Apple Ginny

As I welcome the change into winter with open, fleece-covered arms, I realize that most are reluctant to see the summer is being set aside to cool. As autumn does creep in, this spritely drink will help you hold onto the last bits of summer. Apple-inspired but far from pie, this cocktail involves infusing your favorite gin with fresh-picked, fall apples.

apple orchard and apple ginny ingredients

I added one sliced Macoun apple to a mason jar, filled the jar to the brim with an extra dry gin. Lid on, I popped the jar in the fridge to let the apple infuse for several hours. I strained out the then browned apples and chilled the remaining gin in the freezer while I prepared the rest of the drink.

In the bottom of a glass I muddled several slices of fresh ginger with a blob of clover honey. I added ice and then two parts tonic water (or soda water) with one part apple-infused gin. The result—a perfect sunny afternoon cocktail breeding just a hint of apple flavor yet a full sensation of its crispness.

Add a splash of apple or sparkling apple juice to deepen the apple-y flavor. Try infusing apples into vodka or even a whiskey for a real winter warmer.

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Grown-Up Brunch

Brunch in a timeless Sunday treasure. As a kid I stood on a stool by my father’s side, smashing the bananas whose destiny would be that moisturizing foil in our pancakes. Even now, come Friday nights I dream about and brew ideas for the meal that is a weekend’s present. (Hopefully) having matured in both age and palate, brunch often goes beyond fluffy hotcakes, syrup, and fresh orange juice to sweet and savory concoctions–herb, cheese, and meat-filled treats, and more often than not, an accompanying cocktail.

The recipes to follow are ideas for your next adult brunch. The weekends aren’t just for dinner parties, entertain your friends in the light of day, be lazy, eat well, and have a sip or two of a pre-happy hour accepted beverage.

I followed my own advice that brunch should be a social event and had some friends join me for this photo-shoot. Three photography students and friends of mine deserve the credit for these drool-inducing pics: Liz Osaki, Michelle Muñoz, and Jay Lublang. I thank them for their help and advice in further honing my photography hobby. More importantly they also helped eat the set…

tomatos and eggs

Baked Eggs in an Heirloom Tomato Nest

This late summer-inspired pleaser can be a full meal on its own for a solo breakfast, or a pungently savory component to a large brunch. This recipe is easily expandable—just add a ramekin for each guest!

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat ramekins with olive oil, then crack two eggs into each. Place several slices of garlic and heirloom tomatoes on top of the eggs. Season with salt & pepper. Bake for 15 minutes (soft yolk) to 20 minutes (hard yolk). Sprinkle shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh chive on top.

Rustic corn bread pudding

Rustic Corn and Basil Cream Pudding

This creamy, bread pudding-like dish is made bright by the light and sweet flavors of sweet corn and basil. By soaking the corn and basil in the milk, these flavors become even more saturated into to this hearty dish.

In a bowl wisk 1 egg with 1 cup of whole milk. Soak two ears of corn off the cob and several tablespoons of freshly sliced basil in the milk and egg mixture. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°. Coat a baking dish or oven-safe pan with olive oil. Line the bottom of your pan with slices of rustic, grainy/seedy bread. Pour milk and corn mixture over bread, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle more olive oil on top and place in the oven for 45minutes, uncovered.  Serve with more freshly sliced basil on top.

 Spicy Hericot Vert and Prosciutto Salad

Hericot Vert and Prosciutto Salad with Warm Poblano Crème Fraiche Vinaigrette

I love how the spicy poblano plays with the cooling crème fraiche and sweet honey in this salad’s vinaigrette. You will most likely have leftover vinaigrette that I found goes perfectly over thick slices of heirloom tomatoes and basil.

For the dressing:

Roast one poblano directly over stove flame or under broiler until blacked on all sides. Once blackened, place pepper in a brown paper bag, seal tightly and let stand for 15 minutes. Peel blackened skin from pepper, rinse with water if necessary. Roughly chop the pobalano, remove stem and seeds.

