March 6th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

If you love wine as HG/BSK do, a stop at Applejack is mandatory if you are in the Greater Denver area. Applejack is a vast and perfectly organized wine and liquor store in suburban Wheat Ridge. Applejack has wines from every country, every region, every vintage. Hundreds are always on sale and the values are extraordinary. They also have the ultimate big-time wines (lofty prices) and deliver them to the billionaire ski homes in Aspen and plutocrat ranches. Leaving Denver, HG/BSK loaded up on the bargains. HG concentrated on the reds while BSK selected the whites and roses. HG found great Washington and Oregon vintages and some values from France (Languedoc and Cotes du Rhone). BSK assembled many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, Friuli and Veneto pinot grigios and Provence roses. Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe, curiously, has the better bargains for these Provencal winners. BSK, the love of HG’s life, bought HG a gift: A bottle of high-end Tavel, HG (and A.J.Liebling’s) favorite rosé. It has all the sprightliness of rosé but levels of flavor that rival a good red. Pleasant grace note: Applejack has a small corner of Italian food specialties: pasta, rice for risotto, anchovies, etc. HG took advantage. As usual, HG/BSK’s food and wine future looks bright.

Carmine Lonardo’s Italian Delicatessen

March 5th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

On the way back to HG/BSK’s Santa Fe County home there was a stop at the Carmine Lonardo’s Italian Delicatessen in Denver (Florida and Wadsworth). The house-made Italian fennel sausages were widely touted. Bought sausage, head cheese, Genoa salami, pancetta, pasta. How did they rate? HG is a big fan of head cheese, jambon persille, and similar charcuterie. This was the best head cheese HG ever tasted. Been having it as an appetizer with a dollop of Dijon mustard. The salami was excellent. The pancetta was very rustic. A bit chewy. The much-heralded sausages? HG didn’t taste any fennel. Sausage didn’t seem to have the juiciness of a New York Italian sausage. Will give them another try before passing judgment.

240 Union, Still Wonderful

March 3rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

240 Union in Lakewood, Colorado, is one of the best and most reliable, consistent, inventive, friendly restaurants in the United States. It was HG/BSK’s dining choice on their whirlwind trip to Denver. Michael Coughlin is the owner/host/maitre d’. The distinguished white-haired gentleman is a hands-on guy. He is all over the room in perpetual motion. He helps the servers, the table clearers, explains menu items to diners, guides wine selections. Michael knows wine. He has assembled “20 for 28”. That is a selection of 20 wines (red and white and all splendid) that sell for a modest $28. Wine drinker heaven. Cocktails are not neglected. HG began his dinner at 240 with a delicious Negroni (BSK, who abhors cocktails asked for a sip and approved). On to the food. After BSK finished a glass of sprightly pinot grigio, sommelier BSK selected a robust cabernet from Hogue Cellars in Washington. BSK’s appetizer was a beet salad with goat cheese. HG chose beef carpaccio with capers, red onions, mustard aioli, and parmesan. BSK’s main was Dayboat sea scallops (the lush dish was served with spaghetti squash, tomatoes, prosciutto and a dash of limoncello). HG chose a whole roasted Branzino. The crisp-skinned fish rested on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes (there’s also an option of smashed potatoes with onions and red peppers) and topped with garlic aioli. HG can assert, without reservations, that this was the best fish dish HG has ever tasted. HG/BSK could make only modest dents at the tasty desserts (key lime pie and sticky toffee pudding). 240 Union is not only a very good restaurant. It is the business, political, social center of populous Jefferson County. When HG/BSK lived and worked in the area it was their daily choice for lunch. BSK met clients there and plotted political, government and economic strategy. HG collaborated with BSK but also lunched at Palm Restaurant in downtown Denver which was more convenient for journalists (and there was a flattering caricature of HG on the restaurant wall). Underscoring 240’s political importance, Lesley Dahlkemper and Mike Feeley. stopped by the HG/BSK dinner table at 240. Lesley and Mike are two Colorado luminaries. Lesley is a progressive Democrat and a recently elected Jefferson County Commissioner. This is a very important position in Colorado and Colorado should be grateful that this wonderful woman is a political winner. Mike has been a long term leader among Colorado Democrats. A lawyer, Mike is a member of one of Denver’s most prestigious law firms. Lesley is carrying the family’s political banner aloft. HG/BSK enjoyed the brief but joyous reunion with the illustrious husband and wife duo.

