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|May 8-14, 2008
The Midwest’s creative contributions
by Nancy Stohs
• Reusable grocery totes are replacing paper, plastic
by Carol McGraw
Forming local habits in The Kitchen
by Clay Fong
My friend Tertia and I have lunch together on the days that she competes in Denver Roller Dolls roller derby league under the nom du derby Dharma Gedden. Lunch is important to her since her next meal might not be until 10 p.m. after the conclusion of her bout. Recognizing Tertia’s need for quality nutrition, I suggested we go someplace nice, namely The Kitchen, winner of the Best of Boulder’s overall restaurant category.
An attractive airy space with clientele that generally doesn’t look like it has to work for a living, The Kitchen has a decidedly upscale feel. It also prides itself on sustainable business practices and a heavy reliance on local and small-scale food producers. Consistent with this philosophy, our server brought us a carafe of chilled Eldorado Spring Water, a product with a smaller carbon footprint than its brethren imported from halfway around the world.
The lunch menu consists of salads, sandwiches and heftier selections from the dinner menu such as hanger steak, an entrée commonly associated with The Kitchen’s bistro antecedents. Following up on this French dining inspiration, Tertia and I ordered an appetizer of $6 Garlic Fries.
How much one cares for these fries is directly related to their tolerance for the stinking rose. While these fries were unquestionably flavorful, they may pack too much of a punch for some. As a garlic lover, I enjoyed the therapeutic potency of the large and pervasive chunks of clove, but I’d also sympathize with those who found the pungency overwhelming. The fries themselves were served piping hot, with a crisp exterior and tender interior.
For a main course, Tertia chose a simple $11 grilled vegetable sandwich. This selection featured generous portions of zucchini, eggplant, onions and fresh mozzarella. Attention to detail made this sandwich a winner. The rough-hewn rustic bread had perfect texture and freshness to complement the fully cooked vegetables, which were tender and perfectly marinated. A potato salad of golden-hued spuds sprinkled with a lemony dressing added both substantive heft and lightness of flavor.
If Tertia’s sublime meatless selection represented the yin, my $12 pulled pork sandwich epitomized the yang. I asked our server for her recommendation, and she pointed out this selection, emphatically stating, “I want it, I crave it.” Too frightened to order anything else, I complied with our server’s suggestion. As I finished the last bites of my sandwich, Tertia asked, “Do you want it? Do you crave it?” My immediate response was that it was simply OK.
But then the strangest thing happened. The next night, I was reading John Thorne’s essay on American barbecue, “Serious Pig,” and I wanted nothing more than that sandwich. Riding a chairlift (where I spend most of my time thinking of my next meal), I truly longed for this sandwich consisting of meltingly tender pork from Long Farm. Wisely, The Kitchen chose not to sully the meat’s earthy richness — which stood in stark contrast to the insipid flavor of supermarket pork — with an ill-conceived homage to American regional barbecue sauce. Instead, the meaty morsels were paired with a subtly herbaceous green sauce with notes evoking the flavor of lamb with mint jelly. If a sandwich can so thoroughly insinuate itself into one’s memory as an object of near-obsessive desire, then The Kitchen must be doing something right.
1039 Pearl St.,
Clay’s obscurity corner
The Denver Roller Dolls
Roller derby is alive and well in Colorado, and the Denver Roller Dolls are the premier league in the state. In the interest of full disclosure, under the name of Furious George, I am part of the league’s pit crew with track maintenance and mechanic responsibilities. Of course, the stars of the show are the league’s two teams, the Bad Apples and the Green Barrettes. These all-female teams provide flat track excitement for about the same price as going to the movies. The league’s next bout is at the Denver Coliseum on May 16th and additional information is available at http://www.denverrollerdolls.org/index.php.
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