Monthly Archives: January 2014

AO: Bar. One of the Coolest Apps Around for Restaurants + Bars.

What would the world be without creativity?
All of these great minds and hearts, thinking up smart things to make our world a better, more sane place.
One of these people is a colleague of mine, Travis Plakke, and he’s created an app.
Not just any app.
This app helps restaurants and bars simplify liquor inventory management, along with making it much more streamlined to place orders/re-orders.
Born and raised in Colorado, it’s called AO: Bar and is a cloud-based* desktop application.
If you, or anyone you know, could benefit from this kind of resource, get in touch with Travis.
He’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Here’s what it does:
:Reduces Administrative Workload
With AO: Bar, reduce time spent on administrative work, letting you spend more time with your guests generating revenue.

:Automatically Syncs Inventory
Inventory data automatically synchronizes to the cloud so that you can access it from any Internet connection.

:Allows Orders with Push of a Button
AO: Bar simplifies placing orders to just pushing a button, sending an email straight from the app to your reps!

•$65/mo
•AO:BAR inventory and ordering application with full functionality
•Motorola CS3070 Symbol 1D Bluetooth Barcode Scanner with overnight hardware replacement
•FINGER CUFF™ safety leash for the CS3070 Scanner.
•Help Desk Support from 8am to 6pm MST Monday – Friday.

COOL VIDEO: http://youtu.be/1q35sftRLQA

If you want to know more:
Travis D. Plakke
AO: Apps Project Manager
AccuCode, Inc.
O: 303-639-6111 x1723
M: 720-883-6997
tplakke@accucode.com
http://www.aobar.net

*Term used as metaphor for the Internet

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Cocktail Recipes from Panzano, Honoring Peyton and Our Broncos!

Panzano lead bartender Jodi Dolph, created these two cocktails to cheer on the Broncos and honor our stellar Quarterback, Peyton Manning.
They’ll be available at Panzano – at least through Sunday, February 2.
If you’d like to make them at home, get thee to the liquor store.

PFM OLD FASHIONED
Honoring Peyton’s alma mater, the University of Tennessee, and Bronco orange.

1.75 oz Jack Daniels Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey
1 slice fresh orange
2 dashes orange bitters [I, Christine, recommend Cocktailpunk]
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Splash of fresh orange juice

Serve on the rocks.

HURRY! HURRY! SAZERAC
Celebrates Peyton’s Tennessee and Louisiana roots.
He was born in New Orleans and was a high school quarterback there.
[Absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters are both popular in New Orleans bars]

1.3 oz George Dickel Rye Whiskey
1 sugar cube or 3/4 oz simple syrup
Several dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
Absinthe or another anise flavored spirit
Lemon twist

Add ice to old fashioned glass.
Let chill while making drink.
In a mixing glass or shaker, muddle the sugar or simple syrup with the bitters.
Add ice and rye whiskey, stir.
Discard ice from old fashioned glass and add small amount of absinthe.
Swirl in glass and discard excess.
Strain whiskey mixture into glass.
Zest the lemon twist into glass and leave on the the side of the glass as a garnish.

Panzano
909 17th Street
303.296.3525
panzano-denver.com

If Having Professional Bartenders on Hand for Your Super Bowl Viewing is a Priority, Consider La Biblioteca.

Some people need near-perfect quiet to watch the Super Bowl.
It’s like church for them.
Some like to go to someone else’s home for a big, raucous party, or host one at their own place.
And some want to be in a public setting, surrounded by a crowd of others, good food, and a full bar with professional bartenders.
If you fall into the latter group, you may want to consider hanging out at La Biblioteca that evening.
Beginning at 4p and going until the end of the game – consider it a hip, stylish, delicious extension of your living room.
For $35., you get an open bar with choice of select draft beers, house wines and cocktails, passed appetizers like Bahn Mi Dog Sliders Bites, Spicy Tuna Rolls, Smoked Trout with Guacamole on Tortilla Chips and more.

Reservations can be made by calling 720.904.0965
1610 Little Raven Street
Denver

Bones Celebrates Five Years with a Stunning 7 Course Dinner

I’ve written about Bones before, waxing poetic as I did about their Lobster Ramen, which is a love affair I don’t ever want to end.
I was invited to join them for their Fifth Anniversary Dinner last week.
Five years in the restaurant industry in any city, in any state, in any country, is a true accomplishment.
I’d seen the menu in advance, and it looked to be a great culinary journey, but I could never have emotionally prepared myself for my experience that night.
I believe when you’re a guest at an event like this, you come open-hearted and open-minded.
Instead of being in charge as you are in your own kitchen, or when you dine out ordering off a menu, you receive the gifts the kitchen has thoughtfully prepared for you.
You let the chefs shine.
You celebrate with them and revel in the spirit of the evening.
So, that’s exactly what I did.
The 7-course food extravaganza is below, with my comments on each dish.

