Monthly Archives: December, 2010

The Weather Outside is Frightful but Dinner Can Still be Delightful

December 31st, 2010 Posted by Aspen, Boulder, Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver, restaurants No Comment yet

Yesterday as I plowed my way through my pastry prep list at ChoLon I watched the snow come down. Lunch was slow and the line cooks made bets about how many covers they would do for dinner. Yes, the streets are icy but it is New Years Eve. Restaurants all over have been hard at work planning special menus and spending hours prepping so that you can ring in the New Year in style. If you are brave enough to venture out tonight here is a list of places to try:

Bistro One’s New Year’s Eve Prix Fixe Menu for $40 per person
Bistro One’s prix fixe menu consists of three courses as well as a complimentary glass of sparkling wine to help you toast the New Year! Seatings are available at 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30.  Please call 720-974-0602 to make your reservation.
Pizzeria Basta’s Three Course Dinner With Complimentary Champagne Toast
Optional wine and beer pairings will be available from sommelier and beverage director Alan Henkin. Dinner is served from 5-10pm. Please call 303- 997-8775 for reservations.
Strings New Years Eve Prix Fix Menu
Enjoy a four course dinner for $65 per person. For reservations please call 303-831-7310.
Pearl Street Grill New Year’s Celebration
Come and listen to the Clam Daddy’s play from 9:30 – 1:00 a.m. There will be dinner specials and a midnight champagne toast. For reservations please call 303-778-6475.
Chef Samir is making braised beef shortribs and pate. It’s not too late to make a reservation as there are still some tables available. Please call 303-282-8399.
Bacaro’s New Year’s Celebration
Bacaro will be offering their normal happy hour and dinner menu throughout the evening with specials as well.  At 10pm Bacaro will be gearing up for the 1-year Anniversary of Friday Night Fever!  9pm a $10 cover charge will be in place for those wishing to celebrate and dance the night away with Bacaro!  A midnight champagne toast is included in the cover charge.Please call 303.444.4888 to make a reservation.
Jimmy’s New Years Eve in Aspen
Jimmy’s still has tables open for their first seating at 6:00 or 6:30 p.m. Enjoy three courses for $80. At 9:00 p.m. pay a $30 cover charge and dance the night away. For reservations please call 970-925-6020.
Syzygy Restaurant in Aspen
Enjoy an elegant dinner at Syzygy from Chefs Tom Fritz and Daniel Silver. Their menu for tonight includes sashimi, beef tenderloin, roast pheasant and Alaskan crab legs.  For reservations please call 970-925-3700.
Happy New Year from Culinary Connectors! Cheers!

Answers to How Well Do You Know Your Chefs

December 30th, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors No Comment yet

I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the answers to “How Well Do You Know Your Chefs”. Here they are:

1. Who said “I can taste things in my imagination?” – Paul Reilly from Encore. Go try his french fries and tell him hello from Christine and Becky.
2. Who likes Velveeta Mac and Cheese and talks about it all the time in the kitchen? – Lon Symensma from ChoLon. I can’t tell you how many times we talk about velveeta in the ChoLon kitchen. Lon made us mac and cheese (from scratch) for our Christmas party.
3. Which chef wants you to leave his restaurant “with a full belly?” – Nick Abeyta from Stella in the Highlands. Let him fill your belly with his fabulous pasta dishes.

Look for a new quiz in each edition of Culinary Connectors newsletters. The winner will receive two tickets on a walking tour of their choice. Cheers!

Holiday Meals – Comfort food vs. Gourmet

December 27th, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors No Comment yet

For Thanksgiving I cooked an ultra gourmet feast. I eagerly read my Bon Appétit and circled all the items I wanted to try. I made a fennel, golden raisin and sausage stuffing, and brussels sprouts with bacon and apple cider vinaigrette. I brined the turkey, made a potato gratin and these beautiful flourless chocolate cakes for dessert. When I asked my family what they wanted for Christmas dinner this year they begged me…”please no gourmet food”. They wanted ham, that dreaded green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy and pumpkin pie. It was my Christmas present to them to make exactly what they asked for. They loved it!

