Food & Drink

Friday, July 15, 2016

UPDATE: Colorado Native gets corny

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 2:30 PM

Good label, good beer. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Good label, good beer.

We got another surprise from AC Golden today — a bottle of Colorado Native Plum, the first sour beer under the brand. It’s made with Palisade Duarte plums and aged in Colorado whiskey barrels, with 14 months between brew and bottle. It’s a moderate 6.5 percent ABV.
The foggy brown ale pours with a fine tan head. Its nose blends acid with notes of plum and tamarind over no small amount of malt. It sips tart and dry, the product of the brettanomyces added in the bottle. There’s not a lot of body, and it reminds us of cranberry juice flavor-wise. We get little to none of the promised oak notes, and no whiskey whatsoever. For what it is, though, it’s good.

—— ORIGINAL POST 2:30 P.M. FRI., JULY 15, 2016——
Colorado Native's Olathe Lager has more going on than its yellow color might suggest. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Colorado Native's Olathe Lager has more going on than its yellow color might suggest.
MillerCoors' locavorous experimental arm, AC Golden, sent us a sixer of their new summer beer, Colorado Native Olathe Lager. It's brewed with ingredients that the included press release says were grown within a mile of each other in Olathe, Colorado. The malts are pale and Munich, with "Olathe Sweet" corn added as an adjunct. It's hopped to a mild 25 IBUs with Nugget and Crystal hops, winding up at 5.6 percent ABV.

All told, this is a pretty neat lager. The clear, golden brew belies nothing of the light toasty notes from the Munich malt. While I don't get much sweetness from the corn, it does add a certain depth of flavor to the beer. Unfortunately, there's no hop bitterness to speak of, and there's nothing interesting happening on the finish. It's just kinda there, mild and inoffensive.

That said, using local ingredients makes this beer just a skosh more awesome than it might otherwise be. And while it's not the sexiest thing on the market, it's pretty darn good nonetheless.

The press release assures us that Colorado Native's Winterfest beer will hit the market in a few months.
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Willamette Market lures investors successfully

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 3:00 PM

I reported in this week's Side Dish on the tentative mid-August opening of the Willamette Market & Deli, which reopens the historic Little Market & Deli after a few years closure. 

As part of that opening, co-owners Natalie Peck and Amy Emerson were calling for 18 investors to buy in at the $4,000 level, with a planned 10 percent return, 20 percent discount for life, and modest profit share until payoff.

At Wednesday night's community meeting at the shop, Peck says around 75 folks attended, many from the neighborhood but some from blocks or a car-drive away. She described the atmosphere as "super supportive" and didn't hear any grievances against the opening, as other proposals in the past had faced. 

But more encouragingly, Peck says that 16 of those 18 investor commitments came in yesterday, and by day's end today they may be fully booked up. Five folks had signed up pre-meeting, and 11 during, she says, while another 35 or so had signed a page expressing interest and requesting the business plan via email.

"It's awesome," she says. "It's the whole reason we went with this model, because we wanted the community to be involved.  

She says more investor opportunities may arise soon via the bakery component of the business, but her current business plan is written with the 18 in mind, so she's not likely to open up more shares for the market at this time. 
The former Little Market & Deli will soon reopen as the Willamette Market & Deli.
  • The former Little Market & Deli will soon reopen as the Willamette Market & Deli.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Public Market dangles 'exciting developments'

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 10:21 AM

In today's Indy we hear from newly appointed Colorado Springs Public Market board chair, also executive director of Cottonwood Center for the Arts, Jon Khoury

He says the group is now aiming for a Labor Day opening of the market, finally, after many years in the planning.

CSPM representatives were planning an informational session for tomorrow night at Cottonwood, but that has been postponed, according to a note on CSPM's Facebook page. 

It reads:
Due to exciting developments we are postponing this event. We will let you know our rescheduled date as soon as we can.
We'll update this posting as soon as we hear word from Khoury on exactly what these developments are. 

COURTESY COTTONWOOD
  • Courtesy Cottonwood

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Friday, July 8, 2016

PPCC drops Sodexo, gains food trucks

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 11:48 AM

Yesterday we noted the arrival of a new Cambodian food truck named Awaken, noting they'd be launching service today at Pikes Peak Community College's Rampart Range Campus. 

Well, there's a bigger story to that according to media spokespeople for PPCC, Warren Epstein and Karen Kovaly. 

The Heavenly Dessert Company will be one vendor on PPCC's campuses. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The Heavenly Dessert Company will be one vendor on PPCC's campuses.
"We’ve not renewed our contract with Sodexo, instead going entirely local," Epstein told the Indy Thursday. "Rue Lyon, former majority shareholder of Kangaroo Coffee, will be doing our concessions on our largest campuses. And that will be supplemented by food trucks. Big move away from national corporate food to local, and Rue plans to source from regional ingredients whenever possible."

Today, Kovaly followed up with a press release which explains the new format in full:

“We’re excited about offering our students, faculty, staff and guests fresh, quality choices as well as supporting our local business community,” said PPCC President Lance Bolton.
The new food provider, Rue Lyon, had been the majority owner of Kangaroo Coffee. She plans to serve a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, soups, salads and snacks.
“I want to have outstanding food and a hip social space where students will want to relax and enjoy,” Lyon said.
Lyon says she will source local and regional ingredients whenever possible. She also plans to employ PPCC culinary students for special events and even foresees integrating business students, creating an environment to teach what it takes to run a small business.
Both concession areas are currently closed for renovation. The Centennial Campus concessions will open the week of July 11 and the Rampart Range on the week of July 18.
But Lyon sees this as a long-term evolutionary process, and will be making small adjustments to the spaces and the food over the course of a year.

