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4) In that same vein, Santa, can you do something about the infused-vinegar-and-oil situation? Whenever you can find an ingredient or implement on the discount rack at your local Bed Bath & Beyond, that should be a pretty good clue that its time in the culinary spotlight has ended. You know what's being remaindered there right now? Home ice-cream makers, mini-whisks, popcorn poppers and about a million bottles of red-pepper-garlic oil. Santa, my Christmas wish for the poor line dogs still stuck on a food fad that died on the vine back in 1997 is that you leave them each one bottle of Modena tradizionale aged balsamic vinegar and one bottle of cold-pressed, raw, Spanish green olive oil. With these in the kitchen, infusions suddenly look and taste like the waste of time they truly are.
5) And what about the Atkins diet? How has this fad hung on so long? Look, folks, take it from a guy who eats for a living: There's only one diet that works, and it has only two steps. Are you ready?
Step one: Eat everything, just eat less of it.
2390 S. Havana St.
Aurora, CO 80014
410 S. Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO 80246
Region: Southeast Denver
922 N. 4th St.
Brighton, CO 80601
Region: North Denver Suburbs
3000 E. 1st Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
Region: Central Denver
8343 S. Park Meadows Center Drive
Littleton, CO 80124
Region: Southeast Denver Suburbs
1 W. Flatiron Circle
Broomfield, CO 80021
Region: Northwest Denver Suburbs
Step two: Repeat step one.
That's it. Throw in some deep-seated psychological food issues from your childhood and a couple doses of food poisoning a year, and voila! The pounds will just melt away.
But, seriously, people who swear by this quack's system are missing out on one of mankind's greatest inventions: bread. So, Santa, while you're sneaking around people's houses trying on their underwear and rearranging their living-room furniture, I want you to look at their bookshelves, too. And if they have a copy of The Atkins Diet, I want you to leave them one loaf of brioche and one black-cherry-chocolate miche from Paradise Bakery. While you're at it, check their cupboards for bottles of truffle oil. If they have any, steal them, and we'll burn them someplace where no one will notice the smell. Like New Jersey.
6) Finally, some stocking stuffers. I'd like to see Duy Pham find a job at a house he can settle into comfortably. I'd like to see more prepared food coming from the back of Marczyk Fine Foods. Speaking of markets, can't we have one that's just for chefs and not tourists and home cooks? I'm not talking about something on the scale of Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market or Union Square in New York, but something small and intimate that opens around five in the morning so that professionals can stock up for the day. A place where every cook can go and get his hands on the food instead of staring at a smudgy, faxed produce list. A place to become inspired. And if you grant that wish, we'll need bakeries that work on a flipped schedule -- places that start baking around midnight and begin putting out fresh bread at four in the morning. And with bakeries operating all night, we'll need restaurants that stay open past ten. And something more than just diners. Ethnic restaurants where I can get pierogis and latkes, injera, yakitori or a bowl of avgolemono at two in the morning on a Wednesday.
I wish that Maruti Narayan's would come back. And Triana. And the old Opal. I wish that the Cream Puffery would open a Denver location. I'd like it if the Fourth Story could find someone good to fill Tyler Wiard's shoes -- someone who will stay a while and turn a restaurant that has always had the potential to be great into one that actually is. And while you're at it, Santa, here's something Denver could really use: a brunch tradition. Not places to have brunch, because we already have some of those and they are almost universally awful, but a brunch culture. An understanding among the purveyors of brunches both fair and foul that the sole reason for their existence is to present simple food items and a whole lotta hair of the dog to customers who are tired, grumpy, hung over and looking for a place that will smooth their transition from the excesses of Saturday night into the ease of Sunday morning.
Santa, I'd like it if you could stop the waiters in this town from reciting the specials like bad actors in a community-theater production of Our Town reading their lines off the backs of their hands. What's wrong with a chalkboard? What's wrong with a menu insert? For that matter, I'd like it if they could at least get the ingredients right when forced to describe the kitchen's interpretation of strangled squab with virgin peaches in a lemon-Styrofoam reduction.
I'd like to see a ban on garlic mashers and portobello mushrooms, on bad tiramisu and cannoli that would have made Sonny Corleone weep, on "molten chocolate" anything and "flourless" everything. I'd like to see more neighborhood restaurants that actually feel like they belong in the neighborhood. In other words, more places like Brewery Bar II and a whole lot less like Brewery Bar III.
And Santa? Please stop kitchens from listing on their menus reductions that aren't, veloutés that are really béchamels, and confit of anything that hasn't actually been preserved in its own fat. Send the guilty cooks copies of Larousse Gastronomique or Le Répertoire de la Cuisine, by Saulnier, so they can brush up. As for the good guys out there -- the Sean Kellys and Frank Bonannos of the world who are doing their level best to make food the way food is supposed to be made and calling everything by its proper name -- give them each a pony.
Thanks in advance for all your help.