On Wednesday night, the restaurant held its five-course chocolate and wine dinner, pairing a variety of whites and reds with three savory options and two desserts created by the wonderful Alicia Prescott.
All the courses impressed, but none more so than the entree, a roasted venison loin. Gerson said in our interview that it was his favorite meat to cook with, and he covered it in a crusted mixture of lavender, herbs and reputably the best chocolate in France — the lightly sweet and bitter Chocolats Valrhona. Giving way to a deep pink center, the venison was as tender as the best steak, and with more complexity.
Enjoy the descriptions and food porn below.
PT's Appaloosa bar faces suspension of revocation of its liquor license after allegations of a third violation of liquor laws within the last three years.
Yesterday, El Paso County commissioners said due to the third violation, a lengthy hearing will be scheduled sometime before April 16, because the establishment stands to lose its license.
Two allegations are pending: One involves a customer who got into a fight with the bouncers, who let the guy leave with a beer in his hand. Liquor isn't supposed to be removed from the premises. However, the bouncers called police shortly after, which mitigates that offense, says county spokesman Dave Rose.
The second allegation involves serving an intoxicated customer, he says.
Those offenses are tame in comparison to the most recent violation, which took place in 2009. The club, which is owned by VGC Co Springs Inc., a Denver-based company that's publicly traded, was given a seven-day suspension after undercover police observed a customer groping a lap dancer.
The club is located at 5975 Terminal Ave., near Platte Avenue and Powers Boulevard, and has been open for roughly nine years.
Chef Daniel Gerson is the culmination of the Blue Star's year-long search for an executive chef. The 37-year-old was born in Lyon, a city with a metro area close to the size of Denver and which is considered the capital of gastronomy in France.
After three years, his family moved to Israel. Though he traveled back and forth between the two areas, Gerson mainly lived there until he was 27, serving in the Israeli army for three years, as well as working with a non-kosher butcher, where he got his professional food start. But his education began much earlier.
"In the house, it was always about food," Gerson said in a conversation held before the Blue Star's $70-per-person chocolate wine dinner Wednesday night. (Look for more on that tomorrow.) "French home: It’s all about the kitchen. The kitchen is the main room in the house, and it was always like that. And bless my mom and my grandma — let’s just say they kept us well-nourished all those years. And I never really thought about it until I started working as butcher and I just found myself really enjoying myself."
Gerson is a large, well-spoken, loquacious guy who talks in an accented English that gives off sparks of his fluency in French — he returned there to run the kitchen at Paris' famed Prince de Galles hotel — and Hebrew, as well as the six years he spent cooking in England after "crossing the Channel." One stop in particular, The Crown Inn Chiddingfold, played a major part in the chef's development.
"Well, after six months, I managed to achieve two [AA] rosettes for the restaurant," Gerson says. "I managed to maintain it for more than three years; really pushing the boundaries of the quality of the food and just bringing the glory back to that place. It was a real gem, and when I look back, I really managed to do something special there."
Throughout his travels, even through Phoenix and now to the Springs, Gerson sought new challenges, leaving a restaurant when he felt that perhaps he had learned all there was to learn. The following includes some more thoughts from our pre-dinner conversation. (A tip of the cap to Westword, whose "Chef and Tell" series inspired this blog.)
ON WHAT HE LOOKS FOR WHEN BEGINNING AT A NEW RESTAURANT: "What’s important for me is, what are we using? What are the ingredients? Even though I’ve been very, very classically French trained, I was quite a few times in Italy, quite a few times in Spain, in Germany, really trying to get as much as I can from everywhere."
ON STYLE VERSUS SUBSTANCE: "Yes, I can cook things that are going to be a bit more elaborate, but I don’t always feel that that’s the only ... the nouvelle cuisine is glorious, but sometimes it’s too much. And I’m not ashamed to say, either way. It just means that what I like to focus on is that the flavors are there. There’s a time and a place for everything. Sometimes it works well to play that card, but when you are running a busy restaurant — and the Blue Star is a good example for that — if you start putting eight, nine, 10 elements on a plate, we’re going to have a problem."
