Coffee and Chocolate Tasting Tours with Local Table Tours

Saturday mornings are great for casually sipping coffee, learning about beans, roasting methods, proper grinding, brewing at altitude, and picking up flavor profiles and nuances. Add snow to the mix, and it’s a perfect November day in Boulder, Colorado. Thank you Briana May for your beautiful photos.

Bee’s Wrap. Better than Plastic Wrap.

I’ve been averse to plastic in my kitchen for a long time now and as a result haven’t bought plastic wrap in years. Living in a dry, high altitude town means your beautiful freshly baked baguettes will turn into crackers without being stored in plastic, so I’ve kept plastic bags in the kitchen for those moments when I can’t finish a loaf in a day. But, I came across a unique solution a few months ago on Food 52- Bee’s Wrap.

Bee's Wrap

Bee’s Wrap is made with organic cotton covered in beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. The warmth of your hands molds it to your baguette (or cheese, bowl, sandwich), and then it stiffens when it cools and maintains its shape.

Bee's Wrap

You can wash it in cool water with mild dish detergent, let it air dry, and it lasts approximately one year. I haven’t had mine for a year yet, so I can’t testify to what starts to happen that you’d realize it was time to buy a new one. I also have only used mine for bread thus far.

Baguette in Bee's Wrap

I love the opportunity to not just keep plastic from my foods, but keep it out of landfills, and hopefully be part of a growing number of consumers voting with their dollars against our non-stop creation of thousands upon thousands of miles of plastic wrap each year.

If you live here in the Boulder area, you can pick up some Bee’s Wrap at Cured. Otherwise, check out their interesting website and at least consider it. If it’s not for you, then for your super environmentally-friendly friend.

Boycott Zeal Food for Enthusiasts

Zeal- Food for Enthusiasts, a not-quite one year old establishment, has just fired their second executive chef in ten months. First time restauranteur Wayde Jester has, according to comment from his staff, refused to listen to advice from veterans in the industry and has preferred to run a place where people are fired for not fitting in with the “love will see us through” front of the house philosophy that has formed a cult of sorts in the management.

Front of the house issues have been apparent from the start, which is expected when one has no experience and tries to play restauranteur without listening to and following the advice of industry professionals who have worked hard and done this all before. But, the back of the house was originally staffed with professional chefs with experience at OAK at Fourteenth, L’atelier, Frasca, and Jax, to name a few successful restaurant models here in town.

The most recent shift has brought A Bolder Table to the decision to boycott Zeal. Their executive chef, Sean Smith, had poured everything he had into running that kitchen and was called in for a meeting on his day off to be blind-sided and fired, effective immediately, with no severance, for doing a great job and working incredibly hard, but not leaving the kitchen to socialize with Zeal’s guests. I’m sorry folks, but chefs usually don’t socialize- they run the kitchen and make your dining experience possible with the help of the front of the house staff being there to touch tables and mingle with diners. Wayde Jester fired a chef with no one next in line to be trained in Sean’s duties. He then lied to the staff about the staff change, and is refusing to repay the former chef for out of pocket restaurant expenses incurred while employed. Staff moral is very low and each and every employee has reached out to Sean in tears, outrage, or just plain disbelief.

The “love is all we need” facade will only last so long. Showing zero love to one of the most hard working and important employees of their establishment is the antithesis to who they say they are. A number of employees have been put on probation for “bad attitudes,” a number have quit, and people continue to be fired. There is almost no one present besides the owner who has been there since it opened in December 2013. If you’re in the restaurant industry, you’ll recognize this as a red flag. If you’re not, you can probably see the difficulties ahead for the fledgling establishment, especially in a small town. So, I can no longer support Zeal with compliments and accolades. Instead, I’m eager to see the next place that opens in their current space.

*Disclaimer- Sean Smith is connected to A Bolder Table, so we are not just passionate about the issue, but know all of the unfortunate details.

Eataly, Chicago- A Gourmand’s Dream Come True

You walk in to a gourmet fresh produce market with raisins dried on the vine, exotic fruits, fresh vegetables, and a free vegetable butchering service. Turn to the right and approach a coffee bar, then a snack bar, an ice cream shop, chocolate shop, and home goods specialty shop. Head up to the second floor and enter a brewery, winery, olive oil shop, bakery, cooking school, pizzeria, vegetable restaurant, fish market and restaurant, cheese shop, fresh pasta shop, butcher counter, salumi shop… I’m definitely forgetting a number of “shops” under this two-story department store sized restaurant and marketplace. But, hopefully you get my point if you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting EATALY in NYC, Chicago, or any of its other European, Middle Eastern, or Asian locations.