In a food processor or blender combine the chopped pepper, 2 tablespoons crème fraiche, 1 tablespoon honey, 3 tablespoons red and/or white wine vinegar, and a 1/3 to ½ cup olive oil. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

For the salad:

Steam or boil hericot verts (small green beans) until they just turn bright green. Remove from heat and let soak in ice water for several minutes. This process will help keep the beans crisp and colorful. Place the beans in a serving bowl and top with sliced prosciutto and the poblano vinaigrette.

Tropical Mimosa with raspberries

Not-Too-Sweet Tropical Mimi

Mimosas, or Mimi’s as I call them, are a classic brunch libation, but for something just as refreshing but flavored with a twist on the original, try using guava juice. You can find pure guava juice at most well-stocked liquor stores and foreign food stores.

Mix sparkling wine or Champagne with a splash of pure guava juice. Float fresh raspberries.

Fresh Raspberries

Posted in Breakfast, Drinks, Eggs, Lunch, RECIPES | 1 Comment

Picking to Picnic

Curry Chicken Sandwiches with tomatoes What better way to bid a hot summer day adieu than by having a picnic dinner? The objective: simple and seasonal. The reasoning: just because.

Last night B and I packed up a brown paper bag of curry chicken and tomato sandwiches, potato pea and onion salad, cherries, and chilled white wine.

B whipped up the curry chicken sandies by first baking chicken strips basted in olive oil and curry powder. Once cooled, he chopped and swirled the chicken in a big bowl with spicy dijon, creamy mayo, and chopped peppery arugula. The mixture was layered liberally on toast and studded with ripe, august tomatoes. Meanwhile, while sipping a Brooklyn Brewery Pilsner to help seduce my sweat to cool, I butter and olive oil sauteed some fingerling potatoes in my beloved, blue Le Creuset pot. Once fully cooked through, I sprinkled in fresh peas, sliced red onion, a dash of cream, and a splash of white balsamic vinegar. We gathered some Rainier cherries and red Solo cups and were out the door.

Fingerling Potatoes

Larz Anderson park of Brookline (Massachusetts) is among one of the best urban green plots I have come across in the city. Rolling green hills, ancient trees and a fountain pond all help make this place a romantic dream of a picnic spot. While kiters flew kites and as the sun slowly snuggled beneath the tree tops, B and I noshed on our summer fixings.

Sunset

Why you should picnic too: the prep was no longer nor shorter than a normal mid-week supper, it’s a great excuse to split a bottle of wine on a wednesday, dishes to do are fewer, and you just may go to sleep a little happier.

Sunset and cherries at the park

Posted in Dinner, FOOD CHRONICLES, Lunch, Poultry, Sides | 2 Comments

Ramp & Apple Bacon Jam

Being known to have a few pieces of bacon as my sole sustenance for a meal, one could say I am one of millions (or billions) of bacon dedicatees out there. Even though bacon has hit the trend radar and has been featured in its many forms in restaurants across the nation…I’m talking bacon ice cream, pork belly or fat back this and that, bacon vinaigrette, brittle, and the like, don’t think that you need to seek new, meaty frontiers.  Trends are sore subjects for early adopters and/or lifelong users and even addicts, but a nationwide bacon trend is one I can’t seem to turn my nose up to.

In the past year or so I’ve heard the two words “bacon” and “jam” compounded, which has turned another facial feature upwards.  With eyebrows raised and a watering mouth, a bacon fanatic can’t help but want to see this seemingly original mixture in play.

Creating a bacon jam is simple, with just one pot you can whip up this sweet, smoky, and vivaciously viscous concoction.  To a bacon base add rich sweetness, tangy vinegar, and whatever else can piggyback on.

In light of spring I decided to highlight ramps rather than the typical onion/garlic/shallot players in the bacon jam game.  With a standard base of brown sugar, mustard, vinegar, and coffee, I added apples for a second flare and VOILA, Ramp Apple Bacon Jam!

