Archive for the food Category

When I wrote about dinner restaurants in Telluride, I forgot one place. I shall now rectify that mistake.

La Marmotte – I’m thinking that I probably forgot about this place because the food really wasn’t too memorable. But I sure remembered it when I looked at my credit card bill – it was the most expensive restaurant we ate at in Telluride (although probably close to Allred’s). This is a French restaurant with a prix fixe√© menu. I think the initial cost was $40, which seems reasonable, until you start with the supplements. All in all, the food was fine, although I really can’t recommend the fish dishes. Uniformly, at our table, the meat and foul dishes were far better than the fish, as lackluster as they actually were. I would also say that the desserts were pretty unimpressive. But they do have a good wine list, and they do have Chimay, so all was not lost.

More about Telluride – The Food! (Dinner)

If you read the other post, you’ll know that I spent a week in Telluride with eight members of my family. As with any trip, one of the most important aspects is the food. I’m a little amazed to say, the food in Telluride is outstanding. Like any tourist destination, there are some serious traps in there, but if you avoid the potholes, you’ll eat really well.

On the first night, we asked the concierge where to go for dinner. What’s with these guys? Do they get payoffs from the least interesting, most expensive restaurants around? Why are they never reliable? Why are the places they recommend so sterile? So the guy (who was later driving the shuttle bus) recommended La Piazza which was nothing to write home about (you get the vibe about how lame this place is from their contrived website). Just to give you a hint of the tenor of the place, I asked for a Dolcetto on the wine list. “Sorry, sir, we’re out of that one. We do have this one” with a point to a wine far, far down the list. I asked for another wine, between the two, and was answered with a grin, “Ah, no, that is out also. Again, we do have this one.” First night of the vaca, so I took it. So much for that place, and the concierge. I hope he got his cut from the wine choice. I probably should make sure they didn’t rip him off too.

OK – our fault – concierges are useless, at least anyplace where you speak the language. To prove it, the food we’ve had since then has been truly exceptional. Not just on a vacation-in-a-small-town-in-Colorado way, but in a real, world-class way. Maybe not the French Laundry, but really comfortable, delicious, innovative food served in great surroundings with easy, friendly service.

CosmopolitanIn the Columbia hotel, in the town. Inspired American food (maybe really Californian food) with a big reliance on the meat of the West, but also with flown in seafood. I had three lobster corndogs that were great. We’re going back for seconds.

Second trip: the beignets were amazing! Lemony and light – really ideal! Funny enough, we had those at the next place too . . .

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221 South OakProbably the best of the trip, and we consider than an honor given the other meals. In an old house in town, with a separate menu full of veggie options, there was no bad place on the table. Again, really great service (how do these places get good waiters in a seasonal vacation town?) paired with delicious food made for a memorable evening.

The Beignets at 221 South Oak

The Beignets at 221 South Oak

Allred’sThis place is on the mountain, at the gondola stop between town and Mountain Village. We’d heard it was good, with great views, from many people. We figured we’d get great views with overpriced food. The views were, in fact, great. You see across the valley, with the town below. It’s breathtaking. If the food were bad and overpriced, it would still be worth going, and I don’t really care about views. But the restaurant was a gorgeous building itself, and food, while maybe more towards the hotel dining room style, was really worth the expense, even without the views. It seems touristy until you go, but it’s worth it, no question.

Honga’sStrange to eat in a Thai/Japanese/Fusion place high up in the mountains, but we got over it pretty quickly once we tried the food. The lamb, especially, was delicious – really more middle eastern than Asian, but great. The bbq pork was also a winner, as were the fish dishes. The panang tofu, which I usually really like, wasn’t so hot there. But overall, this place is fantastic, and it’s on a totally different wavelength than the other places in town.

So those are the restaurants for dinner. Lunch is coming soon.

All-Clad’s Lifetime Warranty

We have a whole set of All-Clad pots and pans, and I like them very much. They basically seem to last forever – except the non-stick ones. The coating doesn’t exactly wear off, it just becomes ineffective after a while. In our case, it became so ineffective that our non-sticks were stickier than regular pans.

So I emailed All-Clad. I had sent a pan back once before many years ago, and I wanted to do that again, based on their lifetime warranty. They sent me back a big form reply, with complete cleaning instructions.

Hidden deep in the email, was this:

“We will be happy to provide a warranty evaluation for replacement. Please write a brief note that explains the problem that you are experiencing with the item(s). Include in the note your name and return address. Please also mark the outside of the package clearly with the number XXX-YYY. Package the note and the item together and return them to . . .”

