Monthly Archives: May 2014

Mango BBQ Sauce recipe from Chef Michel Wahaltere of Dorchester Social Eatery. Life Changing.

Chef Michel Wahaltere of the soon-to-open Dorchester Social Eatery in Denver, won the Restaurant Pairing Challenge at the University of Denver’s DU Vin Festival this month, with his Smoked Pork Tacos.
They were a hit with everyone from attendees to festival organizers.
This mango BBQ sauce was a big reason for their success.
This recipe yields a quart, so commit a bit of time to shop for ingredients and make it, and you’ll have enough to last you through at least a handful of summer barbecues.
If you’re really feeling ambitious, double it, and jar up some as hostess gifts.

Chef Michel Wahaltere of Dorchester Social Eatery

½ c apple smoked bacon
1 c red onions
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
10 garlic cloves
3 c fresh mangoes, chopped
¼ c Triple sec
2 c white wine
1 c mango juice
1 c orange juice
1 c vegetable broth
3 c demi-glace (1 c beef gravy and 2 c beef broth would work)
2 c traditional BBQ sauce, store bought (basic, not flavored)
½ c Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

In a saucepan, sauté the apple smoked bacon and onions for 3 minutes.
Discard the grease, then add celery, carrots, garlic and fresh mangoes.
Deglaze with Triple sec and white wine.
Reduce by half, add the mango juice and orange juice, then reduce by half again.
Add vegetable broth, reduce by half once again, then add demi-glace and reduce for 10 minutes (about ¼).
Add BBQ sauce and bring to a boil, then let cook for 10 minutes on low.
Blend and strain the sauce until smooth, add the Dijon mustard and season to taste.
Makes one quart.


bRUNch Launches in Boulder [they’re in Denver too!]

I don’t run, but I do brunch.
If you both run and brunch, then this is for you.
Alex at bRUNch feels that a great run is best rewarded with an amazing meal.
Each Sunday this social group meets for a training run at a local restaurant.
They offer five-kilometer and ten-kilometer runs every week and both are open to runners and walkers of all levels.
The fun continues back at the restaurant with the ultimate brunching experience and post-run chatting.
The Boulder group launched a few weeks ago at the Dushanbe Teahouse.
Tickets are $25. when purchased in advance and $30. at the door.
Your $25. includes run, entree, two drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), tax and gratuity [i.e. a steal!].

Upcoming June schedule is:
June 1 – Beehive Restaurant
June 8 – Radda Trattoria
June 15 – Zolo Grill
June 22 – Chautauqua Dining Hall
June 29 – FATE Brewing Company

Event tickets can be purchased online at

Attention Boulder: The Boulder Passport Debuts this Summer!

“Boulder has a booming beverage scene and we want to help people find new, interesting and awesome spots to enjoy a beverage or two,” said Casey Berry, co-founder of the Passport Program. “This program will guide both residents and visitors to some of the leading craft beverage establishments along the Front Range.”

Those who purchase a Passport will receive a physical booklet allowing them to redeem drink specials between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.
Each Passport is valid for one 2-for-1 special at each place; upon redemption, the location will stamp the Passport.
40 venues are participating in the first release.
The Boulder Passport aims to help people find new, independent, local places to experience and enjoy.

Participating venues are some of my favorites like Basta, Oak at Fourteenth and Volta.

Other spots include:
Aji Latin American Restaurant / Asher Brewing Company / Pastavino / Protos Pizza / Boulder Creek Winery / Restaurant 4580 (Soon to be the North End @ 4580 – coming mid-June) / Boulder Distillery / Riffs Urban Fare / Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse / Roundhouse Spirits / BRU Handbuilt Ales & Eats / Rueben’s / Centro Latin Kitchen and Refreshment Palace / SALT the Bistro / Chautauqua Dining Hall / Sanitas Brewing Company / corrected COFFEE / Settembre Cellars / FATE Brewing Company / Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place / Foolish Craig’s Café / T/aco / Illegal Pete’s / T-Zero Lounge at St Julien Hotel & Spa / J&L Distilling Company / The Cheese Course / Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar / The Corner Bar / Johnny’s Cigar Bar / Laughing Goat Coffeehouse / West End Tavern / Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant / West Flanders Brewing Co. / License No. 1 / Wild Woods Brewery / Mateo Restaurant / Zeal

The Boulder Passport is available for presale for $10 at now [equals no brainer].
Starting June 1, Passports will be $20 each.
Join the Boulder Passport for their official launch at Riffs Urban Fare on Sunday, May 25 from 3 – 6 p.m.

