1.28.2010

Things To Do In Denver Before You Die: D Bar


photo courtesy of Dbardesserts.com

After my lovely experience at Nomelie Cupcakes, I began a culinary conversation with Nomelie’s owner through Twitter. She is as sweet as her cupcakes and gave me more than a few fantastic recommendations on the best eats in Denver. Per her advice, R and I headed to D Bar in the Uptown area of Denver where we were joined by our friend Neil.


D Bar is a restaurant devoted to desserts. Upon arrival it was very clear that D Bar was the place to be on a Saturday night. Every Saturday night chef and owner Keegan Gerhard can be found behind the bar preparing his sweet masterpieces right before your eyes. Inside D Bar the lighting is dim, the room is packed, and the energy is electric. After a long wait in the cramped heated doorway of the restaurant we were finally seated. The prime seating is along the L shaped bar - this is where all of the action can be experienced first-hand. We sat along the counter facing the window, which turned out to be a comfortable spot with the windows serving as mirrors to the bar behind us.


D Bar offers a well-stocked wine and beer list. We started our meal with my favorite wine: Layer Cake Primitivo. Layer Cake is a well-balanced and jammy wine that lends itself well to both sweet and savory dishes. It was the perfect accompaniment to our food.


We ordered four desserts to try to get the full spectrum of D Bar’s offerings. The desserts $8-$10 each. The Palmond is an almond cake with a caramelized pears and almond ice milk. The cake was dry and crumbly with a crisp almost pasty almond layer on the top. The pears were soft with a deep rich flavor. The almond ice milk was a light and cool compliment to the caramel tones of the pear. While this was a pear dish I would eat again, I did not enjoy the mild and dry flavors of the cake.


I have a special place in my heart for donuts. When donuts are on the dessert menu at a restaurant it is often hard for me to pass them up, so I was sure to order D Bar’s Brioche Cinnamon Sugar Donuts. The order comes with three fluffy, sweet brioche donuts dusted in cinnamon sugar and served with vanilla dipping sauce with a chocolate swirl. When the donuts were dipped in the subtle combination of vanilla and chocolate, it added a sweet gossamer casing that enhanced an otherwise average donut.


After watching waffle after delicious waffle pass by, we had to order the Warm! Mit Waffles. This is an ice cream sandwich unlike any other. Let go of your preconceived notions of ice cream sandwiches because this dessert is nothing like its predecessors. Vanilla bean ice cream is packaged between two warm rock sugar waffles that are adorned with a three-cherry compote and amaretto cream. The waffles were ideal: a gentle, firm exterior that gives way to a warm, doughy bite. The cherry compote added a pleasant tartness that paired harmoniously with the other sugary flavors.


Our final dessert was not on the menu, it was the night’s special: Baked Alaska. I’ve often heard of this fabled dish, but I’ve never seen it on a menu. This was my favorite dish of the evening. This Baked Alaska consisted of a tart shell filled with coconut ice cream covered by a baked meringue. All of this was lying atop slices of pineapple, which were brushed with a vanilla bean caramel sauce. Each dense mouthful was permeated with vanilla bean. The pineapple was sweet with no hint of tartness. The meringue top was baked to perfection with toasted edges and a gooey, spongy bite.


I have an unyielding penchant for sweets and D Bar satisfied my proclivity. Whenever I am in Denver I will be sure to make a stop at D Bar.

D Bar
1475 E. 17th Ave.
Denver, Co 80218
(303) 861 - 4710

1.25.2010

Things To Do In Denver Before You Die: Nomelie Cupcakes


I have a contagious passion for cake. On my recent visit to Denver, it was evident that R and his mom had caught my affliction. On our second day in this winter wonderland we discovered the cupcake shop of our dreams.

Tucked away in the sleepy town of Parker, just outside of Denver, is Nomelie Cupcakes. It is your quintessential cupcakery, pink and precious. Warm smells of sugar and sweetness greeted us along with vibrant and welcoming smiles from the staff.



