I was invited to visit Hope Foods, maker of the incredibly fresh and delicious Hope Hummus, in Louisville, Colorado. I’ve seen the name around for a few years now, but I can’t recall ever purchasing one of their products before. I knew that they started selling hummus at the Boulder County Farmers Market, and I knew they’d expanded and were on shelves in a number of our local grocers, but that’s the most I could have told you before last week. Now I could talk your ear off about what a great local company they are and how Hope Hummus should be your hummus of choice if you’re not making it from scratch at home. It will certainly be my go-to when I’m not following Chef Mike Solomonov’s recipe, which is a very traditional Israeli hummus. In fact, I was so inspired by my visit to Hope Foods that I’ll likely tweak chef Solomonov’s recipe the next time I make it.
~Inspiration to create new flavors of garbanzo bean spread~ That’s what came to me on our media party at Hope Foods. We were given two bowls of hummus, a “regular” or savory one and a sweet one that was sweetened with agave syrup. There was a table of ingredients full of spices, herbs, jams, nut butters, pumpkin, roasted peppers, lemons, limes, coconut flakes, goji berries…you name it and it was likely on a table for us to mix our own flavored hummus.
I added pumpkin puree, curry powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric powder, lemon juice, fresh thyme and ground black pepper to my savory bowl. Then mixed it all together and scooped it into a Ball jar labeled for A Bolder Table, which was a nice touch
Next up was the sweet hummus, which I wasn’t really sure what I’d enjoy, so I kept it simple: Almond butter and blackberry jam.
This combination would go really well on toast, and I would have NEVER thought of sweetening hummus on my own, so I’m inspired to try a variety of combinations in the future.
After mixing up some unique spreads, we were given a tour of the 15,000 square foot hummus factory, and learned that Hope Foods doesn’t make a ton of hummus and store it until an order comes in. They make hummus to order, so there’s a two day turn-around time from when they make the hummus to when it’s loaded on a truck for delivery. That’s FRESH in my opinion. It’s also Cold Pressure Prepped, which means it needs neither preservatives nor high heat to ensure each batch is safe from pathogens, bacteria, and mold. Another important detail that sets them apart from their competitors is adding olive oil rather than canola oil to their hummus. In short, Hope Foods makes fresh hummus using as few ingredients as they can without skimping on ingredient quality to produce a large quantity of food. I can stand behind that.
An operation that started with a group of friends making hummus in a commissary kitchen and selling it at the farmers market now employs 30+ people and makes more than ten different flavors of hummus. In my opinion, this company is doing everything right, and I am proud to have them as a local producer here in Colorado. I hope they continue to spread good things.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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-
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.
837 W Fulton Market
As I mentioned in my blog post about my Piedra Azul cocktail- La Última Palabra– A Bolder Table was invited to participate in a Dip and Sip Challenge featuring Piedra Azul Tequila and Avocados in honor of National Guacamole Day, which is September 16. Sean and I had plans to invite friends and have a little soirée in our loft, but then Boulder suffered through a 100 year flood, making roads impassable. In fact, we were asked to stay put so only emergency vehicles were on the road, and at the time of this posting, we’re still under a flash flood warning. So, needless to say, there was no fiesta with the $25 gift card we received to Whole Foods nor with the bottle of Piedra Azul Tequila. It was just the two of us, tequila, and avocados.
Before the flood of the century, I had plans to go to the Boulder Farmers’ Market for all of the ingredients I couldn’t purchase at Whole Foods. That, unfortunately, didn’t happen because the market was canceled due to flooding. Most of the farms, in fact, were totally wiped out, so I’m not even sure we’ll have a market for the rest of the season. But, disaster aside- plans changed. When life gives you lemons, make lemon-aide. When Piedra Azul gives you avocados and tequila, make guacamole and libations. It’s simple, sometimes.
When there was a break in the rain we rode our Linus bikes (couldn’t resist the plug) to Whole Foods to grab some Hass avocados, Haystack Mountain Boulder Chévre, and a few other ingredients to make an avocado dip to pair with my tequila tail and some veggie fajitas that the chef planned for dinner after working a ten hour shift at OAK.
The Dip and Sip Challenge is straightforward: Create a unique avocado dip and tequila libation. We received a $25 gift card to Whole Foods, a bottle of Piedra Azul Blanco Tequila, and Gaby Dalkin’s cookbook Absolutely Avocados.
