Sunday, March 17, 2013

5280 Restaurant Week

5280 Restaurant Week just came to an end.  Sigh.  Sad face. Rofc (rolling on the floor crying, duh).  But, seriously, I've always enjoyed this time of year.  Restaurant Week gives you something to look forward to during that time when all of the holidays have come and gone, and it is still too cold out to know what to do with yourself.

For those who aren't from Denver, or who are from Denver and have never heard of 5280 Week (shame on you!), it is a glorious time when the finest restaurants in the metro area introduce a menu with anywhere from 3 to 5 courses for only $52.80 per couple.  If you're like me, and aren't exposed to a regular diet of filet mignon and fine dining, this is awesome.  (5280 = the elevation of Denver = 5280ft/mi = Mile High City, etc etc etc.)

In recent years, this event has gained a lot of exposure and has become quite popular.  So much so, that some restaurants are booked 3 months in advance!  For instance, I have yet to be able to make a reservation for Elway's - John Elway's top notch steak house - yum!  Boulder and neighboring cities have also started to participate in 5280, and it has been expanded to be TWO weeks instead of one.  Lucky for me, Denny's birthday falls within this time span, providing a great opportunity for an awesome birthday dinner!

This year we tried two new restaurants, with the intention of only trying one - a restaurant called Duo that is right near our house.  We were invited to the other restaurant by friends, and it was great, more on that later.  As for Duo, we have heard rave reviews about this place and I had been dying to try it.  It is mentioned in all of the local magazines, and all of my friends who have eaten there have said it was great.  However, I have to say that I was a little disappointed by our experience.  Before I get into the reasons it wasn't "great", I have to say that none of the food was "bad," it just didn't compare to other fine dining experiences I have had.  Also, I apologize for the lack of pictures to accompany the descriptions that follow...I'm not much of a picture-taker in restaurants, unless the plating is really amazing.

It started with the smell of the restaurant as we walked in the door.  We were not greeted with the aroma of their hopefully great food, but rather the smell of a mildewing wet rag :(  And that, alone, could have been the reason for our lackluster experience.  The portions were very small, and the flavor was not shockingly good.

Dessert was my favorite part (this should not surprise you).  Denny got the chocolate hazelnut cake, I got the toffee pudding, and Jackie got the pear sorbet.  While the toffee pudding was to-die-for (! - I would go there again for that alone), I have been on a pear kick lately, and their pear sorbet was excellent.  All around, I would eat their dessert again.

All being said, I am willing to try Duo again, on another day - just because I keep thinking of that damn toffee pudding and how if they could unleash that potential in all of their other dishes, it would be great.  Perhaps we can go for brunch, which I have heard is great.  I really think they were having a bad day, and perhaps their 5280 menu doesn't reflect their best work.

Edge was the second restaurant that we tried, by invitation from our friends :)  I'm so glad we got to try this place.  It is the steakhouse that is in the Four Seasons hotel.  First off, the waiter had a gift for describing their dishes in such a way that you would order a piece of dog poop if he were to explain it to you.  At first I found his excitement to be a little over the top, but by the time he was done talking about a dish, we all found ourselves wanting to order it, even if it wasn't on our radar at all.  All of our food was great, and their cocktails were amazing.  Being infatuated with pears lately, I got a pear martini and it was awesome.  I left this place feeling so satisfied by the flavors, and probably OVER satisfied by the portion sizes, but nothing to complain about there!

Well, until next 5280!  Hopefully I can be on top of my game enough to get a reservation at Elways!  Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

How to | Omelettes

My dad taught me a lot of things, and among them was how to cook eggs.  Every weekend we spent with him, he would cook us breakfast:  "dipping eggs" (which were eggs over easy with bagels and cream cheese that we could dip into the runny yolks).  I remember watching him make perfect eggs every weekend and wondering how he did it.  Part of my wonder and amazement came from the fact that he didn't bother with a spatula but rather flipped the eggs with one swift motion of the pan (I guess that's what years in the restaurant business will do for you!).  So, when he taught me how to make eggs, he taught me this way.  You can imagine the mess that followed.  He let me break as many eggs as I needed to get it right (however, none went to waste as he didn't mind eating all of the ones that I ruined!).

Avocado, Tomato & Goat Cheese Omelette
For a while after that, I was intimidated by eggs because out of all the eggs we cooked that day, I think I only flipped one successfully.  Therefore, I stuck to what I knew - scrambled eggs.  Every now and then I would try an egg over easy, this time with a spatula, and still be unsuccessful.  Omelettes were the same story.  I would make an absolute mess and/or end up with an undercooked runny "scramble" of random ingredients.

But, alas, after a lot of practice and a lot of poorly cooked eggs, I am finally comfortable cooking eggs, any style (I have even started poaching them).  I still stick to a spatula because I realize that, these days, in order to perfect that pan flip it will be ME cleaning up the mess and not my parents.  No thank you!

Once I got the method down, I realized that omelettes in particular are not that hard to make, if you have the right stuff.  Here is a quick how-to:

What you will need:

A small non-stick pan
Oil or non-stick spray (be generous, this won't work if the eggs are allowed to stick to the pan)
Eggs - 3 is usually a good number  (for a healthier omelette, I use 2 egg whites and one whole egg)
Misc meat and/or veggies that suit your fancy.  (For this, I used avocado, tomato and goat cheese)

Simple Steps:

Whisk the eggs.

Add enough oil to coat a small pan.

At medium high heat, add the eggs and don't touch them until the bottom layer has been allowed to cook a bit, then gently pull all of the sides away from the edge with a spatula, allowing the remainder of the runny eggs to coat the pan.  You may need to do this 2-3 times.

When the top is only a little runny, yet stable, you can flip.

Using a small pan, and not allowing the egg to stick, makes this do-able.  Get the spatula as far under the eggs as you can, and flip er' over.  If you want to try the pan flip, be my guest, but I hope you have a clean up crew :)

Quickly add cheese and any other fillers you want to one side of the omelette.  The egg is pretty much done at this point, so you won't be cooking your ingredients beyond letting the cheese melt a bit.  Any veggies, meat, etc. should already be cooked before adding to the omelette.

With your spatula, fold the egg in half over the ingredients.

You can give it a second to heat up before plating, but not too long or you will burn the eggs.

Viola!  You have yourself an omelette!  My favorite omelette has to be chili and cheese, what's yours?