ON WHAT HE SEES AT THE BLUE STAR: "The Blue Star is a very good restaurant, and it’s got a very strong base, and I’m not trying to knock anything. But the Blue Star is a good restaurant that has potential to become a much better restaurant. There are things that I always believe that are about basics. And it’s about giving the time to the preparation. I’ve been here for a few months here and I’m happy to say that we’ve already done a few steps in our journey. When I came on board, I was here for almost a week before I decided to join. Even with [just] the Blue Star, there’s a lot of potential in making it something that is even more special than today."
ON HIS FAVORITE INGREDIENTS TO COOK WITH: "Look at me — there’s so many! If it is going to be meat, one of my favorites is venison. I just love venison. I just love game. Venison has got that richness in the flavor, and it just melts in your mouth. If it’s a bird: pigeon. Yes, pigeon is something, no doubt. There’s not much meat, but the meat that there is ... the breast ... you eat it almost raw, it’s just being seared. It’s not a lot on the plate, but — and there is a ‘but’ — it’s something, for me anyway, probably my favorite bird out there. And if it’s fish, some love the sea bass; I’m more of a ... turbot, that’s my favorite fish. For me, that’s the Rolls Royce in the ocean."
ON KITCHEN MORALITY: "In France, if you put veal on the menu, whatever you’re going to do with it — it doesn’t matter what kind of technique, what kind of cooking type — it’s gonna sell. I move to England, just across the Channel, my first menu I put veal on the menu, and veal is not selling that well — it’s my worst seller. Well in England, apparently, they’re much more conscious about how the animal is being reared. For me it baffles me — you eat cows, you have no problem eating cows; veal is the same animal."
ON HIS FAVORITE KNIFE: "Probably Wüsthof, but still, probably no [preference]. Whatever does the job. As long as it’s a nice blade, I’m happy."
As I write this, I'm listening to a brand new recording that sequentially splices together five seconds of every goddamn No. 1 single of all time.
The 75-minute sound collage was posted on Soundcloud just yesterday, and I can definitely vouch for the fact that listening to it is a strangely compelling experience. I'm not sure if I'm more awestruck by how many of them I know or how many of them I don't know, but it makes for a great crash course in pop music history.
Whether or not the idea of condensing decades into minutes is the pinnacle of post-modernism, it's definitely addictive entertainment. I could go on endlessly about the experience of listening to it, but it's far better to just hear it yourself. Go here to check it out. Just know that you may have to suspend all other activity for the following 75 minutes.
It's also not a bad way to get introduced to Soundcloud, which is basically an audio version of YouTube, but without all the lolcats.
And why stop with music? Conceptual artist Christian Marclay recently unveiled The Clock, a 24-hour-long film montage that had New Yorkers lining up in the cold outside the Paula Cooper Gallery, hoping for the chance to get in and watch it. The critically acclaimed work is a montage of thousands of spliced-together film scenes in which characters look at clocks precisely timed to match the moment viewers are watching them.
OK, that's kind of hard to explain, but the BBC News segment gets the idea across nicely, and in exactly three minutes.
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
Despite three leads that would normally grate me — Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley — Never Let Me Go is a beautifully subtle, ultimately moving science-fiction morality tale along the lines of Children of Men. It manages to place and question our humanity within a completely oppressive dystopic landscape. The aforementioned actors are genetically engineered clones whose only purpose in life is to provide replacement organ parts to keep the human life expectancy above 100 years. While, upon hearing that news, most of us would give up and quit caring, or, even more cinematically, try to start a revolution and tear down the system, the three realistically knows their limitations and just give in, quite heartbreakingly, to their fates. It's a bleak idea that offers no hope, but director Mark (One Hour Photo) Romanek and screenwriter Alex (28 Days Later) Garland masterfully paint a portrayal of a new slave class that will never have a Spartacus of their own.
Stone desperately wants to be a gritty, deadly serious character study about a hardcore prisoner and a pious corrections official, but as soon as Edward Norton wanders into frame, faux-swagger and comical cornrows in tow, all that goes out the window and it's best just to sit back and let the melodramatic histrionics take over. As you could guess, Norton is the titular Stone, an arsonist who not only has recently found religion, but a whole new embarrassingly offensive way to appropriate black culture and dialect. That must mean that a still-slumming Robert De Niro is the corrections official, who desperately wants to be described as “complex” yet is emotionally written in the most shorthand of obvious ways as he finds himself tempted by Stone's hyper-sexual wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich, who should skip the drama and stick to the zombie-killing). Stone is a trite, manufactured attempt at Oscar glory. And, if you look the nominations, it even failed at that.
