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archive for April 2012

catch it while you can

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Recipe: fried fennel slices

The past few days have been about savoring those wonderful, fleeting things in life. I used to be more of a planner than a spur-of-the-moment type. I still am, but my life’s lessons have taught me that there are times when you have to put down what you are doing and just drink in the good things before they are gone. Like…

getting into the backcountry before the snow melts away

carving turns on untouched terrain

storm clouds hugging the continental divide as the sun drops

spring blooms in boulder

the striped bass special at the pinyon

You might be wondering about that last one. I got a frantic text Friday night asking me if The Pinyon was closing. Surely not! After much pinging with my contacts, it was confirmed that Sunday brunch would be their final service. I immediately made a reservation for Saturday dinner. I understand that restaurants come and go – especially in a town like Boulder. The Pinyon was a place we liked to go for its wildly creative, playful, and satisfying food that was casual and didn’t break the bank. Dinner Saturday was bittersweet. The place was packed with regulars who wanted to get in there one last time. You could tell there was a lot of love going around.

chef theo and his dad at the pinyon’s last stand private party

We popped by The Pinyon Sunday evening for their closing party (that says a lot because we avoid going into Boulder on weekends). Theo was busy cooking up EVERYTHING and setting platters out for guests. I pinched a corner of Steph’s chess pie slice – that was about all I could stomach. Folks were grabbing at the food (some men are pigs), but we didn’t come for the food. We came to wish Theo and his staff well and meet up with other friends who supported The Pinyon. I know Theo will be cooking up something wonderful in Denver soon enough. As I gave him a hug good-bye, I promised (threatened?) I’d follow him anywhere.

I guess I just thought they’d always be there. Silly. I know nothing is forever. Grab it by the hojos.

Not sure if I’ve ever talked about fennel here before, but it’s not because I don’t like it. I quite love it, especially raw in salads. But every now and again you have to get naughty with your vegetables. And by naughty, I mean frying.

lovely fennel

all you need: fennel, salt, pepper, flour, bread crumbs, eggs

**Jump for more butter**

sandwich chronicles: frasca caffè

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

We’re back on Pearl Street for this week’s sandwich – a panini caldi (hot sandwich) from Frasca’s Caffè. Caffè is an unassuming little space wedged between Pizzeria Locale (also part of Frasca’s dominion) and The Pinyon just east of the Pearl Street pedestrian mall. It’s easy to miss as you walk past, but I’m here to tell you it would be a mistake to miss it. Caffè serves up Italian pastries, breakfasts, cookies, caffeine, beverages, soups, and of course, sandwiches.

frasca’s caffè on east pearl street

menu on the wall

I went straight for the hot paninis, trying a few different offerings. It was a tough call picking just one sandwich to showcase because they’re all pretty amazing. Jeremy and I narrowed it down to three favorites: the Polpetta (meatball – Jeremy’s favorite), the Manzo (roast beef – just incredible), and the Italiano (prosciutto and salami). Ultimately, I had to make the hard decision.

the italiano panini caldi

To the sandwich: For $8.95 you get a hot-pressed sandwich layered with savory prosciutto, salami, mortadella, melted provolone, crispy shredded lettuce, and tangy, crunchy pickled vegetables. Your sandwich comes with a bag of potato chips and for $.30 more, you can add a pickle spear to that. The Italiano panini combines all of the things I love about sandwiches: hot melty stuff, flavorful meat, crisp and cold vegetables, tang, spice, creaminess, crunch. Did I mention the bread? I can’t get that bread out of my head. I don’t know if it is focaccia or some other bread that I have woefully little knowledge of (maybe one of you fellow Caffè patrons can enlighten me?), but it is flat, soft in the middle, hard and crunchy on the outside, and it doesn’t sog up like normal bread. In fact, I’ve had their sandwiches to go and eaten them an hour later to find the panini’s best characteristics well-preserved.

