successful effort to create a restaurant that reflects who they are. The food is fabulous as well.

Aion’s menu consists of tapas or la merenda, dishes meant to be shared. The chefs at Aion are committed to using local produce as you might imagine. All of them spent time cooking at the Kitchen, another Boulder restaurant known for their farm to table and green approach. Like it says on their website, Aion is committed to the philosophy of crafting quality food into simple, soulful bites. They do it very well. From the fava bean bruschetta, housemade charcuterie plate, fried almonds and a perfect apricot tart, dining at Aion is an experience to repeat.

Starting August 3rd Café Aion will open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Café Aion – 1235 Pennsylvania Ave. Boulder 303-993-8131

You Know You’re a Foodie When……

July 26th, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, restaurants No Comment yet

You have spent the equivalent of a mortgage payment on dinner. Just for yourself.

You pull a loaf of brioche out of your purse. (From Twelve!)

You plan your vacations based on where you want to eat and what is in-season.

You have eaten as many as three dinners in one night – while you’re in NYC you have to take advantage of all the options, right?

You “collect” chefs like baseball cards.

You have the French Laundry, El Bulli, the Fat Duck and Per Se on your bucket list.

You travel with your chef knife.

If there is foie gras on the menu you’re always going to order it.

You have more food pictures on your phone than pictures of your kids.

You cried when Gourmet Magazine went away.

You worship Alice Waters, Julia Child, Thomas Keller ……I could go on and on.

The James Beard awards are your “Oscars”.

You want a combi oven and an industrial dishwasher in your next kitchen.

Pacojet, Robocoupe and chinois are not unfamiliar words.

You look forward to reading the Times on Wednesdays.

And I know there are more. Please share your own “You know you’re a foodie when comments”. I look forward to reading your responses.

Cheers!

The Kitchen – It’s Where to Eat This Weekend

July 23rd, 2010 Posted by Boulder, Chefs, Culinary Connectors, restaurants No Comment yet

I like The Kitchen, but I really enjoy The Kitchen [Upstairs]. Couches, a community table, fun lighting and the bar make eating at The Kitchen [Upstairs] a casual and relaxing experience. Open seven days a week, the Kitchen [Upstairs] serves rustic food prepared in a wood-fired oven. The beer and wine list is one of the best in Colorado.

The last time I was in I gorged myself on a beautiful carrot flan with peas, spicy green salad simply dressed with lemon and olive oil, lamb with roasted vegetables and chocolate sambuca mousse with fresh cherries. The menu also includes a roasted chicken, cheese and charcuterie boards, fries, garlic fries and a selection of housemade pastas.  Chef Ashley and Sommelier, Jake who both did time at Frasca, will take care of you, satisfy your cravings and pair exquisite wines or beer with your dishes.

The Kitchen is known for being one of the most “green” restaurants in the country. Everything from the straws to the to-go boxes are recycled and The Kitchen’s commitment to community doesn’t end there.  The restaurant is 100% wind powered.  Leftover food and food scraps are either given to staff at the end of their shift, composted, or recycled.  The menu evolves with the seasonal availability of mostly local herbs, greens, vegetables, and meat. Depending on the time of year, upwards of 70% of all ingredients are sourced locally. The menu changes daily to reflect what’s available.

Each Monday the Kitchen hosts “Community Night”. This is a family style dinner and 20% of all food sales during community night are donated to The School Food Project and Growe Foundation.  Additionally, the Kitchen hosts a Community Hour from 3:00 – 5:30 Monday – Friday featuring food and drink specials.  The [Upstairs] also offers a Tasting Hour 7 days a week – Sunday and Monday all night and Tuesday – Saturday from 5:30 – 6:30.

Check out The Kitchen this weekend. The Kitchen – 1039 Pearl Street in Boulder. For reservations to community night or to eat downstairs please call 303.544.5973.

Chef Martin Oswald – Chefs Belong in the Kitchen

July 20th, 2010 Posted by Aspen, Chefs, Culinary Connectors, restaurants No Comment yet

Chef Martin Oswald is a rock star. He owns Riverside Grill in Basalt and is the executive chef at Ute City and Syzygy in Aspen. Plus, he’s from Austria, the land of sacher torte, gemutlichkeit and schnitzel.

Martin became a chef because of his mother. “I grew up living in the lush farming countryside of Styria, Austria. There my mother, who formerly worked in a Swiss restaurant, grew all her own vegetables, herbs and fruit. Meats, dairy products and honey were provided from the neighbors. My amazing mother cooked us three courses for lunch everday!” Martin grew up “living” farm to table, head to tail, organic, local, and seasonal. It was just how it was done.

