Monday, January 10, 2011

Beers, buns and Kombucha

Posted By on Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 4:12 PM

For me, this past weekend was a busy one for both food news and food sampling:

Firstly, I'm working on this year's Bites guide, due out Feb. 3. I've discovered some closures that we'll likely detail in this upcoming Thursday's Side Dish column.

Second, I received two e-mails Saturday with big news announcements.

From Chevy Lee Raw Foods:

dear friends of chevy lee raw foods,
we have returned home from our unbelievably spectacular costa rican adventure and within this adventure some things have changed for us. we experienced changes of the self that are always inevitable after visiting a new and different land and culture but we also came back to changes in our life here in colorado springs. life is always full of surprises and changes, which is something that i personally love about life. learning to listen to what our intuitions are telling us about these changes is an art in and of itself.
our change here: the cafe inside of the bac's venue 515 in manitou springs is closing, which also means that i will no longer be able to use their kitchen. due to this chevy lee raw foods will be on hiatus until further notice. i am going to take this downtime from business to finish my degree at uccs and graduate in may this year. at that point i will re-evaluate my next step in life and work, as there are many different directions to choose from.
for now, i welcome any advice that you, my wonderful customers, have to offer. rather than try to squeeze my raw food service into my tiny home kitchen (who knows i may change my mind!) and make food for donations, i would rather work part-time for someone else. i am feeling open to new experiences right now and will follow wherever my heart is taking me. with that being said, if any of you out there know of someone that may be interested in hiring me, a self taught chef to work in their kitchen, let me know. i am also interested in many many other things and i have experience in several areas: cooking, raw not-cooking, wine bar tending, nurse assistant and retail. i would be willing to work at the right place doing any of these things because i love life and people and can find joy and learning everywhere i go. i'm welcoming the changes that 2011 wants to bring.
i thank you all so much for your support of chevy lee raw foods up to this point. we may appear again later with a different vision, a different name or a whole different business model all together. stay tuned and stay in touch.
much love from the walkers,
martine, ken and chevy lee

And from Coquette Creperie:

Coquette's Bistro and Bakery is very proud to have acquired Cere's Kitchen a premiere Briargate G F bakery
now being offered only from our own location and keeping the same attention to excellence
915 Manitou Avenue
We're now carrying a wide variety of fresh GF BAKED GOODS
breads, bagels, sandwich & hoagie rolls, pumpkin muffins, pizza crusts and pizzas.
We also still have our wonderful cheesecakes, quiches and chocolate chip cookies.
more selection will be added soon and special orders can be taken
(if there's something you specifically want, you may want to call to make sure we have it in stock)
(like out of this world french toast..yummmm)
STAY TUNED......and
Thanks for your continued support and business....
We hope to see you soon.

Then ... on my own time and dime, I had dinner Friday night at Vietnamese Garden, which I was pleased to find still on top of its game — in fact, I think this place has actually gotten even better since I reviewed it two years ago.

The potato fritters are still bangin' and the bo bia (spring rolls with Asian sausage, jicama and more dipped in a peanut sauce or gluten-free peanut sauce) is excellent, too. Our shrimp rice noodle bowl (bun tom nuong) was also spot on, served with crispy egg roll segments. Lastly, we finished with a stunning and delicious mung bean cake served in a tiny pool of coconut milk — not too sweet and totally unique.

Sadly, we were only one of three tables on a Friday night at 7, which is partly to blame on this slow season, which is always tough on even established eateries. All I can think is that Vietnamese Garden's location (being tucked behind an odd house at the corner of 31st Street and Colorado Avenue) continues to be a challenge — people just don't see it when headed west, and might still miss it when headed east.

Quality-wise, the place deserves to stick around.

Next, on Saturday, I dropped by Colorado Mountain Brewery after a hike on the Air Force Academy grounds.

I sat with brewer Andrew Bradley for a half hour or so, chatting about his beers, mostly, but also about some new events happening at the restaurant. I'll put more of that info in this week's Side Dish, but prior to that I want to say that the beers here have improved since our review in late September.

Bradley was excited for me to try the IPA in particular, which now shows a really nice hop character — I was thoroughly pleased with it. More importantly, he was thoroughly pleased with it, and says he's finally had the time to finish tinkering with his recipes and get most of them where he wants them to be.

Check them out for yourself, ideally during happy hour (3 to 6 p.m., Sunday through Thursday), where you get $3 pints and two-for-one appetizers.

And lastly ... on Sunday, I went to my normal 10 a.m. yoga class at Pranava Yoga Center and met High Country Kombucha's brewmaster Steve Dickman. He brought three sample mini kegs of Kombucha for us to try for free, and handed out coupons good at places like Whole Foods and Vitamin Cottage — smart marketing strategy, if you ask me.

If you're new to Kombucha, here's the gist:


I particularly liked the Wild Root flavor, which essentially tastes like root beer because of its sarsaparilla, anise and licorice components. Herbs like burdock and dandelion root supposedly add liver-detoxifying and hormone-balancing properties.

The other two samples blended some of the normal flavors like ginger and elderberry hibiscus, so you wouldn't be able to try them unless you run into Steve somewhere. Just look on the products page to read about the claimed benefits and medicinal qualities of each blend.

Having tried a few other Kombuchas in the past, I can say that this company is thus far my favorite. There's clearly a lot of creativity going into the brewing, as well as regard for healthful ingredients.

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