Saturday, January 30, 2010

BCH Dinner

I recently had the pleasure to cook with two of my favorite chefs in Boulder.  Actually, they're both "businesspeople" more than working chefs anymore, but they can still get it done in the kitchen.

Every year Boulder Community Hospital holds a fundraiser and this year an auction item featuring myself, Jen Bush and Dave Query (you may know him as the man who owns most of Boulder's best restaurants) was a high ticket item.  We prepared and served food at Doug Bollman's beautiful mountain home.  And when I say "beautiful", I mean "unbelievable"!
Our menu was a group effort.  The courses included:
Passed apps of oysters, mussels baked in puff pastry, tomato and goat cheese mousse crostini, and wild steelhead tartare.
Warm poached egg salad with frisee, crispy pork belly, and pickled vegetables
Fried Goat Cheese with olive salad and yellow tomato coulis
Red Pepper Soup with duck confit and crispy potatoes
Seared Scallops with braised salsify, cauliflower puree, and curry
Meyer Lemon Polenta Cake with candied fennel and lavendar ice cream

Needless to say, we had a great time.  The dinner went off without a hitch, Dave and Jen were so much fun to spend time with, and the guests loved every bite.  Most importantly, we helped the community in our own little way.

Friday, January 22, 2010


San Blas is a small fishing town located on the Nayarit Coast of Mexico.  It's about a three hour drive north of Puerto Vallarta.  My father has been coming here on and off for the last 15 years to chill, play some music with his friends, and watch the sun disappear into the Pacific.  He drives down every January or February and lives in the camper with Robin, my stepmother.  Last year (2009) he had to cut the trip early because of some pain and a few new lumps in his neck.  The cancer was spreading and it looked like the last time he would be able to enjoy this wonderful place.  

Thanks to the generosity of some of his good friends, Robin's patience, and his own will, he made it down again this year.  I caught a flight from Denver and met up with him and the crew (dad, Robin, my brother Abe, and about 10 friends).  

It is bittersweet as he cannot walk on his own anymore.  The sea kayaking is a thing of the past.  Just walking down the sand and getting into the water is now a memory for him.  But the oxygen rich air and the sunsets are still here here for him.  His friends all show up, play music and tell stories.  We take a few sightseeing trips:  crocodiles, birds, turtles, boat rides, markets, music...  We all eat local shrimp, down a few pacifico beers, and share stories.  I'm thankful that there are so many people who care enough to show up and share this time.  It's a simple place with a universal beauty.  It's a testament to us all that life is short. Live your life and love those around you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dinner Party

I don't have much of a story here.  I cooked a dinner for some good friends with a fantastic wine collection.  We decided on a Spanish theme with tapas and cocktails to start, followed by a five course seated dinner.
The food was great, the diners were beautiful and good natured, and the chef didn't burn the house down.  I call that success.


bacon wrapped dates stuffed with marcona almonds
serrano ham, spanish cheeses, quince paste, cranberry jam
kumamoto oysters with cucumber pearls and chile vinegar reduction
fresh bread with trio of dipping sauces


wild steelhead tartare, avocado-wasabi mousse, sturgeon caviar

seared maine scallops, cauliflower, salsify, curry

colossal shrimp and lobster gnocchi, wild mushrooms, lobster cream

pomegranate glazed pork tenderloin, brussels sprouts, kabocha squash

spice cake, persimmon, star anise roasted pears, brown butter ice cream

Conscious Alliance

Throughout the year my great friend Peter Olivo along with founder Justin Baker and a number of organizers throw fundraisers for The Conscious Alliance.  In a nutshell, it's a group of people who collect and distribute food to some of our country's most impoverished people.  Generally, it's food collected and brought to Indian Reservations in the West, as well as a mission to educate everyone about how bad these people have it.  They also make a point to help and donate whenever there is crisis and people in need of food (Katrina, Haiti, etc.)  They are a fantastic, caring and generous group.  If you have never heard of TCA, please check out the site (here) and consider helping in any way you can.
Their mission is simple:
Distribute food and resources to communities most in need.
Educate people about hunger, sustainability, and the issues facing American Indian Communities.
Create service-learning opportunities for youth on American Indian Reservations.
Facilitate the sustainable development of American Indian communities.
Mobilize resources for first response disaster relief.

For the past couple of years, I've cooked a dinner at Peter's house to help raise money.  We invite a large group to the house and ask for donations.  I donate my time, Jax donates the food, someone donates wine, someone else donates decor, etc....  We throw a great dinner party that is so big I serve it family style.

This year I decided to show everyone where I come from:  Taos, New Mexico.  The food of Northern New Mexico is simple but very flavorful and rooted in tradition.  The dishes found in most homes are recipes passed down from generations.  It is a sign of respect and honor to be invited in someone's home and to be fed.  To me, this means community.
So I dug deep and tried to remember all of the dishes we would eat during the holidays or during special events.

The first (and my personal favorite) is posole, a stew made from hominy corn ("posole"),  pork, green chile, onion, and lots of spices.  Posole is often served with shredded cabbage, radishes and sopapillas - a deep fried dough that can be a savory accompaniment as well as served as a dessert (with honey and butter).

The menu also included:

Homemade chips with three salsas (guacamole, pico, and cactus)

Homemade tortillas
Melted cheese (queso) dip with chorizo and lots of chilies
Achiote rice
Smokey black beans
Green Chile (from Hatch, New Mexico - the best in the world)
Red Chile (from New Mexico - just dried instead of fresh)
Chicken, cheese and green chile enchiladas
Goat cheese and vegetable chile rellenos (Hatch of course) with piƱon (pine nuts)
Marinated and slow roasted ribeye with sauteed chayote
And last but not least - Bizcochitos, little anise and cinnamon cookies ALWAYS served during the holidays.  In fact, in 1989 New Mexico became the first state in the union to adopt a "state cookie".  Enough said...

The Biggest Little City in the World

Reno, Nevada....

How do I love you?  Let me count the ways:

1.  My sister lives there, so I've always got a place to stay.

2.  I can play No Limit Texas Hold'em all night in at least one casino (El Dorado)!!

3.  Lake Tahoe is extremely close - skiing in the winter and boating in the summer.

4.  Truckee River has GREAT fly fishing.

5.  Plane tickets are as cheap as dinner at my restaurant.

6.  Dancing, guitar-strumming, half-naked, 350 pound baby elvis in a Christmas play...