Tag Archives: potato

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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The Nile: miles from Ethiopia, but so delicious

There we were, five visitors to Denver stuffed in a car, on a dark highway, guided by nothing more than a silent GPS unit. We were on a quest for the region’s best Ethiopian food. Based on an exhaustive survey of two Ethiopian people we met earlier that day, The Nile was where it was at.

Forty-five minutes later, we found it: an unassuming restaurant in a suburban strip mall in Aurora. The friendly server brought us Ethiopian beer and honey wine and managed not to laugh at us as we earnestly explained that we wanted to try one of everything on the menu.

An hour – and several Ethiopian beer and glasses of honey wine – later, she presented us with a giant injera covered in bright dollops of different curries. That is, it was a 3-foot diameter Ethiopian pancake that looked like an artist’s palette. Each dollop was tastier than the last, whether it was the cardamom lamb, the roasted potatoes, curried lentils, fragrant spinach, fiery curried chicken, or something else.

We ate until we were full, then took turns declaring ourselves stuffed – only to find ourselves, five minutes later, picking at a dollop of something. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It was a lovely communal experience with people who I look forward to seeing each April. At last year’s conference we experienced The Most Delicious Sandwich I’ve Ever Eaten (no exaggeration, it really was) and this year was no exception. According to the restaurant’s website:

Sharing the same bread is socially significant in the Ethiopian culture and also creates a bond of friendship and personal loyalty between the diners.  It is said that people who eat from the same plate (mosseb) will never betray one another.

On our way back to Denver, we figured out how to make the GPS talk, but not how to control the volume. It barked instructions to us all the way home, drowned out only by our giggles.

[This post is dedicated to the memory of JS, who raised a great son and tipped us off to The Most Delicious Sandwich last year. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I wish I had. He’ll be sorely missed.]

The Nile Ethiopian Restaurant
1951 S. Havana Street
Aurora, CO
(720) 748-0239
The Nile Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Happy birthday, dad!

It was my dad’s birthday last night.  It’s my policy not to buy things for people, but to give them edible gifts.  Most people have enough stuff in their life, but I’ve yet to meet anyone worth knowing who doesn’t appreciate a good meal.

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Comfort food for rainy days

This weekend was the winter farmer’s market and I picked up some gorgeous buttery baby potatoes, baby sunchokes, walnuts, and fuji apples. As soon as I got home, I sliced up the sunchokes and pan-fried them with garlic and rosemary. There’s a distinctive sweetness to sunchokes that gets me every time. I’m going to boil the potatoes, smoosh them with the palm of my hand into little medallions, and then roast them in the oven with olive oil and rosemary. The fuji apples are ridiculously crisp and sweet, and I have yet to smash open the walnuts – but I can’t wait!

A friend gave me some organic carrots and vanilla (talk about extravagance), so I did what any normal person would do and made a four-layer carrot cake with cream cheese-vanilla icing. The icing tasted so vanilla-y and creamy – remarkably like vanilla ice cream – that I ate more than a quality-control portion while waiting for the cake to cool.

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Birthday (cup)cake(s)

For Elisa’s birthday party last night I made three kinds of cupcakes:

(a) white cake with banana-white chocolate ganache filling, whipped white chocolate icing
(b) lemon-coconut cupcakes with lemon curd filling, cream cheese icing, candied lemon chip
(c) chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese filling, sour cream chocolate icing

Tonight, I made gnocchi from scratch and they turned out to be delicious, fluffy pillows of potato goodness. I sauteed them in brown butter, with button mushrooms and red swiss chard. SO DELICIOUS.