A headstrong woman sacrifices her life and marriage in order to go to law school and become an attorney in an effort to get her wrongly-convicted-of-murder brother out of prison. Sounds like the makings of a rather strong Lifetime made-for-TV movie, but with the gravitas of Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell behind it, it rises so far above that. This is a wholly inspirational story, and also quite the moving legal drama. It's roles like this where Swank really shines, becoming Betty Anne Waters, who is unwavering in her quest for justice. On the other hand, Rockwell always works best in a comedic playground, which makes his dramatic turn here all the more engrossing. Very rarely are movies like Conviction done in a way that is totally genuine. Conviction is perfectly happy to tell a story that needs to be told, and nothing more.
The fundraising gap is widening between the contenders and the pretenders in the Colorado Springs mayoral race. If money talks and bullshit walks, then the campaigns of Bach, Bahr, Gilmore, Munger and Skorman are still in the game.
Dave Munger, once left for dead by certain pundits, has loaned his campaign $60,000. That puts him in the Big Five, but it may be too little, too late — and not just for him.
The Terrible Twosome of Richard Skorman and Steve Bach may be ready to lap the field. Collectively, they’ve marshaled community support that surpasses that of the rest of the candidates put together.
Bach has raised a total of $110,000, including a $24,000 loan from the candidate. His list of contributors includes such luminaries as Steve Bartolin ($1,000), Bill Hybl ($1,000), Scott Bryan ($1,000), Danny Mientka ($2,500) and Margo Lane ($1,000).
During the last reporting period, ending on Feb. 17, Bach raised $12,650. His ending bank balance is, at $36,740, a little skimpy. Not to worry — his murderer’s row of deep-pocketed contributors can write whatever checks are necessary.
Skorman’s supporters may not be as rich as Bach’s, but there are a lot more of them. In the last two weeks, the campaign raised $41,331 from more than 200 contributors, including $10,000 from the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association. Skorman has raised an astonishing total of $166,000, and has $80,000 in the bank. Aside from the CSPPA contribution and a $10,000 loan from the candidate, the cash has come from hundreds of small contributors and a few big ones, including Indy publisher John Weiss ($3,000), who has taken a leave of absence from the paper to work on Skorman’s campaign.
Brian Bahr and Buddy Gilmore also have plenty of money in the bank, but their somewhat quixotic campaigns are largely self-financed. That’s fine — it worked pretty well for Mayor Bloomberg in New York — but if contributions small and large reflect broad community support, Bahr and Gilmore may be wasting their money.
Bahr raised $2,600 in the cycle from nine contributors, while Gilmore took in $5,975 from eight, including a single $5,000 contribution from Richard Chandler. Gilmore also listed $300 in non-itemized contributions of $20 or less, so he may have a dozen small contributors that aren’t individually listed.
Tom Gallagher, by contrast, may be wasting his time, but he’s not wasting much money. He raised exactly $0 during the reporting period, and has $2,400 in the bank.
The remaining candidates (Mitch Christiansen, Ken Duncan, Phil MacDonald and the mysterious Kelly Pero-Luckhurst) have raised even less. They’re unknowns with no shot, but who knows? Collectively, they may siphon off enough votes from serious candidates to alter the race.
Yesterday, Cottonwood Center for the Arts publicly announced that interim director Sandy Murphy, who has been running the institution since November, will become the permanent executive director.
"I was thrilled," Murphy says of when she heard the board's final decision.
When we first spoke to Murphy, she said she had no designs on applying for the permanent job. Murphy, a metalsmith, planned on returning to her status as a Cottonwood artist. Yet during her time as interim, she says she changed her mind.
"I've gotten to know the artists a lot better and we have a great community and I think it's just become a passion of mine to stay in this position and help them grow," she says, adding, "I've just fallen in love with the position."