Sean and I did a really quick reconnaissance after enjoying The Publican, and decided to return the next day for lunch.

We chose to dine at the Verduri restaurant, and started with their Bruschetta del Giorno.

Bruschetta EATALY

And a couple glasses of rosé in EATALY glasses (available for purchase, of course).

EATALY rosé

Next came the Asparagi dish with a beautifully fried egg on top.

Asparagi

We followed that with Verdure Piastra, which was essentially a big serving of farro topped with roasted veggies.

Verdure Piastra

And chef had to try their Green Pea Farrotto, as he’d just been talking about wanting to put a Farrotto on his own menu at Zeal.

Farrotto

The verdict? The Farrotto, which is essentially a risotto-style dish made with farro rather than rice, seemed to be rapidly prepared rather than slowly cooked the way this labor intensive dish is best made for a creamy, delectable experience. It seemed like pre-cooked farro was added to a pea broth rather than cooked in a broth over a long period of time. But, the flavor was good. The Verdure Piastra was a HUGE portion of food, yet priced the same as the Farrotto. This seemed off to us. And in the end, lunch cost $130 including tax and tip. That’s a pretty expensive lunch!

The Publican, Chicago

The Publican is a meat-centric James Beard Award Winning establishment in the meatpacking district of Chicago. Not necessarily a great choice for vegetarians, but absolutely worth a metro ride out to this neighborhood that still clings to it’s meatpacking past of warehouses, wide streets, and the stench of fish from a  loading dock floor that maybe wasn’t hosed down too well with bleach the day before.

This is a place that takes itself very seriously, and their attention to detail was impressive. The interior design, service, sourcing of product- every single thing was well done in what I could tell from our hour or so experience sitting in a booth that resembles a hog’s pen, with a chest-high door shutting us in and all. Pig paintings decorate the walls, and they have their own butcher shop across the street: Publican Quality Meats. We definitely weren’t in Boulder…

The Publican, Chicago, Menu

Like all great places nowadays, local farms are highlighted on their menu so you know exactly where that Little Gem Salad is coming from.

We started off with beverages, of course. (Sean and I can be a couple of one trick ponies)

I tried a cider, and he went for a flight of rosé. When the flight arrived, I asked our server to please place it down for a photo before unstacking the unpretentious wine glasses. For me, this presentation was another nice touch. The Publican has beer glasses to match every beer, but wine, on the other hand, not so much. Rocks glasses for wine, totally rocks.

Rosé Flight

Not being incredibly hungry, we went with a cheese board and a Werp Farms Little Gem Salad. We had just eaten a Werp Farms Little Gem Salad at the Green Zebra the night before, so we decided to compare…

Werp Farms Little Gem Salad

You can’t even compare the two salads. The Publican fills a plate with Little Gem lettuce, fennel, radish, buttermilk dressing, and fried pig ears (which we got on the side).  Green Zebra, unfortunately, skimped out on the little gem lettuce and essentially mis-labeled their dish. But anyway, back to this amazing salad. I had never had pig ears and he insisted I try them, so we got a pile of thinly sliced, fried ears on the side rather than in the salad.

Fried Pig Ears

I didn’t like them at all. Sean swore they were amazing, but the flavor wasn’t something I really wanted to linger in my mouth. I’m just not too adventurous about eating animals, that’s all.

But cheese, on the other hand… I could eat cheese all day. Especially when presented like this-

Cheese Board

I really wasn’t on my game this particular day after my first night in a new city, where we were up before dawn to fly at 6 am, and learned they have a 4am last call at some bars, so I’ll admit to having no idea what cheeses and accouterments we enjoyed. But, it doesn’t really matter because The Publican is a place that frequently features different cheeses, etc., so whatever you enjoy on your cheese board will be completely different from my mid-July experience. Just know it will be good. Really good. Amazing, I dare say. Go now, Go often.

The Publican

837 W Fulton Market

312.733.9555

© Copyright A Bolder Table