When I lived in Santiago de Chile, I ate avocados every single day. After moving to Boulder and seeing a $2-$3 price tag per avocado, I pretty much made them a food specialty item in my kitchen. So, I was eager to accept the challenge, the gift card, and the cook book since I absolutely LOVE avocados. Disastrous flooding canceled our party, but the bright side is Sean and I had two days of serious avocado indulgence, which is not custom in our home.
Sean made a caramelized onion chipotle chévre guacamole for dipping with chips and spreading on fajitas. The recipe is straightforward:
Caramelize a yellow onion in olive oil. If you’ve never caramelized an onion before, it’s easy. Slice them thinly and add them to a hot pan with olive oil. Turn down the heat and let them slowly turn brown over 30-40 minutes, agitating them occasionally.
The caramelized goodness went into a food processor with a log of locally made Boulder Chévre and a couple chipotle peppers from a can of San Marcos Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce purchased at Whole Foods.
While Sean sliced the avocados, I had a giddy-as-a-school-girl-look on my face. But, we have no photo of that. Just the aguacates.
The final steps are simple- add the caramelized onion chipotle chévre mixture to mashed avocado, add Meyer lemon, French sea salt, Aleppo Pepper to taste (recall those ingredients from my cocktail?), and mix well.
This was a fun challenge for both of us. We learned some interesting facts about avocados from Gabby’s book, were both challenged to create something new, and had a great dinner for two as a result.
A farmhouse kitchen and pub… I dig the sound of that and I loved the food I tried during the industry soft opening on July 1. New restaurants need to ease in to their rhythm, but for a first night of service, you’d be surprised to discover Bramble & Hare hadn’t been around for quite some time. Everything was on point, and our waiter- the esteemed Tyler Nemkov, former executive chef of Mateo Restaurant Provencal and part-time chef of Black Cat Bistro– delectably described all 14 items on the menu in a way that made me want one of everything.
What’s in A Welcomed Pause? I can’t recall. Bourbon or Rye… I didn’t snap a photo of the cocktail menu, but that’s OK for a couple reasons: 1. The cocktail program, overseen by Dev Ranjan (Sommelier of The Black Cat Bistro and Beverage Director for Black Cat and Bramble & Hare), is clearly one of the best in town. It’s so good, I’m excited to announce Bramble & Hare will be a new stop on my Boulder cocktail tours.
After clinking glasses and saying cheers, we moved on to food. Tyler recommended we order one of everything on the menu. But, we limited it to 5 plates and a dessert.
A quick note on the menu: It’s the coolest menu in town, and definitely one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. You get a mini pencil so you can write the quantity of each plate you desire to explore- it’s a sushi-style-menu. Also, the top is hand perforated so you can tear it off and keep that “portion for your records.”
A plate of seared greens arrived first. I could eat these every day. I have three words that highlight this dish: crispy fried garlic.
Next came a beet stuffed steamed bun and a doughnut with duck liver mousse. I didn’t try the duck liver mousse… Not a big fan of liver… But the steamed bun is quite a unique vegetarian option. I’m hoping they play around with all kinds of steamed buns.
Since I was dining with Molly Browne, my Cheese Tasting Tour guide, we tried Bramble & Hare’s grilled cheese sandwich. Let me just say it was the best grilled cheese ever and I’d go there any day for a grilled cheese rather than make it on my own… It was THAT good. This particular night they used a cheese called Les Freres, a European style farmstead cheese.
We also shared the chilled roasted turnips with were served with broccoli florets.
Dessert was definitely in order, so we indulged in a sour cherry pie.
Chef/Owner/Farmer Eric Skokan has definitely introduced Boulder to a new style of restaurant and we’re very fortunate. On his Black Cat Farm, Eric raises the animals and grows many of the vegetables served at both of his restaurants, so this is definitely farm to table. But, the price point for each plate is really reasonable (in some cases quite low), which encourages ordering multiple small plates and sharing- a style of dining I prefer.
I’m looking forward to returning to Bramble & Hare. Looks like I have a new favorite spot in town.
1970 13th Street, Boulder CO
Open 7 days a week. Lunch. Dinner. Late night (til 2 am).