In Austria kids decide at a young age whether to go to the University or to pursue a trade. Martin choose cooking and was sent to work as an apprentice 10 months of the year and to culinary school 2 months of the year. “You learn more working in a kitchen than you do in a culinary school classroom,” he says. Upon graduation Martin went to work at one of the most prestigious spas in Europe. At the Spa he quickly learned from the dietitians how to make healthy meals. To this day he tries to incorporate as much fiber into his cooking as possible.

When Martin turned 19 he moved to New York. While working in a large restaurant he learned to cook for a multitude of people and to do it well. It is a skill he still utilizes when he does catering for big events in Aspen. After New York it was off to San Francisco to work for a famous Austrian Chef, Wolfgang Puck at Postrio. This three story restaurant, with a kitchen staff of 75 had a multitude of different foods, tastes and plate presentations. “Everything at Postrio was made from scratch – from the puff pastry to the breads and the housemade salumi.” Martin worked every station at Postrio and actually turned down a promotion to be sous chef because he wanted to learn more about butchering. It was at Postrio that Martin was introduced to Asian flavors, foie gras terrines, house-smoked salmon and where he saw for the first time the breaking away of using butter sauces and béchamel. “Vegetables were grilled and marinated with EVOO. It was light and fresh cooking. It’s still a big influence for me today.” After Postrio came a stint at Sweet Basil in Vail and then finally Syzygy where he has been since 1995.

Which of the restaurants are your favorite: I like all of them because they are so different. Riverside Grill is about doing approachable food. Ute City is influenced heavily from my days at Postrio and Syzygy is all about fine dining.

On Molecular Gastronomy: It is a unique and eye opening experience for diners. Right now we are doing a crispy béarnaise and blue cheese powder at Syzygy. I want each dish to have a unique element.

On being a hands-on chef: The most experienced set of hands belongs in the kitchen, not talking with guests in the front of the house.

Favorite utensil: Mini spatula

Favorite cookbook: Babbo

Favorite restaurant: Guy Savoy in Paris

Favorite knives: Mac

What do you eat at home: My wife buys the best Irish cheese and there is always a bowl of seasonal fresh fruit on the kitchen table. I love fresh fish and I love to make pesto from the ingredients in my garden.

Tips for home cooks: Always get the best olive oil and balsamic vinegar that you can afford.

Most underrated kitchen tool: Mortar and pestle. Using this tool will change the flavor profile of an herb dramatically.

What would you put on the menu if you didn’t have to worry about it selling: Tripe. If done correctly it crisps up nicely. I would also like to feature brains with butter, shallots and raw egg yolk.

Rules in your kitchen: No picking on the weakest link. Everyone needs to work hard and respect each other.

Being a chef has been a wonderful journey. 28 years later I look at the evolution and revolution of cooking and how it never stops. Each day you search for perfection, a way of doing it better.

What inspires you: Currently, I’m inspired by Noma, a two star Michelin restaurant in Copenhagen that was named Best Restaurant in the World. The chef, Rene Redzepi is known for his reinvention and interpretation of Nordic cuisine. He uses molecular gastronomy and only super local ingredients. It’s perfection.

On being a chef: It’s like living in a state of madness.

Please visit Chef Martin at anyone of his three restaurants, Riverside Grill, Ute City and Syzygy.

Taste of the Nation – It’s Where to Eat this Weekend

July 16th, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver, restaurants No Comment yet

This weekend I encourage you to attend Taste of the Nation. Where else can we eat dishes made by our favorite chefs and help a worthy cause at the same time?

Sunday, July 18th chefs will descend on Mile High Station to donate their time and talent with one goal in mind – to raise critical funds needed to help end childhood hunger. This year 100% percent of the proceeds go to Share Our Strength, benefiting Operation Frontline Colorado, which teaches nutrition education, cooking skills and financial planning to low-income families and individuals in our community, as well as the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger in Colorado.

By the end of the year, nearly 17 million children in America will worry about when their next meal will come. That’s nearly one in four who are at risk of hunger, and who have limited or uncertain access to the nutritious foods they need.

As Matt Selby of Vesta Dipping Grill and Steubens has said of this year’s event, “It’s hard to argue with a statement like ‘no kid’ hungry. I’ve been actively involved with Share Our Strength for almost 20 years because I truly believe that solving many of our nations problems begins with letting children know, at an early age, that regardless of race, color, religion, whatever…that someone cares enough about their well being, and cares enough to work hard at feeding them a healthy meal.”

Participating restaurants include: Vesta Dipping Grill, Steubens, Encore, Jonesy’s Eat Bar, Venue, TAG, Strings, D Bar Desserts, Black Pearl, Elways Cherry Creek, Argyll, Duo and more. Mixologists and sommeliers will also be on hand to pour wine and serve cocktails.

Event Details

Mile High Station
2027 West Lower Colfax Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80204
720.946.7721

5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

To buy tickets click here. Use discount code TOMCOM10 to receive $10 off.