Murphy is now looking forward to new projects at Cottonwood, including the Dog Days of Summer, a festival Cottonwood will host in August to celebrate dogs and art. The event will be held right outside Cottonwood on Corona Street and will feature 40 to 70 booths offering arts, crafts and dog products as well as booths from 4 or 5 rescue organizations. Inside, they will have an art exhibit based on artists' interpretations of "dog days of summer."
"We can bring dogs to work, and we think everyone should bring dogs to work," Murphy says of the impetus behind the festival.
"This is our year of giving back and we hope this is one way we can get our artists outside the building, and benefit some rescue organizations."
Cottonwood will also continue with its downtown retail operation, which Murphy says has done quite well. The space at 8 S. Tejon St. was granted to Cottonwood for free on an ongoing basis (unless the space is rented by an outside business).
Back at the central location, Murphy says she will be working on making the space more visually appealing from the outside — "there's so much vibrancy inside this building; we need to take it outside" — possibly expanding the printmaking studio, and growing its class schedules and members.
For more on Murphy's announcement and Cottonwood's plans, read the press release.
They distributed pre-stamped postcards to give individuals an easy way to respond, and then posted those postcard images, like the one below, to the website.
Now icoloradosprings.org has a new postcard project, focusing on our upcoming mayoral election. The website asks the question: "How could the next mayor rock Colorado Springs?"
If you'd like to participate in either project (or just see others' submissions), visit the website for more details.
Rep. Doug Lamborn loves families a bunch. He defends them against ... things. Bad, non-Christian things. That's why he supports forcing his strict concept of what a family is and ought to be on the whole of the country.
Anyway, here's Lamborn's limp statement in the wake of the Obama administration's decision to stop enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act due it being unconstitutional:
I believe President Obama is letting his liberal biases and preferences get in the way of sound, considered legal judgment. He is also insulting every state in the country that passed the Defense of Marriage Act through democratic processes, including Colorado.
This isn't very compelling. Where's the fire and brimstone? Maybe they know that the legislation is unconstitutional and indefensible — as the media-hyped GOP frontrunner, Mike Huckabee, demonstrated earlier today.
Huckabee noted that 33 states have affirmed, via ballot initiatives, that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
"When the voters are so overwhelmingly [supportive of DOMA] what does the president believe he knows that citizens in all these other states don't," Huckabee said.
Quick lesson in our democracy, fellas: Even if 33 states pass illegal laws, that doesn't make them legal.
Every week, I gather in the movie times that wander around like wayward talkies, and I bring them home to our film section.
Today, I'll try to pass along some news from the road — the comings and goings of national films as they move through local theaters. Please note these tidbits are valid for the upcoming film week, which begins this Friday; in other words, if I write that a movie's dropping out of multiple theaters, you can probably still catch it today or tomorrow.
• The Dilemma, the Vince Vaughn and Kevin James vehicle that Rotten Tomatoes sums up with a solid "an uneven blend of cheesy slapstick and surprisingly dark comedy," is about to fall off a cliff at Picture Show this week, dropping to just one showtime at 9:25 p.m.
• Black Swan hangs on another week at the only theater to carry it locally — Tinseltown. Also, James Cameron's spelunker-fest Sanctum and The Green Hornet are about to see hard falls from every theater in the city to just T-Town.
• Due Date and How Do You Know are set to vanish from Picture Show, coming soon to a DVD near you.
• Yogi Bear has landed in the mystical void of Not in Theaters and Not in the Dollar Theater. In the next few weeks it, as well as The Mechanic, is headed for Picture Show. Not, however, this week.
• If you dig a some scowly Anthony Hopkins with your evening, catch The Rite at its only remaining theater: Carmike 10. Our reviewer Tricia Olszewski called Hopkins "fantastic" at "rendering in-your-face whispers or sudden glances creepy as hell."
Terra Essentials recently released its 2011 Repurposing & Recycling Guide as a free ebook on its website.
You can download it there or grab this link:
Some notes from the project's managing editor, Amy Cook-Porter:
This is a directory is those who dread cleaning out their garages, closets and storage containers. It answers their lament, “Who will take my stuff?” And, it is especially written for those who don’t want their “stuff” to go to the landfill.