Crab Roll
This came sitting on a pool of plantain puree. As excited as I was about the crab, it was the puree that made this dish a stunner. I’m a huge fan of plantain in both its sweet and savory iterations, and I wish I saw it more often on Denver and Boulder menus. I also liked seeing this nod to the Puerto Rican part of Chef DePierro’s heritage. I wanted to lick the plate, but am proud of the professionalism and self-restraint I showed in not doing that.

Wagyu Sashimi
Wagyu’s literal translation is Japanese cow. Though you may see kobe listed on menus around town, it is actually not sold in our country. Knowing this, I was glad to see these chefs name it accurately on the menu. The sweet and tangy soy citrus sauce this was in, and the extreme tenderness of the meat, made this one of the standout dishes of the evening for me. Though I don’t typically eat meat, I’m flexible at dinners like this, and was particularly glad I was in this instance. I would not have wanted to miss out on this dish.

Ankimo & Foie Gras Torchon
If you looked up decadence in the dictionary, you would see Chefs DePierro, Nevarez and Bonanno holding this up, smiling with glee. You cannot gild a lily more than adding shaved white truffle and caviar to foie gras. Ankimo is a Japanese dish made with monkfish liver, rinsed with sake, and made sense to include in this already sinful plate. [We see the word sinful used when describing desserts, but it is equally appropriate here] Presented in a small Asian tin [think sardines], sided with perfectly crispy toasts to spread it on, this won Presentation of the Evening.

Lobster Cavatelli
They added smoked parsnip to this dish, which is what took it over the edge. The fact that they hand-rolled the cavatelli, won my heart. And, well, lobster.

Soy-Braised Pork Belly Ssam
This arrived in a wood steamer basket, with a mounding pile of pork belly and another pile of hoisin duck. It was especially great, because it was interactive. We filled large, Bibb lettuce leaves with meat and pickled vegetables. It was light and the perfect break from the heavier dishes that had come before it. It was so good, in fact, I was sitting next to Lori Midson [Westword] and Amanda Faison [5280 Magazine] and we all agreed it should be added to the menu. Especially great for a date night.

Oxtail Lengua Ramen
I must say, this was the dish I was least excited about. I asked mine to be served without the lengua [beef tongue], because as open-minded as I try to be, that was just beyond my ability to cope. But, this dish stunned too. Everyone knows the broth is where all the excitement, skill and love is in ramen, and this broth was darkly hued, rich, gorgeous. I enjoyed it as a departure from my usual, and beloved, lobster ramen here.

Toffee Date Cake
Chantilly cream? Yes, please. This is a whipped cream typically flavored with vanilla or brandy. Fresh whipped cream is a true treat anytime, but if you want to add booze to it, sign me right up. Toffee? Yes, please. Dates? Yes, please. This dinner could not have ended on a more perfect note.

The Graciousness of True Hospitality

LON Little Shop in Boulder has a forthcoming creative project – a magazine – for which they asked me to write a piece on hospitality.
Though the topic is part of what this blog covers, I didn’t realize quite what a passion I had for it until I was writing solely about it.
I had to deeply reflect on what it is exactly that creates the lived experience of hospitality.
Also, what the guests’ responsibilities are, as well as what the hosts’ are.
I was recently at a cocktail party friends hosted in their home.
It’s strange, because as a woman in her early 40’s, I’d never been to an official cocktail party before.
I’ve been to plenty of parties where cocktails were served.
I’ve been to countless dinner parties.
I’ve been to holiday parties in the fall and winter months, and outdoor summer parties in that season, but never a bonafide Adult Cocktail Party.
We walked in to a lush, generous bar filled with every kind of spirit you can imagine, a variety of glassware for cocktails, wine and beer, and a bartender from one of the best restaurants in Denver that they’d hired for the evening.
In the LON piece, I’d written about how important it is to make and get a drink into your guest’s hand as soon as they arrive, because it sets the tone of hospitality and also puts the guest at needed ease.
The next thing I said was better yet, hire a bartender! [these guys were one step ahead of me]
There were snacks set out on tables throughout the space, to encourage movement and offer variety.
The highlight was a tray of turkey meatballs in marinara with big shavings of parmesan cheese, presented in green polka-dotted Chinese takeout containers.
Not only was the presentation beautiful and playful, but practical too, since you could take your container with you, savoring bites as you moved around the space.
I find I’m equally obsessed with beauty and practicality, and this was a genius combination of the two.
As I observed our hosts throughout the evening, they were at ease mixing and mingling – able to stay in conversation with their guests, including me – check on the playoff game playing on a TV downstairs where other guests had gathered, and enjoying their own party.
It helped me delight in the experience more, and in each of them as individuals and a couple.
While I like meeting new people, what I really want is to feel connected to the people I came to see, and those are my hosts.
Hospitality is defined as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, and it is difficult to be friendly and generous when you’re stressed and distracted.
Because they thoughtfully prepared so much in advance, and especially because of their choice to get help with the bartending task – which at a cocktail party is the main one – they were present in the truest sense of the word.
It made for a great evening, and a lovely example of the good feelings and deepened relationships brought about by true hospitality.

