Monthly Archives: June, 2013

Becky’s BBQ Journey – Baby Back Ribs

June 29th, 2013 Posted by Becky's BBQ Journey No Comment yet

Grilling lesson four from the BBQ Cooking School is grilling baby back ribs. One wouldn’t think, at least this one, that grilling St. Louis ribs would be that different than grilling baby back ribs.  Baby back ribs are the first cut from the backbone of the hog.  They tend to have more meat per bone and are less stringy than spare ribs.  They are also almost twice as expensive.  At least this time around I didn’t char them, I did stay pretty close with my water ready to put out any flare ups.  I think I got the hang of it this time around, I trimmed a little fat from the ribs as there were some big chunks of it, leaving some behind, after all fat is flavor.

Becky's BBQ Journey Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs

I did minimal seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes and put them on a 300 degree grill. Instructions stated 30 minutes on each side, after checking the temperature I had to turn them at 20 minutes.

I made my BBQ sauce and basted the ribs the last ten minutes of their cooking time. As with any ingredients they can vary in taste and potency.  I’m talking about the spices I used for my sauce.  Let’s just say, the sauce was a bit more spicier than normal thanks to some pretty fresh paprika and cayenne pepper from Savory Spice.

I cooked them the amount of time suggested, as I did with the St. Louis ribs.  Here’s my conclusion.  I would take the heat down a little and cook them longer.  The ribs weren’t necessarily tough but I would have liked them to be a little more tender.  Not fall off the bone tender, as John Head states, that’s not what you really want.  But, a little more tender.  Next time around I will cook them at 275 degrees for about 30 minutes per side.

 

Overall, the ribs were tasty, if not a little spicy thanks to my sauce and went perfect with a Van Duzer Pinot Noir and of course, friends.

BBQ Cooking School Baby Back Ribs

Baby Back Ribs!

Do you have a favorite BBQ sauce you like to make or even buy, leave a comment and let us know!

 

 

Where to Eat This Weekend: Denver – al Lado

June 28th, 2013 Posted by Chefs, Denver, restaurants, Where To Eat This Weekend No Comment yet

Sharing has its Benefits, after all

Tapas at al Lado

Tapas at al Lado

There are many things Americans have borrowed from the rich culinary culture of the Mediterranean. Among them, is the tradition of grabbing a refreshing drink accompanied by a savory bite after work or during an early evening on a day off. This pastime is present in many areas of the Mediterranean, including Spain, where it is known as “Tapas.”

Foodies of Denver will be happy to learn that tapas are also available in their own city, offered every night to the diners of al Lado. Al Lado’s tapas offer a wide variety of flavors and portions, appealing to every appetite. Of course, tapas are traditionally meant to be shared with your fellow diners. Diners may order a wide variety, creating a smorgasbord of flavor. For larger groups with larger appetites, al Lado offers the “Whole Shebang” which includes the entire menu for $165.

From blistered shishito peppers topped with fine grains of fleur de sel, Spanish olive oil, and roasted garlic aioli to patatas bravas, a spanish specialty made with crispy baby potatoes served with a rich and savory chorizo smoked tomato-chipotle romesco sauce, Al Lado packs the flavor into each bite.

peppers at al Lado

To satisfy your appetite for pizza, al Lado offers “Cocas,” i.e. spanish flatbreads. A personal fave, the short rib and fig coca is topped with the tender meat of short ribs accompanied with a red onion and fig jam, micro-arugula, and Spain’s blue cheese Valdeon. For those highly carnivorous diners, al Lado’s rather large skirt steak served with a side of Tunisian’s hot chili sauce, harissa, and a garlicky chimichurri sauce, a medley of parsley, garlic, olive oil, oregano, and vinegar, will fully satisfy the meat eaters in the group.

If you ever wanted to pick something off your fellow diner’s plate, tapas might offer your ideal dining experience. Patrons to al Lado can carefully select each bite, mixing and matching the flavors that appeal most to them. No longer stuck with one plate, you get to enjoy the tastes of many. Sharing may have its benefits, after all.

al Lado is located at 1610 Little Raven Street, Riverfront Park Denver, CO 80202; Tel 303.572.3000.