Among the food trucks:
· Vore, specializing in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches
· Potato! Potato! specializing in French fries with various toppings
· Heavenly Desserts, specializing in gourmet sweets
· Mira Sol, specializing in New Mexican cuisine
· Awaken, specializing in Cambodian cuisine
· Smokinist Barbeque, specializing in smoked meats
· SuppenBar, specializing in German soups and salads

The trucks will serve 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Centennial Campus on the south side of town. The schedule for the Rampart Range Campus on the north end of town is still in the works. Schedules will be posted on the Pikes Peak Community College Facebook page.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Awaken Cambodian food truck launches

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 1:38 PM

Awaken Food Truck will hit the streets for the first time Friday, parking at Pikes Peak Community College's Rampart Range Campus at 11195 Interquest Pkwy. from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or sell-out. 

Vietnamese have the bánh mì sandwich and Cambodians make a similar, French-influenced sandwich called num pang. - COURTESY CHHAYA PHAT
  • Courtesy Chhaya Phat
  • Vietnamese have the bánh mì sandwich and Cambodians make a similar, French-influenced sandwich called num pang.
The truck is the Springs' first Cambodian eatery, to the best of our knowledge. Owner Chhaya Phat, 35, recently got out of the Army, where he was a cook. So he's well prepared for handling crowds of eaters. 

Phat has lived in the U.S. for 11 years, and he'll infuse some American culture into traditional Cambodian fare. He and his wife eat a lot of vegetarian and vegan food at home, so he'll also make veg/vegan options available on the truck for wider market appeal. 

One vegan option is a lime leaf curry with tofu dish (check out the alluring photos on his Facebook page), and another is a vegan "chick’n" marinated in curry, topped with red cabbage, cilantro and plant-based mayonnaise on a vegan French baguette.

Carnivores will appreciate num pang sandwiches, similar to Vietnamese bánh mì, on account of both countries being colonized and culinarily influenced by the French. Phat says one distinguishing feature is the Vietnamese tend to garnish with daikon and carrots, while Cambodians opt for shredded green papaya, like that which composes Thai som tum salads. 

For drinks, look for iced Thai tea, Cambodian iced coffee and regular or mint house lemonade. 

We'll have a little more info in next week's Side Dish column. 
Awaken's truck banner pays homage to Angkor Wat and Cambodia's Buddhist culture. - COURTESY CHHAYA PHAT
  • Courtesy Chhaya Phat
  • Awaken's truck banner pays homage to Angkor Wat and Cambodia's Buddhist culture.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Rita's Italian Ice to open C. Springs store

Posted By on Wed, Jul 6, 2016 at 2:51 PM

With more than 600 locations open, mostly along the East Coast, Rita's Italian Ice is no small chain. But the opening of the first C. Springs location at 7866 N. Academy Blvd. around month's end will mark only the third Colorado location. 

Aside from Italian ice, the store sells sundaes, custard, milkshakes and more. They offer sugar-free and "all-natural flavors" as well as lactose-free options.  

Rita's won't host its grand opening party until Sunday, Aug. 21, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., but expect a soft opening sometime prior. Here's why you may wish to mark your calendar early for that grand opening though: 
The event will feature FREE regular Italian Ice to everyone all day long, free samples to those waiting in line, and the first 50 people in line will receive free ice for a year ... During the event Rita’s will have retired Bronco players Randy Gradishar and David Treadwell signing autographs and will be giving away concert tickets through Peak FM. Rita’s will have live music by Hal Meyer, a live radio remote by Peak FM’s morning crew, a photo booth, ribbon cutting, and a magician along with other Rita’s giveaways.

A press release says Rita's plans to team up with a non-profit for its grand opening and also host fundraisers for local schools and organizations down the road. It's being opened by Kathy and Tyler Gehauf. Tyler is co-owner of Integrated Pest Management and a Colorado native, while Kathy hails from Pennsylvania, where Rita's was founded 32 years ago. 

COURTESY RITA'S
  • Courtesy Rita's

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Lee Spirits releases two new gins

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 5:03 PM

We first met Lee Spirits Co. in early 2015, when cousins Nick and Ian Lee were focusing on a flagship dry gin, but discussing future releases such as a genever.  

A year later we thoroughly enjoyed the opening of Brooklyn's on Boulder, the speakeasy front for Lee Spirits, which touts leading local bartender and drink historian Nate Windham, among a seasoned staff. 

And now, Lee Spirits is poised to celebrate two new products: a cocoa gin and a lavender gin.

Tickets remain for two launch parties tomorrow night, July 6: one from 5 to 7 p.m. and the other from 8 to 10 p.m. Here's what the $50 entry fee gets you:

1 'Batch One' bottle of new Gin for you to take home, either Lavender or Cocoa ($45 value)
A punch glass to sample a few summer punches, all made with either Lavender or Cocoa ($20 value)
& other surprises that we can't share yet - you'll have to just be here too find out ($25+ value)
We'll also have a full cocktail menu using the Coca and Lavender Gins for you to check out and recipes for you to take home to use!
If you can't make either party, check out the products at Brooklyn's soon or nab a bottle from one of our fine local liquor stores. 
COURTESY LEE SPIRITS
  • Courtesy Lee Spirits

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Barista-owned Loyal Coffee soon to open

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 12:47 PM

Not to strike too superlative a stance on it, but potentially the most fancy schmancy, cool, hip, community-building, excellence-pushing, third-wavy thing to happen to the coffee world in Colorado Springs is just weeks away from happening.

