Tag Archives: Boulder

All SPRUCEd Up at the Hotel Boulderado

The Hotel Boulderado is a Boulder institution, having hosted luminaries, tourists and others for over 100 years.
For many of those years – 21 to be exact – the main restaurant in the hotel was Q’s, owned by John Platt, who leased the space from Frank Day, the hotel’s owner.
John has moved on to own and operate Riff’s Urban Fare in Boulder – a more casual space, with the same high standards for food and service as could be found at Q’s.
The Boulderado team created Spruce in its place.
Named after the street on which the hotel sits, it’s a great name in and of itself.
They’ve carried this theme along in clever ways, starting with the exterior signage – a shield-shaped wooden sign that hangs to the left of the hotel’s forest green awnings [forest = coincidence!] – at the main entrance.
It continues with the menu.
Printed on paper, it’s attached by a thick rubber band to a wood board that’s been engraved at the bottom with the restaurant’s name in bold block letters, and below, in cursive, “farm & fish”.
I love a great menu presentation, and it really does set the tone of engagement with it.
As for the physical space, most of the floor is the original hexagon tile from 1909 and has a charm that captures you immediately.
They’ve added more booths [people LOVE booths], and upholstered them in fresh fabrics.
The light fixtures in the dining room are gorgeous globes – oversized to make a stunning impact – as well as shed good light.
It feels current, while still holding on to and respecting enough of the history of the space.
We were able to sample around the menu, and enjoy cornmeal crusted oysters, grilled Palisade peach on a bed of arugula with prosciutto chip and goat cheese, caprese arancini with basil aioli, crab cakes and roasted corn soup.
It’s a solid menu, and a great place to stop in for a quick bite at the bar, or a full meal.
Speaking of the bar, the bar area is fairly sized with a handful of tables for two, and the bar itself – where we sat all night, because we like to belly up to the action – is comfortable.
We had one of the signature cocktails to start – the Vespa – made with housemade lemonade, lavender simple syrup and muddled seasonal fruit.
On this night, the seasonal fruit was peach, and it was delightful.
It would be as good with any number of fruits, and I think this approach is smart, as committed as Boulder is to local and seasonal food / drinks.
We live in such a dominantly digital age, that the contrast of a landmark like the Boulderado, that has been diligently doing its thing for 105 years (!), is fun to experience, and in that contrast, brings its own kind of freshness.
I enjoy taking people there, and also recommending it to visitors, because I know they’ll get a good bite to eat, along with a taste of history.


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 boulderpassport.com 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 ThePassportProgram.com.

Kim & Jake’s Cakes: Bringing Gluten-Free Baked Goods Love to Boulder and Beyond.

What makes a city or town great, is the independents.
It’s always been this way, because we want to feel some heart and soul in the places we do business with.
We may choose to get our bulk toilet paper and toothpaste at a big box store, but when it comes to things like fresh baked bread, artisan cheese and beautifully composed meals, we – especially in Colorado – seek out the independents.
This is why so many of us are enamored with the European lifestyle.
There’s something magical, while practical, about picking up daily supplies from the butcher, baker and candlestick maker.
It’s charming in a way you just can’t experience from a corporate-run entity.
Kim & Jake’s Cakes is a four year old beloved bakery in Boulder [say that 3 times fast!].
A fully gluten-free bakery, they’re known for their cakes, of course, but what they produce – which has had customers in literal tears of joy – is their gluten-free, non GMO bread.
They also produce a gluten-free pizza crust, much to the delight of the gluten-intolerant in Boulder and beyond.
I had the privilege of spending the morning with them at home recently, for a piece I’m writing for FELLOW Magazine [www.fellow-magazine.com], and I’ll save all the good stuff for that, but be sure to grab a copy in June, and learn more about them and what they do.
In the meantime, visit http://www.kimandjakes.com.

Colorado Brewer’s Guild Announces Economic Impact of Colorado Craft Beer on State Economy

Colorado has emerged as the state of craft beer, at the very forefront of the craft brewing industry. We rank among the top states for number of breweries, per capita production, and economic impact. The Colorado Brewers Guild (CBG) identified 232 craft brewers in the state in 2013 – a whopping 109% growth in the number of breweries since the recession ended in 2009. When asked to encapsulate the Colorado brewing scene, John Carlson, CBG Executive Director, says “The great thing about the Colorado craft brewing industry is the artful blend of manufacturing prowess, pure soul, agricultural ties, and innovative technology. Colorado is the state of craft beer and this study shows it with academic precision.”