ImPRESSed With Pressery – Organic, Local, Raw, Cold-Pressed Juices + Nut Milks

Pressery makes 100% organic, raw juices and nut milks locally, in Boulder.
Their juice is cold pressed, which is important to know, because when juice is processed through a blade that heats up the juice [think of your food processor], many of the vital nutrients are lost.
They encourage resets and cleanses – all-juice regimens lasting from 1-7 days – but what they’re really after is helping people incorporate juices into a daily, healthy lifestyle.
Their Kale juice is their top seller; it’s my favorite too.
It has 7 gifts of food love in it, including kale, spinach, cucumber, pear, parsley, ginger and lemon.
This juice has 3 full servings of vegetables, which help anti-oxidize and boost Vitamins A, C and K, plus iron.
Their Strawberry Chia juice is special.
Chia seeds are full of protein, fiber, magnesium, calcium and contain more Omega 3’s than any other plant source, making this an especially great option for vegetarians and vegans to get this needed, healthy fat into their diet.
They offer many other juice flavors, and also nut milks, which can be found on their website.
They deliver free in the Denver/Boulder areas on orders of $75.+; they’re also beginning to ship across the country.
In season, you can find them at local Farmers’ Markets.
And soon, happily, at a Whole Foods near you in Denver and Boulder.

Pressery
Boulder, Colorado
http://www.pressery.com

Here’s a feature piece I wrote for Boulder Weekly on juice/juicing, including profiles of Conscious Cleanse and Zeal as well: http://www.boulderweekly.com/article-12290-juice-juice-baby_.html

FIVE + Seven = The Year of the Women! Denver FIVE Has a Class of All Women for 2014.

Colorado’s team of elite tastemakers —FIVE™— celebrates the launch of their 2014 campaign with a new crop of talented chefs who are eager to showcase Colorado’s culinary talents on the local, regional and national levels.
Since 2008, FIVE™ has been a dedicated collaboration of Colorado’s most influential chefs.
A select group — chosen by Leigh Sullivan Enterprises — the FIVE™ chefs exemplify the passion, creativity and purpose that have become the staple of the Denver dining scene.
Despite criticism in past years of the lack of selection of local female talent, 2014 boasts not one, not two, but FIVE female chefs ready to take center-stage in Denver’s ever-illuminating national spotlight.
“This year, I want to celebrate all the women in our community who are truly redefining what it means to be a chef in Denver. Over the past several years I have seen a real renaissance in female-led culinary programs,” says Leigh Sullivan, owner of Leigh Sullivan Enterprises, who manages the FIVE™ operations.
“I know I say this every year, but this 7th class is a milestone for the FIVE™ tradition and I am honored to be working with these amazing women.”
FIVE™ will continue its schedule of FIVE™ @ Five dinners, an appearance at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, and the annual showing at the James Beard House in September.
A full schedule of events, tickets and locations will be available by visiting http://www.denverfive.com.
And now…
The 2014 FIVE™ Roster
Alumni Chef and Innovation Chef at Epicurean Catering [and Bravo’s Around the World in 80 Plates contestant], Chef Jenna Johansen
Executive Chef of Panzano — Chef Elise Wiggins
Executive Chef of Table 6 — Chef Carrie Blake
Executive Chef of Elway’s Cherry Creek— Chef Aniedra Nichols
Chef Nadine Donovan, Pastry Chef at Old Major