Now for the Denver foodie trivia question to see how educated of a foodie you are!

Al Lado’s owner, Richard Sandoval, will be appearing on what popular TV series this summer?

Tune in to this Tuesday for the answer!

The answer to Friday’s blog question: “During the prohibition in the U.S. (1920-1933), whiskey could still be purchased from which well known store, still popular in America today?”…The Answer: The retail pharmacy chain, Walgreens, that were allowed to fill prescriptions for Whiskey, according to the Dr.’s orders.

Where to Drink This Week: Denver – Central Bistro & Bar

June 25th, 2013 Posted by Cocktails, Denver, restaurants, Where To Drink This Week, Whiskey No Comment yet

Whiskey is Central to the American Spirit

Whiskey

On a mission to be a true American restaurant, Central Bistro & Bar takes their whiskey seriously.  Indeed, whiskey has played an important role in the culture of America stemming back from the foundation of the American colonies, where even our forefathers relished in a drink or two.  George Washington, himself, owned his own distillery at Mount Vernon in Virginia, one of the largest of that time.

Thus, in true American spirit, Central Bistro & Bar takes their passion for whiskey to the next level, offering a membership to the Central Whiskey bottle club.  The membership includes year round discounts, including a 10% discount off every meal.  To officially join this exclusive whiskey club, you must purchase a bottle of whiskey that will be kept in VIP storage at Central Bistro & Bar until your next visit.

For those not yet ready to take their passion for whiskey to the bottle club level, Central Bistro & Bar offers occasional whiskey tastings where you will get the chance to feel, smell, hear, see, and taste the history of bourbon as it evolved from the 1700s to today.  Tastings include six styles of whiskey and three appetizers featuring savory bites of Central’s authentically American cuisine.

If straight up whiskey is not your thing, try a “Cold Toddy” made with Bulleit Bourbon, lemon, cinnamon, and clove, offering a much needed cold and spicy zing on a hot Colorado day.  For a more classic taste, Central has several classically inspired medleys such as the Old Fashioned, a sweet and bitter creation with Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey, Luxardo Cherry, orange, and a shot of Angostura bitters.

No matter your level of knowledge or passion for all-American whiskey, Central Bistro & Bar invites you to join them on an adventure through the rich history and unique flavors of this national drink.  Swirling, sniffing, and sipping your way through an account of its history, you might begin to gain a better understanding of just why this drink is central to the American spirit.

Central Bistro & Bar

Central Bistro & Bar

Central Bistro & Bar is located at 1691 Central Street Denver CO 80211; Tel: 303-477-4582.

Now for the Denver foodie trivia question to see how educated of a foodie you are!

During the prohibition in the U.S. (1920-1933), whiskey could still be purchased from which well known store, still popular in America today?

Tune in to this Friday for the answer!

 

The answer to Friday’s blog question: “True – Le Grand Bistro was voted one of Denver’s 10 best new restaurants of 2011.”

Becky’s BBQ Journey – Grilled Ribs

June 22nd, 2013 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Well, let’s just say that if at first you don’t succeed…..run to Costco to get more ribs.  Up until now, my grilling lesson from the BBQ Cooking School have been great; I followed the directions, did my grilling thing and both the hamburgers and chicken turned out great.  Not so much with the ribs, see below:

BBQ Rib

Ugh! Burnt ribs aren’t good.

So, what went wrong?  Well, the ones toward the front I did not cut off any fat and they were at the mercy of flare ups, the ones in the back, I did trim the fat.  Although time consuming, I would highly recommend this step, as does John in the book.  And also time consuming but of utmost importance, probably more so than trimming the fat, is I left my grill for about ten minutes, which is all it took for them to become charred, little door stops.  I also followed the three rotations of 20 minutes of covered cooking at 325 degrees.  I realized that this was not a good thing for the ribs and after cutting them and tasting them (which I summarily spit out because they were so dry), I got in my car and went to buy more.  I also learned something about my grill, it has more hot spots than I thought.