Which isn't to say we're downplaying recent haps such as Springs native Charles Babinski winning the U.S. Barista Championship, or Principal's Office barista Tyler Hill finishing strong at this years USBC, or USBC judge Carissa Niemyer co-founding the fantastic Story Coffee tiny house trailer in Acacia Park.
Loyal Coffee GM Tyler Hill, who's coming from the Principal's Office and filed a fine performance at this year's U.S. Barista Championship in Atlanta. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Loyal Coffee GM Tyler Hill, who's coming from the Principal's Office and filed a fine performance at this year's U.S. Barista Championship in Atlanta.

But I'm talking about the opening of Loyal Coffee at 408 S. Nevada Ave., next to the Blue Dot Place and Iron Bird Brewing and just a block down from the Indy office building. 

There's so much energy and community overlap built into this project that chances are, if you've frequented any of our fine coffee houses, you've already heard whispers of this project. Of central importance to note is the ownership structure, which includes six local baristas. 

Tyler Hill, Eric Nicol and Seth Fuller most recently hail from the Principal's Office, but collectively date back to work stints at quality spots like Colorado Coffee Merchants, R&R Coffee, and Urban Steam. Bevin Cammell also came out of CCM, currently holding court at Switchback Coffee Roasters and Fifty Fifty. And Abigail Baum and Christopher Mueller should be familiar faces from The Wild Goose Meeting House, among a couple other postings. 

Your first taste of Loyal Coffee can now be had at the Principal's Office, where a few of Loyal Coffee's co-owners still work. Later in the fall, they'll open their roastery at Ivywild School (downstairs below the P.O.'s patio) where you'll also be able to purchase retail beans. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Your first taste of Loyal Coffee can now be had at the Principal's Office, where a few of Loyal Coffee's co-owners still work. Later in the fall, they'll open their roastery at Ivywild School (downstairs below the P.O.'s patio) where you'll also be able to purchase retail beans.
Now, that may sound like a lot of chiefs, thereby a recipe for control struggles, tension and disaster, but in talking with Hill at the building site yesterday, I quickly gathered that's something the team has discussed at length. He says they've worked out a clear hierarchy of sorts. For example, he alone is handling media right now, while Cammell and Fuller are focusing on Loyal Coffee's new roasting and barista training facility, which will open inside the Ivywild School (under the P.O.'s patio) later this fall. He says "very specific roles" should keep things on track, plus all six plan to be present throughout the week to staff the counter at Loyal Coffee — so regular communication and troubleshooting will be a given. 

Hill says the Blue Star Group's Joseph Coleman has been a tremendous supporter of the project, in-part allowing the guys to keep their bartending and barista jobs for as long as they need to as they get Loyal Coffee up and running. But Coleman has also supported the sale of Loyal Coffee beans inside the Principal's Office (you can go buy a bag today or try a cup of their product at the counter) and basically made it clear, "whatever it takes for you guys to succeed, I'll help," says Hill. 

He also gives a shout-out to Switchback Coffee Roasters' crew, who've allowed Loyal Coffee to rent time on their roasters until the Ivywild facility gets up to speed. Hill says there's planned collaborations in the future with Switchback, and generally says "our partnership with them is stupid cool." 

As to what should make Loyal Coffee special, beyond all the seasoned talent, Hill points to a very meticulous product lineup, and of course some expensive coffee gadgetry. They'll be roasting on a 15 kilo Probat drum roaster, and pulling shots off a La Marzocco Strada EP. And like Charles Babinski at L.A.'s Go Get Em Tiger and G&B, they'll be focusing on an extremely efficient service process, to include batch brewing and highly automated systems. To be clear: That's not to be lazy or remove barista skill, but to create a super consistent product that can be quickly delivered. It's like the third-wave version of a Starbuck's mentality — in the end it's all geared toward great customer service for those on the run and those with time to linger. 
The business partners and crew hard at work to open sometime around early August, tentatively. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The business partners and crew hard at work to open sometime around early August, tentatively.

Loyal Coffee, recently given national attention by Sprudge, will hold a full liquor license in addition to the drips, pourovers and espresso drinks, some utilizing Madcap Coffee. Hill says "We're a coffee company first for sure, but we love our booze." 

They won't seek to compete with the wide offerings on display at the Principal's Office, but will simplify hooch offerings, he says, focusing on some classics like gin and tonics as well as digestifs and amaros and the like. 

For food offerings, Hill says Loyal Coffee will focus on the toast trend, backed by "spiritual" (as in epic-excellent) breads baked by the upcoming Lincoln School baker David McInnis. He's envisioning simple items like toast and butter or jam or housemade Nutella, but also toast sandwiches like a Caprese or cream cheese and salmon sandwich. Pastries and charcuterie items will be purveyed from elsewhere (there's no full kitchen on site, just a prep area), but Hill hasn't finalized tastings and a contract with anyone yet. He says he'll aim for local companies first, but the best product at the end of the day if it means buying from elsewhere. 

We should expect a prolonged soft opening period around early August, says Hill, prior to some sort of grand opening throwdown closer to September. Meanwhile, here's a few more pics of the progress inside the buildout:

When the paper comes down from the windows, Loyal Coffee will capture abundant sunlight, facing Nevada Avenue. Guests will walk a perimeter around a dining area for grab-and-go. Hill says they designed that so folks would be very visible as they move through, encouraging interactions and community building. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • When the paper comes down from the windows, Loyal Coffee will capture abundant sunlight, facing Nevada Avenue. Guests will walk a perimeter around a dining area for grab-and-go. Hill says they designed that so folks would be very visible as they move through, encouraging interactions and community building.