Scroll all the way down for two recipes utilizing this magnificent brew. Use these recipes more as inspiration to create other dishes incorporating your jam.

Ramp apple bacon jam and Deviled Eggs

Ramp and Apple Bacon Jam
1 lb. Bacon
3 bunches ramps, remove leaves and ends and coarsely chop white parts
1 apple (I used Braeburn), cut unto small chunks.
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon grainy mustard
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup brewed coffee
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Slice bacon into 1-inch strips and cook in a skillet or Dutch oven until cooked through, about 10minutes.  Remove cooked bacon and set aside.  Leave 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the skillet.

Over medium-low heat, add ramps, brown sugar, and salt.  Cook, stirring consistently until ramps are translucent.  Add apples, mustard, and coarse ground pepper.  Cook 1-2 minutes.  Add vinegar, and using a wooden spoon, scrape bottom of pan to deglaze.  Add coffee, syrup, more black pepper, and cooked bacon.  Stir to combine.  Bring mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 1-½ hours.

Let cool for 20 minutes and skim off any excess fat that rises to the top.  Once cooled, transfer bacon jam into a jar, seal tightly and place in refrigerator.  Will last 1-2 weeks.

How To Use Bacon Jam: Play on Bacon and Eggs

Bacon Jam Deviled Eggs

 

Ramp and Bacon Jam Deviled Eggs

Place eggs in a small saucepot and add cold water until the eggs are just submerged.  Place pot on high heat and bring water to a boil.  Once the water is at a rolling boil time 6 minutes before removing the saucepot and placing in sink.  Run cold water over the eggs for 3 minutes.

Peel the eggs, cut in half lengthwise, and remove yolk with a spoon.  Place the yolks of your eggs into a small bowl.  Use the ratio of 2 parts egg yolk to 1 part bacon jam.  Add in Dijon mustard to create a smoother, creamier texture.  Season with salt and pepper and stir mixture with a fork until smooth. Place yolk mixture back into egg whites and serve with a basil garnish for a licorice-y bite.

 

 

Not Your Typical Bacon Egg & Cheese Sandwich

Bacon Egg and Cheese breakfast sandwich

 

For this one, be creative! I made a sandwich using a toasted butter roll topped with melted Oregon smoky blue cheese.  I layered creamy Dijon mustard, fresh garden spinach, a fried egg, and of coarse the Ramp & Apple Bacon jam.

Add thinly sliced red onion for extra brightness or a slice of apple for extra crunch.

 

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The Joy of Hesser

Essential New York Times Cookbook

It’s been over a year since the extraordinary and strikingly red (!) Essential New York Times Cookbook was released.  Amanda Hesser, the author and exceptionally talented cook, recipe and prose writer, and personal mentor of mine, spent 6 years compiling and testing recipes to then write one of the most extensive and all-encompassing cookbooks of my generation thus far.  A new-age Joy Of Cooking if you will.  For this, a book with such expanse cannot be properly reviewed for critique in its bookshelf infancy—but rather, a gastronomical  encyclopedia  such as this should be talked about only after splotches of jus blur the lines of recipes, page corners suffer third degree burns, and dog ears thicken the book’s profile.

Hesser, a long-time food writer for The New York Times newspaper and Magazine, took it upon herself to filter through the entire recipe archive since the paper’s beginnings in the 1850’s.  She tested over 1,400 of these recipes ranging from the downright obscure, to the utmost divine.  Each is presented with an opening descriptor, marking Hesser’s personal ties to the dish or drink.  These recipe notes detail Hesser’s craftsmanship as well as provide useful and often humorous foreknowledge.

Readers can whip up age-old favorites that were perhaps a grandmother’s staple, or divulge into a more edgy, contemporary dish.  Either tactic, there is a recipe solution to any cooking occasion.  Her mother-in-law’s Ginger Duck recipe (p.480) got me through a tightly scheduled holiday party, her Pepper Cumin Cookies (p.695) brought me to whole new revelations about sweet/savory combos, and her Swedish Glögg (p.22) made for a recipe friends have begged me to email.

