Thursday, March 1, 2018

Answering the age-old question, What am I doing for lunch?

  • Courtesy Brewer's Republic
There's nothing more sacred during the work day than your lunch break — that all too brief moment of respite from the stresses of the day-to-day. Lunch breaks bless us with a wealth of benefits, according to Thrillist, from stimulating creativity to fostering better mental and physical health. But perhaps the best reason not to opt for a sad, bagged lunch at your desk is that lunch breaks are good for business, according NPR's Food for Thought podcast. (Tell the bosses right now.)

Sometimes taking a lunch break isn't that easy — there are a lot a variables at play. And once the stars do align you're left with the most difficult question of them all: Where/what do I want to eat?
  • Courtesy Brewer's Republic

Don't overthink it, and stay local.

Even if you're crunched for time the Springs has a wealth of local staples perfectly suited to handle the lunch rush, like the newly reopened Brewer's Republic. But if you are truly at loss on how to spend your coveted lunch break, take the quiz below — for a BOGO 1/2 off deal to boot (rules and restrictions apply; see end of quiz for more details). And thank us later.

Brought to you by Brewer's Republic.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

The Little Imbiss German eatery soft-opens in Holland Park

Posted By on Fri, Feb 23, 2018 at 10:03 AM

  • Courtesy The Little Imbiss
Just shy of three years after first opening, Berlin-style food truck The Little Imbiss has made the jump to brick-and-mortar, soft-opening in the shopping center on the corner of Chestnut Street and Garden of the Gods Road on Feb. 20.

Co-owner Brian Moberly says he and wife/co-owner Patricia are sticking to the truck’s German street food model, meaning less sauerbraten and more currywurst. They are, however, adding a few new items like bouletten (beef patties), schnitzel sandwiches and döner sliders, and as a weekend special, they plan to offer roasted chickens.

Patricia’s been running things since the beginning, while Brian stuck with his full-time job in intelligent transportation. Last year, seeing the truck’s success, banks started returning their calls for loans. Brian’s now full-time at the restaurant, working alongside his wife.

“We looked at it and everything else...” he says. “I had to get someone in here to run the business who knows [it] rather than waste money on managers [who might not].”

Brian adds that they’re closing in on a liquor license and will soon offer German beers in bottles, plus tap pours from Denver’s authentic German Prost Brewing Company. Expect a grand opening sometime in March.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Bristol Brewing hosts 14th annual Firkin Rendezvous

Posted By on Mon, Feb 19, 2018 at 1:11 PM

  • Griffin Swartzell
On Saturday, Feb. 17, Bristol Brewing Company hosted 38 breweries and hundreds of craft beer aficionados at the 14-years-running Firkin Rendezvous. This year, the event was spread out between the brewing room, the barrel-aging room and an exterior tent — the additional space made it feel substantially less claustrophobic than in previous years.

Over the course of four hours, I tasted a staggering 41 beers, mostly one-offs and special releases. It's both difficult and unfair to pick a favorite, but I'll be heading to Mockery Brewing Company in Denver after trying their stunning Mocking Baered Episode IV, a French toast imperial stout. Broomfield-based 4 Noses Brewing Company's Big MF Stout tasted wonderfully rich, with notes of molasses. And after tasting Divide-based Paradox Beer Company's Whiskey Reaper Take My Mind, a fascinating and complex sour amber aged in Laphroaig Scotch barrels with Carolina reaper peppers and Palisade peaches, it's no surprise their beers go bye-bye early at beer festivals.

Between samples, I snapped some photos of brewers and guests alike.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Brother Luck eliminated on Top Chef/Last Chance Kitchen

Posted By on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 3:08 PM

  • Griffin Swartzell
Boy, reality TV is complicated.

Chef Brother Luck of Four by Brother Luck has been competing on the fifteenth season of Bravo's reality show Top Chef. On Jan. 11, he was eliminated from the competition after the judges decided his attempt to elevate German cuisine, a summer sausage egg roll with bok choy, apple and potato, stopped being German cuisine altogether, though they acknowledged that it was delicious.

