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they aren’t kidding about community

My head hurts this morning and I all I had last night was a sip of Jeremy’s Sauv Blanc. The hell? [I’m pretty sure it was my 2-hour cardio workout because my ass hurts when I walk right now.] A very good friend of mine is in Colorado all the way from Sydney. She and her husband came to Boulder last night to meet up with us for Community Night at The Kitchen. Oooooh Comm Night…

herbed gioia ricotta and fennel confit wood roasted flatbread

This was our fifth time at Comm Night. Come hungry and wear elastic waistband pants: fixed menu, family-style dining with a bazillion courses! Well, to be honest, over the past 4 years, Comm Night has gone from serving *insane* amounts of food to just *quite a bit* of food. I don’t feel like I’m going to pop and die at the end of the meal anymore. Or perhaps I’ve just learned to pace myself. Either way, it’s still a big treat partly because we don’t typically eat like that and partly because we aren’t made of money. Because our friends know their food (the hubby is a chef in Sydney), we thought Comm Night would be a perfect meal to share with them… and the dozen other diners at our table!

marinated shell bean salad with prosciutto, country terrine, grilled bread

In case you didn’t know, I *love love love* The Kitchen and I am particularly in love with Community Night. I think if I were a normal diner, I would continue to be hopelessly dreamy-eyed over the event. But because I’m an OCD food blogger with a camera, I noticed every time the wait staff dimmed the lights throughout the evening. Seriously, it got darker and darker at 30 minute increments. Right. I know Comm Night is dark. I know this. I don’t like to bump my ISO and I can only handhold a 1.4 f-stop at the start of the evening before getting into ridiculous 1-second exposures and beyond. Have flash, will shoot. The flash isn’t the problem (a lot of people take pictures at Comm Night – of food, of friends, of everything really). *My* problem is that when the place is so bloody dark, it is really tough to target a line for focus. I don’t trust auto-focus (remember, OCD), but if I can’t find the edge of a potato, then I think it’s a little dark. I get the whole ambiance thing, but I’d like to remind The Kitchen that we’re eating together, not sleeping together.

roasted organic beets with horseradish dressing and chives

The important thing was to enjoy the company and eat the food. In the past we’ve been seated next to some pleasant fellow patrons and we’ve also sat next to some incredibly immature, testosterone-packed morons (yes, that breed seems to congregate in Boulder). I think last night was the first time I genuinely enjoyed meeting my neighbors. It’s a loud scene and so much is going on at any given time that holding a conversation requires some effort and a good loud voice (which Jeremy and my friends inform me that I have).

cabbage salad with apple, gorgonzola, shallot and red wine vinaigrette

The guy sitting next to Jeremy had a dSLR and was shooting the food in special ops-mode: holding the camera out or over the subject without looking through the viewfinder and releasing the shutter. We got to talking immediately and I discovered he’s a reader of urb. OMG! someone has actually heard of this repository of mindless drivel? It turns out that Andrew is a fascinating individual and he handed me the most kickass business card I’ve ever laid eyes on. He is also a super chill and very nice fellow. [If you pass the Jeremy Test, then you’ve pretty much made it.]

some salad? arugula, mizuna and other greens with orange, pistachios and pecorino

Andrew has been to Comm Night several times and he noted how a few years ago it was months out before you could get a reservation. I remembered hearing that too, because The NYT and perhaps some other high-profile rag had featured Comm Night. Things have settled down though, which may be sad for The Kitchen but good for the locals. You can probably snag a seat a few weeks out except around holidays.

pan-seared tuna with stewed chickpeas, tomatoes, and carrots

wood oven roasted striped bass with chimichurri

grilled pork chop with roasted vegetables and prune sauce

To my right – a lovely woman who was there with her friend, her son, and her son’s girlfriend. I don’t know about you, but I am not terribly impressed or fascinated with beautiful people. I’m all about interesting, fun, witty, and nice people (the two groups are not mutually exclusive). Well, the young man and his girlfriend? Incredibly sweet, charming and a most handsome couple to boot. They worked their bums off in New York City (Blue Hill at Stone Barns) to save up enough money and are in the middle of traveling Central and South America for the year. They were making a quick stop in Boulder to visit with his mom. It is obvious where he got his good looks and good manners (from her!). I told them Argentina is where it’s at. Sometimes when I meet folks who like travel and food, it becomes clear right away that we aren’t on the same wavelength. People who throw money at experiences aren’t really my type of people. These two were traveling on a dime, exploring on foot, absorbing the cultures, and really tasting the food as only foodies can. A truly delightful group.