For me this book is not just about cooking from it—I have spent countless nights with a petite verre du vin in one hand while the fingers of the other flip through pages of old, really old, as well as modern recipes.   The book is a work of art that can even be enjoyed for its descriptions, layout, or simply for inspiration during times of culinary blocks.

The adventure of compiling this book didn’t end with its publication.  Hesser and friend Merrill Stubbs grew a close, culinary connection having spent hundreds of hours testing the book’s recipes together.  With much input from home cooks on their favorite New York Times recipes, Stubbs and Hesser found a need to connect and give voice to all the talented home cooks out there.  Their creation: Food52.com—a crowd-sourced recipe database from home cooks around the globe.  Recipes, drawn from weekly culinary contests, combine to create an annual cookbook of the winning recipes from each week, hence the 52.  I spent last summer interning for this fresh and creative start-up meanwhile getting to know a true journalistic idol.

The site is taking off, so jump on board this exciting and bubbling network, logon, create an account, and begin cooking.  Who knows, maybe your winning recipe will make it into the next published Food52 cookbook.

 

 

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Sweet Cheeky BBQ

Lemonade raspberries and fried green tomatoes

No longer can the Fenway neighborhood boast only fare for the fans.  Brats and beers are a bygone attraction of the area.  Look out Sox fans and huddle up Boston foodies, Texan barbeque has marked its territory, and trust me, it’s something to cheer for.

Tiffany Faison, previous chef at the now closed South End trattoria Rocca, or perhaps better known for her second place position on Top Chef’s podium, is now the chef/owner of Sweet Cheeks Q, a not too, too upscale BBQ joint on the parameter of Boston’s Fenway neighborhood.

Sweet Cheeks Q puts an urban spin on Texas roadhouse fare—craft brews shimmy up against Pabst Blue Ribbon on the beer menu, while the traditional hush puppies and fried green tomatoes get a modern, luxurious bath of garlic and jalapeño aioli.  The walls are made of a warmer-toned wood, which provide sleek lines to the large, open-concept dining room/bar/kitchen.  Set in contrast to the lineation of the wood are miss-matched cabin-like armed chairs, some of which show off chipped paint and nicks to infer use and signify a homey comfort.

The Sweet Cheeks Q menus parallels the story of the restaurant’s atmosphere—creatively unique, yet comforting, simple, and familiar.  Budweiser and Coors are listed beneath the all too cheeky label “lawnmower beers”, while you will find the craftier White Rascal and Brooklyn Lager winking beneath the label “nice cans”.  And no doubt you cannot miss the smoky apple moonshine cocktail, a strong look at a southern libation.  Drinks are served in Ball jars, evoking warm feelings of southern, summer porch relaxation.

Brisket Sandwich

Now down to the very essence of the place—the “Q”, the meat, the main event and sticky finger culprit.  The meats, of which you can choose between the all-fantastic ribs, pork belly, pulled pork, brisket, or chicken, come by the pound and are in-house oak wood smoked.  Accompaniments to the proteins are deemed “scoops”, designated by “hot” or “cold”.  These meal rounders range from heirloom baked beans that are as smoky delicious as the meat itself, to the collard greens of which a friend mentioned were the only comparison he had yet found to his southern grandmother’s, to a brussell sprout farm salad (a carry-over from Rocca), and a mighty, creamy coleslaw.

The food, served on parchment-line baking sheets and in camping mugs and saucers, is not glamorous.   But it’s not supposed to be.  The chow chirps for itself, it doesn’t need a team of fancy accouterments to gussy it up.  The nod to Texas Barbeque blends seamlessly into Sweet Cheeks Q’s urban setting—diners can enjoy the raw essence of what southern cooking is and always has been while wearing skinny jeans and occasionally tapping the iPhone.