A large bay door will open up to a patio leading to the Blue Dot Place. Groups will be able to congregate around a counter with both indoor and outdoor seats. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A large bay door will open up to a patio leading to the Blue Dot Place. Groups will be able to congregate around a counter with both indoor and outdoor seats.

Upon entry, you'll be staring directly ahead at a shiny new La Marzocco Strada EP machine and the service counter, past some booth seating and a small retail area. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Upon entry, you'll be staring directly ahead at a shiny new La Marzocco Strada EP machine and the service counter, past some booth seating and a small retail area.


Guests will be able to enter on the west side of the building as well, through a parking lot. The main door faces south. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Guests will be able to enter on the west side of the building as well, through a parking lot. The main door faces south.

While doing demo, the group uncovered vintage signage for Rainbo bread, which they've preserved. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • While doing demo, the group uncovered vintage signage for Rainbo bread, which they've preserved.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Six ways to serve Laws whiskey

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 8:18 AM

This past Sunday at Bonny and Read, I co-judged the A.D. Laws Cocktail Competition, largely organized by Wobbly Olive proprietor Sean Fitzgerald.

Beyond building community and camaraderie amongst local mixologists, the event served to highlight the very fine whiskey product. One of the first things you'll hear spoken about Laws is that it comes from distiller Jake Norris, original partner in Stranahan's. It's an exceedingly good whiskey. 


First place finisher Jason Sweeney of The Principal's Office. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • First place finisher Jason Sweeney of The Principal's Office.

Bartenders from the following spots participated in the comp: Supernova, The Principal's Office, Wobbly Olive, Cowboy Star, and TILL. 

As judges, we scored inside three categories: taste, mixology and appearance. In that first category, we sought balance and proper texture as well as flavor-enhancing aroma. In the second, our scorecard addressed post-presentation expectations as a taster, creativity and "wow factor." Appearance factored in garnishes and "sex appeal." 

Most of all, we looked for a drink that best utilized Laws whiskey, meaning it was accentuated, not masked, and played off of to pull out aspects such as its vanilla characteristic. 

In the end, it was Jason Sweeney of The Principal's Office who won the day with his Shroom cocktail — a brilliant use of a surprising ingredient like mushroom-ginger syrup. Its rosewater ice cube enhanced the aroma and sherry contributed to a slightly creamier texture, while the ginger delivered a nice zing across the tongue. Here's his recipe:

1.5 oz AD Laws Four Grain Bourbon
.5 oz Lustau Don Nuño Dry Oloroso Sherry
.5 oz Mushroom Ginger Syrup
Pinch of salt
Rose flower water
Stirred, rocks glass over rose water ice cube, optional peeled ginger garnish.

Fitzgerald's wife and Wobbly Olive co-owner and bartender Inez Fitzgerald earned a second place finish with her Breaking the Law cocktail. It's a fabulous play off a classic Old Fashioned, featuring house-made orange caramel Oleo-Saccharum. Here's her recipe:

2 oz Laws
.5 oz Smoked Caramel Oleo
.5 oz Lustau Don Nuño Dry Oloroso Sherry
Bitters (Ango and Vanilla)
Second place finisher Inez Fitzgerald of the Wobbly Olive. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Second place finisher Inez Fitzgerald of the Wobbly Olive.

Alejandro Sanchez
, formerly of Cowboy Star and now at the newly opened TILL, nabbed third place with his Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub. Here's his recipe:

2 oz Laws
.25 lemon
.25 simple syrup
.25 strawberry rhubarb syrup
.50 Cynar
.75 Amaro Montenegro
Orange bitters
Angostura bitters

Though the other three creations didn't place at the top, the bartenders still contributed recipes and I'd still happily drink any of these drinks again. So here's a few more options for how to use Laws if none of the above are immediately appealing to you: 

The Wobbly Olive (Adam Gasper)
2 oz Laws
1 oz Deep Eddy Sweet Tea
.5 oz Dancing Pines Cherry
.5 oz Mango Tea Syrup
.5 oz Peach Liqueur
Splash Fever Tree Tonic
Fee Bros Cherry Bitters
Muddle Peach and Basil

Supernova
2 oz AD Laws Four Grain Bourbon
.5 oz Dry Vermouth
.5 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1 oz jalapeño simple syrup
1 egg white

Cowboy Star
1 oz LAWS
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 oz oj
.5 oz lemon
.5 oz maraschino
Lastly, I should note that if you aren't a seasoned at-home bartender, these recipes above may be a bit tricky to pull off (especially since we didn't get mixing directions from each bartender). Normally, I'd suggest visiting them at their respective work places to request an off-menu drink. But not all of these have ingredients regularly stocked. So I'm adjusting that here to say go have a drink with them and while enjoying it, pick their brain about how exactly you could replicate the drink at home. Cheers. 

Adam Gasper didn't place with his Laws Bourbon of Proof, but it had the most interesting appearance by far. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Adam Gasper didn't place with his Laws Bourbon of Proof, but it had the most interesting appearance by far.


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Friday, June 24, 2016

Till restaurant to open Monday

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 4:30 PM

MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper

Till
 
will host its grand opening to the public next Monday evening, June 27. We'll hear from VP and culinary director Sheamus Feeley in next week's Side Dish, discussing everything from the facility's commitment to supporting local food while producing some of its own food, to wider business beliefs and a little back story on he and his team. 

