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archive for March 2012

things you pick up in bars

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Technique: avocado slices

Spring did not forsake us! We started the vernal equinox in Vail with 11°F and light snow at the base of the mountain. There was even some powder to be had. Praise be.


jeremy is thrilled to find freshies

frosted trees



I was thankful for the cooler temperatures (which are actually NORMAL this time of year) not just for the skiing, but because I needed to keep the house cool while I did a chocolate shoot this week. One of the marshmallow-filled chocolate bears sprung a leak due to my elevation and some marshmallow began to ooze out of its head, which gave me an idea…

cue the law and order clang



The windows were opened to let the 20 degree coolness drift through my work area. Kaweah observed my shenanigans from the warmth of her blankie, making the occasional rounds and sniffing all of the tables piled with chocolate and other edible props. At the end of the day, we admired the last rays of light from the deck. Actually, I admired the last rays of light and Kaweah watched all of the foxes on their evening commute through our yard.

lazy day for one of us

the end of another day in paradise



Now, I rarely do requests on urb because I’m not made of spare time. However, my last post on the California roll burger sparked interest regarding how I sliced the avocado. It’s a technique worth sharing. I’ve been to a bar maybe twice in my life, but I’ve been to a sushi bar about a gazillion times. I prefer to sit at the bar, talk with the sushi chef(s), and watch how they prepare sushi – including how they slice avocados to make caterpillar or dragon rolls.

an avocado, a santoku knife, and a ceramic knife

slice the avocado in half

twist the halves in opposite directions



First start with a ripe avocado, because underripe avocados are gross. It shouldn’t be mushy, it should just yield under the slight pressure of your finger. [If you are trying to ripen an avocado quickly, your best bet is to plop it into a paper bag with a couple of oranges, roll the bag shut, and let it sit on the counter for a day.] Hold the avocado in your hand and cut it in half lengthwise, running the blade around the pit without cutting through the pit. Set the knife down, cup your palms around the avocado halves and twist them in opposite directions.

sink the heel of the knife into the pit

twist the pit loose



**Jump for more butter**

this is serious

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Recipe: california roll burger

You can’t fight the weather. The best thing you can do is roll with it. That’s what I’ve been telling myself anyway. Now that the crud in my chest is clearing and I no longer sound like Kathleen Turner, we’ve been getting outside to assess the snowpack. Total spring conditions: ice in the morning, corn snow in the afternoon. We noticed over the weekend that our front yard aspens are already forming buds a month early.


still getting nice color in the mornings and evenings

walking on hardpack



The spring equinox is a day away and all of this increased daylight prompts me to think of spring and summer cooking. Normally we’d be shoveling a few feet of Rocky Mountain powder from the driveway, but it looks like spring has come early for Colorado. My friends in Southern California, however, are always in perpetual spring-summer. Allison posted a photo of a California roll burger on her Facebook page a few weeks ago and I haven’t been able to shake the idea since. A little Google action brought me to 26 Beach Restaurant’s California burger roll. Oh. My. Freaking. Goodness.

a lot of components, but totally worth the trouble



It’s pretty much what you’d guess it to be – a hamburger with the components of the revered fusion California roll. How could this not be amazing? Throughout the week, my mind would wander to the California roll burger. What would I put on mine? It’s heavy enough with the beef patty and the bun, so I opted out of adding sushi rice. In addition to the traditional lettuce and tomato, I figured there would be crab salad, avocado, masago (capelin roe), pickled ginger (gari), toasted seaweed (nori), and wasabi mayonnaise. Instead of our standard potato roll buns, I picked up some challah rolls. And if we were going to do this right, why not some shredded king crab legs for the salad? You could use krab (surimi), but I find real crab to be beyond awesome.

shelling the crab

mix mayonnaise with shredded crab meat

make the wasabi mayonniase: stir some wasabi powder into the mayo



**Jump for more butter**

sandwich chronicles: the pinyon

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

As any long-time reader of use real butter knows, the sandwich is one of my favorite categories of food. It happens to be perfect for my favorite meal of the day – lunch. Whenever I’m in Boulder around lunchtime, I begin to think of all my sandwich options. It’s hard to keep track and my brain tends to bias toward the ones that float to the surface the most. I realize there are probably several places I’ve never been to that serve up a great sandwich and that this would require some research on my part. I’m chronicling my sandwich research in Boulder to explore and uncover the hidden and not-so-hidden sandwich gems of this town. Mostly, it’s a compilation of my favorites.

My guidelines:

1) Only restaurants in Boulder.

2) One sandwich from the menu even if they offer a gazillion sandwiches (basically, the one that appeals to me at that moment).

3) No burgers. This was discussed at length with Jason as we drove the 4.5 hours back from the sandhill crane shoot. “If you allow burgers, then that busts the whole thing wide open.” True that. But barbecue sandwiches are allowed (yes!).

Let’s kick off the research with a stop at The Pinyon. There are a lot of items to love on their lunch menu, which might explain why I hadn’t tried the fried chicken sandwich yet. I was working my way to it, you see. Several of my friends had told me, “The fried chicken sandwich is the best thing on the menu.”


you can find the pinyon on pearl street just east of the pedestrian mall

the pinyon’s sleeper hit: the fried chicken sandwich



Chef Theo explains, “It’s my riff on the Chick-Fil-A sandwich.” Please… the Pinyon’s fried chicken sandwich is ten times better than any Chick-Fil-A sandwich. Just look at that beaut: buttermilk fried chicken, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onions, and special sauce on a milk bun. You can choose fries (these are duck fat fries – no foolin’) or salad with that delectable sandwich for $12. If you’re feeling especially naughty, top it with tender bacon belly, American cheese, Grafton 2-year cheddar, or Gruyère for $2 each. Chick-Fil-Who? I thought so.

To the sandwich: The chicken is juicy and tender, fried to perfection. The outside is crisp and well-seasoned. There is a mild sweetness in the soft milk bun that works perfectly with the tang of their special sauce and all of the fresh vegetable toppings. You’ll be full by the time you clean your plate, but I guarantee within 24 hours, you will be craving that sandwich again.

Where: The Pinyon on 1710 Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado.

When: The fried chicken sandwich is offered at lunch M-F 11:30 am – 2:30 pm and at brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Contact: Call The Pinyon at 720.306.8248. Follow them on Twitter @thepinyon. Visit their Facebook page.

Full Disclosure: The opinions expressed here are my own (duh). The Pinyon comped the fried chicken sandwich on the bill, but I added the cost of the sandwich to the tip.