 

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Bon for Me, Bon for You

Bon Me noodles and pork

In a town on the precipice of foodie-dom, Boston’s winding streets are even starting to see the likes of good eats.  Over the past year, a whole slew of new food trucks, vans, and carts have begun humming.  A new favorite, Bon Me, is among the upper echelon of truck choices.

I’ve tasted the banal, the trying-too-hard, the too-far-out-to-taste-decent, and the in-betweens of on-the-go grub.  Bon Me not only ranks high on the Boston food truck excellence podium, but its food is also better than most found in Vietnamese establishments around this city.

Even more impressive, the menu is simple and tight.  Choose a protein, a carb, and a sauce.  Go with the bread for a classic Banh Mi option, vermicelli noodles for those Bun fans out there, or rice if you’re simply feeling simple.  Sauce choices vary from the sweet and tangy Vietnamese fish sauce, to the salty and tart miso-lime, to the toasty sesame vinaigrette.  Mix and match to create custom concoctions worth guzzling up.

Don’t forget to sip on one of Bon Me’s tastefully crafted drink choices.  I can attest that their spicy ginger lemonade is brewed with fresh and potent ginger.  Their attention to good ingredients shows how this meal on wheels packs a satisfying punch.

for their schedule and locations, follow Bon Me on Twitter or Facebook

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Falling for your Market

Temperatures are cooling by the day and the leaves have nearly all fallen onto the sun-warped earth.   Here in Boston the selections at the farmer’s markets are not only changing with the colors of the foliage, but they are also becoming slimmer as the harsh winter climate begins tapping at the window.  Not unlike the now maroon sodden maple leafs, we naturally start to crave warmer, deeper-hued, and more spice-rich flavors.  As inspiration from of cold the autumn months, but also from the market’s offerings, here are two recipes to get your stove cranked up and your insides feeling toasty.   Note that both of these recipes, or rather loose instructions, are meant to be more of casual guides than rigid parameters.

 

Fresh Mint and Ginger Beet salad

Mint Ginger Beet Salad

Beets are a life-time partner for my taste buds.  These sweet red bulbs are so lush, sweet, and savory.  I can never get enough, especially in fall when they are at their best.  Pairing beets with the fresh ginger root I get from a favorite, local farm vendor spices up these sweet little veggies.  The ginger warms your belly as it sooths it too with its natural intestine-calming properties.

Peel and cut beets into bite-sized pieces.  Sauté in butter, salt & pepper until fork tender.  Make a vinaigrette using a white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, honey, freshly grated ginger root, and salt & pepper.  Using greens as your base, add the beets, fresh mint, and drizzle with your vinaigrette.

 

Polka-Dot Potato Soup

Potato Soup

This soup contains minimal ingredients so as to keep your cooking simple, but not bland.  Keep leftovers or make extra to have this warming soup all week long.

Peel and chop about six potatoes and five shallots.  In your soup pot, sauté shallots in butter, season with salt and pepper.  Add potatoes and sauté for about ten more minutes, season again if necessary.   Add enough water to just barely cover the potatoes.  Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.  Puree to desired consistency and stir in a splash of cream.

Pan fry rounds of thinly sliced purple potato for added texture and flavor.

 

 

 

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Fallternal Twin Soups

Pumpkins are not merely a favorite fall canvas for carving funny faces and frightful scenes, first and foremost these blazing orange bulbs are food (!). If you can look past their use as spooky porch decorations, and (bien sûr) their excellent smashing abilities they are certainly among the tastiest of autumn squashes.

The recipe below calls for white pumpkin, but any shade on the white to deep orange color spectrum will produce similar deliciousness.  The ingredients are simple and minimal, but this concoction nearly brought pumpkiny tears to my eyes—the garlic flavor, so subtle and light, floats around the sweet, earthy pumpkin like a pillowy dream.  If forced to live and cook in fall forever, this would be my meal du choix.

