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And now Goose is losing his sous chef -- Mark Teffenhart, the man who'd been running Solera's kitchen all the time the boss was away -- to Radek Cerny. Teffenhart will be stepping into the role of chef de cuisine at L'Atelier in Boulder, which strikes me as a little odd, because L'Atelier was always promoted as a one-man culinary show: Cerny by Cerny. In that sort of arrangement, a restaurant doesn't really need a chef de cuisine.

How does Goose feel about Teffenhart jumping ship? "I was totally fine with it," he says. "I told him, you know, that's the natural progression of a sous chef, and if you gotta go, you gotta go."

So Teffenhart did. Goose expects that he'll have a new executive sous in place shortly, but in the meantime, Solera's "been getting crushed," he says. Ninety or more covers every night, full patio -- which means he'll be sticking closer to home for a while.

As for the Ivy, "all the bills are paid," he says, "and all I have to worry about is the rent, so I can take my time with it and decide what I really want to do." He's got consultants coming in from all over the map to make suggestions. Michael Bortz from Paradise Bakery has been in, as have some of the bakers from Il Fornaio. Goose has thought about doing a deli counter and a cheese shop, a breakfast joint, a mini-Solera. "That's the next thing," he says. "Just deciding what to do there."

While Goose was busy reconfiguring his business, the boys from Frasca hopped a flight for Italy at the beginning of this month, taking their entire crew to Friuli, the region from which the restaurant has drawn its award-winning inspiration. The staff enjoyed ten days of eating, drinking and relaxing in an "educational" fashion, according to partner Bobby Stuckey, then returned to Boulder in time to reopen the restaurant on July 12.

I'm surprised they didn't cross paths with Blair Taylor and the gang from Barolo, who were also in Italy for a wine-tasting tour, going east to west across the northern portion of the country (which meant that Barolo, too, was closed until July 7). This was the tenth annual staff trip for Taylor, and he returned with some wonderful new wines to add to his list, as well as a recipe for Italian fonduta (fontina cheese and egg yolk) ravioli flavored with hay that will likely make its way onto the menu, in some form or another, come winter.

Come to think of it, Taylor and Goose should sit down sometime soon and trade travel tips, because Goose will be heading for Italy himself in November, in the company of Roberto Donnafrom Washington D.C.'s Osteria del Galileo, for the annual truffle harvest.

Chef/owner Teri Rippeto shut down Potager for two weeks, then reopened July 14 with a new, fresh-from-the-market summer menu featuring roasted Maine lobsters, brine-cured Long Family Farm pork chops, goat cheese soufflé with pickled beets, cured izumi dai (that's Japanese for snapper) served over a nasturtium-flower salad, and a simple bowl of mussels -- steamed in white wine with garlic, parsley and fresh garden tomatoes -- that I'd eat for dinner every night if I could.

The Old South Pearl area has added another pearl to its string of popular restaurants -- Lola and Sushi Denchief among them -- with the opening of the Black Pearl in the former Oodles, at 1529 South Pearl Street. But don't look for a new Chinese joint to join the local lineup: Although an Asian restaurant proposed for the 1600 South block still has a date with the Denver Board of Adjustment on August 12, the folks behind the project have surrendered to neighborhood opposition, and all plans are on hold.

And finally, for all of you who wrote to tell me I was a fucking moron for crediting the predilection for brains to George Romero's zombies rather than to Dan O'Bannon's Return of the Living Dead zombies in my review of the 9th Door ("Life and Death," July 7), I apologize. Anyone who knows anything knows that Romero's zombies are not nearly as finicky as O'Bannon's when it comes to their dining choices. O'Bannon's prefer brains. Romero's like the entrails, the arms, the legs and anything else they can get their undead hands on. I was wrong, and I'm truly sorry.

But for those of you who also wrote to tell me I was a fucking moron for including 28 Days Later in my list of zombie cinema, screw you. Just because the zombies were wearing Nikes doesn't mean they weren't zombies. Just because they became zombies through some stupid, contrived plot device about disease-ridden monkeys doesn't mean they weren't zombies. Fer chrissake, I'm pretty sure that star Cillian Murphy was an actual zombie before getting the part, but that's neither here nor there. Fact is, these monsters wandered the streets of London, chasing people, biting them and turning them into the living dead. What do you want me to call them, Girl Scouts?

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