Los Chingones and Sugarmill – Each Badass in Their Own Way

Los Chingones and Sugarmill – two new Denver restaurants – seem to always be mentioned in the same breath, and while side by side, and run by the same restaurant group, they are distinctly different.
Los Chingones is the tattooed, assertive, badass brother.
Sugarmill is the toile, refined, equally badass sister.
[Chingones is slang for something extremely awesome; badass]
A traditional taqueria, turned up a notch, built on the talents of Chef Troy Guard – with both food and an environment that are loud, funky and dynamic – Los Chingones is a place you go to feed yourself, while feeding off the energy.
I was with a colleague and friend, also a food writer, and we began our generous eating and drinking adventure there – in a booth by the bar – with 6 different salsas and chips, which is exactly how I want to begin at a place like this.
There were the traditional pico de gallo and tomatillo, but the one that stood out was the tomato balsamic.
It was everything I want in a salsa, that I didn’t even know I wanted – sweet, pungent, creamy, dreamy.
We toured through the menu, sharing the Mushroom fundido [nothing says fun quite like fundido], Kampachi crudo, Black kale salad and Brussels sprouts.
The Kampachi crudo with hibiscus infused oil, slices of avocado and jalapeno, was my favorite dish at Los Chingones.
A rare fish to see on a Denver menu, it was tender, while firm, mild in flavor, with the glorious hit of the hibiscus oil – which, in itself, is something I could just spoon into my mouth for hours on end.
We each then ordered a plate of a variety of tacos – done in traditional Mexican street style and size – perfect for sampling through a number of the interesting options like octopus with parsnip chips, and butternut squash with goat cheese – which were my two favorites of the night.
If these don’t do it for you, there’s plenty more where they came from: Griddled Cotija cheese, Chicken leg, Lamb neck, Pork shoulder, Pork stomach, Beef tongue, Skirt steak, Shrimp, and White fish.
We were then shown next door through a back hallway that connects the two spaces – and walking into Sugarmill was both a space and energy shift.
It felt calm and gentle.
But the food coming out of that kitchen, is neither calm or gentle.
Even the pastries, which are often delicate and demure, are powerhouses of presentation and taste.
The Chocolate jasmine bar – a flourless chocolate cake with jasmine cream, and muscavado ice cream, was an unexpected delight.
I can’t remember when, if ever, I’ve had jasmine in a dessert, though it makes complete sense.
And the Noahsphere – which is worth a visit for alone – is a hollow chocolate shell filled with flourless chocolate cake [genius!], marshmallows, candied walnuts and vanilla mascarpone cream.
To gild the lily – or better said, the chocolate sphere – hot caramel is poured over tableside.
Decadent doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Noah French is a respected pastry chef, but don’t overlook the savory options here.
The short rib tortellini with balls of butternut squash and cubes of green apple, was stunning.
There’s also Beef Wellington [when was the last time you saw that on a menu!], Foie Gras torchon, Roasted chicken and more.
I’d make a progressive evening of it as we did.
Begin at Los Chingones for smaller bites, including a couple of tacos – and then go next door and get your main [or share a main with your companion] – followed by the obligatory indulgence of a dessert or three.

Food Equalizes, Connects, Charts New Territory and Honors Tradition

Food
Equalizes
A billionare and a beggar can both be sitting at the same table, and through the eating and sharing of food, there is equality.
Wealthy, Poor, African American, Asian, Republican, Democrat – it doesn’t matter.
Just human beings, sharing the sustenance of life.
Connects
Food creates connection, because it is something we all share in common.
Unlike language, which can frustrate and put barriers between people, food is spoken in a way we all can understand.
Whether you’re in Rio or Ronkonkoma [that’s a real place!], corn is corn, a fresh oyster is a fresh oyster, a loaf of bread is a loaf of bread.
We relate to it and one another, creating authentic warmth and connection that can’t be had in quite the same way, any other way.
Charts New Territory
New iterations of classic dishes and new takes on conceptualizing and creating food, charts new courses [pun intended] and helps us think broader about it and its possibilities.
It’s exciting to see an ingredient used in an untraditional way [octopus taco, anyone?], or watch as a culinary wunderkind takes on the world – like Boulder’s own prodigy chef, Aaron Kirschner, who spent last summer – his 15th – working with the chefs at Moto in Chicago [Michelin-starred, no less], and has also staged at Le Bernardin and Eleven Madison Park.
Honors Tradition
The food traditions of families and places endure because yes, they equalize and connect, and they also bring quality to our experience of life.
The hot chocolate of Oaxaca, frothed by hand using carved wooden “whisks”.
Pho cooked on carts on the streets of Vietnam.
Aunt Bevie’s green been casserole.
Jordan almonds at Greek and Italian weddings representing the bitter [almond] and sweet [candy coating] of life with the hope there’s more sweet than bitter for the newlyweds.
Food enriches and beautifies.
Even if we could live without it, who would want to?

Happiness Alert: BRU in Boulder Has a BRUnch Happy Hour!

Poutine.
I could just end the post there, and that tells you the key information.
This French Canadian dish – fries, sausage gravy and cheese curds – is a rarely seen item on Denver/Boulder menus, but BRU has it.
Even better, it’s just $3. on their Brunch Happy Hour, which is every Sunday from 9:30 – 11:30a.
$1. more if you want to add an egg.
And I do.
There’s a chicken biscuit for $5.
Cheddar grits for the same price.
There’s also spent grain granola, hash browns, bacon & egg and a daily pastry to round out the menu.
5 of their ales are just $3., two wines are $4. and you can also get a Beer Bloody or Mimosa for $4. as well.
The whole idea of a Happy Hour for brunch thrills me.
It’s smart, generous, and fun.
We’ll be there on Sunday.
See you there?