[Record Economic Benefit]
Colorado craft brewers recorded total economic benefits of $704 million in 2012, growing to $826 million in 2013. Converting mostly raw materials like malt, hops and water into the craft beers sold domestically and internationally, the industry tallied $249 million in direct value added in 2013. In 2012 and 2013, an estimated 4,493 and 5,014 people respectively, worked in the brewery and restaurant sides of the business.

[Brewery Growth in 2014]
The majority of Colorado brewers project growth in excess of 20% in 2014. Despite massive growth, brewers ranked factors that could influence even more responsible growth. The factor that brewers indicated would most encourage business expansion today is lower taxes, followed by financing, increased market access, and less regulation.

[Brewers Build Community and Give Back]
Colorado brewers reported giving more than $1.4 million in gifts, a $200,000 spike in reported donations from the previous survey. Nearly, 93% of brewers reported giving to charity organizations, 91% reported participating in fund-raising events, and 62% reported engaging in volunteerism. Survey responses show overwhelmingly, that craft brewers and brewpubs are highly active philanthropists in their respective communities. They volunteer or give money to a wide variety of causes and groups. Other charitable activities included sponsoring community art groups and local dinners for the homeless, organizing a Turkey Trot, fundraising for local civic groups, and donating to local food banks.

[About the Colorado Brewers Guild]
The Colorado Brewers Guild (CBG) is a non-profit trade association representing the leading Colorado craft breweries and brewpubs. CBG is dedicated to the improvement of business conditions and serves as an advocate for its members. CBG itself sponsors a variety of beer events each year designed to increase the awareness and appreciation of Colorado-brewed beer. For more information about the Guild, visit http://www.coloradobeer.org.

Lucky [for us] is Truly the Right Word When It Comes To Boulder’s Lucky’s Bakehouse & Creamery

“I’m ready”.
These were the only two words in a middle-of-the-night email Jen Bush, now co-owner of Lucky’s Bakehouse, sent to Lucky’s Market owner Bo Sharon.
The two had been talking about the possibility of opening a bakery together, but Jen just wasn’t ready.
She was coming off of an arduous personal experience – and though her love of baking is as natural to her as breathing – was daunted by the prospect at first.
Bo happened to be up at the same ungodly hour and immediately responded saying he’d just signed the lease on the proposed space that very afternoon.
A former video rental shop, sitting a literal stone’s throw away from Lucky’s Market in north Boulder, he knew he wanted the space no matter what.
The Bakehouse has the feel of an East Coast bakery, which is the highest compliment I can give it.
As you enter, to your right is a long marble countertop filled with the largest variety of pastries – both sweet and savory – I’ve ever seen in one independent bakery in Colorado.
Straight ahead, a refrigerated case trumpets cream puffs, entire cakes and cake slices, that make you want to throw a party just to have a reason to bring a whole cake home.
They also do custom cakes – regular, gluten-free and vegan [gluten-free as well].
To the left of the counter, which is to the left of the refrigerated case [to the left, to the left], are their housemade ice creams.
With a rotating array of flavors, like Justin’s Peanut Butter Cup [a local legend company] and Madagascar Vanilla, you can get your fix here.
From the expected cupcakes, brownies [salted caramel, no less] and chocolate chip cookies, to the unexpected S’mores cake [by the slice and whole], savory galettes and white chocolate enrobed marshmallow [whose flavors change regularly; on the day I visited, it was blackberry] – it’s an overwhelming experience of choice, in the most delightful way.
Not that any of the expected items are staid.
For example, the chocolate chip cookies are made with generous chunks of Callebaut chocolate and brown butter.
“Bakeries are a place you go to feel good”, says Jen and it’s true.
It’s hard not to when you’re being stared down by a 3″ tall cream puff.
When they opened almost a year and a half ago, less than 1/4 of their offerings were gluten-free, and now almost 1/2 are.
But, instead of relying only on gluten-free flour to make her creations, Jen likes to find other options to punch up the flavor.
Like using almond meal for her GF lemon ricotta cake – a pastry even the gluten-tolerant will enjoy.
Jen is loving this opportunity and experience, noting that being a pastry chef suits her – a job she’s held in many iterations throughout her career, from 14 years in San Francisco restaurants to executive pastry chef of the Big Red F restaurant group, owner of Blue Fine Pastries and Ice Box Bakery, to now co-owning Lucky’s Bakehouse & Creamery.
She says her staff is incredible and that makes them a team that cares deeply about each other and what they do.
Sitting out in the dining area with me – which, for a bakery, is a generous 24 seats – she proudly proclaims, “When I look at them back there, they’re all so committed to pastry”.
“It’s much different than being a savory chef”, she says.
The energy is different.
Focused, but decidedly less intense.
The hours are also much different.
“You can’t be a partier when you have to be up at 4 a.m.” says Jen.
In restaurant kitchens, most pastry chefs work in a small corner of an artificially lit space, creating throughout the day and they never get to see the guests enjoy their desserts come evening.
Staring into her open kitchen at Lucky’s, she says, “There’s huge satisfaction with an open pastry kitchen, the sunlight streaming in, and getting to see people enjoy your work.”
It’s clear that Jen herself feels Lucky.