Christmas Eve I went to Becky’s house and ate Lebanese food. We had stuffed grape leaves, hummus, lavash and lentil soup. Later that day I went to my fiancée’s grandparents house and we ate frankfurters and semel with stone ground mustard. The food was amazing, as was my Christmas dinner. It was not a five star gourmet meal with paired wine, but it was great food shared with family. We laughed, we told stories and took pictures and celebrated. It was a nice reminder for me that I don’t need to try new and extensive recipes for the holidays. A ham and green bean casserole (although I made mine from scratch) are just fine. Cheers!

Jonesy’s EatBar – It’s Where to Eat on Christmas Day

December 24th, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver, restaurants No Comment yet

I don’t know about your family traditions, but Christmas morning is huge at my house. We eat a beautiful brunch and forget about meals for the rest of the day – until around 7:00 p.m. when we are literally starving. After all the cooking and cleaning up and sugar consumed I always want something savory that I don’t have to make myself.

This year, Jonesy’s EatBar has the perfect solution to my Christmas night cravings. From 6:00 until 10:00 p.m. Jonesy’s is serving up meatloaf and $15 bottles of wine. If you’ve never been to Jonesy’s it’s a hip, laid back kind of place. You can play pool, stuff yourself on their “world famous fries” and not break the bank as they offer a great happy hour. The food is delicious – try the mac and cheese fries, the lamby joe sliders and the Italian mussels.

If you’re stuck at home on Christmas night, fear not, Jonesy’s has other events like Sushi Saturday nights, Wino Wednesdays and on New Years Eve $15 for bottomless bubbly. Cheers!

Jonesy’s EatBar – 400 E. 20th Avenue, Denver, 303-863-7473. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-12am; Fri 5pm-1am; Sat 10am-1am; Sun 10am-12am

How Well Do You Know Your Chefs?

December 21st, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors No Comment yet

Throughout 2010 we conducted many chef interviews. As a fun way of ending the year take our quiz to see how well you foodies actually know your chefs. The first person to email the correct answers to christine@culinaryconnectors.com will two spots on a walking tour of your choice. Correct answers will be posted on our blog once we have a winner. Have fun!

1. Who said “I can taste things in my imagination?”
2. Who likes Velveeta Mac and Cheese and talks about it all the time in the kitchen?
3. Which chef wants you to leave his restaurant “with a full belly?”

Hint: answers can be found in past chef interviews on the Culinary Connectors blog.

Highlands Cork and Coffee – It’s Where to Relax This Weekend

December 17th, 2010 Posted by Culinary Connectors, Denver, restaurants No Comment yet

Highlands Cork and Coffee, located on 32nd Avenue, in a charming neighborhood is the perfect  place to catch your breath and unwind before the hustle and bustle of the holidays gets too hectic.

Owner Shawn Manzanerez originally opened the first version of her restaurant, Cafe Caliente, in the Spring of 2007. She had a vision of creating a unique coffee house experience in the Highlands Neighborhood. In March of 2010 Shawn made a unique and refreshing change to add a wine bar to the house. Highlands Cork and Coffee was born, highlighting the coffee house warmth and intimate setting of a wine bar.

Sit in this cute 1907 bungalow that is decorated to provide an intimate, warm and relaxing atmosphere. Enjoy a coffee or glass of wine or their fantastic sangria. Each weekend Shawn offers evening entertainment from local artists on the patio or inside the bungalow depending on the weather.

They also offer free wifi and are pet friendly. So stop by Highlands Cork and Coffee for breakfast, lunch, late afternoon tapas or for a refreshment after holiday shopping.  You might find me there, tucked in a corner catching up on my writing. Cheers!

