Bite Me

You Are What You Eat

I wanted to know where John Kerry ate when he was in town last week, holed up at the Inverness Hotel to get ready for his next debate. But oddly, Kerry's press people never got back to me with details of their candidate's habits. What, like they had something more important to do?

And while it may not be borne out by his name, his past or his checkbook, George Bush fashions himself an ordinary man -- a plain-speakin', straight-shootin' Joe out of West Texas, the kinda guy you want to watch the Sunday NASCAR wrap-up with, then maybe share a pitcher of sweet tea and ribs out on the screen porch. He wants you, the voter, to see that every plank in his platform is stained deeply blue from his collar. And sure, the shirt is borrowed (or possibly just bought cheap off the back of some poor shlub who needed the cash after having his job outsourced to Mexico), and the whole sales pitch is the worst kind of political bait-and-switch, because common is the last thing this nepotistic, Yale-bred fortunate son actually is. But none of that matters. Because eating is the most heartfelt expression of one's most personal self, I have to believe there's some truth to the just-folks image. He's not trying to fool anyone with what he has for dinner while he's flitting around in Air Force One. He's not stumping when he's in his hotel room dripping plum sauce on his pants and fumbling with the chopsticks. He is, in those moments, likely more truly himself than at any other time -- and what he is, is common.

Of course, I've never been terribly fond of the common man. Personally, I prefer the extraordinary man and will be taking my preferences with me to the ballot box next month. I'll be casting a write-in vote for Gaius Caligula. Now, there's a guy who knew how to eat.

Location Info


JJ Chinese Seafood Restaurant

2500 W. Alameda Ave.
Denver, CO 80219

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Southwest Denver

Brasserie Rouge

1801 Wynkoop St.
Denver, CO 80202

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: Downtown Denver

Pho 79

781 S. Federal Blvd.
Denver, CO 80219

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Southwest Denver

Pretty boy floored: While I'm still on the national beat, let me share the news that uber-chef Rocco DiSpirito got banned by court order from ever setting foot in Rocco's on 22nd, the New York City restaurant that he founded, opened, then ran into the ground in front of millions of viewers during the run of The Restaurant, his quote-unquote reality TV show. His partner, Jeffrey Chodorow, has sued DiSpirito, claiming that he mismanaged the eatery -- because it's tough for anyone to run a restaurant with his tongue in the mouths of nineteen-year-old chef groupies.

Recently, DiSpirito was canned from his post as executive chef at Union Pacific in Gramercy Park -- his show-pony house and the kitchen where his cooking first brought him national attention. UP itself will close at the end of the year. So DiSpirito is now entirely without a house of his own. He's done, yesterday' s news and -- as I have always maintained -- still a friggin' embarrassment to working chefs everywhere.

Anyway, Rocco, you know that feeling you got in your chest after seeing your troubles splashed all over the TV Guide and the New York Times? They call that poetic justice. Hurts like a bitch, don't it?

Leftovers: The current Gourmet magazine has four -- count 'em, four -- bumps for local establishments in its annual "Where to Eat Right Now" restaurant guide for the editors' thirty favorite cities. Of course, we're sharing ink and space with places like Dallas, Baltimore and Chicago -- cities whose restaurant scenes are no match for Denver, recession or no -- but still, press is press, and three of the four picks are solid.

Brasserie Rouge stunned whatever anonymous editor was in charge of this section with John Broening's wonderful French brasserie cuisine in a region better known for fat steaks, microbrews and Rocky Mountain oysters. M&D's Cafe (2000 East 28th Avenue), which is now open for Saturday brunch, makes the list with its barbecued ribs and peach cobbler (not the first time either have been mentioned outside of Denver, mind you). JJ was a great choice for Gourmet -- and for anyone looking for truly authentic Chinese fare -- because it's tucked away in a solidly ethnic neighborhood and just not the kind of place you'd expect the national press to find. The eponymous JJ was formerly in charge of the kitchen at Ocean City, and he's brought everything that was great about that restaurant to this one just a couple of doors away. The Kitchen over in Boulder (1039 Pearl Street) rounds out this gang of four, and while I didn't love the joint when I recently reviewed it ("Boulder Blahs," July 15), I also have a bone to pick with Gourmet's writer, since the blurb reads like it was taken off the Kitchen's website -- complete with the owners' commitment to local product, their wind-powered kitchen and bio-diesel fryer oil. Nowhere was there anything specific about the food -- but that may have been a mercy. And finally, in the same issue, Gourmet gives the nod to Gold Hill Inn, in the old mining town of the same name, for its sour-cream apple pie.

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