Nomelie Cupcakes is a family owned bakery. They make their cupcakes on site in small batches baked fresh daily. They have a small rotating selection of cupcakes. On our visit they offered Vanilla Love, Chocolate Love, Coconut Dream, and Salty n’ Sweet. We got three of each!

Under a carapace of fluffy frosting, delicately sprinkled with translucent flakes of salt, lies the best cupcake I have ever had. A bold statement I know, but no doubt once you’ve enjoyed a Salty n’ Sweet cupcake from Nomelie Cupcakes you will agree. It might just be the best thing on earth!

The Salty n’ Sweet is a moist chocolate cake with salted caramel baked inside. The burnt sugar of the caramel is visible through tiny glistening caverns in the chocolate cake. The caramel creates a buttery, slightly sticky bite. It is prudently frosted with a caramel frosting that has an almost airy consistency. This cupcake from top to bottom is dessert heaven.

It is just sweet enough, without being tooth-achingly sweet. The salt is a perfect compliment to each bite. I have a penchant for caramel so this was the ideal cupcake for me. If I close my eyes I can still taste the rich filling, fluffy frosting, and chocolaty essence.



Nomelie Cupcakes
19751 E Main Street R5
Parker, CO 80138

** If you are planning a trip to Denver I suggest picking up an Eat/Shop guide, it is an invaluable resource. Or email me theletmeeatcake@gmail.com **



1.18.2010

Things To Do In Denver Before You Die : Smash Burger

It has become a winter tradition to visit Denver with R. I generally meet him after the holidays just before the New Year. Unlike Los Angeles, Denver is a true winter wonderland. The cold biting weather, the snowy ground, the clear skies, and the mountains all around, let’s just say we’re not in LA anymore. It is the perfect mini break from the hectic pace of the city and the holidays. If you haven’t been to Denver before it is a beautiful city with bountiful gastronomic pleasures.

Since I have been back in LA, I haven’t stopped thinking about all of the memorable meals I enjoyed while in Denver. When I left I was satiated and eager for my next visit. Here is some of what I enjoyed.

I am not a regular patron of chain restaurants. I tend to prefer the mom and pop cafes, or the charm of a restaurant that only has one location. However, when I was in Denver a few weeks back, it was a chain restaurant, of all things, that stole my heart!

Known as the hometown of Chipotle, Denver is a city that is not lacking in chain eateries. My favorite of their local chains was Smash Burger. This is a restaurant the guide books are not going to direct you to, but you want to be sure not to miss.

Smash Burger is a burger joint with a modern feel. What sets a Smash Burger apart from other burgers is the plump, crisp, perfectly cooked beef. Not all patties are created equal; some are too thick, or too seasoned or just dry hard disks of meat, but Smash Burger is not any of these things.

I ordered the BBQ Bacon and Cheese. It had thin crunchy fried onions, thick slabs of apple wood smoked bacon, tangy BBQ sauce and the perfect beef patty. The flavors blended together collapsing with each bite. The bun was nicely buttered and grilled. It had a soft exterior with perfectly toasted edges. At $6 a burger, Smash Burger is the ultimate burger. A burger so good you ingest it in 30 seconds and then beg for more.


Smash Burger

S. Parker Rd & Yale Ave

2630 S Parker Road

Aurora, Colorado 80014

720-213-0012

Open 10am-10pm Daily


** If you are planning a trip to Denver I suggest picking up an Eat/Shop guide, it is an invaluable resource. Or email me theletmeeatcake@gmail.com **


1.08.2010

Ain't Your Mama's Slaw




I find myself walking around exclaiming “Battle Napa Cabbage!” with such excitement, an excitement I never thought I would have for a vegetable.

January is the month of Battle Napa Cabbage. The monthly “food fight” held by Mel (Gourmet Fury) and Leela (SheSimmers) has done exactly what it set out to do. In just two months time it has gotten me excited about vegetables and eager to cook with vegetables that are not part of my normal repertoire.

Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, is a pale green (almost white) elongated cabbage with a mellow, nutty flavor. It has tightly clinging leaves that are crispy and creased. I found that the Napa cabbage was a great canvas for an array of ingredients.

Since it is the start of a new year - a time of resolutions and new beginnings - I thought it fitting to prepare a recipe that was healthy and light. Rather than preparing the Napa cabbage in a soup, stir- fry, or kimchi as it is typically found, I decided to use the cabbage in a slaw.

This is not your mama’s slaw. In thick wedges or large chunks, the Napa cabbage is coated with a tart dill mayonnaise. It is spiked with slivers of carrots and paper-thin rings of red onions. Crack some black pepper over the top and you are done. Serve it with a salty shaving of smoked salmon or accompany it with delicate Sardinian parchment bread and you have a healthy, light, and satisfying meal.


The slaw has a delicate creaminess. The crunch from the cabbage, the sweetness from the carrots, and subtle spice from the onions marry well together. This slaw is the embodiment of simplicity.


Ingredients:

1 Napa cabbage

1 carrot

1 red onion

Smoked salmon (less than ¼ pound)

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Dressing:

¾ cup mayonnaise (a great store bought will do, or make it from scratch)

Juice of ½ lemon (or more to taste, the dressing should be really tart!)

½ cup of chopped fresh dill

Take ¾ cup of mayonnaise and add fresh squeezed lemon juice and stir to combine. Add ½ cup of freshly chopped dill and combine. Do not add salt! The salt will pull the moisture from the cabbage and make this slaw soggy. Who wants that?

Shred 1 carrot and shave ¼ of a red onion for garnish.

Pull the exterior leaves from the Napa cabbage and save for another use. Take the heart of the Napa cabbage and cut it into long wedges or thick chunks. Dress the Napa cabbage to taste. Add carrots, red onion, and pepper. Enjoy!

1.05.2010

A Dosa or Two...


What is a dosa? A dosa is a South Indian crepe made from rice and lentils. It is typically filled with South Indian ingredients and served rolled almost like a burrito. In a city as ethnically diverse as Los Angeles, I was surprised to find myself unfamiliar with dosas. With an unyielding need to eat everything, my stomach and I were on a mission to find the Dosa Truck.


Dosa truck is owned and operated by Brooklyn born Leena Deneroff. While the menu focuses on dosas the truck also offers Masala fries, salads, and samosas. All dosas are priced at $6 each, a bit steep for food from a truck.

On my visit one dosa was not enough. Several dosas later I was full and happy.

The Mumbai Madness (Masala) dosa is filled with smashed curried Indian potatoes. The potatoes were tucked into the lean rolled crepe and it remained surprisingly crunchy top to bottom. The flavors were mild and creamy. With hints of fennel seeds sprinkled throughout, this dosa was crisp and light.


Sita’s Surprise is a dosa filled with sweet potato masala. This dosa was sweet and rich with a delightful buttery aftertaste. The rice lentil crepe was crispy yet soft and snugly sandwiched the potatoes. This was my favorite dosa.

The Shiva Shakti is a dosa comprised of 1/2 sweet potato and ½ malsala dosa. From end to end the flavors transitioned smoothly.


The Goa Goodness is a dosa filled with spinach, mushroom, and cheese. It was ooey-gooey good. The fresh spinach wilted slightly under the melted cheese with thick meaty slices of mushroom, the rice lentil crepe lending a subtle sweetness to the flavors.


Brahma’s Boon is a dosa filled with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and cheese. My least favorite of the dosas it was somehow too juicy and required the assistance of multiple napkins. The onions overpowered all other flavors and it felt uninspired. I could not find the South Indian influence in this dosa.


Dosas make a great lunch. They are crispy, light, quick and satisfying. On my next visit I will be sure to order the Slumdog rubbed with pesto and filled with paneer, spinach and masala potatoes, but for $6 a pop I will try to restrain myself to just one dosa.

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