So, back in my kitchen I trimmed the fat off of my St. Louis style ribs (much meatier than baby backs) and used the salt, pepper and garlic powder that John recommends.  Fired up the grill and I was set to try again.

SUCCESS!

BBQ Ribs

St. Louis Ribs – YUM!

Why so much success this time?  One, I think the style of ribs had something to do with it, the other is I didn’t leave my grill and at the slightest sound of a flare up I threw on a little water.  Because of my previous experience I cut the cooking time down to about 10-15 minutes in the three rotation, covered cooking method and kept a thermometer close by so I could test the temperature for doneness (you’re looking for 165 degrees.)

When the ribs were at about 155 degrees I basted them with my homemade BBQ sauce (if you want to know which recipe and the adjustments I made, just post a comment and I’ll provide it – because it’s really, really good if you like a bit spicy BBQ sauce.) It took about 10 minutes to finish, I wrapped them in foil for 10 minutes and we enjoyed them with the rest of the sauce, homemade mac n cheese (compliments of my 14 year old) and corn on the cob.  The kids had lemonade and the adults enjoyed a blackberry & mint bourbon smash.  It was a delectable “southern” meal.

How can you tell if the ribs came from an old sow or a young pig?  The correct answer receives two spots on a Savor the Flavor walking tour.  (In the event of multiple correct answers, there will be a drawing.)

Where to Eat This Weekend: Denver – Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar

June 21st, 2013 Posted by Chefs, Denver, restaurants, Where To Eat This Weekend No Comment yet

cropped_photo

Le Grand’s Daily Offering of Joie de Vivre

If you have ever fantasized of sitting in a Parisian bistro surrounded by classical decor as you sip upon a slightly chilled French white wine and slurp down fresh oysters, then you will certainly enjoy a summer afternoon at Denver’s Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar. Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar stands smack dab in the center of downtown Denver beckoning in each passerby with its exterior French bistro facade.

As you step into Le Grand, you will observe an interior that screams French bistro as much as the exterior. Oversized booth seating, 125 year old mosaic floors, and vintage chandeliers lend grandeur to an appearance that also exudes a tinge of mystery with its smoky mirrors and rather dim lighting. One lunch or dinner at Le Grand makes it difficult to not fantasize of an era when Moules Frites, a plate of fine, local, freshly ripened cheese, and a half liter of the local French table wine was an everyday occurrence, just part of the daily joie de vivre.

With the daily menu specials carefully written upon the chalkboard, you may choose from chef Sergio Romero’s current offerings of locally sourced haute cuisine. Such dishes as Le Grand’s Ratatouille Tart, one of 5280 Magazine’s Best Bites of 2012, offer a wedded symphony of buttery crust and slowly cooked summer vegetables. With a fresh oyster here and there and everywhere in between, your ideal summer lunch is complete.

Fantasies aside, Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar offers a sampling of French haute cuisine that may make your heart flutter. Coupled with an attractive, slightly mysterious, classically French setting, Le Grand Bistro holds an allure that will continue to draw in foodies, even from afar.

Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar is located at 1512 Curtis St. Denver CO; Tel: 303-534-1155.

Now for the Denver foodie trivia question to see how educated of a foodie you are…

True or False — Le Grand Bistro was voted one of Denver’s 10 best new restaurants of 2011.

Tune in to this Tuesday for the answer!

The answer to Tuesday’s question: “True or False – The master mixologist of Tom’s Urban 24 went to the Cocktail World Cup in 2012 with Team Espana.” is FALSE! The master mixologist of Tom’s Urban 24 went to the Cocktail World Cup in 2012 with Team USA! –American pride, of course!

Where to Drink This Week: Denver – Tom’s Urban 24

June 18th, 2013 Posted by Beer, Cocktails, Denver, restaurants, Where To Drink This Week 2 comments

 

Tom’s Cocktails with a Pick-Me-Up

Summer is a time of constant motion, whether you find yourself at a Rockies game, at the neighborhood pool, or stuck in your air conditioned office, chances are you will be in in need of some sort of pick-me-up beverage within the next 24 hours. If you happen to find yourself around downtown Denver, you won’t want to miss out on Tom’s Urban 24‘s cocktails with a pick-me-up.