But today, we got a sneak peek of the menu and tour of the almost-completed facility from Feeley and co-owner Eric Allen of Altitude Hospitality Group, which operates Garden of the Gods Gourmet, the Pinery at the Hill and Taste at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. 

Here's a look at the opening menu:  Till
Take a look at all the vibrancy on display between the impressive facility and colorful food: 
Slideshow
A sneak peek at Till
A sneak peek at Till A sneak peek at Till A sneak peek at Till A sneak peek at Till A sneak peek at Till A sneak peek at Till A sneak peek at Till A sneak peek at Till

A sneak peek at Till






By Matthew Schniper

Click to View 16 slides

 
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UPDATE: COS cocktails: shaken, not fleeced

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 10:04 AM

I mention the Wobbly Olive at the bottom of the below posting as one of the places that I generally feel I get a great cocktail at a fair price. 

After reading the post, Wobbly Olive owner Sean Fitzgerald reached out with a response, not necessarily in defense of the Blue Star's pricing, but to provide a look behind the pricing curtain from the perspective as a both a bartender and bar owner. He's allowed me to share his response here, with the caveat that this is some rough math off-the-cuff. And for industry folk, he recommends the website SevenFifty for easy price comparisons and helpful metrics.

In breaking down the assumed cost of the spirits and general restaurant expenses, I can see why they are charging so much for these cocktails.

I don’t know their exact recipes so I went on the high side. I created a table assuming very high expenses across the board (I doubt that the rent is 20% of sales).

The Crushed Violette
Grey Goose (Pear) 2oz - $38.83 per bottle, $1.15 per oz
Crème de Violette (I used Rothman) .5oz- $21 per bottle, $.83 per oz
Lemon Juice .5oz- $.50 per oz
Voveti Pro 2oz- $13 per bottle, $.51 per oz

Total Cost- $3.98 / Should be charging $14.50
screen_shot_2016-06-24_at_5.04.45_pm.png







Colorado Mint Cooler

291 Whitedog 2oz - $45 per bottle, $1.80 per oz
St. Germaine .5oz - $33.00 per bottle, $1.30 per oz
Mint Simple .75oz - $1.00 per oz
Lime Juice .75oz- $.50 per oz

Total Cost - $5.37 / Should be charging $16.00
screen_shot_2016-06-24_at_5.06.13_pm.png








What this really shows (if even close to accurate) is that they are using ingredients that force them to charge more than the cocktail is worth. It would be better for them to buy a mid-shelf vodka like Snova and create their own house made Pear Infused Vodka where the ounce cost would decrease to around $.40 compared to $1.15. If they did that, they would be able to earn the same amount and charge $10 to $12 for the cocktail. The guest would be getting something of balance (cost vs. value).

We ran into similar problem at Wobbly Olive. We were making our Manhattan with Woody Creek 100% Rye. I’m a huge supporter of Woody Creek and their Rye made a delicious Manhattan. When we ran our cost analysis we discovered that we would need to charge $14 for the Manhattan. My pride said that it was worth that much but my heart contradicted. We switched to Redemption Rye and are making more money and charging the customer less ($10).

Another example, we were buying St. George’s Green Chile Vodka for $36.50 per bottle. Our Dragon Martini was priced at $10 but should have been $12 based on our expenses and the bottle cost. It is a fun martini but not even close to a $12 one. We decided to infuse our own vodka with local Green Chiles and was able to get our total bottle cost to $13 compared to $36.50. After running our numbers based on $13 per bottle we were able to lower the cost of the martini from $10 down to $9. It is worth $10 but we charge $9. When creating a menu and pricing items you have to balance the guest’s best interests and the business’ survival.

I think the solution for them is to get the creative juices flowing. If they want to have a $14 whiskey “mojito” on the menu, they need to make it special, do something out of this world, house made elderflower liquor, etc. If they think mint simple syrup is special they are headed down the wrong path. If you give more for less you create loyalty and your guests will never feel taken advantage of. It’s funny how this works; the more loyal you are to your guests the more loyal they become to you not the other way around.
 

—— ORIGINAL POST: 10:04 A.M., FRIDAY, JUNE 24 ——

Last fall, I raised an eyebrow or two around town with my rebuke of the cocktail prices at the newly revamped Stagecoach Inn. I essentially made the argument that if you are not at the skill level of a Williams & Graham bartender, or someone with the skill of Brooklyn's on Boulder's Nate Windham, you shouldn't be charging $12 for cocktails.

To be fair, the Stagecoach isn't the only offender around trying to run with the big dogs prematurely, and to be even more fair I haven't been back in since last fall to see if improvements have been made.

At many outings in recent memory my colleagues or friends and I have paid a little more than we'd have wanted for much less than we expected. The last of which happened to occur at The Blue Star, which we hold to a higher standard in part because of its many years as an Indy Best Of Winner, including for the Overall Restaurant category.
 
The delightful Spring Flowers cocktail: an absinthe rinse, St. Germaine, Hendrick's Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and a pour of Bristol Brewing's Compass IPA. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • The delightful Spring Flowers cocktail: an absinthe rinse, St. Germaine, Hendrick's Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and a pour of Bristol Brewing's Compass IPA.
Sorry for singling them out, but perhaps if we keep criticism strong with the industry leaders, they'll listen and others will follow suit with more reasonable pricing outside of just happy hours. 