Pumpkins are not merely a favorite fall canvas for carving funny faces and frightful scenes, first and foremost these blazing orange bulbs are food (!). If you can look past their use as spooky porch decorations, and (bien sûr) their excellent smashing abilities they are certainly among the tastiest of autumn squashes.

The recipe below calls for white pumpkin, but any shade on the white to deep orange color spectrum will produce similar deliciousness.  The ingredients are simple and minimal, but this concoction nearly brought pumpkiny tears to my eyes—the garlic flavor, so subtle and light, floats around the sweet, earthy pumpkin like a pillowy dream.  If forced to live and cook in fall forever, this would be my meal du choix.

White Pumpkin and Roasted Garlic Soup

6 Cloves garlic, left whole and in their skins
1 Medium white pumpkin (the orange variety works well too)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Cups vegetable stock
Salt & pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.  Cut pumpkin in half, remove the seeds. Cut pumpkin into even sized wedges and place onto a sheet pan.  Drizzle wedges with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake in oven for 50 minutes to an hour, or until the “meat” of the pumpkin easily peels away when scraped with a fork.  Halfway through cooking time, coat garlic cloves with olive oil and add to sheet pan with the pumpkin.
  2. Remove pumpkin and garlic from the oven, set aside until cool enough to handle.  Remove skin from garlic and place in a large bowl.  Remove all of the pumpkin meat from skin.  Discard skin and add pumpkin to the bowl with garlic. Add warmed vegetable stock.  Using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender, blend until very smooth.  Check for seasoning and serve with crispy garlic chips (slices of garlic sautéed in olive until brown).


Kitchen sink pasta, an impromptu yet typical Sunday meal in our house is an informal medley and mixing of the week’s leftovers.  Vegetable odds and ends get haphazardly tucked amidst fusilli, campanelle, gigli and the like, then dotted with chèvre and blanketed in Parm.  This is an off-the-cuff, cleaning-fridge kind of meal that often bodes the biggest smiles and satisfied stomachs of the week.

I decided to extend the kitchen sink notion to soup this autumn.  Any fall root veggie seems to have a magical yet inherent ability to flawlessly pair with the others.  Carrots and parsnips, mmmm.  Parsnips and sweet potato, mmmmm mm.  Sweet potato and carrot…Ok, you get the idea.   The recipe below calls for these three, but any root veggie or squash variety you have hanging around will do; the idea is to use up any of those hiding vegetables tiptoeing on the edge of rotting. Add a blend of Middle Eastern spices to bring out the rich colors and flavors, and you’ve got a bold and nourishing soup to last the week.

Spiced Parsnip and Carrot Soup

1 Medium onion, diced
2 Carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 Parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
4 Tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 Cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ Teaspoon of each of the following spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric
Salt & pepper
2 Cups vegetable stock

  1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat.  Brown carrots and parsnips.  Add onion, sauté until translucent.  Add garlic, tomato, and spices and stir to combine.  Add vegetable stock (if vegetables aren’t fully submerged, add water).  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, cover to cook for 25-30 minutes.
  2. Using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender, blend the entire soup mixture until smooth.  Check for seasoning.  Stir in a couple shakes of cayenne for heat J  Serve with crusty bread

 

 

 

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Turning Arid into Astonishing

Frasca restaurant and kitchen

For as long as I can remember Denver’s food scene has proved to mimic its own dry and arid climate.  Here and there decent eateries buzz onto the radar, but so often those glimmers of foodie hope seem to dissipate into the vast banal food scene that defines the Front Range.  Slowly but surely Colorado’s largest metro center has begun to find a food identity, and thankfully one with more taste.  Perhaps due to the insurgence of more and more young professionals seeking a more laid-back and outdoorsy lifestyle, or a newly thriving art scene that proves humble yet shows promise, Denver has become quite the new “cool” destination.