Day or night, Tom’s is open, offering the perfect cocktail to keep you up and going. You can start or end the day with Tom’s currently featured craft cocktail, “Urban Donuts & Coffee.” Made with shots of 360 Glazed Donut Vodka, Espresso Liquor, and finely ground espresso, this cocktail is artfully muddled together, and made complete with one of Tom’s own house-made donuts.

Tom's Breakfast of Champions

Tom’s Breakfast of Champions courtesy of www.sugarloco.com

If donuts are not on the dietary plan, try another style pick-me-up cocktail known as the “Larimer Mule” made with Guayaki Mint Mate, the beverage said to hold the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate” all in one.

Tom’s even offers a beer cocktail with an extra energy kick made with a full pint of Guinness and a hefty shot of espresso. Indeed, this cocktail might have you dancing the Irish jig. If none of the cocktails mentioned thus far strike a cord with thy taste buds, one might dare to venture to order a glass of WTF;), unmatched in its ability to arouse the spirit. Just don’t ask what is in it beforehand as you might lose your sense of courage.

If you do manage to fully gulp down a WTF;), you can always catch a safe ride home with Uber, a mobile app that allows you to “e-hail” your ride home without even raising your hand. Attend a Culinary Connectors tour for a $20 Uber card good for first time riders.

For those looking for a summer cocktail that does more than satisfy the taste buds, Tom’s Urban 24 features a lineup of cocktails known for their energy generating powers. Whether you are looking to sip upon a fine cocktail beneath the moon or the summer sun, Tom’s Urban 24 will provide you with the proper pick-me-up to keep you alive and kicking, ready to enjoy some more of that summer fun.

Now for the Denver foodie trivia question to see how educated of a foodie you are!

True or False – The master mixologist of Tom’s Urban 24 went to the Cocktail World Cup in 2012 with Team Espana.

Tune in to this Friday’s blog for the answer!

Tom’s Urban 24 is located at 1460 Larimer St. Denver CO 80202; Tel: 720-214-0516. Open 24 hours.

Wedell Cellars

June 17th, 2013 Posted by Culinary Connectors LIVE!, Radio Show No Comment yet
Maurice Wedell Wedell Cellars

Maurice Wedell
Wedell Cellars

Host Becky Creighton interviews winery owner, Maurice Wedell of Wedell Cellars.  Listen in to hear what Maurice did before he started a winery and what got him to wine country in the first place.  Think you know California Pinot Noirs?  Think again, Wedell Cellars will change how you think about them.

Becky’s BBQ Journey – Chicken Parts

June 16th, 2013 Posted by Becky's BBQ Journey No Comment yet
Grilled Chicken Parts

Grilled Chicken Parts

I get it, chicken parts don’t sound very appealing, but, that was the name of the second lesson.  I confess, I used only legs and thighs because that’s what was in my freezer.  Here’s how this all went down, I defrosted the chicken in salt water (aka a brine) in my refrigerator the day before I was going to grill the chicken.  That morning I took the chicken out of the brine and set the chicken on a plate and placed it back in the refrigerator, I did not rinse the chicken.  I wanted the skin to dry out (a technique I use when roasting a turkey or whole chicken).  I have to admit, this is not in the guide I am using from the BBQ Cooking School.  But, I do know if I grill chicken when it’s wet it won’t crisp as much as much as it will steam, I wanted crisp skin.  I seasoned it with salt & pepper and was ready to grill.

I did learn a new technique, indirect grilling.  I turned the my very old Weber on to heat to 350 degrees, then I turned off the front burner (my grill has three burners) and placed the chicken over the burner I turned off, closed the grill for 20 minutes, flipped the chicken and shut the lid again for 20 minutes.  And, the last part was to flip the chicken one last time and grill for the last ten minutes.  At this point, I could have brushed the chicken with barbecue sauce but chose not to do so.

