Eleven favorite dishes from 2011 -- and one more to usher in 2012

Thumbnail image for Pig snout tacos.jpg
Lori Midson
It hasn't been a good year for our economy, but it's been a stellar year for the Denver restaurant scene, which continues to produce culinary heroes and push the envelope. I can't even begin to guess how many meals I've eaten in restaurants over the past year, but I'm fairly certain it numbers close to 400 -- maybe 500. And along the way, while surrendering my belly to taco trucks and taco shacks, pop-ups and sidewalk cafes, fine-dining palaces and everywhere in between, I've had some simply unassailable dishes --faultless dishes that are permanently attached to my brain, dishes that I'd go back for time and time again.

Herewith, my eleven favorite foodstuffs of 2011 -- and one more to usher in 2012.

Tarascosmoleverde.jpg
Lori Midson
Mexican cuisine is awash in moles, and in Oaxaca, one of my favorite food cities in the world, there's a different mole for every day of the week. But in the States, save for Los Angeles, where there are dozens of Oaxacan restaurants, mole -- at least proper mole -- is difficult to find. Luckily for us, we have Tarasco's, a Mexican/Latin restaurant that feeds my mole obsession with two different versions, including a remarkable mole verde, greener than money, greener than an enchanted forest, greener than Kermit the Frog. Made with poblano and jalapeno peppers, peanuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds, crushed almonds and cloves, it's a riot of texture and spice, generously draped over long-simmered, crisp, caramelized shards of pork.

Newmexicaneggsbenny.jpg
Lori Midson
You know the eggs Benedict that litter the breakfast menus of just about every cafe and diner in Denver? These are not those eggs Benedict. No, at D.J's Berkeley Cafe, eggs Benedict are held in higher esteem than your overall happiness; they're more sacred than marriage, more royal than Kate and Wills. I've tasted way more than my share of eggs Benedict, most of which I would never commit to: The eggs stand still, the hollandaise comes straight out of a pre-mixed pouch, the muffin is burnt, soggy or stale. But the eggs Benedict here -- most notably the New Mexican Benedict, a bluff of fragile poached eggs and ropes of fire-roasted poblano chiles straddling two intensely spiced chorizo sausages resting on a smear of cheddar polenta -- are magnificent mounds of fierce early morning sunshine that make you fall, hard, in love with their sex appeal. And the scratch-made hollandaise sauce, singing with lemon, is good enough to drink.

JaiHoChilliGobi.jpg
Lori Midson
There are a million dishes on the behemoth menu at Jai Ho, and some of them are very, very good. But the esoteric Indian restaurant in Aurora, with its unapologetically relaxed service and springy booths that bounce with every butt move, could serve just one dish -- and one dish only -- and we'd be the first in line to wrap our jaws around it. That dish is the chili gobi, an Indo-Chinese plate filled with florets of cauliflower smeared with spices, perfumed with garlic and ginger, tossed with long-cooked onions and barbarically, vigorously laced with the intense thrust of chiles. It's an exhilarating adrenaline rush that extends far beyond a wallop, and you'll need to pump a tankful of beer down your gullet to extinguish the burning flames. Thankfully, the bar is well-stocked.

Frascafricocaldo.jpg
Lori Midson
It goes by an Italian name -- frico caldo -- and in someone else's hands, it might be nothing more than a standard potato cake. But it emerges from the kitchen of Frasca Food and Wine in all its exquisite elegance: triangles of crisp-edged Yukon Gold potatoes enhanced with onions and Piave and crowned with dots of speck and a cilantro-laced mound sharpened with a thimbleful of sherry vinegar. One order is never enough; neither is two. But that's the thing with Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson: He can make even the pedestrian potato taste better than, well, just about anything.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
7 comments
Jessica
Jessica

I am a 26 years old girl, down to earth and cute but still single ... I  wanna find my lover who can give me a real love,so I joined in the seekcasual.COM,it's the best club for  man and woman finding their intimate encounters. Well, you do not have to be lonely , you  can meet the Mr. or Miss. Right there.

Jenn Jenn Jenn
Jenn Jenn Jenn

Heeheehee..."butterflies and blow..." that's poetry!

JD
JD

Even closed Squeaky Bean gets well deserved kudos. I love this place!

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...