Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Calorie Count

Ok, I'm sucking at this blogging stuff! I eat and I eat, yet I record virtually nothing; I have beautiful plates set before me and I don't take any pix; I try making new dishes, with great results, but never share a recipe. I'll try harder, I promise!

So, here's a brief run-down of last week:

Chill in the air on Sunday required something warm. Sometimes the drug to fill the prescription is menudo, usually found at La Abeja on Colfax; sometimes it is caldo de res at Patzcuaro's, yum! This Sunday, however, found us slurping noodles at Pho 79 (781 S Federal Blvd. 80219; 303.922.2930). I won't bore you with the details, but I'll say everything by telling you that the broth was amazing. Very hot and rich, go get some!

Tuesday night found us at our usual late-night happy-hour joint: McCormick's Bar at the Oxford. Nothing fancy, but the kitchen is open until 11 and the food is cheap. Sometimes that does the trick...ok, every other Tuesday night.

Wednesday night, we tried a new place: The Lure Lounge. "I'm Too Sexy for This Shirt" lyrics over a Thievery Corp loop! Very cool place, creative wine list, awesome food. The Lure has a new Fall Menu, they've gotten away from full-entrees and entered the realm of "small plates". Well executed and more appropriate, in my opinion for this place. (Seen here: beef carpaccio) But really folks, The Lure is all about the scene. Trying to impress your friends with how "in-the-know" you are? The Lure Lounge!

Besides a root-beer float and a flourless chocolate cake, The Lure didn't have much of a dessert selection. My ever creative and way too indulgent wife, took me to one of our favorite spots in town. Potager (1109 Ogden St. 80218; 303.832.5788) as always was simply delightful. A warm dinning room, even though it was cold inside; friendly knowledgeable staff; amazing food! We had to have more than just dessert, we split an appetizer of lamb meat balls on celery root puree. A little sweetness from a fall fruit chutney, made it an amazing dish. A warm apple crisp with mascarpone fit the bill for the dessert we were looking for. I love the fact that you can get half-orders of entrees as well as half-glasses of the great wines at Potager. You might think it's an expensive place, but this "half" option allows you to sample their every-changing menu; and they don't look down on you for it.

Well that's a basic recap of this week. Not exhaustive, but "confession" always feels good. I'll have to try it again next week!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pasquini's, Another Chance

Pasquini's in Highland is officially on the list folks! I'll be honest with you, for some reason I've always been reluctant to patronize this restaurant. The first time I ate at a Pasquini's was at the original location on Broadway. I had recently moved to Denver and my new friend's, we'll call them "Novis", took me out for pizza. As I recall, I liked it. Nothing earth-shattering, just good, solid pizza. I didn't go back.

Why? Perhaps because I was a veg-head at the time, I wasn't eating pizza with peperoni and sausage. Pizza without, just didn't call to me. Later on my wonderful wife being lactose intolerant didn't help either. I guess pizza was just off the radar.

I don't remember how it was that we first went to Pasquini's Uptown. I seem to recall it having to do with the Deep-Fry Spy's calzone addiction (it passed). Anys, we started picking-up some great apple strudel they had. Never ate there, just picked up the dessert to-go (that too, passed).

Long-story short, we were up in Highland on our lunch break last Monday, when we passed the fancy new Pasquini's (32nd and Zuni). My wife recommended grabbing a slice of pizza for myself. We went inside and couldn't leave. First of all, they have a "2-slices of pizza and a drink" lunch special ($5.99), sold! Choose a couple of toppings, it's yours. My wife was attracted to the great sandwiches. We had every intention of taking our order to go. We just sat at a table to wait, then the manager brings us water. Then, says he doesn't want us to "feel left out" so he brings us a plate of amazing garlic bread sticks! The place was so cozy, warm and friendly, just had to stay.

If you've read this blog before, you know that one of the things that sells me on a restaurant is the ambiance (I hate that word!) of a place. Maybe that was one of the things that didn't do it for me at the other locations. For some reason, pizza places have always been warm, dark wood places. Ski-lodge memories maybe? Angelo's on 6th, for instance, has been my favorite place for pizza in Denver. It's a nice cavern with amazing pizza. But, I have to say Pasquini's got it right on their new location. Great use of an old building, good natural light, nice wood work and character. Oh yeah, the pizza was terrific! Standard sausage, peperoni and black olives. It all seemed so fresh and flavorful, I have to have it again.

I don't know if I'll be drawn to their other locations, but when I have a hankering for a slice or two of pizza, you'll find me at the Highland Pasquini's.

Correction: "anonymous" noted: By the way the lunch special is $4.99 - now that's a "screaming deal" for lunch. The slices are "not stingy" (insert Greta Garbo voice) and they leave you so satisfied that you may skip dinner!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Is This Doable in Colorado?