Lucky’s Bakehouse
3990 Broadway Street

Comrade. Contemporary. Colleague. FELLOW Magazine Brings the Community Together on the Page and in Person

Bre Graziano is a twenty-something well beyond her years.
She, as it’s said, is an old soul.
Her wisdom most fully shows itself in her open mind and open heart, and it is from these characteristics, FELLOW Magazine was born.
A person with less heart could not have conceptualized such lovely work, or gathered around herself the quality of people she has.
FELLOW highlights the people and places that make Colorado great – the artisans, the restaurateurs, the photographers and more.
On 2.22 [an auspicious number], they launched their first issue to a packed house at Green Spaces in Ballpark.
Candles flickered everywhere from the windowsills to the tables, and set the most calm, serene tone, but a fiery one as well.
It reminded me very much of what it feels like to read FELLOW.
Calm. Serene. Fiery.
The inspired photography, clean formatting and disciplined use of white space, makes it a visual joy to read.
But, it’s the words that strongly compel and delight.
I read it with an ever-growing sense of appreciation for our great city and state, with each turn of the page.
I’ve always loved both fiercely, and I’m grateful FELLOW exists to allow me to take that love even deeper.
To give you a sense of it, I’ve excerpted some of my favorite lines from the first issue.
It is thoughtful, soulful, big-hearted writing – which as a writer myself, is the highest compliment I can pay to writing:

Our desire for rural retreats creates cozy apothecaries in sparsely populated mining towns.
[River Wharton on DRAM Apothecary]

It’s the fellowship I keep coming back for – the feel-good, and refreshingly unpretentious conversations about creativity, community, and everyday living that is overlooked in the presence of aesthetic beauty sometimes.
[Kelsey Brown on beet & yarrow]

They are the truest expression of authenticity I know because of how little attention they pay to fitting the definition.
[Shaun Boyte on Fin Art]

Together the group composes intricate and moving pieces with content they hope appeals to both the emotion and intellect of their fans.
[Sarah Ann Noel on Princess Music]

It is the privilege, and incredible responsibility, of an artist to help others better express themselves and better understand who they are.
[Anne Taylor]

With pie, I see an opportunity to share my love of baking with the community as well as a format for youth to practice skills and find a place of belonging.
[Shauna Lott, Long I Pie Shop]

Values of hard work, meticulous craftsmanship, and humility characterize the man who envisioned a place so celebrated, and a team that wakes daily with the intention to do better than they did the day before.
[Lauren Mikus on Old Major]

We know there is much more ahead of us to look forward to. We are excited to learn, create, develop, and refine this publication and our presence in the community.
[Bre Graziano]

You can order a copy online – and I strongly encourage you to – at

There’s Nothing Dry About Dry Dock [Nearly Quadrupled Production in 2013!]