But that wasn't the end. Brother was bumped to Last Chance Kitchen, Bravo's web-based companion series, where he kept cooking off against other eliminated competitors for a chance to rejoin the main competition. There, Brother's been racking up wins and keeping his dreams of returning to the main competition alive. The finale episode of Last Chance Kitchen, which saw Luck competing with Chicago, Illinois chef Joseph Flamm, aired on Feb. 8, but the winner was kept secret until Feb. 15, when they would rejoin the main competition.

Unfortunately, Flamm overcame Luck, and Luck was eliminated from the show altogether. Flamm returned to the show on Feb. 15. The season finale is scheduled for March 8; tune in to root for the sole remaining Colorado chef, Carrie Baird of Denver's Bar Dough.

We recently spoke with Luck about his experiences and his culinary background — look for that along with our biannual Dish recipe guide on Feb. 28.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Roasted Jalapeño Food Truck now serving Peyton and the Springs

Posted By on Thu, Feb 15, 2018 at 1:45 PM

  • Courtesy Roasted Jalapeño Food Truck
Welcome yet another food truck to the Springs: the Roasted Jalapeño Food Truck, serving Mexican food since late August 2017.

Co-owner/chef Miguel Navarro has been in the industry for 20 years, having worked with family at Aurora restaurant Las Hadas, one of seven restaurants owned by his uncle, Roberto Torres, who’s been in the Denver restaurant scene since opening Las Delicias in 1976.

“I worked with him in the front of the house, and I also did a year of culinary school [at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder],” says manager/co-owner/Navarro’s wife Stacy Odorowski. The couple also works with Odorowski’s mother, Diane Marr, who boasts 40 years in management under her belt and also works as a regional manager for Pamela’s Products, a gluten-free food company.

The menu’s mostly family recipes Navarro learned from parents, including a few he picked up from Las Hadas. They serve a big menu, with offerings for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“We’re more of a mini restaurant on wheels,” Odorowski says. In the near future, they hope to add a kids’ menu and, come summer, seafood offerings.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

New Belgium Brewing Co. adds raspberry lime ale to its Tartastic fruit beer series

Posted By on Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 4:08 PM

Tartastic raspberry lime ale: now available at stores and bars. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Tartastic raspberry lime ale: now available at stores and bars.
Another week, another mailbag beer. This time, thanks to Indy IT director Ryan Hannigan of Focus on the Beer, we've got a bottle of New Belgium Brewing Company's Tartastic raspberry lime ale, released on February 5. Much like Ranger IPA became the Voodoo Ranger IPA series, 2017-released Tartastic lemon-ginger sour ale will act a progenitor to this new Tartastic fruit beer series. According to promo materials, they're all blends of traditionally fermented ales with kettle soured ale, which is unfermented beer (wort) exposed to lactobacillus bacteria like the kind used to make yogurt. Though the exact rotational period is up to the brewers, beer drinkers can look for more Tartastic brews in the future.

On to the specifics, the raspberry lime ale pours a pretty pink color. The aroma's all raspberries and wheat, bright and fruity. It starts mildly sweet and fruit-forward, with an almost mineral crispness that finishes round with a drying pucker on the lips and tongue. We get more honey than actually-in-the-beer lime in the finish — all the restrained tartness reads lacto and berries, not citrus.

All told, it's the wrong season for this beer, but come summer, I'll be happy to knock back a pint or two of this refreshing brew. And since it's a sessionable 4.2 percent ABV, I can make plans after. It's now available in 12 oz. bottles and on draft.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Brewer's Republic reopens with Tuscan-influenced menu

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 4:47 PM

  • Griffin Swartzell
After going dark for a mere 48 days, Brewer's Republic has re-opened, beginning February 6th, run by returning owners/Cerberus co-owners Tom Halfast, Jerry Morris and Joshua Adamski. The model (20 rotating craft taps) is the same, but the menu's all new, designed by Cerberus Brewing Company chef Mark LeFebvre. It's largely Italian, drawing especially from Tuscan dishes. They have, of note, retained popular pizzas. Unfortunately, the patio is still being renovated. Manager Meredith Champion says they hope to have it open by Spring.