Stapleton Reborn and Some BSK/HG Memories

March 2nd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK began living in Colorado in 1985 (part-time) and full time in 1986. First on a 100-acre horse ranch some 9,100 feet above sea level in unincorporated Jefferson County. It was a mountainous area between the towns of Golden and Black Hawk. (Yes, HG/BSK had as many as six horses, rode the scenic mountain trails for hours and took equestrian lessons from BSK’s talented sister, Noel. She was a Colorado neighbor back then and, with her husband, Yossi, is now a happy permanent resident of Prince Edward Island some miles from HG/BSK’s PEI oceanfront paradise). BSK’s very effective environmental and political activism led HG/BSK back into the public relations business which grew into a formidable enterprise. Thus, HG/BSK said a sad farewell to their horse pals and moved to Denver. New residence was a fabulous full floor apartment resembling a New York Park Avenue residence transplanted a few blocks from the Colorado Governor’s Mansion. Some of the apartment features: 3,200 feet of space; private elevator landing; huge living/dining room with a wood burning fireplace tucked into a wall of white marble; two big bedrooms; wood paneled library/TV room; built-in living room mirrored wet bar with space for glasses, mixers, spirits, and wine; large kitchen with spacious dining area and lots of light; large, windowed terrace with built-in grill and dumbwaiter–HG/BSK would unload groceries into the dumbwaiter which was adjacent to HG/BSK/’s indoor parking spot. Some more apartment features: Three baths; closets galore; laundry area with washer, dryer, and shelving. Residents were given notice. The building was to be completely reconstructed and converted to condominiums. So, off to Santa Fe and the Land of Enchantment (and green chile). Incidentally, HG/BSK’s apartment is now valued at about $2,000,000. HG/BSK chatted about these memories as they battled the traffic to the suburb of Stapleton. When HG/BSK arrived in Denver, Stapleton was the friendly, mid-sized airport conveniently close to the city. (Miles away, the huge Denver International Airport has replaced it). Now Stapleton is a diverse residential community of 19,000 with schools, office buildings, hospitals, restaurants, markets, etc. Have to give the developers credit. They’ve given a neighborly feel to the houses on small plots of land and the architecture ranges from conventional to mid-century and cutting edge contemporary. There’s housing for every lifestyle and budget (including some five-bedroom, 4.5 bath homes selling at close to $1,000,000). Many parks, playgrounds, walking and cycling trails. Don’t want to live there but it seems much better than the developer horrors that continue to despoil the American landscape. Managed to get a quick lunch at Mici, the Stapleton location of a four-restaurant Italian food chain. Surprisingly good food and the luncheon special is a bargain. The sum of $8.75 buys you 1/2 of a 10-inch pizza or 1/2 of a Ciabatta sandwich plus a bowl of soup. HG had Giardino, a pizza with mushrooms, garlic, roasted red pepper, spinach, artichokes, zucchini, mozzarella. Soup was Fagioli, white beans with chicken broth, spinach, Parmigiano-Reggiano. BSK had Pomodoro, creamy crushed tomato soup, fresh basil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Both soups were accompanied by ample garlic bread. BSK’s Ciabatta sandwich was Toscana, chicken breast (hormone free); pesto, fontina, sun-dried tomatoes. HG/BSK thought they were getting snacks but it turned into a lavish meal. (HG would have transported gallons of the bean soup back to New Mexico if it were possible. It had a true Tuscan soul).

Airport Surprises At D.I.A.

January 16th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

HG has often noticed that plane travel makes HG ferociously hungry; and in a sad twist of fate, satisfying this hunger on a plane, in an airport or in the environs of an airport is close to impossible as the edible offerings are typically terrible. Well, on HG/BSK’s recent travel from New Mexico to Denver to Rhode Island to Paris and back, HG found himself pleasantly surprised. On the trip out from Denver, HG’s thoughts turned to sandwiches. There are times when nothing satisfies quite like a good sandwich. Of course, such specimens aren’t so easy to find. Been a long time since HG has really had a top flight bacon-tomato-lettuce-mayonnaise-whole wheat toast sandwich at a local diner. And, of course, a really big time Jewish pastrami on rye can only be found at Katz’s in New York or Langer’s in Los Angeles. But HG found a great sandwich in an unlikely spot — Elway’s, a nicely designed eatery at the Denver International Airport. John Elway is a Denver football icon who has two steak houses in the city plus this place. Don’t know if John knows anything about food but Elway’s served HG an exemplary blackened fish sandwich on a brioche bun. It was enhanced by New Orleans tasso ham and chipotle dressing. And, accompanied by a nice bowl of chipotle infused cole slaw. Good, spicy stuff. Made HG think over a lifetime of hand-held treats — HG is very fond of big, robust Italian sandwiches (called heroes, grinders, subs and po’ boys–dependent upon geography). The best ever was served in a deli on the main street of New Paltz in the Hudson Valley. John Goodman, that exemplary actor (who looks like a world class eater) likes the mufaletta sandwich prepared by an Italian grocery in New Orleans (it features vinegary olive salad with an array of salami and ham). Take a look at the website of The Italian Corner in East Providence, Rhode Island, to see its encyclopedic array of grinders. One of the stars is the sausage pizzaiola grinder (sausage in a sauce of tomato, capers, spices and Romana cheese). On Fridays, there’s a special of a Calamari steak grinder. Chilean squid is pounded thin, grilled quickly to a point of juicy tenderness. It is then nestled between two slices of good Italian bread with plenty of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and olive oil. A gift from the sea.

