Local Table Tours was recently asked by the Boulder Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to bring a travel writer around town to some of our favorite spots for an evening dining tour. Sounds like fun!
As it was a Tuesday, we started at Cured to enjoy their weekly Tuesday evening wine tasting, and followed that with a delicious cheese and charcuterie platter prepared by their esteemed manager, Jessica.
Jessica knows her way around cheese and gave us a great taste of old world and new world cheeses and meats. We could have sat there nibbling and learning about cheese all evening, but we were heading over to Bramble & Hare for a few cocktails and local farm bites.
Bar manager Griffin Farro, widely acclaimed as one of the best bartenders in town, created three different libations for us to try: A beet cocktail with juice from Black Cat Farm’s beets,
one with carrot puree from their carrots, called Skokan’s Garden,
and a bartender’s choice, which allows Griffin to play around behind the bar.
Next came a beet salad with house made ricotta cheese (and please pardon the lighting, as Bramble & Hare is a very dimly lit establishment).
Then arrived some ridiculously good Mac & Cheese
followed by some of the most tender chicken wings ever. Period.
Chef/owner/farmer Eric Skokan came to greet us at this point and wouldn’t reveal a single secret about the mac & cheese nor the wings. It was worth asking, but didn’t get us anywhere close to figuring out his finger-licking-good secret.
And then it was time to walk a block away to Boulder’s highly acclaimed OAK at Fourteenth for our entree, or so I thought. OAK spoiled us with four courses of seasonal food and drink pairings. Sous Chef Bill Espiricueta started us off with a deconstructed gazpacho, served by pouring the tomato broth table side.
The light and perfectly prepared gazpacho was appropriately paired with a Monk’s Garden, a tail of basil and tarragon infused vodka, Green Chartreuse, cucumber, lavender, and lime (which can barely be seen in the photo above, just behind the spout of tomato broth being poured into the bowl).
Next, we enjoyed some corn and ricotta stuffed ravioli and a rose from Provence. Perfect. Simply perfect, except for the fact that licking our platters clean would have been frowned upon.
Our ravioli was followed by wood-fired oven roasted chicken on a fresh corn slaw and a corn cake, paired with a Firestone Walker beer.
But, there’s ALWAYS room for dessert, right? There was definitely room for a mini peach bourbon milkshake.
This was an incredible taste of Boulder. Ah… the life of a food tour guide is very tough.
Zeal has been a great addition to the east end of Pearl Street. Executive Chef Sean Smith, formerly of OAK at Fourteenth, runs a very busy kitchen serving diners who are looking for a healthier dining experience. The organic, non-GMO eatery also partners with Conscious Cleanse by offering daily dishes that are cleanse friendly and periodic three course meals so cleanse participants can enjoy dining out while not breaking the rules of their two week plan.
The August three course farm to table Conscious Cleanse dinner featured freshly picked produce from three great farms: Toohey, Red Wagon, and Munson Farms. Our first bite, or amuse, was deconstructed Toohey Farms Armenian cucumber and dill soup with avocado, dill flowers, and Himalayan pink salt.
This was a pretty, perfect bite.
Our appetizer was Red Wagon Farm chard wrapped around sautéed Hazel Dell mushrooms with either curried green lentils, the vegan option (left) or a chard wrap stuffed with duck confit (right).
The two entree options were Munson Farms summer squash “pasta” with either roasted seasonal veggies and herbed shitakes (left), or squash “pasta” topped with bison meatballs and roasted carrots (right).
Finally, the dessert course offered two options as well: avocado and carob mousse (a strange concoction for vegans) or a Colorado peach and wildflower honey granita.
This was a really good, healthy dinner, especially when you consider Chef Smith had to abide by the highly restrictive cleanse guidelines that don’t allow gluten or many of the summer’s bountiful harvest, such as nightshades. And for non-cleanse diners, our only critique is we wanted more of that Himalayan pink salt on our plates.
Just as the World Cup reaches its final days, competitors in another major international sporting event, the Tour de France, begin tearing over mountain passes and through city streets on their bikes. And Cured, Boulder’s premier cheese, charcuterie and wine shop, is helping Tour de France spectators in Colorado celebrate the epic race with food and drink that honors different stages of the race.
The Tour begins this year in Leeds, England, passing through a number of towns – among them, Harrogate, York, Sheffield and Cambridge – before crossing the English Channel for the race’s namesake country. For the English leg of the Tour, Cured offers Montgomery cheddar, the most legendary of English cheddar cheeses, and Robinson’s Old Tom Ale, a classic English ale with just enough power, funk and bitterness to pair gorgeously with the cheese.
“Montgomery’s cheddar and Robinson’s Old Tom Ale are made just down the road from each other, and it turns out when the flavors meet, they embrace,” says Will Frischkorn, a former professional cyclist and Tour de France racer who co-owns Cured with his wife, Coral. “Because there are few things better than a good cheddar with a good beer, we are taking a departure from the wines of France. There is something special about proper cheddar and beer pairings. In this case, maybe it’s that the beer and cheese grew up so close to each other – they share similar flavors and richness in profiles. In addition, the carbonation in beer helps create fantastic pairings. This one is especially wonderful.”
Each summer Cured hosts its own Tour de France, a trip much easier to complete than the 21-day trek around France. Will breaks down the Tour into eight stages, each corresponding to between three or four days of racing. Each stage connects the cheeses and beverages with the region the racers are pedaling across. As the riders make their way clockwise around France, Cured de France “racers” follow along with cheese and wine or beer.
Each stage, available individually or as part of the whole package, comes with a healthy chunk of cheese and a drink to pair. Most beverage pairings are wine, but given the English leg of the trip this year, exceptional beer figures into the Cured de France, too. Prices vary between $25 and $50, depending on the stage; the entire bundled tour costs $295. People who go for the gusto by participating in the entire tour receive the newly released Looney Bin bottle cage from Arundel, designed to hold a bottle of wine, beer, or just about anything else, loaded up with a bottle of Cured’s House wine as a thank you and a congratulations on your effort!
Cured de France boxes are available for pick-up at the store, or for $95 a box gets sent to your doorstep at the start of each stage.
Stage One: July 5-7 (England)
Stage Two: July 8-10 (Northern France)
Stage Three: July 11-14 (Northeastern France)
Stage Four: July 15-18 (Eastern France and Southeastern France)
Stage Five: July 19-21 (Southeastern France and Southcentral France)
Stage Six: July 22-24 (Pyrenees)
Stage Seven: July 25-26 (Bordeaux)
Finale: July 27 (Paris)
“At the finale,” said Frischkorn, “we guiltily enjoy Champagne and a wedge of Fougerus while the riders finally get off their bikes and bid goodbye to the 101st Tour de France.”
July 2, 2014 – July 2, 2014
1235 Pearl Street
Megan is coordinating a Best of Boulder tour for a small group, highlighting the food scene that makes us so well-known and respected. Restaurants, Foodie Specialty Shops, The Wednesday Farmers’ Market, and more. We’re looking forward to this unique tasting tour.
June 6, 2014 – June 6, 2014
1235 Pearl Street
Becky had so much fun on tour with us that she’s invited her friends for a lunch-time soiree to some of Megan’s favorite Pearl Street hot-spots.
Coffee, great food, chocolate, and talking about all things food with Local Table Tours’ Founding Foodie.