‘Tis the season for the gathering of the tribes. From November through New Year’s Day, the dining table will be circled by family and friends. While that thought may fill you with joy, you’d be less than honest if you didn’t also confess to a tinge of impending doom.
It’s not that you don’t love visitors; you just know you’ll go berserk if they spend all day sitting in your kitchen. So over the years you’ve developed a list of cool and tasty things to do in the Boulder/Denver area.
There’s only one problem: Colorado’s so darn nice that these visitors have all been here before. They’ve already sniffed the mint at Celestial Seasonings and gawked at the candy puller at Hammond’s Candy. They’ve brunched at Chautauqua, tasted the cinnamon rolls at Johnson’s Corner Café, and sipped margaritas at the Rio Grande. They’ve done the brewpub thing, seen the Dushanbe Tea House, and smacked their lips at lots of good eateries.
Here’s our holiday list:
For your foodie sister who religiously watches the Food Network: Take her to dine at StrEAT Chefs (streatchefs.com), the Airstream trailer that dishes fine street fare created by Top Chef-winning chef Hosea Rosenberg. She can also get an autograph when he cooks in his old kitchen, Jax Fish House, Dec. 15. jaxfishhouseboulder.com.
For your young, bored cousins who just can’t wait for Christmas morning, send them out for a special holiday tea:
• Breakfast with Santa and Elvis, Dec. 19, Spice of Life Event Center; aspiceoflife.com
• Nutcracker Tea, Dec. 12, Hotel Boulderado; boulderado.com.
• Gingerbread Tea, Nov. 29–Dec. 27, St. Julien Hotel; stjulien.com.
For your aunt and uncle who are happiest when they can find rare foods and share their discoveries, send them specialty shopping at: Cheese Importers, Longmont; cheeseimporters.com.
In front of the establishment there’s a French-accented gift store where you can enjoy a good sandwich and coffee. Then it’s into the incredible warehouse packed with cheeses and gourmet goodies from across the globe. They even have extra parkas for those who want to dawdle happily in the refrigerated space contemplating the many variations on a bleu cheese theme.
Then there are your father’s brothers who, uh, appreciate the nuances of a well-made beverage. This visit, have them skip the ubiquitous brewpubs and take tours of a local artisan distillery or meadery:
• 303 Vodka: At the Tasting Bar at Boulder Distillery & Clear Spirit Company. 303vodka.com.
• Redstone Meadery: Sample honey wine variations and take a tour of the mead-making process; redstonemeadery.com.
For you tea-savvy nieces who think they know their Oolong from their Assam, challenge them to expand their tea expertise at Ku Cha, a tea room at 2015 13th St., and Healing Tea, 3216 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder.
For that hungry, literary brother-in-law, there’s always an edible Christmas Carol:
• Charles Dickens Christmas Wine Dinner, Dec. 12, at the Cody Inn, 866 Lookout Mountain Rd., Golden; 303.526.0232.
OPEN, CLOSED & COMING SOON
Oskar Blues has opened Old Chubway Expeditious Chow Dispensary, 303 Main Street, Lyons, a quick-serve eatery offering sandwiches, burritos and homemade ice cream. …Boulder’s Walnut Café and South Side Walnut Café have launched Walnut A Go Go, a food truck named Dinah serving breakfast and lunch specials, espresso and, of course, pie. …In Season Local Market has opened at 924 Main St., Louisville, serving sustainable food and products originating within a 250-mile radius. …NaRaYa, a Thai restaurant and sushi bar, is open at 1575 Folsom, former site of Siamese Plate. …Sweet Cow ice cream shop is open at 627 Front St., Louisville (next to Lucky Pie). …Closed: Terrace Maya, 4929 Broadway, Boulder; Sol Azteca, 3328 28th St., Boulder. …Chef Theo Adley is set to open The Pinyon at 1710 Pearl St. on Dec. 1 in the former Bimbamboo/Camille’s location. …Coming soon: Caffe, a casual eatery from the Frasca folks in the same East Pearl Street building that also houses the new Pizzeria Locale.
The Zagat 2011 America’s Top Restaurants Survey is out with its annual rankings based on diner ratings. Denver’s Fruition was named top restaurant in Colorado. Three Boulder eateries—Frasca, L’Atelier and The Kitchen—were listed among Top 20 in the state. Other noted locals: Black Cat, Flagstaff House and Jax Fish House. Also in Zagat, Denver-area tippers (frequent diners who filled out the survey) are among America’s most generous leaving an average 19.6 percent gratuity.
ON THE MENU
The best things I’ve tasted at local eateries in the past month or so include: Curry-scented Singapore rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp, chicken and pork at Spice China, 269 McCaslin Blvd., Louisville; Grilled chicken al carbon burrito with sour cream and topnotch salsas at Pica’s Mexican Taqueria, 5630 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder; chewy, wood-fired pizza Margherita topped with San Marzano tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and some pepperoni at Proto’s Pizzeria Napoletana, 2401 15th St., Denver; warm cock-a-leekie soup, house-baked bread and house-made jam, bacon-wrapped filet mignon, sour cream apple pie, and smoked Gouda with grapes at the Gold Hill Inn, Gold Hill; and earthy Gorgonzola-glazed mushrooms, French green lentils, and craveable orechiette pasta with bison Bolognese and shaved Grana Padano at Arugula, 2785 Iris Ave., Boulder.
The Boulder County Farmers Market has been extended through Nov. 13, finishing with the expanded Cornucopia of Local event on Nov. 20. It’s just a matter of time now until some version of the Market is open year-round. …At Terroir in Longmont, you can enjoy Pernod-steamed mussels with grilled bread, duck confit with duck pumpkin ravioli, arugula and dried cherry Marsala sauce and caramel semifreddo with pecan brittle and maple-glazed apple for only $26. It’s one of the real meal deals you can score during First Bite Boulder, Nov. 12–20, with prix fixe meals at more than 40 eateries including Boulder Cork, Aji, John’s, Alba, Laudisio, Q’s, Radda and Restaurant 4580, plus SugarBeet (Longmont), Nissi’s (Lafayette), Treppeda’s (Niwot) and Empire (Louisville). Information: firstbiteboulder.com. (PS: Then there’s the lobster bisque, osso buco and molten chocolate cake at Trattoria on Pearl.) … John Lehndorff talks about food on Radio Nibbles, 8:25am Thursdays on KGNU (88.5 FM Boulder, 1390 AM Denver).
“John: Can you suggest any decent places to eat that are open past midnight? We know there are bars that serve burgers, chicken wings and fried food items, but we’d looking for really good food.”
Readers: Any recommendations for fine late night dining in the North Metro Boulder County area? Send them to: email@example.com.
“True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”
—President Franklin D. Roosevelt
(The annual Let’s Bag Hunger food drive in Boulder County is Nov. 14–24 at local grocery stores. Please contribute to this and other hard-pressed food charities before the end of 2010.)