Last year, Aurora’s Dry Dock Brewing nearly quadrupled its production numbers, jumping from 3,273 barrels in 2012 to 12,000 barrels in 2013.
This increase comes with Dry Dock’s new 30,000-square-foot production facility, North Dock [clever], at 2801 Tower Road.
At North Dock, Dry Dock has the space to brew 110,000 barrels a year, giving them room to do almost 10x what they’re now producing.
At this location, they currently have six 80-barrel fermenters and two 80-barrel bright tanks, and continues to grow.
They’ve invested in even more equipment, with another three 120-barrel fermenters and another 120-barrel bright tank on the way.
Also last year, Dry Dock began canning its beers at North Dock.
In 2013, the company produced more than 2 million [!] cans of Amber Ale, Hop Abomination, Hefeweizen, and Apricot Blonde.
Dry Dock Brewing – named for co-owner Kevin DeLange’s love of nautical history and its location in landlocked Colorado – is Aurora, Colorado’s first microbrewery, founded in 2005.
DeLange and Michelle Reding first opened the homebrew supply shop, The Brew Hut, next door and took on brewing as a side project in a tiny, 800-square foot brewery with only 25 seats.
What began as a speakeasy has become one of Colorado’s largest craft breweries.
Dry Dock is getting recognized on the national level as well, taking home five medals from the Great American Beer Festival in 2013 alone.
In total, Dry Dock has been the recipient of 18 GABF medals, the prestigious Brewers Association’s Small Brewery of the Year award, and four World Beer Cups.

Facebook: facebook.com/DryDockBrewing
Twitter: @DryDockBrewing

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.

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

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?

What’s Happened in the Writing and Publication of the Book – Colorado’s Top Brewers – by Emily Hutto, is a Joy to Behold.

This book is a true celebration of our craft beer culture in Colorado, filled with information about 26 of the state’s most successful breweries, their beers, as well as inventive food pairings created by 24 of our most talented chefs.
Additional spreads profile 10 of Colorado’s craft beer-centric bars and taverns.
Developed in cooperation with the Colorado Brewers Guild, the book includes an introduction from guild Executive Director, John Carlson.
Special sections in the back provide a bevy [pun intended!] of beer resources, including a Craft Beer Lovers calendar and map/listings for the featured breweries, plus many other excellent breweries and brewpubs in our wonderful state.

Featured breweries and chefs:
Boulder Beer Company/ Phat Thai Chef Mark Fischer
Avery Brewing Co./ The Kitchen Chef Dennjs Phelps
Twisted Pine Brewing Company/ in-house Chef Scott Parent
Upslope Brewing Company/ Chef Ian Clark
BRU Handbuilt Ales/ Chef Ian Clark
Left Hand Brewing Company/ Chef Jenna Johansen
Oskar Blues Brewery/ in-house Chef Jason Rogers
Odell Brewing Co./ in-house Chef Ryan Tostenson
New Belgium Brewing/ Linger and Root Down Chef Daniel Asher
Funkwerks Inc./ Jax Fish House Fort Collins Chef Kevin Grossi
Equinox Brewing/ Fish Chef Howard Parker
Wynkoop Brewing Company/ in-house Chef Cory Treadway
Great Divide Brewing Co./ Cholon Chef Lon Symensma
Strange Brewing Company/ Linger and Root Down Chef Samm Sherman
Denver Beer Co./ Chef Justin Brunson
Wit’s End Brewing Company/ Euclid Hall Chef Jorel Pierce
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project/ Chef John Little
Breckenridge Brewery/ Chef Ron Piscitelli
Ska Brewing Company/ Cosmo Chef Chris Crowl
Dry Dock Brewing Co./ Freshcraft Chef Lucas Forgy
Crabtree Brewing Company/ Chef Jorel Pierce
Bristol Brewing Company/ The Old School Bakery Chef Alicia Prescott
Phantom Canyon Brewing Co./ in-house Chef Bon Hewlett
Trinity Brewing Company/ in-house Chefs Chad Conway and Jeremy Miller
Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery/ in-house Chef Tom Hennessy
Elevation Beer Co./ Laughing Ladies Restaurant Chefs Margie Sohl and Jeff Schweitzer

Featured craft beer bars:
West End Tavern
Road 34
The Forge Publick House
The Mayor of Old Town
Falling Rock Tap House
Euclid Hall Bar + Kitchen
Hops & Pie
Ale House at Amato’s

To say it’s a well-researched and comprehensive guide, would be an understatement.
Get one for yourself, or a gift – or for yourself and a gift – at one of these spots:
Tattered Cover Bookstore, LoDo or Colfax
Barrels & Bottles Brewery
Equinox Brewing
Denver Beer Co.
Odell Brewing
The Brew Hut/ Dry Dock Brewing Co.
The Mayor of Old Town
Trinity Brewing
Wit’s End Brewing Company

You can also purchase the book on Amazon or on the Georgian Bay Books website.