We stopped by for lunch on opening day and sampled a meatball sub made with house lamb meatballs, paired with a side salad with house-pickled onions and decadent maple vinaigrette. The food's promising, a credit to LeFebvre's well-known chops. Per custom, we'll wait a few weeks before we review. For now, check out the photos below.
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Great Divide Brewing Co.'s Hop Disciples IPA highlights Ekuanot hops

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 9:58 AM

Hop Disciples IPA, now with Ekuanot hops, is available in six packs or on tap. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Hop Disciples IPA, now with Ekuanot hops, is available in six packs or on tap.
Great Divide Brewing Company recently mailed us samples of three of their seasonal beers: Hop Disciples IPA, available December through May; Orabelle Belgian-style tripel, available January through March; and chocolate oak-aged Yeti imperial stout, available January through March.

Hop Disciples is a single-hop, rotating hop IPA that, this year, features Ekuanot hops, a brand owned by Yakima Chief Hopunion the Hop Breeding Company, which they also call HBC 366 and have previously sold as Equinox hops. And I am a total nerd for single hop beers.

A single hop beer should be an exploration of the varying qualities of a given hop — that means every other aspect of the beer should be held constant. The brewer uses the same grain bill to produce the same wort, which gets fermented with the same yeast, with all times and temperatures kept as close to identical as possible so that the base beer is as consistent as possible. The variable being tested, the only thing the brewer changes, is the hop, and ideally, that hop should be added in the same amount, the same number of times at the same points in the brewing process so the only thing that changes is the flavor of the hop varietal.

The base beer for Hop Disciples, a reasonable 6.2 percent ABV brew, amber-y gold in color, has a sweet, light malt backbone, which allows the hops to shine while offering a small counterbalance to the bitterness. The hops themselves, presented "juicy" as East Coast-influenced IPAs tend to do, taste tropical and citrusy — mangoes especially come to mind — with a faint herbal bitterness that offers a balance I find missing in a lot of East Coast IPAs.
Great Divide's Orabelle shows good yeast characteristics. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Great Divide's Orabelle shows good yeast characteristics.

At 8.2 percent ABV, the cloudy-blonde Orabelle is nothing to take lightly, hiding its boozy punch well. I've had more than a few tripels, and while the aroma presents some of the peppery and pear notes, it tastes more like an extra-big hefeweizen, expressing the traditional banana and clove notes more than anything else. It's brewed with Belgian- and Dutch-traditional orange peel and coriander, but those play relatively mild roles. All told, it's a nice beer I'd be happy to sample again.

I've had chocolate oak aged Yeti on a few occasions. The base beer's a big, sturdy imperial stout — a mighty 9.5 percent ABV — with plenty of roasty notes and a relatively dry finish. It's not sticky or sweet like some imperial stouts I've had, which is nice. The oak and chocolate — think cocoa more than Hershey's — provide a big roundness at the front of the mouth, but that's the only place in the mouth where it lingers. I still prefer the espresso Yeti, but that's a matter of taste, and this one's far from disappointing.
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Friday, February 2, 2018

9 game day recipes to snack on between commercial breaks

Posted By on Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 3:01 PM

Another football season is upon us, and whether you're invested in the games or not, you may as well take advantage of the opportunity to overindulge.

The following dips, apps and finger foods are not only game-day-suitable, but sure to impress no matter what happens on the field, and perfect for killing time in between commercial breaks.
(Click images for full recipes.)

Shrimp and scallop ceviche

click image Bonny & Read's Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche. (Click for full recipe) - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Bonny & Read's Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche. (Click for full recipe)

When the Indy got Bonny & Read's ceviche recipe in 2016, it was one of the most popular options on the menu. It's hard to imagine it doesn't retain the same standing today. The simple dish begs for experimentation and personal touches, so get a little creative. The hardest part is waiting to eat it.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

click image Sals Brava's Tomatillo Salsa Verde. (Click for full recipe) - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Sals Brava's Tomatillo Salsa Verde. (Click for full recipe)

In 2011 we got ahold of Salsa Brava's tomatillo salsa verde recipe — a must for any party that calls for the attendance of tortilla chips. The only way to make this recipe more difficult would be to make enough chips for everyone. Not just a dip, this salsa verde can jump start meals at any time of day, or can easily be turned into a sauce for Southwestern dishes.

