Some Local Chefs Find Eggs More Than They're Cracked Up to Be

Danielle Lirette
Colorado farm-fresh eggs adorn a Sunrise Sunset skillet.
A banner hanging outside Sunrise Sunset, which I review this week, proclaims, "We serve only Colorado farm-fresh eggs." This got me thinking about eggs, because in the hundreds of conversations about sourcing I've had with chefs over the years, no one has ever waxed poetic about eggs. Local produce? Yes. Local meats? You bet. But eggs? Crickets.

How often have you seen a menu touting an egg by name, like Tender Belly bacon or Jumpin Good Goat Dairy feta, with the surcharge that would go along with it? The fear, of course, is that customers -- not the chickens that came first -- might cross the road to a restaurant on the other side.

See also: Behind the Scenes at Sunrise Sunset

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Should We Care if America Thinks Colorado Has the Munchies?

Cory Lamz
This is what the rest of the country thinks Denver looks like all the time.
On Wednesday the New York Times online Cooking blog featured Thanksgiving recipes from across the nation, with the stated goal to "evoke each of the 50 states." While some of the recipes seemed either invented on the spot or dug up from a dusty Ladies Auxiliary cookbook, regional ingredients and cultural traditions at least threaded their way through as themes. There was a Carribean-influenced mojo turkey from Florida, a salmon pie from Alaska and sourdough stuffing from California. Potatoes, of course, represented Idaho and lobster mac and cheese was Maine's contribution. Even ingredients with little recognition outside the region (did you know that persimmons grow wild in Indiana?) and family recipes based on local pastimes (one family in Kentucky created hand-sized dressing buns that hunters can slip into their pockets) made the list.

So what was Colorado's contribution to the national holiday board: something with peaches, elk, lamb, green chile or even a beer-based soup or sauce? Nope. It's stoner food, in the savory-sweet form of pecan pie bites meant to be dunked in leftover turkey gravy, a recipe from Alexander Figura of Lower48 Kitchen.

See also: The Twelve Best Stoner Spots to Cure the Munchies in Denver on 4/20

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Frasca's Bobby Stuckey Talks Hospitality Intervention for TEDx

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Bobby Stuckey, co-owner of Boulder's Frasca Food and Wine, is a certified Master Sommelier, one of the most difficult professional certifications to earn in any line of work. Since the first Master Sommelier examination was held in 1969, only 135 North Americans have passed. Stuckey's influence on the renowned restaurant's beverage program is undeniable: Frasca won the Outstanding Wine Program award from the James Beard Foundation in 2013. Since an encyclopedic knowledge of good wine doesn't necessarily translate into a good experience for customers, Stuckey takes that aspect of his job seriously, too, as he explained in a recent TEDx talk about what it means to be a "hospitalian."

See also: Eat their words: Kimbal Musk of The Kitchen, Ann Cooper and Robyn O'Brien talk better eating at TEDx Boulder

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The Toppings War: Qdoba Versus Chipotle

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Qdoba recently announced that its restaurants would no longer be charging for add-on items like guacamole, fajita vegetables and queso -- both the three-cheese queso and the queso diablo. The new, simplified pricing structure features two price points based on the protein order: one for vegetables, ground beef and chicken, and a higher tier for pulled pork, steak and shredded beef. Chipotle, meanwhile, charges extra for guacamole and does not offer queso as an option. So which is the better deal? We purchased identical burritos from the two Denver-based, Mission-style chains to find out.

See also: Chipotle Raises Prices, but Only in Denver So Far

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Chipotle Endorses Proposition 105 Requiring Labeling of GMOs in Colorado

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In a statement released today, Chipotle is officially asking Colorado voters to check "Yes" on Proposition 105, the ballot initiative that would require food that has been genetically modified or treated with genetically modified material to be labeled, "Produced With Genetic Engineering." Although Chipotle -- and other restaurants -- would not be subject to the regulation, which would take effect July 1, 2016 if the initiative passes, the burrito chain is already labeling menu items containing genetically modified ingredients on its website.