Hope to see all of our foodie friends there.

Cheers!

Twelve – it’s where to eat this week!

July 12th, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver, restaurants No Comment yet

Twelve makes you want to come back again and again and again. Called Twelve because Chef Jeff Osaka changes his menu 12 times a year, Twelve is located just blocks from Coors Field. From the pancetta wrapped scallops with squash gratin, sweetbreads with bacon, and a flirty barman that will blind taste you on wine, having dinner at Twelve can be anything you want it to be. Couples on dates were murmuring over their dishes, a large group was celebrating a birthday and several of us were dining at the bar. From the bar you can peek into the kitchen and watch Jeff and his two sous chefs work quietly and gracefully as they push plates over the pass to the servers.

Normally I write about checking out a restaurant on the weekend, but Twelve is great for mid-week dining. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Twelve offers a three course tasting menu for $35.00 per person. This is the best deal in town.

Twelve Restaurant is located at 2233 Larimer Street. Please call 303-293-0287 for reservations.

Brad and Nelson from Colt & Gray

July 6th, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver, restaurants 1 comment

It has to be said, when world renowned Jacques Pepin is one of your culinary school instructors at the French Culinary Institute (FCI) in New York City, you are probably going to learn a thing or two about cooking. If nothing else, how to debone a chicken, which is what Chef de Cuisine, Brad Rowell of Colt & Gray, learned when he was deboning a chicken and Master Chef and instructor Jacques Pepin said to him, “that is not how you do it, this is how you do it”. Chef Rowell said he wanted to learn from the culinary elite and that is why he chose FCI as his school.

Fast forward to today where Colt & Gray chefs Nelson Perkins and Brad Rowell, who met while studying at FCI, own and operate one of Denver’s finer gastropubs. Between Chef Nelson’s hobby turned passion and Chef Brad’s desire to take cooking seriously and make it a career, they are putting out some simple and delicious fare at their lower highlands neighborhood restaurant.

This is a restaurant where you immediately feel at home. The bar manager, Kevin, offered me a beverage while I waited for chefs Brad & Nelson during their prep time. The small dining room is so cozy and inviting; it made me want to stay and savor the intense aromas wafting from the kitchen.

What you find on the menu is fitting with the décor of the restaurant, uncomplicated food executed beautifully. The menu shows the influence from Chef Nelson’s stint at highly awarded Dan Barber restaurant, Blue Hill. “Dan is known for his work with vegetables, his farm and his restaurant. I learned a lot about working with vegetables at Blue Hill.” This is quite apparent if you take a look at Chef Perkins menu. Even most of his sauces are vegetable based, a testament to what he learned working with Chef Barber.

While Chef Perkins was refining his craft just north of New York City, Chef Brad was honing his talent for getting the most flavor out of ingredients at the Spotted Pig in the Gotham City. The Spotted Pig is known as a gastropub and was started by England’s own April Bloomfield with a little consulting help from a “little” known Italian chef, Mario Batali.

When you sit down and taste the food these two chefs put out you can see what inspires them; fresh ingredients, experience and their love of travel. For these chef’s they focus on the seasonality of both meat and vegetables. Even their respective go to meals reflect coaxing the most flavor out of simple foods. For Chef Brad it’s a whole roasted chicken, salad with olive oil, salt & pepper with lemon and an Avery beer and for Chef Nelson it’s a grilled NY Strip, sauted broccoli rabe and roasted potatoes (and I’m guessing with a glass of red wine).

Venture into Colt & Gray on a warm and sunny day, a cold and rainy day or any day you want to experience food that was influenced by this country’s culinary elite, you’ll be glad you did.

Colt & Gray is located at 1553 Platte Street in Denver. Recently they were named as having the Best Burger and the Best Brunch by Westword. Check it out!

Steubens Truck – It’s Where to Eat This Weekend

July 2nd, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver, Food Cart 2 comments

It’s forth of July weekend. I’m sure many of you are planning lavish BBQ’s and dinner parties out of doors. I’m not. I just moved and my house is utter chaos. I’m planning on eating at the Steubens Truck. I’ll be very happy with burgers, gravy fries, cupcakes and steubie snacks – deep fried pork rolled in powder sugar. Damn the calories, I’m even going to add bacon and egg to my burger. I’m sure I will work it off running boxes up and down the stairs at the new casa.

Chef Brandon Biederman will be manning the truck at Civic Center Park tomorrow evening. Even better, while you nosh on dinner you can also check out the free fireworks. Dinner, entertainment and a celebration for Independence Day. DONE. Does it get any better than that?

The Steubens Truck posts their location every day on Facebook and Twitter. Currently they are running a contest to name the truck. The winner will receive a free lunch. Post your ideas for a name and help the Steubens Truck get to 4,000 fans on Facebook.

Cheers!