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archive for October 2011

before you turn into a pumpkin

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Recipe: pumpkin bread pudding with bourbon vanilla sauce

Indian Summer continues her reign over here in Colorado. It’s been positively beautiful weather and a perfect time to get together with old friends and meet new ones. My small group of gal pals got together for another foodista night, but this time closer to home at my beloved Frasca. Excellent food made even better with good company. The service, as usual, was beyond stellar. Extra-stellar.

frico caldo – shredded potato and cheese pancake

part of the wine flight

clearly having far too much fun

Kat stayed at my place overnight because she lives pretty far away. Kaweah was thrilled. She loves having house guests. You know… new pants to lick, new hands to sniff, someone to cuddle with and make mooney eyes at. The next morning I took Kat to the Indian Peaks Wilderness for a little hike in the snow. The sun was shining down and the powdery snow crunched underfoot. I spied ski tracks and I think I started salivating at the thought of ski season. It’s great to share a favorite place with a friend and have her understand how much you love it there. Kat and I have so much in common we joke that we may have been separated at birth.

that smooth part is ice on the lake

We grabbed lunch at Sushi Tora in Boulder before hopping over to The Pinyon to meet up with Kat’s friend who is a professional forager (and a generally cool chick all around). I couldn’t believe the beautiful stuff she found HERE – as in, SOMEWHERE IN THE WOODS. That blows my mind. I love it. I also met chef-owner Theo, a friendly and funny guy who talked about creative uses for various foraged ingredients.

gorgeous, tiny wild grapes

chef theo at work

It’s a super food-centric week for me because my dear friends Todd and Diane fly into Denver today to join me and Manisha at the Denver Botanic Gardens (their site seems to be having some server issues at the moment) for our lecture and workshop program. If you’re a local, please come join us! If not, here’s a (pretty good!) consolation prize… pumpkin bread pudding.

this could easily be awesome pumpkin french toast

pour melted butter over diced bread (i used challah)

Fall puts me in a mood – the best kind of mood. Warm spices, golden light, and pumpkins. I love little pumpkins because they’re cute. I didn’t realize until a few years ago that the cute little pumpkins were usually pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins. When I was in fourth grade, a neighbor had dropped off a pie pumpkin at our house. It sat for a week and then I learned of a pumpkin carving contest. I carved a happy little face on the pie pumpkin and went to the neighborhood Halloween festival that night. I walked up with my pumpkin and my pace slowed as I stared wide-eyed at the masterpieces on the table. Giant pumpkins, some of them strangely deformed, carved into elaborate works of terrifying and beautiful art. I stood for a moment, unsure of what to do with my pumpkin. My pumpkin had no business being there, ever.

mix everything but the bread and butter together

don’t forget the bourbon

**Jump for more butter**

eat your greens

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Recipe: kale pepita cranberry salad

I am really looking forward to some downtime in about… a month. But I’m also thoroughly enjoying the crazy time which is now. We have visitors, house guests, travel, events, and all manner of goings on that my head is spinning just looking at the calendar. Are you the type who prefers to spread busy out evenly or cram it all together? I guess I didn’t plan to have a smooshed schedule, but that’s how it seems to have shaken out. Actually, I think October is always like this for me.

from crested butte a few weeks ago

My parents are in town for a few weeks and we celebrated my dad’s birthday last Friday with dinner at The Black Cat. I really get a kick out of how much they are enjoying each new restaurant we introduce them to around here. Of course, it helps that Boulder has no shortage of great places to dine.

amuse bouche: radish and mustard terrine on toast

We like to cook as much as we like to dine out, so my folks came up to our house for dinner this evening. Actually, as my dad said, “I would like to see Kaweah.” Kaweah loves my dad. Ever since he first met her when she was a puppy and he kept “accidentally” dropping peanuts on the floor, he has pretty much secured his place as #1 favorite person in her tiny brain. Anyway, it was a great excuse to introduce them to this kale salad which Jeremy and I are addicted to. It’s all Shauna’s fault. Actually, it’s Danny’s and Jennie’s faults for tweeting about this salad after they had it for dinner one night. I asked if the recipe was on either of their blogs… and within a week, Shauna and Danny posted it. Thank you, friends.

dinosaur kale

I don’t really know if that is dinosaur kale. What happened is that I went to Whole Foods looking for dinosaur or Lacinato kale and found this. It was above the sign for dinosaur kale. It didn’t quite look like what I typically see listed as dinosaur kale, but that’s what they had. I think it’s pretty.

you’ll need: kale, olive oil, fish sauce, lemon, pecorino, dried cranberries and pepitas

strip the stems


**Jump for more butter**

boulder: the pinyon

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Edit: I’m sad to report The Pinyon has now closed, but hopefully Chef Theo will have new endeavors to follow in Denver. Stay tuned, locals.

Restaurants come and restaurants go. It’s a high turnover kind of industry and Boulder is no exception. When a place isn’t so good, you can wait a year and the space will likely free up. Folks in Boulder know what they like. I can’t even keep track of all the newish places opening up around town – and there are a lot because I get plenty of invitations to grand openings, special blogger dinners, media functions, etc. I guess there is some sort of directory for Boulder/Denver food bloggers. I don’t usually have the time in my schedule to attend. And really, I prefer to visit on my own dime, as a normal patron… with a camera.

from pearl street

So The Pinyon opened up last year. I caught it in my peripheral vision as I frequented favorites on East Pearl Street like Frasca, Pizzeria Locale, Atlas Purveyors, and L’Atelier. Another restaurant… I gave it some time and began to hear happy murmurs about the joint. Summer was so insane that we never had a chance to go. Then friends of mine started tweeting me: “@userealbutter have you been to @thepinyon?” It merely increased the urgency to pop by for a meal.

roomy interior

view toward the bar

These days if I like a restaurant, then I’ll visit more than once. I think that’s important to get a proper and honest assessment of a place. So even though the first time I dined at The Pinyon was in September and it was terrific, I made a point of returning a couple more times. Also? It’s an excuse to sample more of the menu, in the name of research. Ahem.

The Pinyon doesn’t offer an enormous selection, but it does offer a nice variety. This is American cuisine. They source locally as much as possible and serve seasonal fare. The food is bright, fresh, and perfectly seasoned – nothing overdone, but certainly done well. Ingredients are allowed to shine on their own for their quality. Tender mixed greens, sweet heirloom tomatoes lightly dressed, or a smooth and sweet golden beet soup with a touch of acid for added zest.

mixed lettuce with herb vinaigrette

heirloom tomato salad

golden beet soup

I dined here three times in as many weeks. After the first visit, I couldn’t wait to go back. There’s a reason for all of the hype among my Boulder twitterati – the food is terrific. In addition to the salads and daily soup pictured above, they offer small plates of house farmer cheese, country ham, pnynwings (a sriracha take on buffalo wings), and a selection of charcuterie and friends. Some side dishes include: pickled watermelon rind, duck fat french fries (how could you not?), English muffin with house made butter and jam, sweet corn and fennel, and cheddar grits.

the four-freaking-fabulous-hour meatball and spaghetti

shrimp and grits with a fried egg on top

fried chicken with scallion pancake

**Jump for more butter**