We all have a relationship with our “stuff.” That’s why we hold onto it. We have such an emotional relationship with it that we seek another resting or final resting so that our “stuff” isn’t consigned to a giant hole in the ground. (That doesn’t even take into consideration that most “stuff” takes years to breakdown in landfills).
Tune into the Indy Minute — as seen on ABC affiliate KRDO News Channel 13 — each week for details on all the events that entertain and bring our community together. It's simulcast on KRDO News Radio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM
Does MoveOn have any idea what that means? Have they ever endured sub-zero temperatures for weeks on end, witnessed 10,000-mile-an-hour winds and freezing rain as it forces people to crawl along sidewalks like insects, endured endless winters on nothing but cheese and beer?
That said, Wisconsin also holds the distinction of being the most populist state in the country, Russ Feingold's recent defeat nothwithstanding. So I for one will welcome our collective Wisconsinite status at the upcoming rally in Denver.
The Saturday noon demonstrations, which will be held at statehouses across the country, is in support of the protesters who continue to flood the Madison Capitol building in an attempt to preserve an obscure American tradition called collective bargaining.
They'll be held in all 50 states, so look around to see if you're in one of those states. And then come on out. Weather should be fine. Unless you're in Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, click below to eavesdrop on an actual phone call between a faux David Koch and a real Gov. Scott Walker, followed by a brilliant prankster blast from the past.
North American Aerospace Defense Command and Northern Command, based at Peterson Air Force Base, announced today they're cutting 40 military and 39 positions.
The "re-shaping," as the press release calls it, is the first since Northern Command started up in 2002 and is "intended to better align personnel resources against mission priorities and requirements by realigning and, in some cases, reducing manpower from less-critical functions."
"This effort will ultimately enable the commands to function more efficiently and effectively, as well as provide U.S. taxpayers with a better return on their investment," the press release said.
The rest of the release:
The offices most directly affected by the position reductions will be the Command Chaplain’s Office, the Command History Office, the Command Surgeon General’s Office, and the Command and Control Systems Directorate.
For the military, most of the eliminated positions will be vacated through normal attrition such as permanent change of station moves. The reconfiguration of civilian positions will require a detailed reduction-in-force process that will likely begin in April and be finalized in October.
The civilian RIF procedures are conducted through a very detailed, systematic process that protects the rights of federal employees. Many benefits and programs are available to assist those employees whose positions are being eliminated. There may be opportunities for early retirements or incentive “buy-outs” for those employees interested, but there will also be aggressive efforts to place every employee who wants to continue working. If no placements are available during the RIF process, which includes all of Peterson AFB and Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, the Department of Defense has a placement program that attempts to place affected employees at other DOD installations.
All affected employees will receive at least 60-days notice of the final specific RIF action.
The campaign for City Council just got serious.
Douglas Bruce and his fellow “reformers” have created and seriously funded a political issue committee for the “Reform Team," a slate of five candidates headed by Bruce who are running for at-large positions on City Council.
They’ve raised $60,050 so far, including $20,000 from the Dougster, $10,000 from Richard Bruce, $10,000 from Ed Bircham, $10,000 from Gretchen Kasameyer, and $10,000 from Mark Bogosian.
They’ve spent $16,000 so far on signs, website design, and other campaign-related expenses.
None of their at-large opponents have as yet raised that kind of money, although Jan Martin, Tim Leigh and Sean Paige have all had some success in raking in the bucks. Paige raised $8,635 during the two-week reporting period, while Leigh raised $10,900, and Martin $12,365.
But if Bruce and Bircham are prepared to write even more big checks, which they’re certainly capable of doing, all bets are off. They’ll wage a slick, professional campaign that will burnish the team’s image in ways that few would have expected when the slate was first organized. They won’t come off as an ad hoc group of loonies, but as serious-minded concerned citizens trying to wrest control of city government from the predatory taxophiles who have so long had their way with the hapless citizenry.
For the other candidates, and for everyone in the city, this is one helluva wake-up call.
Will this force organizations such as the Housing and Building Association, the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors and the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce to step up and fund their preferred candidates at another order of magnitude? Will we see $150,000 campaigns launched in the next couple of weeks?
If not, we may yet see a Bruceian takeover of city government.