I’ve given out hundreds of food-related awards over the years ranging from local “best of” lists to the James Beard Awards, and I learned one thing: awards are designed to instigate debate and make people really mad.
No sooner had I read that Boulder had been named “America’s Foodiest Town 2010” in the September Bon Appetit, then the complaints rang out.
The magazine considered small cities (fewer than 250,000 people) with quality farmers’ markets, concerned farmers, dedicated food media, first-rate restaurants, talented food artisans and a community of food lovers.
Although he spends a lot of space writing about his hiking and biking excursions, restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton does laud and mention a slew of notable institutions including Dish Gourmet, Avery Brewing, Celestial Seasonings, The Kitchen, Salt Bistro, Izze, Bhakti Chai, Frasca, Pizzeria Basta, Left Hand Brewing, Boulder County Farmers Market, Sisters Pantry dumplings, Mountain Sun Pub, Mateo, Café Aion, Leaf, Kim & Jake’s Cakes, Bitter Bar and Sushi Tora.
Some of the more venomous reactions left on articles, blogs and as Facebook posts were from people who loathe Boulder and Boulderites and can’t imagine anything good happening here. Others allowed as how Boulder was a pretty place for a snack, but hardly a culinary destination and detailed the many failings of the chefs, servers, customers and food writers.
Local readers mainly complained about the food businesses that should have been included in Bon Appetit. How could they not include restaurants like L’Atelier, Amu, Black Cat Bistro and Larkburger, and chefs such as Hosea Rosenberg and Eric Skokan? Shouldn’t any appraisal of Boulder “foodiness” take note of the Culinary School of the Rockies, Seth Ellis Chocolatier, microdistillers like 303 Vodka and Roundhouse Spirits, not to mention outstanding tea houses, coffee artisans, mead makers and bread and dessert bakers? What about the fact that Boulder may be one of the best places to grocery shop in the U.S. with its wealth of conventional, natural, organic, specialty and international retailers?
My complaint is that when it comes to cuisine, no city—including the foodiest small city in America—is an island. The award should have been given to the Boulder foodshed, which incorporates Boulder County and beyond. After all, most of the produce sold at Boulder’s famed market is not grown in Boulder. Haystack’s goat cheeses, Madhava’s honey and Oskar Blues’ fine ales are produced outside the border of the People’s Republic. And most of the folks working at most of the city’s food landmarks do not actually live there.
“(Boulder) is a bellwether of a changing food culture across our land,” writes Bon Appetit’s Andrew Knowlton. While I happen to agree with him, this is one Boulder foodie who knows that the city’s stature reflects the wonderful community of towns that form this tasty place we call home.
Openings & Closings
The charming, historic Gold Hill Inn has reopened for dinner after being saved from the flames of the Four Mile Fire. …Ted’s Montana Grill opened recently in the former Sunflower space at 1701 Pearl St. dishing a bison-centric menu. …Barbacoa tortas, sopas de pollo and coctel de camarones are on the menu at Ristorante 100% Mexicano open at 2850 Iris Ave., Boulder (across from the D.M.V.) …Coffee and wine are on tap at the new Bean and Berry, 305 McCaslin Blvd., Louisville. …T & T Jerky Outlet has opened in the Table Mesa Shopping Center offering mix-and-match dried and cured meats including venison, beef, turkey, elk and alligator jerky in a range of flavors. …Busaba’s is serving Thai fare at 133 McCaslin Blvd. in Louisville. …Karz Drive-in will replace the closed Sonic Drive-In, 50 Waneka Parkway, Lafayette. …Closed: Radek Czerny’s Radex Bistro at 2779 Iris Ave.; Ai Sushi at the 29th Street mall …The owners of The Kitchen will open The Kitchen Café at 1035 Pearl St., most recently home to Abo’s Pizza, Circle and Seven Eurobar. Also coming soon: Chef Jim Cohen’s Empire Pizza, 2525 Arapahoe Ave.; The Pinyon, in the former Bimbamboo space, 1710 Pearl St.; Oak on 17, in the former 14th Street Bar & Grill location; Backcountry Pizza and Tap House, 2319 Arapahoe Ave.; Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 1143 13th St.; Pizzeria Locale, next door to Frasca; and a Middle Eastern eatery concept from Udi’s Bakery at 1155 13th St.
Boulder chef Ann Cooper, “the renegade lunch lady,” has been named one of the 2010 Chow 13, an annual award honoring the people pushing the food world in new and adventurous directions. …The Boulder County Farmers Market, which closes for the year Nov. 6 has been named one of the top farmers’ markets in the nation by Livibility.com. …Local breweries winning gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival are Boulder Beer (Business Time Mild ale), Left Hand Brewing (Fade to Black stout), and Walnut Brewery (Old Elk Brown Ale). …Boulder Creek Winery in Boulder took home a medal for their Riesling Gen Y wine in the recent Colorado-only wine competition judged by the International Wine Guild and the American Wine Society. …USA Today recently asked me to name the best burger joint in Colorado, a truly daunting task given the great choices. In the end I chose Park Burger in Denver. You can view the choices for all 50 states at: travel.usatoday.com.
ON THE MENU
The best things I’ve tasted at North Metro area eateries in the past 30 days or so include: the butter-creamy coconut-frosted coconut “lunch” cake at Kim and Jakes Cakes, 641 S. Broadway, Boulder; memorable soft polenta with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, fried egg and roasted jalapenos at Pizzeria Basta, 3601 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder; big, affordable barbacoa torta (shredded beef sandwich) with zesty salsas at 100% Mexicano Restaurante, 2850 Iris Ave., Boulder; mouthwatering pork carnitas taco with pineapple salsa at Comida, the Boulder Mexican food truck; and the Mont Ventoux burger with bacon, cheddar and fried egg on a pretzel roll with onion rings at Reuben’s Burger Bistro, 1800 Broadway, Boulder.
James Van Dyk, chef at the belated Gateway Café, and his wife Noriko will present a harvest farm-to-table dinner and cooking class Oct. 17 at The Farmette in Lyons. Reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org. …The recent Taste of Place in Boulder was a wonderful gathering, tasting and sale of pickles, fruit, salumi, desserts, chocolate, herbs, fudge, salsa and so much more hosted by The Root Sellers, a local club for home food artisans. For details on their planned pre-Christmas sale: therootsellers.com. …John Lehndorff talks about the local food scene on Radio Nibbles at 8:25 a.m. every Thursday morning on KGNU (88.5 FM Boulder, 1390 AM Denver). …Plan ahead: First Bite Boulder featuring $26 multi-course dinners at several dozen eateries is Nov. 12-20. Details: firstbiteboulder.com. …Send information about holiday season food, dining and tasting events to: email@example.com
“It’s easy to laugh, easy to smile, / Except when the service was slow, Then he was cruel, suddenly mean / Not like the man you know. / If he’s rude to the waiter and it makes your heart confused / This is lesson No. 1: Run.”—Dining dating advice from “Rule No. 1” by David Wilcox (sung at Folks Fest in Lyons in August)