So I sent in my pans – four of them – for ‘evaluation.’ That was six weeks ago. I forgot all about them until one day we remarked on how great it was to have extra space in the kitchen cabinets. We had totally stopped using these pans since they were so ineffective. I made a mental note to follow up with All-Clad, then promptly forgot again.

Today, a box from All-Clad arrived:

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Four new pans, each in a new box. Screaming for eBay . . .

So take advantage of those lifetime warranties!

Easy (but Good?) Home Bread Baking

A friend recently told me about a new book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The idea behind the book is to use some new techniques to make great bread at home that has some of the flavor depths of traditional aged, fermented dough. Bread made by just mixing ingredients and baking really doesn’t have the complex flavors of flavor made of either aged starter (like sourdoughs) or at least fermented dough (letting the dough sit for a while to evolve and brew its own flavors).

My friend was making bread in the mornings for her kids to take to school, and easily popping out fresh loaves. I thought I should give it a try. So I bought the book, and mixed up a batch of dough.

Mixing the dough was easy. I just put the ingredients in the KitchenAid and mixed. Then I put the dough in a plastic tub, let it sit for a few hours, and put it in the fridge, as instructed.

I made my first bread the next day.

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I’ve got to say, it looked great. Nice smells, good looking crust. Very artisanal. But it really had no flavor. Not to say we didn’t gobble it down before it had a chance to cool – nothing is better than warm bread from the oven, and we had some President butter on hand. But there was really nothing special about the bread beyond it being homemade and hot.

So I let the dough sit. The authors tell you that the dough gets better with age, up to two weeks. And that stands to reason. So on day four, I pulled out another batch of dough, made my “gluten cloak” (you have to read the book to get that). And I baked. But this time I didn’t get enough rise at all – despite letting it rise for the prescribed 40 minutes.

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Better flavor this time, but with very little rise, it was pretty dense. This wasn’t really working for slicing for sandwiches, which was the dinner plan, but doughy slices spread with pesto worked out pretty well.

Given the lack of rise but the good crust of the last version, on day 6 I made smaller, flat loaves. We had eaten at a restaurant in Paris last year called Cosi that made flat loaves for sandwiches. Great concept: less bread, but good fresh bread, with more filling. And since the bread was largely crust, it really held the sandwiches together. The bread was close in shape and form to a pita, but with a great flavor, and a bit tougher and having more bite than pita.

So I aimed for that, and I got pretty close:

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I basically sliced these around the edges for three-quarters of the circumference, and stuffed them with the favorite fillings for each family member.

Now, tonight, two weeks after I first mixed up the dough, I wanted some flatbreads with toppings. I made four. I added a cup of whole wheat flour to what was left of the dough, and some more water. I kneaded a bit, and let the dough rise for about an hour in four parts. Then I rolled each out flat.

The kids basically turned into pretty traditional pizzas. The adults got bacon, gruyere, frisee, and eggs. After they came out of the oven, they needed some serious salt, but this was definitely the best meal from the dough.

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More?

Yes, I’m definitely going to go for another round. I’ll use most or all whole wheat dough next time. and I won’t even try a bread on the second day – not enough flavor. I need to figure out if maybe my yeast was bad; something was wrong with the rising of the dough on days after the first. So I’ll probably get a new jar.

But this method definitely has potential. If I can get this to work, it’ll be much less work than a sourdough starter (which has always intimidated me).

The authors have more information on their website.

Got the Pics from Tierra Miguel

Here are the pictures I took from my first delivery from Tierra Miguel farms. More info about my organic CSA delivery is on my earlier blog post. So far, so good!

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I just read the excellent book In Defense of Food. So now I’m all energized to eat local, healthy, organic, sustainable food (again). We did an organic delivery box a few years ago, but we felt a little overwhelmed by the roots that came each week.So I started digging around, and I found Tierra Miguel Farm in Northern San Diego county. They bring boxes of food up to a whole slew of drop-off points all over Southern California (no home delivery, per se, but there should be a spot pretty close by you).The boxes end up costing about $40 each – a lot for this amount of produce, even good healthy organic stuff. But I still like the idea for a few reasons:

  • I’m obligated, so it’s becoming a part of my routine. So more organic veggies are around to be used.
  • I just get the veggies – no choosing. So I have to figure out ways to use veggies I might not otherwise buy (still hanging on to my daikon).
  • It’s seasonal: what I get will change as it should with what’s ripe as the weeks go by.
  • It supports a local, organic farm.
  • I’m – theoretically, at least – eating local and saving the environment by not transporting food as far. Hard to know if that’s really true since I haven’t investigated supply chain, but it’s likely.

The first two weeks we’ve basically gotten: beets, onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach, arugula, rosemary, daikon, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, and carrots. If I can dig out my pictures, I’ll post them.