ben and kristen

So I’ve been slapping photos of the food onto this post without commenting on the food. It was all amazing. I have sort of run out of superlatives for The Kitchen as they consistently create dishes prepared to perfection. I quite like that they served the striped bass whole because that’s how I grew up eating fish in a Chinese household – head and tail on. It brings you closer to your food to know the creature it comes from rather than assume fish is some square filet that magically arrives breaded in a box from the freezer section of your grocery store. Just to tick off my favorites from the evening: the fennel on the flatbread, the prosciutto in the bean salad, awesome pan-seared tuna, prune sauce on the pork (why are people so afraid of prunes? I *love* prunes), and the date bread pudding. Lookee here:

date bread pudding

eaton mess: meringue, strawberries, whipped cream, berry coulis

As the evening wound down, people exchanged information – scribbles of notes on torn pieces of Comm Night menus. We wished Ben and Kristen safe travels and everyone bid our Aussie friends a safe trip home (and a congratulations on their pregnancy!). In settings like these I can sometimes go into auto-pilot and make polite small talk while my brain goes on vacay. This was the first time I really felt engaged with the other patrons – like a community. I feel like my life is that much more enriched for having met them. Very cool.

28 nibbles at “they aren’t kidding about community”

  1. rose says:

    WOW! that looks like so much fun!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good food, good people and good conversation!

  2. Amy says:

    That fennel flatbread looks absolutely amazing, followed right behind by the pork & prunes…yum yum yum! Glad it the community part of Comm night was on par with the food this time around!

  3. Debbie says:

    Wish we had something like that going on in our area. Sounds like so much fun….

  4. Caitlin says:

    Okay, so I was looking at all the food photos going, “that looks nice, yep, so does that…” And then you mentioned date bread pudding. And things just got a little unfair, because now I really want some. Lucky you to have such a cool event in your neighborhood!

  5. Tartelette says:

    Oh we got to go when I come visit…pretty please!!
    You know, I hear the chefs run around the kitchen throwing saffron in the air :)

  6. Rosa says:

    All that food looks absolutely scrumptious! That’s so great!



  7. charlane says:

    sounds like a fantastic night

  8. Pearl says:

    the food looks delish and it sounds like it was such a wonderful time! glad you had fun! :)

  9. Kathy says:

    Sounds like you had an excellent evening. It’s cool to meet up with people who you really hit it off with, and they’re not your friends to start with.

  10. Asianmommy says:

    How totally fun! I’m in love with bread pudding.

  11. Aran says:

    it looks amazing and i think you managed to take awesome photos given the lighting. fantastic!

  12. Amanda says:

    You’re probably dehydrated, hun. Drink lots of water.

    I so with I could make those beets for my fiance if only I didn’t detest beets with every fiber of my being.

  13. Kristin says:

    Ok, now that I’ve cleaned up the coffee I snorted all over my computer after reading Helen’s comment about the chefs running around the kitchen throwing saffron in the air (oops, gotta laugh again), sounds like a delicious & fun evening. I wonder how cardamom saffron ice cream would be with date bread pudding.

  14. Mollie says:

    I love comm night and I’ve never even been there! The food looks amazing, and so much the better to share it with such cool people! They worked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns? Oh my god… that place is so cool! Sounds like an awesome night…

  15. Liz says:

    Great pics Jennifer! I was there last night sitting with Kristen, Ben and Ben’s mom. I’m Kristen’s mom and I’m back in NY trying to tell my hubby about the amazing evening and the amazing food. Thank you for your beautiful portrayal of the event (it was an event, not just a meal!) and the pictures. You captured it perfectly!! So nice spending the eve with all of you. p.s. I too noticed those dimming lights!!! :-)

  16. Melissa says:

    I’m glad you had such a lovely evening and felt like you connected with some folks. It seems like it would be wonderful.

    People are afraid of prunes? I’ve never had them but the pork stood out to me simply because I thought “cool, a new sauce to try on pork.” I guess since I know nothing about them, maybe I can try them with no fear. ;)

  17. jo says:

    This looks fun and the food …. fantastic. Wish I was there for Comm Night as well!

  18. Manggy says:

    Hahahahaha! Well, even if I were planning some intricate seduction technique, I’d never be so dorky as to dim the lights in increments. Lol.
    I love what you said about fish. I’m always at an eye-roll when people are freaked that the fish has a head, tail, or even skin. Also, prunes are awesome. Then again, there isn’t a lot of food I won’t eat except the truly vile, which I will share with you in the future :) (Yes, I will try a lychee again someday ;)
    I’m glad you met some fantastic people. Now I’ll have to be really critical about how I present my travels! :)

  19. katieC says:

    Ooooh, it looks like everything – not just the company – was beautiful. What a lovely way to spend an evening. It sounds good even to this recluse, so you know it must be awesome.

    And sorry, but J and and the others are wrong. Your voice isn’t loud. Bold, vibrant, strong, assertive….any number of other, more flattering adjectives, but not loud.


