The Bite

Buffalo pops up in the weirdest places in this town. Tante Louise (4900 East Colfax Avenue), for example, offers a potentially stunning Great Plains buffalo ribeye with a pine-nut-and-sage beurre sauce. But be warned: You should order the meat cooked no more than medium, and rare is actually better; because the flesh is so lean, there's no fat to keep it moist during the cooking process. I've also had delicious buffalo stew and meatloaf at Club 404 (404 Broadway), as well as a rich, moist buffalo meatloaf at Castle Cafe (403 Wilcox) in Castle Rock.

For real purists, though, in addition to the Denver Buffalo Company, the three best places to go for big hunks of buffalo would be The Fort (19192 Highway 8 in Morrison), the Buckhorn Exchange (1000 Osage Street) and El Rancho (29260 U.S. Highway 40 in Golden). El Rancho also offers a unique burrito filled with great ground buffalo and smothered with an excellent green chile.

Unlike buffalo, some species are not making a comeback -- sharks, for example, which inspired Marge Moninger's letter published in this issue. Moninger took me to task for eating shark fin soup at La Chine (5071 South Syracuse Parkway), the Chinese restaurant that I raved about -- soup and all -- in my August 3 review. But although it's indisputable that sharks are being overfished, Moninger's numbers seem a bit inflated: She asserts that 275,000 sharks are killed each day, way over the number floated by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, which puts the count at a maximum of 24,423 per day. Still, even that's a lot of sharks -- and we haven't figured out a way to have them graze on public lands, like cattle, in order to increase their numbers.

While there's also some dispute as to whether sharks are caught only for their fins and then thrown back into the water to die -- economics and the current high price for shark meat makes that seem unlikely, but we just don't know what's going on out there at sea, do we? -- Moninger's point is valid. So if you have environmental issues, you'd better not eat shark fin soup. If, however, your scruples disappear at the first taste of something scrumptious, hurry down to La Chine.

Meanwhile, it's A-OK to eat swordfish again. This month, a controversial nationwide boycott of the fish -- a victim of severe overfishing -- in place since 1998 was finally lifted. Not surprisingly, folks in the fisheries business always maintained that the boycott was ridiculous, but many well-known chefs, including Paul Prudhomme, very publicly (and, some would say, self-servingly) came out in favor of the boycott. "If I had known swordfish was overfished," he said, " I would have given up serving it long ago. I don't need the money badly enough to ever hurt a species."

But apparently, thousands of restaurants going swordfishless for two years -- the last estimate had about 27,000 eateries across the country participating -- was enough to turn the tide, because the Natural Resources Defense Council and SeaWeb, originators of the boycott, recently announced that the fish is abundant enough to put back on restaurant menus.

That should be a relief to some eateries, like the aforementioned El Rancho, that didn't even know there was a swordfish boycott. "Wow, we would have participated, but I never heard anything about it," says Bill Troyanos, general manager. "I guess that shows you how much time I spend here; I never have time to read the paper." For the record, El Rancho has been serving its swordfish sandwich ($11.95) at lunch and grilled swordfish entree ($19.95) at dinner for only the past six months.

Jesus (yes, that Jesus) never seemed to face such dilemmas back when he was feeding the multitudes. But he could face some heat now, thanks to a new billboard posted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The sign, which reads "Jesus Was a Vegetarian. Show Respect for God's Creatures -- Follow Him," faces west at 510 West Mississippi Avenue.

Hey, I didn't know the guy, but my understanding is that Jesus ate fish (unless he contented himself with just snacking on those loaves). He didn't perform any miracles using tofu and Boca burgers, now, did he?

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Kyle Wagner
Contact: Kyle Wagner