Highlands Cork & Coffee3701 W. 32nd Ave. Denver, CO
303-433-2500 Open 7 Days: 7am – 10pm

The Intensity of a Chef

December 13th, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, restaurants No Comment yet

The other day I was zooming around the kitchen getting ready for a busy Monday night service. Our morning prep cook mysteriously disappeared and I had a question to ask him. “Where’s Scott?” I asked. Lenny, one of our line cooks had cut himself. Scott took him to the hospital. I figured I wouldn’t see either of them for the rest of the night. When I walked into the kitchen earlier that morning, at 7:30 a.m. actually, Scott was already there. Lenny was working service Monday night and he showed up later in the day for his shift. When he injured himself he cut his finger to the bone and suffered minor nerve damage.

An hour and a half later they were both back. Scott stayed until 10:00 p.m. finishing his prep list and helping all of us during a service that was more intense and busier than we expected. Lenny worked in the office for a while before donning a glove and finishing up his shift working sauté.

Chefs are passionate, intense and hardworking people.  As foodies I think we sometimes forget that when we have dinner or lunch in a restaurant someone has been there hours earlier working hard to ensure that our meal is fabulous and unforgettable. Cheers to our chefs, the line cooks and dishwashers who are “behind the scenes” and sometimes forgotten.

*Names have been changed.

Pitkin County Steakhouse – It’s Where to Eat This Weekend

December 10th, 2010 Posted by Aspen, Culinary Connectors No Comment yet

Today’s recommendation of where to eat this weekend is brought to us by Becky Creighton, the founder of Culinary Connectors.

You’ve been skiing all day, you’re hungry, you’re definitely thirsty – you’ve just spent 1,000 calories screaming down the slopes and your body is crying for food and I’ll venture to say a beer. Where do you go to satiate your stomach’s hunger and your liver’s desire? I’d head to the Pitkin County Tavern at 305 East Hopkins Avenue.

New owner Rob Seideman re-opened this Aspen treasure earlier this summer and it is a definite place to check out. Every night seems to embody a neighborhood hang out from live music and shuffleboard to dinner specials that are easy on the wallet and tasty on the palate.

Pitkin County Tavern offers a different $5 dinner each night from fish taco platters to prime rib sandwiches. Partner that up with $2 Sam Adams and a friendly wait staff.

Pitkin County Tavern certainly offers more than their $5 nightly dinners. They also have a nice selection of steak and seafood entrees to the more casual soup and salad. Desserts here are not an after thought either. Try the lemon mousse with cardamom whipped cream or the chocolate whiskey pecan pie. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

The tavern atmosphere is great for grabbing a beer, bringing the kids for dinner or coming with a group to play a little shuffleboard while listening to live music. Pitkin County Tavern is open Monday – Sunday from 5:30 p.m. – 2 a.m. Have questions, call 970-544-MEAT (6328).

A Culinary Recap of 2010

December 8th, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, restaurants No Comment yet

The end of a year is a good time to reflect on our happiest “foodie” memories. 2010 was full of great experiences. We would like to thank all of our Culinary Connectors fans. Your love and passion for food inspires us every day. Here are some of our favorites….

One of the year’s top highlights was celebrating Chef Alex Seidel’s Best New Chef award from Food & Wine magazine. His dish at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic (baby lamb ribeye, english pea and potato risotto, lamb sweetbread confit and a wilted pea tendril) was beautifully composed and executed. Pictured below: Alex Seidel at the Food & Wine party.

Jeff Osaka at Twelve restaurant is continuing his vision of changing his menu each month. Especially good was his pork loin with bacon, his seared scallops and his velvet smooth carrot soup. Pictured below: Jeff’s scallop pho.

The opening of ChoLon Bistro, by Chef Lon Symensma who hails from Buddakan in New York has been a great addition to the dining scene in Denver. Lon, along with this sous chef, Ryan Gorby brought us French onion soup dumplings that are simply delicious. Pictured below: Becky Creighton, Lon Symensma and Christine Lucas.

Matt Selby continues to impress all of us not only as a chef and a restaurateur, but also by his generosity. From his dedication to ending childhood hunger at Taste of the Nation and his support of Urban Peak and The Spot, Matty teaches all of us that it pays to give back. Pictured below: Becky Creighton, Matt and Gina Selby.