  20. Boulder’s Kitchen Cafe Celebrates Five Years by Poisoning Blogger | Andrew Hyde - Startups. Start Here. says:

    […] CU and their two guests from Sydney.  Jenifer was amused that I read her blog.  She has a much better post on the night.  If I wasn’t poisoned, I would have a post of similar quality.  Perhaps not.  Moving […]

  21. Mrs Ergül says:

    Wow Jen! Another Comm Night?! How nice it is to be sitting next to people you can ‘click’ with! And one of thema reader of URB to boot?! Sweet.

    Ooohhhh! Congrats to your friends on their pregnancy! They were the one who brought you all over Aussie for good food, ya?!

    Glad you had so much fun!

  22. Sil says:

    Jen, what a great night! And, as always, great photos too. Thank you for your comment about Argentina. I hope Ben and Kristen enjoy their trip to Central and South America. And that they feel as you do that Argentina is were it’s at. :-) Cariños

  23. Nichole says:

    i am kicking myself!! you emailed me and we talk about it and i still lamed out and forgot. i totally forgot that it was on the 13th. i need a second chance. may community night? andrew’s face is familiar…i think from when luke was working downtown last year in the startup and tech scene. btw, i loved seeing your name and recipes in the newest edible front range magazine. you are too cool!!

  24. cindy says:

    your photos still look fantastic despite the lighting situation. every time you mention the kitchen i grow envious and that envy is accompanied by some very unlady-like drool. yum.

    glad your friends arrived safely (and congrats to them on that bun in the oven!) and that you got some good conversation in :)

  25. Mary Jo says:

    Jen, you weren’t kidding when you said you’d post B & K’s picture! What a kick to find their photo and your gracious description on your blog (which is gorgeous, by the way!). Meeting and getting to talk with you was a wonderful aspect of an over-all fabulous evening. It made me feel like I was the one travelling, meeting fascinating and interesting people like you! All the best to you!

  26. jenyu says:

    Rose – thanks, it was a blast!

    Amy – I love fennel! The Kitchen was where I first had fennel and they have never failed me on anything :)

    Debbie – it’s great, and I’m very lucky to have such an awesome restaurant locally.

    Caitlin – ohhh, I’m sorry sweetie! If I can find that recipe, I’ll definitely post it!

    Tartelette – ha! You made me snort beverage through my nose ;) When you come, if you can stay over a Monday night, we’ll do Comm Night. xxoo

    Rosa – it was fantastic, thanks.

    Charlane – so fun!!

    Pearl – thank you.

    Kathy – yup, I think that’s really exciting, to meet great people and feel like you’ve just expanded your world, in the good way.

    Asianmommy – me too!

    Aran – thanks, hon!

    Amanda – thank you, I did just that and it helped right away. I’m sorry you don’t like beets – I used to be indifferent, but I love them now.

    Kristin – ha ha, isn’t she a riot? Yes, I think that ice cream would be so dreamy with that bread pudding. Mmmm, bread pudding…

    Mollie – well, come on out to see me and we’ll go! :) I’ve never been to Blue Hill… it sounds so amazing though.

    Liz – Oh, so awesome of you to visit the blog! It was great meeting you all. I didn’t realize you are Kristen’s mom. You raised such a lovely daughter – you should be very proud. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it as much as I did!

    Melissa – it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s a great feeling. The prunes with the pork AND the roasted veggies were so amazing. If you find a good recipe, let me know :)

    Jo – :)

    Mark – yeah, I don’t know what the deal is with their policy, but it’s annoying. The great thing about most patrons of Comm Night is that they are pretty open-minded about the food (and fish head/tail). Okay, I wanna see you eat a lychee ;)

    Katie – you don’t strike me as a recluse at all (Arnie, say it isn’t so!) :) Thanks, my dear. You are always so sweet. xxoo

    Mrs. E – thanks! Yes, these are my friends from Sydney who gave me such a lovely tour of their delicious and beautiful city. I know, who would have guessed an urb reader right at the table? hee hee.

    Sil – I don’t see how anyone could not love Argentina. Oh the food… :) I’m sure they will love it and Ben’s mom is going to meet them down there too! She’s going to love it!

    Nichole – oh sweetie, no worries. We’re sorry to have missed you, but know that things get busy. At least you’re local so I know we can go to Comm Night with you and Mr. Hottiepants anytime! xxoo

    Cindy – ha ha! Thank you, you’re sweet.

    Mary Jo – it’s so great to have you and Liz commenting! Such a pleasure to meet you four. I really hope you have a wonderful time in Argentina with Ben and Kristen. They are awesome and they have incredible moms to thank for that.

  27. maris says:

    This looks like amazing flatbread! Thanks for sharing with all of us : )

  28. jenyu says:

    Maris – you’re welcome.

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