Tag Archives: onion

The Kitchen Cafe doesn’t disappoint

Before the name Chef Hugh Matheson mean anything to me (he won the 2009 IACP award for community service), I met several people who spoke reverently and enthusiastically about The Kitchen Cafe in Boulder. Well before it was trendy to do so, The Kitchen Cafe supported local farmers and producers, serving organic and seasonal food wherever possible.

There’s a proper restaurant downstairs, and a more casual, loungey atmosphere at The Kitchen [Upstairs]. Well, I headed [Upstairs] in search of tasty food and the promise of happy hour. From 5:30-6:30 pm each day, they feature a three-course prix fixe for $26 ($34 with wine pairings). Now, that’s not a cheap dinner, but it’s incredible value for amazing food and wine in a beautiful room.

First course was a rustic bruschetta with basil pesto (thick, rich and unctuous), mozzarella (clean, fresh and delicate), red onion (sweated and sweet), and radishes (crisp, without their customary bite) on top of toasty bread. Garnished with olive oil and parsley, this appetizer was really well-composed. All the flavours worked well together, and – more importantly – complemented each other. This was paired with a 2007 Ochoa Viura-Chardonnay from Spain (nice and light, with notes of roasted pineapple and mango).

Next up was a dish of seared scallops, sauteed romaine, roasted potatoes, and anchovy dressing. The dressing was to die for: rich, creamy and salty. The scallops were sweet and seared, the romaine kept its texture and sweetness, and the potatoes were perfectly cooked. It was an exercise in the perfect bite: the acidity and tartness of the dressing, met by the sweetness and crunch of romaine, mellowing to the sweetness and texture of the scallop, all on top of a solid foundation of potato that actually tasted like potato. It was paired with a 2001 Tempranillo from Ramirez de la Piscina that was a bit too tannic on its own, but mellowed out nicely with the food.

Dessert was a Knickerbocker Glory, which was so insanely delicious but simple. In fact, I’m going to steal it and say I invented it. You can too: here’s how. Start with a large, bulbous glass – a Chimay glass, if you want to be exact about things. Put in a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, creamy and fragrant with real vanilla. Top it with softly whipped chantilly cream and crumbled meringue bits. Add a few sliced strawberries, some berry syrup, and a drizzle of Chambord. Serve with a spoon and watch people swoon with delight as they eat a very grown-up ice cream sundae.

Even better, serve it with R&R Naughty Sticky dessert wine, all coy with its honey and toasted almond flavours. Naughty and sticky, indeed.

And because no meal is complete without chocolate, Rick the bartender let me try a homemade chocolate bar: 72% dark chocolate with walnuts and sea salt. This was not a demure salted chocolate. The salt was front and centre. But then it stepped aside to let the walnuts – all nutty, tender and crumbly – shine. And then the 72% dark chocolate brought its bittersweetness to the table.

I have my doubts as to whether Rick really wanted my “professional opinion,” because he knew that it was delicious. But hey, I’m happy to oblige.

The Kitchen Cafe and The Kitchen [Upstairs]
1039 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO
303-544-5973
The Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Interlude: cabbage rolls

I’ll return to your regularly scheduled chocolate myth debunkery soon, I promise. But in the meantime, I wanted to post a brief interlude about the world’s most amazing cabbage rolls.

Last night, I lined up for an hour at a secret location, only to be told that supplies were running low. Rations were set at one dozen perogies and one dozen vegetarian cabbage rolls. Things were looking dire. There were, however, ample supplies of the world’s hugest Ukrainian sausage. We took what we could get and booked it home, we were so excited to eat.

Well, it was worth the wait. The perogies were soft pillows of filling that actually tasted like potato, nestled inside the thinnest possible pastry. They were unctuous and tasty, and it was remarkable how much flavour an actual perogy has. I’ve been wasting away in frozen perogy land for far too long.

But the cabbage rolls! My god, the cabbage rolls. My previous experiences with cabbage rolls have been with oversized cabbage wrapped around mushy rice, the whole thing doused in sauce in a poor attempt to hide the lack of flavour and texture. These cabbage rolls were the complete opposite. They were dainty and delicate: a thin cabbage leaf hugging a flavourful mixture of perfectly al dente rice cooked with spices.

The ultimate bite: one part cabbage roll, one part perogy, one part pan-fried sausage, one part caramelized onion, one part sour cream. I dare you to find anything more perfect on a cold Friday night.

Traumatized by onion

When I was three or four, I ate raw onions. This is what my parents tell me, anyway. My mom would give me a peeled white onion and I would eat it like an apple. I must have been a pleasant kid to come home to at the end of a long workday.

I have no memory of this. But I do know that as an adult, I’m anti-onion. I will eat onions when they’re fully cooked, caramelized or hidden in soups as mirepoix. But don’t you dare try to feed me raw onion. I don’t care if it’s in the world’s most delicious fresh salsa, sliced thinly on top of smoked salmon, or diced on a hot dog. I won’t eat it. I must have exceeded my raw onion quota when I was a kid.

Dine Out Vancouver: db Bistro Moderne, take one.

I’ve never eaten at Lumiere, nor did I get a chance to go to Feenie’s before it closed up shop. With Dine Out Vancouver offering a glimpse of what db Bistro Moderne had to offer, I figured I’d give it a try.

Actually, I tried it twice.

My first experience was a bit disappointing. It was the last sitting on the first Saturday of Dine Out Vancouver, and the crazy week had clearly taken its toll on the staff. The service was perfunctory and satisfactory, but not as welcoming as I would have expected. The food was decent, but not as well-executed as I expected. The kitchen was definitely tired.

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Top five food moments: #5

I thought I’d talk about my favourite food moments. I don’t mean specific moments or amazing meals, but snippets in time that occur with some frequency. I’ll just dive in, and hopefully it’ll become clear what I mean.

Five.

I love the split second before I lift the lid on something that’s been cooking away in secret. Sure, I know exactly what’s in that pan: it’s a rich and tasty tomato sauce, a comforting soup or a batch of caramelized onions – but magical things happen to food in a matter of minutes, and I’m never fully prepared for the sights and smells of transformed food.

No matter how many times I’ve prepared something, I still get a giddy, excited feeling just before I lift the lid. And I’m always delighted with what I see and smell.

Review: Pied a Terre

I met up with Leah to eat at her cousin’s new restaurant, Pied a Terre. It’s a cozy French bistro with great service and luxurious but unthreatening decor.

Leah had the table d’hote, composed of
(1) celeriac soup with chives and toasted almonds, nice and flavourful
(2) trout with beurre meuniere, a giant portion served with veg
(3) chocolate mousse, with a nice bitter finish and served with a crumbly shortbread cookie. The mousse was well done but not spectacular, but I really liked the texture of the cookie.

I opted for two hors d’oeuvres, plus dessert:
(1) alsatian onion tart, delightfully sweet and tender
(2) chanterelles on brioche with a poached egg – really meaty and full of flavour
(3) lemon tart brulee, the best of both worlds: a nice tart lemon tart with a brulee’d top. Why didn’t I think of it?

The restaurant is small but cozy, with the emphasis on the small. It’s not really the place for super-secret conversations, because you’re elbow to elbow with the people sitting next to you. But service is good, the waitstaff know their stuff, and the food is lovely. Wines are available by the bottle, carafe and glass.

Pied A Terre
3369 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 873-3131
http://www.pied-a-terre-bistro.ca

Pied-a-Terre on Urbanspoon

New York goodies, day two

I was in New York for five days. This is what I ate on day two.

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