P.S. Want to explore along the entire Front Range?
This year the Passport Program will be expanding to Fort Collins as well.
Get your Front Range Passport Pack (Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins) during presale for $30.
After June 1, the pack increases to $40.

Here’s the piece I wrote on the Denver Passport last summer:

About The Passport Program
The Passport Program is a program promoting local restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and wineries in Boulder, Brooklyn, Denver and Fort Collins. Valid from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, The Passport is $20 and offers 2-for-1 discounts to more than 20 participating locations in each city. More information is available at

Bonanno Dinner for DU Vin – Plus Frank’s Sicilian Calamari Recipe!

Frank Bonanno, of the Bonanno Group here in Denver, is a University of Denver alumnus.
As part of his giving back to his alma mater, he cooks each year for a special dinner to kick off the annual DU Vin Festival [this year was the Festival’s 5th], and all proceeds benefit the hospitality program that trains up and comers in the industry.

It’s a treat when Frank cooks; even as a restaurateur with 11 concepts in Denver, from 2 of the most high-end dining experiences you can have in this city [Luca d’Italia, Mizuna] to a noodle house and smokehouse [Bones, Russell’s], he works the line more often than one might think.
We gathered at the Joy Burns Center – which houses the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality – on May 15th for an evening of specialness.
We began on the patio, with Prosecco and passed appetizers from Mizuna, Luca d’Italia and Vesper Lounge.
Then on to a 5 course meal.

1st Course
Meat & Cheese Plate | Prosciutto, Coppa, Ricotta, Gnocchi Fritto
2nd Course
Sicilian Calamari | Capers, Crushed Calabrian Chili, Sultanas, House Marinara
3rd Course
Maccheroni Amatriciana | Guanciale, San Marzano Tomatoes, Parmesan
4th Course
Roasted Lamb Loin | Goat Cheese, Polenta, Garlic Swiss Chard
5th Course
Chocolate & Caramel Bundino

All wines for both this dinner [5, plus Prosecco], and the 130 different ones available to taste at the Grand Tasting that Saturday, were generously provided by Republic National in Denver.

Here’s the post I wrote on the Festival overall:

As a special bonus, here’s the recipe for Frank’s Sicilian Calamari
Sicilian Calamari with Caper Berries & Bread Crumbs
Serves 4

1 lb calamari
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp crushed red chili
3 Tbsp capers
½ cup white wine
8 ounces chopped San Marzano tomatoes
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ cup toasted bread crumbs
8 caper berries

Sharp knife; large sauté pan; large wooden spoon; 4 serving bowls.

1. Slice calamari into ¼ inch rings.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in sauté pan over high flame. Add garlic and chili flake; cook 30 seconds. Add calamari, capers, and white wine; cook 30 seconds more. Add tomatoes and parsley; cook until boiling. Finish with butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Divide into 4 bowls. Top with a generous pinch of bread crumbs. Garnish with 2 caper berries and a drizzle of olive oil.

Other recipes from Luca d’Italia are available for iPad users by downloading the interactive cookbook:

Recipe for Ramp Pesto. A Luxury and Delight.

The wonderful Blackberry Farm in Tennessee pickles ramps, and Williams Sonoma sells these jars of joy.
I picked up a few jars, not knowing how I’d use them, but they comforted me just being in my pantry.
Friends are coming to dinner soon – these are friends who love and appreciate great food – so I was inspired to make this ramp pesto for our dinner.
I’ll toss it with pasta, but it would be beautiful on toasts, or as a dip too.
The truth is, this is really a Pistou – which is a Provencal version of pesto, made without nuts.
I’m calling it a Pesto, because it’s a more familiar term for most people, and really, Tom-a-to, Tom-ah-to.

23.25 oz ramps [this doesn’t have to be precise; if you buy fresh, just estimate and if you buy the jars, it’s 3 jars]
1/4 c Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 c Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1 diced preserved lemon [be sure all pith and seeds are removed]
T dried parsley [if using fresh, 3T]
1/2 t lemon oil [can use juice; I just had lemon oil on hand from baking]
Salt + pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together in food processor, then drizzle in olive oil until you get consistency you want


Note: If you do use the picked ramps, rinse completely before adding to processor; save pickling juice for Bloody Marys!
Even with having rinsed them, when I tasted the final product it was still a bit too vinegary for my taste, so I added about a teaspoon of agave to balance it.
Just make to your taste.

Izakaya Den Put on Stunning Sake Grand Tasting Event with 35 Sakes [and 17 Bento Bites!]