The short story is this: We tried three drinks on the current seasonal cocktail list. None were poorly made or conceived, and we got great service at the bar, but two felt wildly overpriced. The one we'd have probably not thought twice about is the excellent Spring Flowers cocktail for: an absinthe rinse, St. Germaine, Hendrick's Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and a pour of Bristol Brewing's Compass IPA. It was $12 and tasted worth it. 

Then we got into $14 territory, which tops even cocktail prices at the nearby Summit restaurant at The Broadmoor, which has always executed great drinks. 

The Crushed Violette — pear Grey Goose, Crème de violette, lemon juice and Voveti Prosecco (not a pricey bottle that we're aware) — again tasted good, especially if you're a fan of sparkling wines, but off the cuff I wouldn't price it more than $10. 

More egregious, though I love Distillery 291 whiskies like I love my own dog, was the 291 Colorado Mint Cooler. It's made with 291's White Dog, St. Germaine, mint simple syrup and lime juice. Once again, a good drink — light, refreshing, not far from the realm of a great mojito. But $14? No. I'd go $8 on this one, or at least match the cost of a great cocktail made next door at 291 — $10 last time we dropped by

I won't continue this post much farther as a belabored dissertation, but I'll say many spots in town do seem to have fair prices dialed in. And a handful of others consistently hit enough high points to justify premium prices when they appear: Brooklyn's, The Warehouse, The Wobbly Olive, The Famous, Enoteca Rustica and 503W have impressed us recently. 

Feel free to post comments to share spots you think are doing it right, or others you think have too many dollar signs in their eyes. 
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Meet the next generation food critic

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 3:14 PM

In this week's cover story, I look at Manitou Springs School District's newly created culinary program, also examining what's needed to raise the next generation of chefs and culinarians. 

Ella goes all in on ice cream at Rizuto's. - COURTESY TERRENCE BATSON
  • Courtesy Terrence Batson
  • Ella goes all in on ice cream at Rizuto's.
One faculty member cited in the story is D14 Spanish and German teacher Terrence Batson, who started a baking club as well as the new Muffin Topz nonprofit. 

While interviewing with me for the story, Mr. Batson mentioned his daughter's food blog, called Ella's Fork and Spoon, and billed as "candid reviews of local eateries from the tastebuds of a 10 year old." 

Indeed, Ella calls it like she sees it, with colorful descriptions, humor, and detailed tasting notes and anecdotes. Seriously, I'm a bit worried she's gonna take my job some day. 

Check out some snippets of her personality:


Hi from your local food blogger, Ella Batson! Today I will be reviewing a restraunt called Coal Mine Dragon. Right, here goes.

It was a dark and stormy night, with ghouls and zombi……Wait, no it wasn’t. I did learn however that I am a dog and my dad is a monkey on the Chinese zodiac calendar. (February 8th-happy new year!)

While we awaited the arrival of the main course, I will draw your attention to a few things. Number one, the bathroom inspection. I try to do this every time I review, because restaurants are required by law to have a bathroom. The bathroom at Wild Ginger is clean, somewhat well decorated, and well stocked. The second thing I want to draw your attention to is a second one of my phrases of praise for the atmosphere of Asian restaurants. I really like the lighting of most Asian places – dim and in the form of colored lamps hanging from the ceiling. Some restaurants even have central lighting as well. 

Up next [at Amy's Donuts] is the pistachio cake donut. This donut is special because it has a cake donut instead of a glazed one. There is a mystery, because the toppings are blended so they camouflage together and you can’t tell what they are. As soon as you bite into it, you realize that there are tons of ingredients, but they aren’t overpowering. At the end, when you swallow your last bite, you can make out a gentle hint of lemon, which is the frosting. This is good with milk. This donut is a great, an honor.
The young critic taking notes at Wild Ginger. - COURTESY TERRENCE BATSON
  • Courtesy Terrence Batson
  • The young critic taking notes at Wild Ginger.

I wish Ella many happy meals (no, not the ones at McDonald's) and fruitful reporting ahead. Do take a stroll through her past posts to see what she has to say about many beloved local eateries

People often ask me, "What does it take to become a food critic." 

In the past I've rambled on about my own restaurant and writing experience and thrown the word "luck" in there somewhere.

Now, I have a new answer. I'm just going to say, "I don't know. Ask Ella." 



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Ice cream for beer, take two

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 12:43 PM

Last year, New Belgium Brewing and Ben & Jerry's collaborated on a Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale, in which we were ultimately a bit disappointed

Now news comes of a second collaboration for the two companies: a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale. Again, sounds alluring. Let's hope it hits harder. 
COURTESY NEW BELGIUM
  • Courtesy New Belgium

No word on when it'll hit shelves just yet, but here's everything else we know about it courtesy a press release:

New Belgium Brewing and Ben & Jerry’s are teaming up once again to create a new ice cream inspired beer while raising awareness about climate change. Inspired by one of Ben & Jerry’s smash hits, New Belgium has developed Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale, a special release beer to hit the shelves in the fall of 2016. Fifty-thousand dollars in proceeds will benefit Protect Our Winters (POW) a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness around climate change. As Fellow B Corporations beholden to stakeholders, including their communities and the environment, the two like-minded businesses have long championed similar causes.

“We are excited to be partnering once again with the good folks at Ben & Jerry’s and POW,” said New Belgium Director of Sustainability, Jenn Vervier. “The beer in development tastes amazing and we look forward to talking about climate change and climate action. With the upcoming election and a new administration, year two is even more important than the first round.”

