I'd already been out for a working lunch, out for drinks, then out for more drinks. Stopping in at the office, I got word that the James Beard Foundation had announced its semifinalists for the restaurant and chef awards, and that Bonanno was on the list. The announcement had just been made that afternoon; I knew there was no way in hell he'd be at Bones that night. He'd be out celebrating or something, making it a light night, maybe only dropping in at three of his four restaurants, whatever. I had my window. And since I knew I'd better wait a bit before trying to thread my way home through the cops and traffic anyway, I figured I'd sober up over some noodles. Just a quick snack. I called Nancy.
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Two hours later, we staggered out of Bones after having eaten nearly everything the crew could throw at us. And it had all been amazing. We'd eaten pillowy, perfectly textured steamed buns folded like marshmallow tacos around a filling of either roasted suckling pig or delicious pork belly, both varieties topped with nothing more than a touch of hoisin glaze, a delicate fall of green onion. We'd eaten marrow, scraping it out of the hollows of big beef bones with special marrow spoons and spreading it on toasted bread, scouring the big knots of bone clean and then kinda wanting to chew them like dogs. We'd had the cod, tempura-fried, and shumai dumplings with coconut milk sauce that were a little stiff, a little chewy. But these were followed by noodles so good it was like they were spiked with a soupcon of sodium pentothal, enough to make you forget everything bad that had ever happened to you in your entire life and focus you fully on the beauty of this one, pure moment.
And that was just one meal--one of the best I'd had in the city in a year.
This week, it's all about Bones in Westword. I review Bones, and then in Bite Me I talk with Bonanno about just who make Bones work. Finally, inspired entirely by my dinners at Bones, I stop by Oshima Ramen in Tiffany Plaza, probably one of the most authentic Japanese noodle bars in the United States.
So it's a big week for the noodle fans, is what I'm saying. A big week for fans of Frank Bonanno. And next week? Best of Denver hits the streets with more than a hundred awards for the best of everything foodwise that this fine city has to offer.