It is great good fortune to get to experience culture through food and drink, as Denver did recently at the Izakaya Den Sake Grand Tasting event.
In cocktail party-style, we began with a Sake Passport, as a guide and interactive tool for the evening.
7 sake stations were available throughout the Ten Qoo space on the upper level, and we walked and tasted, which was a fun contrast to a sit-down event.
It is generally recognized by design enthusiasts and restaurant obsessives, that the Ten Qoo space is one of the most gorgeous interiors in the city and I wholeheartedly agree.
Here’s the piece I wrote when it opened [having moved from its original location on the same street – Pearl in Denver]:
Of the sakes I tasted, I had two favorites [well three if you count the sake jello shot, which really happened]:
Funaguchi in a can – this is a special sake that continues to ferment while in the can – available at roughly $8./can, the beauty is, a little sake goes a long way.
Kikusui – a lovely sake available at roughly $30./bottle – this is a treat, and one I’d keep on hand at home at all times if I were you.
The Bento Box was a tour through Japanese food culture – with favorite bites from both the Izakaya and Sushi Den menus.
I was happy to see my favorite from the Izakaya Den menu – grilled miso black cod – was part of the action.
I *may* have taken that from a friend’s box too.
But really, isn’t that what friends are for?
With 17 different Bento bites, along with 35 different sakes, we ate and drank well.
To say the least.
The Beautiful Bento Box was so stunning in its array of offerings, I want to virtually share them with you – and encourage you to get to Izakaya Den and Sushi Den soon to experience them for yourself:
Grilled Miso Black Cod
Grilled Fish Cake
Soy Simmered Tiger Shrimp
Broiled Scottish Salmon
Tonkatsu, breaded crispy pork belly
Miso Sautéed Bamboo Shoot
Sautéed Burdock Root
Tsukemono – pickled vegetable
Flash Fried Taro Root
Kinpira Gobo, sautéed, julienned burdock root & carrot
Spicy Soy-Simmered Mountain Yam
Tamago-yaki, savory egg “omelette”
Inari, savory tofu pouch filled with sushi rice
California Roll
Rock& Roll
Edamame, steamed soybeans
Mochi Cake, sweet rice cake

What You Didn’t Know About Refugees + A Stellar Menu from a James Beard Award-Winning Chef

Recently, Denver was lucky to have James Beard Award-winning Chef Craig Stoll in town from Delfina in San Francisco, to cook an incredible meal for the African Community Center’s [ACC] The Public Good Gala.
The Gala was held at the gorgeous Joy Burns Center on the University of Denver campus, which houses the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management.
It was a true privilege to get to attend, and I learned so much.
Of course the food was outstanding – the menu of which you can view at the link below.
ACC resettles refugees in the Denver area, having done so for 477 of the newly-arrived in fiscal year 2013, with the biggest groups from Bhutan, Burma, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and Iraq.
The staff includes 30+ people, who speak a total of 26 languages.
Their mission is to help refugees rebuild safe, sustainable lives in Denver through supportive networks of people, services and community activities.
It really puts things in perspective in terms of how much we have to be grateful for to live in a country that allows us the ability to choose our own paths, within a free society.
And more, one where we extend ourselves to immigrants and refugees, who choose to or are forced to no longer call their country of origin home.

A refugee, as defined by the 1951 United Nations Convention, is:
A person who has been forced from his or her home and crossed an international border for safety. He or she must have a well-founded fear of persecution in his or her native country on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

There are currently 16 million refugees worldwide – the majority of whom live in refugee camps.
The United States admits the most refugees of any country that accepts refugees, and admissions for the U.S. in fiscal year 2014 are set at 70,000.
Here are the counts and areas expected to comprise that 70,000:
Near East/South Asia 34,000
Africa 14,000
East Asia 14,000
Latin America/Caribbean 5,000
Europe/Central Asia 1,000
Unallocated Reserve 2,000

Here’s the piece I wrote pre-event, which includes menu:

Presenting the Menu for the FIVE T&A Dinner on May 19 at Panzano

On Monday, May 19, you’re going to want to be at Panzano at Hotel Monaco, for the second in the series of FIVE events this season.
This one’s called T&A [named by the women chefs themselves; no sexism here!].