With the help of a handful of talented, tenacious chefs, the city has also seen the doors of a significant number of distinctive restaurants open.  A few favorites include: Sushi Sasha, Fruition, and Frank Bonanno’s Mizuna and Bones. Although not new, nor just hitting the radar, Frasca of Boulder, Colorado has earned and maintained a stake on the podium of Front Range, fine-dining restaurants—Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine Magazine in 2005, Best Chef of the Southwest from the James Beard Foundation in 2008, and the restaurant stole the top spot in 5280 magazine for Denver’s top 25 new restaurants in 2008.

After extensive traveling through the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in Italy, owner and chef Mackinnon-Patterson and owner, M.S. and wine director Bobby Stuckey created their restaurant based on the Italian frasca—a small gathering place where family, friends, and the region’s farmers and wine-makers gather to eat and drink the earth’s bounty.  Both food and wine menus at Frasca are inspired by both this region’s flavors, as well as the frasca’s inherent expression of the seasons.

Following suite to the feverous “eat local” crowd of Boulder, Frasca does an exceptional job of not only utilizing local farm ingredients, but also magnificently following the flavors of the season. Frasca prepares their food with the utmost attention to the freshness and intrinsic taste of an ingredient—their dishes maintain a sense of innovation without straying too far from how the food is truly supposed to taste.  Pure, simple, fresh—perhaps trite words in today’s farm-to-table food trend, but all too honestly appropriate for this mountain town’s diamond in the rough.

Pretention may be what one would assume of a restaurant with as much stature and acclaim as Frasca has obtained, however, the sincerity and genuine friendliness oozing from each staff member relaxes even the most high-strung diner.  Bobby greeted us with firm handshakes, complimentary glasses of wine, and a showing of the cellar.  While sipping we took in the clean, crisp feeling the atmosphere offered—naked, industrial-style light bulbs stud rusted, metal wheels to create rustic chandeliers that provide warm light to the bright and open dining room.  The back wall, entirely clad in floor-to-ceiling wine racks, is the focal point of the room as its diamond-shaped construction, warm backlighting, and glass covering makes the space dazzle.

The meal was opened with a vellutata of roasted red pepper.  This chilled soup bore essences of honey and ginger.  The sweet pepper, rendered rich with roasting, took on creamy and robust flavors without the compromise of its fervent freshness. The primi dish to follow, a tagliatelle bolognese of veal, pork, and beef showcased the chef’s attention to detail and love put into the making of the fresh pasta.  Nothing avant-garde about this dish, not a fragment intruding on the classic perfection of the Italian original.

Tagliatelle Bolognese and red wine

To pair with these first two courses, Bobby chose a 2006 Clivi Galea.  From the Friuli region of Italy, this wine hails from the same region where the frasca originated. This white blend not only had the subtle swish of ripened apricots, but also the bite and texture of its fuzzy skin.  It was late summer in a glass, and it was charming.

For the final savory course, day boat cod with heirloom tomato and oregano.  The late summer tomato, presented in its purest form, stole the show.  The cod, pan-fried to a sublime crispness was unfortunately wanting salt, and sat beneath like a cracker to the perfectly sun-ripened heirloom pieces.  The dish lacked a pungent acid; shallot would have zapped the right life into the single-layered, tomato flavor.

Almond Frangipane Tart

For a sweet ending, crostada di mirtilli—a bite-full slice of almond frangipane tart kissed by house-made, huckleberry frozen yogurt.  The tart yogurt pierced its buttery partner, while its creaminess soothed the bite of the crostada’s cranberries.  These concluding bites proved a continuation of the evening’s consistency—Chef Mackinnon-Patterson and Bobby have beautifully maintained a mission that creating fresh and simplistic foods that stick true to their classic form will never stray far from perfection.

As one of only a handful of exceptional restaurants along Denver’s Front Range, Frasca is one truly distinct establishment that has maintained its acclaim for nearly ten years.  It may be hard to improve on perfection, but Frasca is one such example of how a restaurant can sustain faultlessness.

 

 

 

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