At fifty minutes, it’s not a quick dinner, but, it certainly was tasty and the chicken wasn’t dry at all.  Now, this may have something to do with the brine but you can brine all you want and if you over cook the chicken it’s still going to be dry.  For my size family, I could easily cook enough chicken to make a great dinner.  I was pleasantly surprised at the flavor and the crispiness of the skin.

So far, my burgers and my chicken parts have improved significantly, I’m loving this class!  Stay tuned next week, I’m grilling ribs!

 

Where to Eat This Weekend: Denver – SAME Cafe

June 14th, 2013 Posted by Denver, restaurants, Where To Eat This Weekend No Comment yet

 

Serving Good Food for the Greater Good

Organic and mostly local mouth-watering food and a commitment to service are the vital roots of the first nonprofit restaurant in Denver. The restaurant, SAME Cafe, originated from the basic belief that “everyone, regardless of economic status, deserves the chance to eat healthy food while being treated with dignity.” Acting on this belief, SAME Cafe has cleverly contrived a system by which everyone gets the chance to eat a meal made with healthy and sustainable food.

Sustainable for the planet and your health, SAME Cafe’s food is helping to build a healthy community one meal at a time. Patrons set the price, paying the amount they are able to, and for those who seek another means of exchange, SAME cafe offers volunteer work opportunities. One hour of volunteer work at SAME cafe equals one of the cafe’s healthy and delicious meals.

In addition to a lack of set prices, SAME Cafe lacks a set menu, instead offering a daily menu based upon what is fresh and in season at the moment. For instance, if you were to stop by SAME Cafe today, Friday June 14th, you would be offered a menu that includes tortilla soup, cold fruit soup, garden greens, asian slaw with peanut vinaigrette, Thai pizza, and last but not least, cheesy pesto pizza.

SAME Cafe

Without a set menu or set prices, SAME Cafe has redefined the concept of a restaurant. In the true American spirit, SAME Cafe is created by and for the people.  One delicious meal at a time, SAME Cafe acts to support the health of the Denver community. Serving the greater good never tasted so delicious.

SAME Cafe is located at 2023 E. Colfax Ave. Denver CO 80206.

Where to Drink This Week: Denver – Star Bar

June 11th, 2013 Posted by Beer, Cocktails, Denver, Where To Drink This Week, Wine No Comment yet

Inspirations from the Past & Present Unite at Star Bar

One of Denver’s oldest surviving water holes, Star Bar has retained the quality inherent in the classic bars of the past.  With cocktails your grandfather drank, and your favorite brews still served in the original beer can, Star Bar takes you back to a bygone era of which Star Bar originated from.

Since grandfather’s cocktails were homemade, so are Star Bar’s.  Star Bar offers made from scratch Sour Mix, regular and Diablo, infused with the hottest serrano peppers found this side of the border.  Beer cocktails also make the menu, made on the spot with one of the featured draft beers of the moment.  However, for the most heated of experiences, you might venture to try Star Bar’s signature smoked cocktails made with Stranahan’s barrel stave and the Star Bar’s own blow torch!

Star Bar is also dedicated to showcasing its Colorado roots with more local spirits than any bar or restaurant in Denver, in addition to a long list of Colorado products on draft and in cans.  Star Bar pours the full line from Leopold Brothers, made in Denver.  They also serve every style of whiskey you can imagine from Colorado producers such as Stranahan’s.  Eighteen handles continuously rotate, bringing the newest brews of the season to the forefront for Star Bar’s customers to get a taste.

Craft Beer Selection

Craft Beer Selection

For those who want to unleash their inner voice, the karaoke extravaganza takes place every Thursday night.  Throughout the summer, Wednesday nights will feature “Sit In” Move Nights on the patio.  All of this and more contribute to the fun and lively atmosphere at Star Bar.  A fun atmosphere, a long list of Colorado products, and innovative recreations of classical cocktails come together to make for a drinking experience even better than your grandfather once had.  It seems as though some things do get better with age.

Star Bar is located at 2137 Larimer St. Denver CO 80205; Tel: 720-328-2420.