Check out this link to the Oregon Travel website. They have an event going on in October and November that features the "bounty" of the state. Instead of focusing on just the restaurants, this statewide event sheds light, or a spotlight, on several aspects for the food process. They have events that feature the farmers and vintners; the brewers and bakers; as well as the innkeepers and chefs. Sounds like a good idea. It really takes the partnership of all of these players to create a food culture, not just a restaurant culture.

Oregon truly has a bounty, with the ocean, the cattle ranches, wine country and hops, the fertile Willamette Valley, and the many rivers. I'd like to think that every region, however, can put on a similar event to feature their local harvests. Sure, some states will have a broader selection than others, but I think it could really educate and encourage us all to be more conscious of our food.

A squealing pig, a dense forest, and a dark stinky secret...

no tain't Deliverance! Interested in a new line of work? Check out this article: "For Hire" (it's food related, I promise!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Breakfast for Lunch

Looking for a smart place to get a great breakfast on the weekend? Look no further than your local, neighborhood "food service" provider. Yup, Steuben's provides the service, and it sure is food based.

I'm sure you don't need me to describe the place to you, you've probably been there many a time. For those that haven't, I'll just say, "Holiday Inn, 1978." You get the picture, really, it's a good thing.

But we're here to talk about the breakfast. Steuben's has a surprisingly affordable, and hearty (OMG I said "hearty") selection of morning-food favorites. Your standard Benedict's, steaks (chicken fried and with eggs) pancakes are all happily represented. SFS is about the comfort food and breakfast isn't a let down. My tip: get "The Basic"-2 eggs, hash browns, b'fast meat and toast. Also, you'll be very happy with a stack of pancakes. Our group was unanimous in applauding these light and sweet treats. Split decision on the hash browns; seems one of the order's seasoning was a bit, well, LOUD.
4 people: 4 basics, 1 stack of p'cakes, a side of biscuits n'gravy, coffees all around=$49. Great services, cool place, HIGH chairs. Be careful and you'll enjoy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Another "Tavern"?

So, Maloney's Tavern is opening tomorrow at 1432 Market St. After an extensive renovation of the old Bara Sushi space, Denver gets the latest incarnation of this chain of taverns. Monday, I had the opportunity to experience LoDo's newest chug-tub. How was it? If I said it was the worst food in recent memory, would you really care? After all the beer you'll undoubtedly drink, I honestly don't think you'll notice that the food is a bit too salty. "Hey Maloney's! Bonneville Salt Flats called, they asked if they could get their salt back!" The fish was over-battered and a wee bit toasted, but how about that beer right?
Service, well it's kind of hard to say. When the guy at the door does everything he can to get you to turn around and leave, you don't know what to expect. Granted it was a trial run, and maybe they were trying to spare us the pain we would encounter inside. For someone that thought Hell's Kitchen was about as real as Hell, well, this was an eye-opener. For the poor souls that waited an hour and-a-half for food, well thanks for coming.
Does, Market St. need another tavern? Nallen's Irish Pub and the Pour House are obviously too far across the street for a properly inebriated individual to safely cross. So, yeah I guess we need another pseudo-tavern in LoDo. Now if they could just get themselves some of those old time Irish Cops, I think the neighborhood could use a few more of those on a Saturday night.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Vile Bodies

They were nearly an hour over luncheon. Course followed course in disconcerting abundance as Colonel Blount ate and ate, turning the leaves of his book and chuckling frequently. They ate hare soup and boiled turbot and stewed sweetbreads and black Bradenham ham with Madeira sauce and roast pheasant and a rum omelette and toasted cheese and fruit. First they drank sherry, then claret, then port. Then Colonel Blount shut his book with a broad sweep of his arm rather as the headmaster of Adam's private school used to shut the Bible after evening prayers, folded his napkin carefully and stuffed it into a massive silver ring, muttered some words of grace and finally stood up saying:
"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm going to have a little nap," and trotted out of the room.

As ruthless as he was in skewering the hypocrisy of the British establishment, Evelyn Waugh loved it. In his book "Vile Bodies" he lovingly fawns over beautiful descriptions of grand feasts that were a way of life in the old country houses of the time. After reading such a description, one might be appalled at such gluttony. But Waugh also gives us a glimpse into the reality of the 1920's aristocratic diet:

Adam and Nina breakfasted alone in the dining room. There was a row of silver plates kept hot by spirit lamps which held an omelette and devilled partridges and kejeri and kidneys and sole and some rolls; there was also a ham and a tongue and some brawn and a dish of pickled herrings.
Nina ate an apple and Adam had some toast.