The Colorado-based craft brewer and famed ice cream maker are both registered Beneficial or “B Corporations”. B Corps are held to performance standards that are comprehensive and transparent, measuring a company’s impact on workers, suppliers, communities and the environment.

“Working with New Belgium Brewing and Protect our Winters to be able to impact climate was a highlight of 2015, and so, we’re doing it again,” said Jay Curley, Senior Global Marketing Manager of Ben & Jerry’s. “This new beer is delicious and unique and the issue of climate change is still increasingly urgent.”

An announcement later this year will detail the focus of the campaign and the specifics around the partnership.

ABOUT NEW BELGIUM BREWING
New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses. The 100% employee-owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, and one of World Blu’s most democratic U.S. businesses, and a Certified B Corp. In addition to Fat Tire, New Belgium brews thirteen year-round beers; Citradelic Tangerine IPA, Ranger IPA, Rampant Imperial IPA, Shift Pale Lager, Slow Ride Session IPA, Snapshot Wheat, Sunshine Wheat, 1554 Black Ale, Blue Paddle Pilsner, Abbey Belgian Ale and Trippel and a gluten-reduced line, Glutiny Pale Ale and Glutiny Golden Ale. Learn more at www.newbelgium.com.

ABOUT BEN & JERRY’S
As a social justice company, Ben & Jerry’s believes in a greater calling than simply making a profit. Ben & Jerry’s incorporates Linked Prosperity into its business practices in a number of ways including a focus on values-led sourcing. The company produces a wide variety of super-premium ice cream, non-dairy frozen dessert, yogurt and sorbet using high-quality, responsibly sourced ingredients. Ben & Jerry’s, a Vermont corporation and wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever, operates its business on a three-part Mission Statement emphasizing product quality, economic reward and a commitment to the community and became a certified B Corp (Benefit Corporation) in 2012. Ben & Jerry’s products are distributed in over 35 countries in retail, franchised Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops, restaurants and other venues. The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation’s employee-led grant programs totaled $2.4MM in 2015 to support efforts to improve social and environmental justice throughout the United States. For the inside scoop on Ben & Jerry’s visit www.benjerry.com.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ladwig chops Beavers in Dueling Knives series

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 1:31 PM

Broadmoor chef Zach hoists the victor's trophy. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Broadmoor chef Zach hoists the victor's trophy.
Monday night, Chef Zach Ladwig of The Broadmoor's Penrose Room handed AspenPointe Café chef and reigning champion Brent Beavers a sound defeat in the kitchen of the Blue Star. This was the second in the Dueling Knives series, a chef-versus-chef competition sponsored by the American Culinary Federation Pikes Peak Chapter. In the competition, each chef has 60 minutes to prepare at least three dishes using the secret ingredients, which are revealed a half-hour beforehand. 

AspenPointe Café chef Brent Beavers put up a hell of a fight, not finishing too far behind Ladwig on the point scale. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • AspenPointe Café chef Brent Beavers put up a hell of a fight, not finishing too far behind Ladwig on the point scale.
Chefs Ladwig and Beavers were asked to cook dishes using chia seeds and sweetbreads. Ladwig prepared five dishes in total, starting the night with a soft scrambled egg with burrata milk, slow-braised blue foot mushrooms and roasted sweetbreads. Though the mushrooms landed a touch salty, the dish was rich and elegant. He followed with a black truffle dashi broth thickened with chia seed, with Hawaiian hearts of palms, poached sweetbreads, coriander, bronze fennel and shaved black truffle on top. Though the broth was earthy and rich, the truffle did not read clearly. He impressed us with seared sweetbreads in a pan sauce of brandy and sherry vinegar, served with grilled porcini and chanterelle mushrooms in aged balsamic vinaigrette and a salad of chia seeds.

Ladwig's two extra dishes were his strongest of the night. The first was a garden vegetable minestrone with deep-fried sweet-and-sour sweetbreads, courgettes, squash blossoms and ramps. Ignoring the rich broth and fresh veggies, the sweetbreads were perfectly cooked, rich but bright, and the envy of every Chinese kitchen in town. But Ladwig went one higher, serving an English pea consommé with chia seeds, basil, mint, sautéed sweetbreads, vadouvan foam and nasturtiums. 
Chef Mark Henry, who co-judged, congratulates Beavers after a night of playfully harassing him. Henry will face Ladwig in the next installment of the Dueling Knives series. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Mark Henry, who co-judged, congratulates Beavers after a night of playfully harassing him. Henry will face Ladwig in the next installment of the Dueling Knives series.
Were this to show up on the Penrose Room's regular menu, it would be lauded.

Chef Beavers fired back with four dishes, starting with a Belgian endive cup with chia-coated sweetbreads, sautéed red plum, shallot and homemade goat cheese. Creamy and rich, the bite balanced the endive bitterness. His second dish featured grilled sweetbreads in miso broth with a slaw of sweet papaya, cucumber and cabbage. We found the bright slaw and the rich broth to pair beautifully. But Beavers stumbled on his third dish, a baby red bell pepper stuffed with brown arborio rice, sweetbreads, chia seeds and homemade bacon. While the bell pepper was fresh and full-flavored as could be imagined, both it and the rice came out undercooked.

"I had time [to finish cooking it]," Beavers says, "but I was worried about the funnel cake. I could have served them at the same time." It's a shame, because said funnel cake, his fourth dish, was pitch-perfect. The sweetbreads were chopped into the funnel cake batter, then served with fresh goat cheese blended with chia seeds, fennel pollen and maple sugar, finished with sliced fresh strawberries. 