Pork green chili

click image Rock City Café's Pork Green Chili. (Click for full recipe) - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Rock City Café's Pork Green Chili. (Click for full recipe)

We are well aware how dangerous it can be to deem anyone's green chili "the best" — it's serious business around here. But Rock City Café's is definitely among the Springs' better offerings. Obviously, this green chili is made to be put on anything, or just send it straight down the hatch (get it?). And clocking in about 20-30 minutes cook time, you'll spend more time finishing the pot than putting it together.

Cold Tofu Appetizer

click image Jun Japanese Restaurant's Cold Tofu Appetizer. (Click for full recipe) - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Jun Japanese Restaurant's Cold Tofu Appetizer. (Click for full recipe)

Jun Japanese gifted us this recipe back in 2012, a stupid-simple, vegetarian friendly dish to squeeze in between chicken wings — or to keep to yourself. Added bonus: prep to plate takes about as much time as a 2-minute drill.

Salt-Baked Carrot and Beet Bisque Shooters with Cinnamon Crème

click image Picnic Basket's Salt-Baked Carrot and Beet Bisque Shooters with Cinnamon Crème. (Click for full recipe) - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Picnic Basket's Salt-Baked Carrot and Beet Bisque Shooters with Cinnamon Crème. (Click for full recipe)

You can skip the Fireball shots everyone pretends to like for a round of The Picnic Basket's carrot and beet bisque shooters, which we first tasted in 2012. A rich broth couples with the sweetness of the vegetables, naturally seasoned with a bed of salt. Topped with a touch of cinnamon créme this soup cannot disappoint, and not as regrettable as Fireball.

Warm Bacon Fat Vinaigrette

click image Mark Musial's Warm Bacon Fat Vinaigrette. (Click for full recipe) - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Mark Musial's Warm Bacon Fat Vinaigrette. (Click for full recipe)

It's safe to assume that very few will be reaching for the salads at your game day celebration, but that's because they haven't had this vinaigrette. A staple in then Summit at The Broadmoor chef de cuisine Mark Musial's repertoire, it can be put on pretty much anything. As Musial said, "They say fat is flavor, but bacon fat is in a class all its own."

Beer Cheese Soup

click image Colorado Mountain Brewery's Beer Cheese Soup. (Click for full recipe) - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Colorado Mountain Brewery's Beer Cheese Soup. (Click for full recipe)

When done correctly, beer cheese soup is a thing of beauty. That's why Colorado Mountain Brewery sent us this recipe in 2011. Granted, CMB has a bounty of beer to set this dish apart (at the time they recommend their Old 59er Amber Ale), but any good amber will do the trick. Beer selection aside, the hardest part of this dish not eating all the cheese before it goes in the pot.

Calabrian Flatbread

click image Pizzeria Rustica's Calabrian Flatbread. (Click for full recipe) - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Pizzeria Rustica's Calabrian Flatbread. (Click for full recipe)

It's a special feeling when you serve a dish with a name as impressive sounding as the flavors. Pizzeria Rustica is no stranger to that feeling, and sent us this Calabria flatbed recipe in 2016. The dish gets its name from the Calabrese peppers, but red Pueblo chilies make a good local substitute. It's hard to mimic the flavors of a 500-degree wood oven at home, but you can never go wrong with goat cheese, mushrooms and peppers. 

Autumn's Veggie Pizza

click image Supansa Banker's Autumn's Veggie Pizza. (Click for full recipe) - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Supansa Banker's Autumn's Veggie Pizza. (Click for full recipe)

Because the winter of 2018 feels much more like fall 2018, this dish from Supsansa Banker, Wobbly Olive executive chef, seems an appropriate game day finger food. Banker sent us this recipe in 2015. She was executive chef at 2South Food + Wine at the time, but good pizza is good pizza. The familiar flavors of this dish tops the greasy delivery options everyone else will be eating any day of the week (and twice on Sundays).
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