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Paul named some names, told me some people to talk to. And over the next few weeks, as we come fully into the growing season, I'll be on the lookout for blatant deception, as well as sheer stupidity. Farmers don't exactly have it easy these days, so good for you if you're a chef or a restaurant owner out there pimping for the little guy — buying his produce, putting it on your menu and paying your bills on time. But if you're co-opting his name without buying the greenery, stop. Now. You want to be local, natural and seasonal? Then be local, natural and seasonal. Don't fake it. Don't wear the Ramones T-shirt if you've never been to a show, you know what I mean? No one likes a poser.
Garden snafu aside, things are looking good for Colterra, which has been open just over a month. "We just got rocked this weekend, man," Bradford told me. "We got the patio open. Added another forty seats." This is the new patio — the one just built to take advantage of the view over the grounds and still purely speculative gardens. The patio was a huge project; the gardens will be an even bigger one. Still, Bradford's hoping to get a bunch of heirloom tomatoes in the ground soon, some eggplant, maybe melons.
210 Franklin St.
Niwot, CO 80544
Region: Northern Colorado
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"I'm pretty stoked about growing some of my own produce," he said. "I mean, I'm not trying to be an organic farmer here. My concern is how we can align ourselves more closely with the soil. The challenge for me — my dilemma, I guess — is how far I can push this, right?" How much of his stock, his menu, can he get locally, seasonally, from good people doing good work.
We talked about his training — how affected he'd been by the idea of market-driven menus in Europe, the cuisine minceur of Michel Guerard — and how tough it is to pull off something like that in the United States, where industrial agriculture has such a lock on the market. He told me how, years ago, he'd sold his motorcycle and everything he owned to finance his first year overseas; how, much more recently, he'd done the same thing all over again in selling Chautauqua and Full Moon to pursue his dream of having a restaurant he could run exactly the way he wanted. "I finally have the ability to do this," he said. "And I'm thankful, happy we can change the menu when we want, grow things."
He'll be happier still when the gardens start bearing, but for now he's just writing a lot of checks. Three hundred dollars here, a thousand dollars there. Spinach and salad greens, tomatoes, cases and cases of produce from local farms with whom he's trying to build a relationship and plans for the future.
"We're spending money like drunken sailors down here," he told me, laughing. "And if I blow it, I'm going to be living in a box at the dump." He paused. "Way to put that positive energy out there in the universe, right?"
Leftovers:I just got word from City O' City — the new joint that Dan Landes and company opened in the former home of WaterCourse Foods at 214 East 13th Avenue — that it's pulled the PBR kegs and replaced them with frosty cold barrels of Genesee Cream Ale, or Genny Cream, as it's known to the legions of underage drinkers in Rochester who grew up filching cans out of their parents' fridge.
Pablo Torres, City O' City's bar manager and former Mezcal tequila savant, convinced the guys loading up trucks at Genesee Brewery that it would be worth their while to ship kegs all the way out to Colorado. "Of all the retro beers," he says, "Lone Star, PBR, Old Style, Rolling Rock, et cetera, it's arguably the best."
Arguably, like hell! It is the best, hands down. Don't believe me? See for yourself. The first pint got pulled last Friday, and City is offering 'em up at a buck per during happy hour and three dollars a pint (I used to pay less than that for a full sixer) the rest of the time.
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