On HG’s return trip: winding back to New Mexico via the erratic airline system, HG had the pleasant experience on the plane of watching Denver beat San Diego (with the ever dangerous Philip Rivers) and San Francisco defeat the upstart Panthers. Checked into the Holiday Inn Express at Denver International Airport. Pleasant hotel with the world’s worst shuttle service (be forewarned). BSK peckish. Went to nearby Sporting News Grill. Expecting the worst. Surprise. Had a sliced flatiron steak salad. Really first rate. And, the IPA brew on tap hit the spot. Off to New Mexico in the AM. Sunny day and nice motoring to Pueblo. Oops. Highway blocked (chemical spills, high winds, etc,). Lengthy detour to Salida. Hungry HG/BSK lunched at Carmelina’s and had a platter of fresh, healthy food — fish tacos with toothsome corn tortillas, salad, tangy salsa, good refritos with melted cheese. Learned later that Salida has a Vietnamese restaurant. Colorado’s small towns are not provincial when it comes to food and fortunately this aesthetic has extended to its airport.


Denver Surprises

September 26th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

Smooth, pleasant flight from LaGuardia to Denver on Southwest Airlines. Picked up the HG/BSK car and were off to Applejack, the giant liquor and wine shop (biggest volume in the USA) in Wheat Ridge. After paying inflated prices (because of high Canadian taxes) for plonk during the last three months on Prince Edward Island, it was a delight to revel in Applejack’s bargain prices for superior wines. HG was off to the Walla Walla, Washington section for the lush House wine and Steak House Wine bottled by Charles Smith. Yes, Walla Walla is a funny name but you will only smile with pleasure not derision when you drink the robust reds from the town and its environs. HG also picked up some nice reds from Peter Lehmann, HG’s favorite Australian vintner. BSK was in charge of whites and she filled her cart with sauvignon blancs from New Zealand’s Marlboro region and pinot grigios from Italy’s Friuli and Venezie regions. The excursion sharpened HG/BSK’s appetites and the duo stopped at the Hillstone Restaurant in Cherry Creek. Hillstone is a chain restaurant, a very professional, upscale and delicious chain restaurant. Modest prices for a menu of pure comfort food. Not reaching for the gourmet stars but providing very tasty and approachable dishes. One big surprise, however — HG/BSK reveled in a Kampuchi roll that would have been worthy of a sushi master. Constructed of yellowtail, chopped spicy tuna, avocado and topiko, it was a revelation. The restaurant is beautifully designed, decorated with superior art and the service is worthy of a Michelin-starred establishment. Good night’s sleep at a Marriott where (after watching some football) HG and BSK remarked upon the ability of big American chain hotels to provide clean rooms, good TV, comfortable beds and showers that have plentiful hot water and great water pressure at affordable prices. In Europe one would only find those services at the most expensive hotels. Notch one up for the U.S.A..

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Newfie Shrimp

July 8th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

HG has never been in Newfoundland but HG has much love for this chilly land. To begin with, one of HG’s best life companions was a very big, black, highly intelligent Newfoundland dog named Bobo. The big boy would often accompany HG to Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants in Denver, creating anxiety on the part of the waitstaff. And while many visitors have regaled HG with tales of Newfoundland’s physical beauty and the rollicking Irish charm of its residents, what really impresses HG is the quality of the sea creatures procured from its shores: Wondrous cod, hake, haddock and halibut are all fished off the Newfoundland coast. But, until recently, HG was unaware of the tiny, succulent fresh water shrimp from Newfoundland. HG discovered them at the By the Bay Fish Mart in St. Peter’s Bay, Prince Edward Island. They have since become a staple. HG mixes them with mayonnaise, chopped onion, celery and herbs for an estimable salad. However, HG likes them best the Venetian way. A bit of finely chopped garlic. Good olive oil. Chopped parsley. With a glass of chilled white wine it is the perfect way to begin a summer meal.