Pro tip: There is enough space for a dozen patrons to squeeze in and dine, but it can be busy during lunch. I prefer to call ahead for take-out orders. Grab a pastry and some caffè while you’re there to pick up your sandwich.

Where: Frasca Caffè at 1720 Pearl Street, Boulder, Colorado 80302.

When: Have yourself the Italiano panini caldi or anything else from the menu Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm or Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm.

Contact: Call Frasca Caffè at 303.442.9464. Visit their Facebook page.

Full Disclosure: My opinions. No comps for the chomps.

Previous sandwich research:

1) The Pinyon’s fried chicken sandwich
2) Cafe Blue’s blackened tuna sandwich

hail to the chocolate

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Recipe: chocolate mochi cake

Easter is coming. (If I were a Stark, I’d say, “Winter is coming.”) Working with artisan Robin Chocolates these past few weeks, I feel as if it has been Easter for a while. I’ve had hand-crafted marshmallow-almond butter chocolate bunnies, bunny sugar cookies, chocolate ducks, marshmallow peanut butter bears, peanut butter crisp chocolate eggs, caramel turtles, and assorted (amazing) truffles marching past my camera and into my (or rather, Jeremy’s) belly.

the cutest dark chocolate ducky

bunny filled with marshmallow fluff and almond butter (it was delicious)

If you live in the Boulder-Denver area, you are so totally in luck. You can stop by Robin’s storefront in Longmont (Monday-Saturday 12:00 pm – 6:30 pm) for a free sample while you pick out your gorgeous Easter goodies for the sweet-toothed loved ones in your life (or yourself, ahem…). Heck, go there for their incredible pastries in addition to the confections. Or try your luck with any of these locations that carry Robin Chocolates. If you aren’t fortunate enough to live in beautiful Colorado, you can always rush order for Easter. Don’t forget Mother’s Day is just around the corner!

Robin Chocolates
600 Airport Road
Building B, Suite D
Longmont, CO 80503
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm, Monday – Saturday

robin makes award-winning truffles

Normal began to lose all meaning for me until this week when a storm front drifted in and dumped several inches of snow in my yard, on my house, on the trees, in the mountains – everywhere. I know a lot of people in Seattle, Washington and Ithaca, New York who become noticeably depressed or cranky when they haven’t seen the sun in a couple of weeks. I get that, I think. I’m the opposite. I need my snow and in summer, I’ll settle for rain (rain is good). As soon as Jeremy got home on Tuesday, I shoved his ski pants at him and said, “We’re taking Kaweah for a ski.” It had snowed all day and five minutes before he walked through the front door, the sun came shining through.

the storm clears out

snow, at last!!

kaweah didn’t want to stop for pictures

but she did stop for treats

Kaweah ran her little brains out, she was so happy. We were elated to be out there alone, in the still and quiet of the woods, blanketed in white. Cold air feels good when your face is flushed bright red from exercise. I don’t know if we’ll get any more snowfall. I hope we do for recreation, yes, but especially to mitigate wildfires this summer and fall. Once home, we both dug into some chocolate mochi cake I had made, to tide us over while we cooked dinner. I know I’ve said I’m not a fan of chocolate, but I do love 1) a little bit of good quality dark chocolate and now 2) chocolate mochi.

evaporated milk, glutinous rice flour, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, chocolate, butter, eggs

mix the dry ingredients together

My friend Fran, a native of Hilo, Hawai’i, sent me a link to a recipe for chocolate mochi cake last year, but I lost it. I began to google about for it recently and came upon a recipe from the Polynesian Cultural Center website. Having made complicated pastries and confections in the past, a recipe that calls for mixing everything in one bowl and dumping it into a pan to bake sounds like heaven to me. This is heaven. Now, the original recipe calls for margarine and well… you know we’re using butter instead of margarine. It’s worth stating (again): glutinous rice flour does not contain gluten. This is totally gluten-free friendly.

melted butter and chocolate

stir in the evaporated milk

**Jump for more butter**