What else was interesting in 2010? Denver followed trends in New York and Los Angeles as many food trucks popped up. Steubens, Porker Cart, Biker Jim’s, Gastro Cart and Brava Pizza taught us that street food is fun, affordable and delicious. Pictured below: Jim Pittenger from Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs

We welcomed new restaurants like Café Aion, Pizzeria Basta and ChoLon Bistro. Cafe Aion was listed as a spot to visit when Bon Appetit named Boulder the Nation’s foodiest town. Also named was The Kitchen, another one of our favorite spots in Boulder.

We enjoyed seeing and eating what our “Denver 5” cooked at the James Beard House in New York City. Troy Guard from TAG, Matt Selby from Vesta Dipping Grill and Steubens, Brian Laird from Barolo Grill, Jamey Fader from Lola and Tyler Wiard from Elways did a fabulous job of representing the Denver dining scene in the big apple. Pictured below: Tyler Wiard’s lamb dish.

We saw the following trends in Colorado – supper clubs, artisanal cocktails, cupcakes, pie shops, less emphasis on fine dining, head to tail eating, PORK and foodies who use social media like Yelp to review restaurants. Pictured below: Jorge de la Torre, dean of Johnson & Wales,  enjoying a drink.

We shopped at Tony’s Market, the Truffle, In Season, Mondo Vino, Little Raven, EVOO, Savory Spice and Marczyks. It brings us great pleasure to support our local shops who are as passionate about bringing quality, local and seasonal items to us as we are to supporting that trend.

In closing it was a fabulous year. Now, a few thousand dollars poorer and few pounds heavier, we say farewell to 2010 and hello to 2011. May it be filled with as many amazing dishes, chefs, restaurants, wine and friends. Cheers!


Frution – It’s Where to Eat This Weekend

December 3rd, 2010 Posted by Chefs, Culinary Connectors, Denver No Comment yet

Chef Alex Seidel just raked me over the coals. He said I haven’t been to Fruition in a long time. It’s true, actually. Not because I don’t love Fruition. I love Fruition. When anyone asks me what my favorite restaurant is in Denver I always list Fruition at the top.

And seriously, what’s not to love? Food & Wine Magazine named Chef Alex Seidel Best New Chef this year. Having experienced the Aspen Food & Wine Classic with him and his two sous chefs – Kona and Blake, I can vouch for why he was chosen. He turned out the most perfect dish at the Food & Wine party – a lamb rib eye with English pea and potato risotto, sweetbread confit and a wilted pea tendril. It was “close your eyes good.”

I staged at Fruition with former pastry chef, Deanna Parker and I can tell you that the food they put out from such a small kitchen is a  miracle in itself. I can also tell you that the food is amazing. The pasta carbonara and the potato wrapped oysters Rockefeller are two of my favorite dishes. These two are staples on Alex’s menu for a very good reason. They’re delicious!

The last time I was in (ages ago) I had the lamb for my main course. It was perfectly cooked and I swooned over the dish. The lemon meringue pie on the dessert menu is one of my favorite desserts in Denver.

And if that isn’t enough, Alex and his partner Paul Attardi have also started Fruition farms so that they can grow their own greens, vegetables and herbs. They currently supply over 30 restaurants in the Denver area. A green house has been constructed to facilitate year round growing. The farm also raises chickens to provide fresh eggs. There is an orchard and a herd of sheep for producing cheese.
While you can’t just walk into Fruition and expect to get a table, the restaurant is small and intimate – it is worth calling ahead and getting reservations. Please go to Fruition this weekend and beg Alex to forgive me. You may even see me there.

For a behind the scenes peek into the Fruition kitchen please sign up for Culinary Connectors Top Restaurant Tour on December 11th.

Fruition – 1313 East 6th Avenue, Denver. 303-831-1962. Dinner Monday thru Saturday 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. Sundays 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.