Great Chinese in Denver? Yes!

January 3rd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

During HG’s lengthy residence in Colorado (and now Santa Fe) there was one thing missing from HG’s idyllic life. A great Chinese restaurant. So, ironically, as soon as HG left Denver a great Chinese restaurant opened in the Mile High City. The restaurant is Star Kitchen (Mississippi and Federal Boulevard). Big, nicely lit room. Swift service. Exquisite Cantonese food — Steamed chicken dumplings, Fried pork dumplings. Big, juicy deep fried shrimps balls. All fresh and flavorful. Then came a platter of sauteed greens with garlic. An extraordinary dish of Japanese eggplant in a robust sauce redolent of garlic and ginger. Shredded pork with Chinese mushrooms and bok choy. Sesame chicken (crisp and not too sweet). HG and BSK were with friends with conservative eating habits so the restaurant’s renowned seafood dishes were untried. That will be remedied next time. Star Kitchen is reputed to have the best dim sum in the great land mass between California and Chicago. Those little yummies will also have to wait until our next visit.

Comfort Food in the Mile High City

September 20th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

Air travel is tedious and tiring these days. There is a whiff of fascism to the utterly nonsensical rules, regulations and procedures demanded in flying from one city to another. Some 13 hours of transit altogether from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, to a one night stay in Denver. HG and BSK were tired, grumpy and very hungry when they arrived in the Mile High City. Time for comfort food. Off to Little India (the Sixth Avenue location). Great food (a new chef, perhaps?). Chicken Tikka from the tandoori oven was juicy, full of flavor — nestled on thinly slcied sweet onions and peppers on a sizzling platter. Excellent onion kulcha bread. Fluffy saffron rice. Greaseless papadums with two good dipping sauces. Cooling Raita and a bowl of mango chutney. The surprise was the vegetable dishes: an eggplant stew and a bowl of okra. The vegetables retained integrity and were miracles of Indian spicing. The restaurant has a nice wine list and good Indian beers as well as Anchor Steam Ale from San Francisco. Finished with pistachio ice cream. No, not that green crap masquerading under the label pistachio. This was Indian pistachio ice cream that was saffron in color, contained chunks of pistachio and was delicious.

Breakfast the next day (before the 5 and 1/2 hour drive to Santa Fe) was at Racine’s, a Denver landmark. Three-egg omelettes stuffed with green chiles and then smothered in a porky, green chile sauce. Crisp home fries and warm biscuits. Yes, HG and BSK really felt they were back in the great West. Much chatter in the big, handsome restaurant about the coming of the Football Messiah (Peyton Manning). Denver folks have been waiting for the next Messiah since the retirement of the original, John Elway. Lots of Super Bowl dreams. BSK is oblivious. HG will observe with focused interest.

240 Union. At Sea.

March 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Denver’s 240 Union Restaurant (no, it isn’t actually in Denver but a few miles west in suburban Lakewood) is one of HG’s all time favorite dining spots. It has been run for many years by the warm and charming
Michael Coughlin, a man with a gift for hospitality and a talent for selecting the world’s best, modestly priced wines (at 240 Union, Michael has a list of 23 at 23 — 23 splendid wines for 23 bucks a botttle). Service at 240 is knowing and efficient. The bar turns out perfect martinis — dry as the Sahara and cold as a New York landlord’s heart. For a time during HG and BSKs Colorado business days, the restaurant functioned as their networking center where the business, political and cultural elite of western Colorado met for lunch every day. (HG’s downtown Denver spot for power dining was Palm Restaurant — HG’s
caricature adorned the wall over his favorite booth).

HG and BSK were in Denver this weekend for a memorial service for their dear friend, Betty Miller (please read the post: Betty Miller R.I.P. for more about this remarkable and valuable woman) and had two dinners at 240. As always, this landlocked restaurant in the middle of America manages to get fresh seafood and prepares it imaginatively. HG and BSK supped handsomely on perfect Pacific and Atlantic oysters on the half shell; Artic Char on a bed of corn and pea risotto; a whole, roasted striped bass with spinach and roast fingerling potatoes. A martini for HG. Prosecco for BSK. Fine wine from Chile for both. House made sorbets. A beautiful experience. Yes, you can go home again.

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