See also: Bradford Heap Goes GMO-free at Salt Bistro and Colterra

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Mercy for Animals Protests Outside Leprino, Owned by One of Richest Coloradans

Mark Antonation
Protesters from Mercy for Animals outside Leprino Foods headquarters in Denver.
More than forty activists gathered on the sidewalk in front of the Leprino Foods corporate headquarters on West 38th Avenue at noon yesterday, carrying signs and banners printed with the phrases "Leprino Foods: Cruelty in every slice" and "Cows suffer for Leprino cheese." The rally was organized by Mercy for Animals (MFA), an organization whose stated mission is "preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies." The goal of the organizers was to present more than 250,000 petition signatures calling for Leprino to adopt policies that would deter animal abuse at its dairy suppliers.

See also: Photos: Meet the Five Richest Coloradans in 2014

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New Food Co-op Hopes to Open Market in Northeast Denver

From the Northeast Community Co-op Market website.
When your neighborhood doesn't provide the products and services you desire, you can get in your car and drive somewhere else, or you can do something to permanently bring what you need to your neighborhood. A group of northeast Denver residents living in and around Stapleton, Park Hill, East Colfax, Lowry, Montclair and North Aurora are doing just that. Frustrated by a lack of grocery outlets dedicated to local, natural and organic meats, dairy and produce, they formed the Northeast Community Co-op with the goal of opening a market in the area. Currently at 300 members, the co-op hopes to recruit an additional 600 members by the end of the year and another 600 by the time the market opens, sometime next year.

See also: Kevin Taylor Signs on for Restaurant, Beer Garden at Stanley Marketplace

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Bittersweet's Artistic Plating Takes Advantage of Late-Season Garden

Mark Antonation
Chives -- some recently snipped -- grow in the side garden at Bittersweet.
A small garden patch next to a popular restaurant may not provide enough bounty to fill the plates of every hungry guest, even in the height of the season. But fresh flourishes can add artistry -- as well as bursts of flavor -- to the presentation, which is one of the goals of Olav Peterson, chef and co-owner of Bittersweet . After the bulk of spring and summer produce is gone, guests can still experience the spirit of the garden through Peterson's detail-oriented use of flowers, herbs and the last vegetables of the summer harvest.

See also: Taste of Thailand Turns Twenty With Fresh Spirit and "Beautiful Fish"

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Chef Bradford Heap Goes GMO-Free at Salt Bistro and Colterra

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Bradford Heap, chef/owner of Boulder's Salt Bistro, isn't waiting around for a vote or for the government to take action on GMOs (genetically modified organisms). He's already implemented a GMO-free kitchen, or what's as close as possible. "We should say 99 percent -- there's so much (environmental) contamination that it's impossible to be certain," he notes. Still, this past May he made the move from sourcing everything but the meat from GMO-free producers to going whole-hog, so to speak, by also ensuring that the animals ending up on his plates have not been fed anything genetically modified.

See also: Yes or No on GMO Labeling Proposal? Citizens' Review Releases Study

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Bubu, Chop Shop and other Colorado fast-casual concepts bring new ideas to dining

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Remember when these guys were new and nobody thought they would make it?
We all know the drill: Get in line, read the big menu board, shuffle along the counter pointing at toppings and condiments, pay at the end and grab our food. Or maybe we just pick from lists of ingredients or lunch styles -- the wrap, the bowl, the sandwich -- and take a number to a table until a clerk in an Easter-egg-colored shirt seeks us out or hollers our number. Fast-casual (or the preferred "quick-casual," to remove associations with fast food) was the fastest-growing sector of the restaurant industry last year, according to a recent article by investment strategy website the Motley Fool . So what's the appeal? Is it marketing strategy designed to appeal to our health-conscious lifestyles, or is it just the most bang for the buck? And how are a new generation of quick-casual eateries luring us to spend our money?

See also: Chipotle raises prices, but only in Denver so far

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