In the end, that stuffed pepper was flawed enough to give Ladwig the win. (Disclosure: I was among the handful of judges, also including the Independent Food & Eco Editor Matthew Schniper.) Ladwig goes on to face Mark Henry, executive chef at Brother Luck's Street Eats, in January.

See more photos below:
Chef Ladwig's colorful and impressive mise en place. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Ladwig's colorful and impressive mise en place.
Chef Beavers plates his first course, a Belgian endive cup with chia-coated sweetbreads, sautéed red plum, shallots and homemade goat cheese. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Chef Beavers plates his first course, a Belgian endive cup with chia-coated sweetbreads, sautéed red plum, shallots and homemade goat cheese.
Chef Ladwig's second course, complete with hearts of palms, shaved black truffles, and sweetbreads poached in dashi. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Ladwig's second course, complete with hearts of palms, shaved black truffles, and sweetbreads poached in dashi.
Chef Beavers' second course: Grilled sweetbreads in miso broth with sweet papaya, cucumber and cabbage slaw. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Beavers' second course: Grilled sweetbreads in miso broth with sweet papaya, cucumber and cabbage slaw.
The finished third course by chef Ladwig: porcinis, grilled chantrelles, rosemary, aged balsamic vinaigrette, room temp salad of chia seed, sweetbread with pan sauce of brandy and sherry vinegar. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • The finished third course by chef Ladwig: porcinis, grilled chantrelles, rosemary, aged balsamic vinaigrette, room temp salad of chia seed, sweetbread with pan sauce of brandy and sherry vinegar.
Chef Beavers' third course: arborio rice and sweetbreads stuffed baby bell peppers with house bacon and honey-drizzled scallops. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Beavers' third course: arborio rice and sweetbreads stuffed baby bell peppers with house bacon and honey-drizzled scallops.
Chef Ladwig's fourth course: minestrone with deep-fried sweet-and-sour sweetbreads, served with courgettes, squash blossoms and ramps. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Ladwig's fourth course: minestrone with deep-fried sweet-and-sour sweetbreads, served with courgettes, squash blossoms and ramps.
Chef Beavers' final course: funnel cake sweetbread with goat cheese, chia seeds, fennel pollen, maple sugar and fresh strawberries. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Beavers' final course: funnel cake sweetbread with goat cheese, chia seeds, fennel pollen, maple sugar and fresh strawberries.
Chef Ladwig's second bonus course: English pea consommé with mint, basil, sautéed sweetbreads and vadouvan foam. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Chef Ladwig's second bonus course: English pea consommé with mint, basil, sautéed sweetbreads and vadouvan foam.

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Seeds of the Sustainability Summit

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 8:12 AM

Seeds Community Cafe hosted its second annual Sustainability Summit at Venetucci Farm this past Saturday night. The event was part fundraiser for the pay-it-forward eatery and part farm-to-table seminar, active with impassioned speechifying. 

A beautiful barn experience on a summer evening. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • A beautiful barn experience on a summer evening.
Many fine community organizations (too many to list here) contributed food and drink to make the evening possible, and several dishes prepared by Seeds incorporated local items to highlight both excellence and availability. Seeds is always seeking monetary donations to continue its mission, so feel free to drop by the cafe for a meal and leave a gift toward the movement of local food sustainability. 

Some notes from the evening: Steve Saint, co-founder of the Local Food Working Group, reminded guests that 97 percent of food consumed in Colorado comes from somewhere else. He says that food demand internationally will outpace our ability to feed ourselves if we don't change our agricultural practices — some predict widespread food riots by 2040. 

Larga Vista Farms' Doug Wiley, of AVOG, brought himself and several in the room near tears with his account of his family's struggles and environmental concerns related to water in the Arkansas Valley. 

UCCS educator Nanna Meyer spoke in-part about sustainability efforts on campus, while Colorado Springs Food Rescue's Zac Chapman spoke about neighborhood-scale farming history in pre-developed Colorado Springs, plus efforts underway with a new community garden on the north side of downtown in conjunction with Pikes Peak Urban Gardens. Chef Lyn Harwell of Seeds shared his vision for a larger community kitchen and food hub to support both growers and those fighting food insecurity. 

Here's a further look at the very colorful evening, and fine setting for such an important food summit:
The friendly faces at Seeds Community Cafe, where anyone can grab a meal, regardless of means. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The friendly faces at Seeds Community Cafe, where anyone can grab a meal, regardless of means.
Fresh and delicious food on display from Seeds. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Fresh and delicious food on display from Seeds.
The rare site of a large-scale farm incorporated into a city, or more so, spared by it. The Springs used to host upwards of 300 family farms like Venetucci. Now it stands alone. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The rare site of a large-scale farm incorporated into a city, or more so, spared by it. The Springs used to host upwards of 300 family farms like Venetucci. Now it stands alone.
Larga Vista Farm's Doug Wiley, a fourth generation Arkansas Valley grower. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Larga Vista Farm's Doug Wiley, a fourth generation Arkansas Valley grower.
The Local food truck, operated by Seeds, provides a good base of operations for catering gigs. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The Local food truck, operated by Seeds, provides a good base of operations for catering gigs.
Colorado Springs Food Rescue's Zac Chapman lecturing on the history of and lessons learned from Arcadia Gardens, a new urban farm initiative. He wants to redefine what it means to live in a neighborhood. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Colorado Springs Food Rescue's Zac Chapman lecturing on the history of and lessons learned from Arcadia Gardens, a new urban farm initiative. He wants to redefine what it means to live in a neighborhood.

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