Passed Appetizers
Jenna: “Hot Legs” Vietnamese Frog’s Legs
Aniedra: Roasted Halibut “Cheek”, Micro Chevril-Grapefruit Pulp Salad, Cilantro Oil
Nadine: “Melons” Gazpacho, Crispy Proscuitto, Tomato Caviar, Bread Tuile
Carrie: Tea Smoked Lamb “Breast” Ribs, Spiced Blackberry BBQ Sauce, Sink Slaw
Elise: Crostini of Rabbit Mousse, Cranberry Chutney, Micro Cilantro

Aniedra: Broiled Tuna Collar, Seaweek Salad, Grilled Daikon Slaw, Yuzu Ponzu
Carrie: Bay Scallop Manzanella Kabobs, Fresh Herbes de Provence Brown Butter Vinaigrette
Jenna: Shake N Bake Fish, Piave and Herb Crust, Tomato Green Garlic Sauce
Elise: Menage a Trois of Pork, Roasted Pork Butt Medallion, Pork Liver Tortelloni, Crispy Pork Breast, Prosciutto, Marsala
Nadine: We Like Big Bundts, Blueberry Bundt Cake, Lemon Mousse, Buttermilk Anglaise

Get your tickets.

ChoLon + Colorado’s Top Brewers + Great Divide = Joy

Colorado’s Top Brewers, ChoLon Bistro, and Great Divide Brewing Co. have teamed up to create Bites & Brews, a food and beer pairing event at ChoLon on Monday, May 12.
From 5 – 9p, guests are invited to make their way through six pairing stations, featuring bites created by Chef Lon Symensma and craft beers from Great Divide Brewing Co.
Tickets are $40./person before May 9, and $44 at the door.
Guests have the option of purchasing a copy of Colorado’s Top Brewers – by Denver’s own Emily Hutto – with their tickets in advance for an additional $20.
Books will also be available at the event for $25 each.
303.353.5223 to reserve your spot.


Rice Paper Roll, Shrimp Salad, Crystallized Wasabi

Korean City Chicken & Waffles, Kaya Jam, with Pork Nuggets

Reuben Spring Rolls, Sriracha Island Dip [from ChoLon’s current menu]

Chicken Wing Bao Buns, Hot Sauce, Maytag Blue, with pickled carrot and celery

Deviled Eggs, Truffled Sriracha

Yeti Float, Spiced Ice Cream
Assorted Dim Sum Desserts

To learn more about Colorado’s Top Brewers, visit this post I wrote when it was released:

Truffle Table is So Much More than Cheese and Charcuterie Boards

I was as excited as anyone when Truffle Table opened last year in the Highlands; the restaurant iteration of Denver’s beloved Truffle Cheese Shop on 6th Avenue.
It sits on one of the best corners in all of the neighborhood, in a light-filled space with a wall of windows for excellent people watching and the feeling you’re part of the city’s action in an enlivening way.
They have 20 seats at tables, another 10 at a high bar table, and 8 more at the actual bar.
Though I’d been there a handful of times, twice it was for special events, and once just for a glass of wine before meeting friends for dinner.
The food aspect had always been a mystery to me, as I’d looked on their website more than once for a menu, but never saw one there.
And the times I was in the space, hadn’t had reason to look at a menu.
Truth be told, I assumed it was basically a selection of cheese and meat, with crackers and perhaps some accoutrements like spreads, nuts.
You know what they say about assumptions.
After a recent stop there early one evening for a bite [they open at 4p T-Su; closed M], I now have a fuller understanding of what’s really going on.
Let me tell you – it’s a lot.
I had the pleasure of an impromptu conversation with the Executive Chef, Crickett Burns – who shared with me her friends and colleagues had expressed similar questions: “What are you doing over there? Cheese boards?”.
“They couldn’t understand it either, until I explained it to them”, Crickett told me.
For smaller plates, among many more, there’s Chistorra* with onions and peppers [$8.], Pea Shoot Salad with garlic breadcrumbs and honeyed [and bruleed!] Cana de Cabra [$8.] and Butternut Squash Hummus [$6.].
For larger plates, you’ll find things like Imberico Ham [$20.], Grilled Cheese with Grafton cheddar and broccoli [$10.] and Truffled Mac & Cheese [$8.].
Crickett does a vermouth gastrique with her pate plate.
Take that in for a minute.
Vermouth gastrique.
Every Wednesday, they offer an All You Can Eat Raclette Night for $40./couple, which includes dessert.
Happy Hour takes a couple dollars off a few plates, and also has 3 wines by the glass for $5. each – a Cava, Vinho Verde and Bergerac Rouge.
On their regular drink menu, they offer 18 beers, including a few large format bottles and a generous 21 wines by the glass – 3 sparkling, 4 rose and 7 each of whites and reds.
Of course you can also get cheese and/or charcuterie boards, and this is no small thing.
But, Truffle Table is so much more than that.

Get the Russian Honey Cake.
Just trust me on this.

Truffle Table
2556 15th Street

*A Spanish sausage similar to chorizo