Showing posts with label Boulder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boulder. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Naked Edge - Veggie-Go's

As I was walking through the Farmer's Market in Boulder, CO, I stumbled upon a guy selling these fruit leather like thingys only he said they are "anything but a fruit leather!"  The company is called, "The Naked Edge," and they believe that you should know and be able to pronounce exactly what you are putting into your body. It was started by John McHugh and Lisa Goode in late 2010. After living, working, and eating at organic farms in Europe, they returned home and quickly realized just how many processed foods were on the market. That was the inspiration they needed to start a snack company that uses only whole food ingredients, and thus The Naked Edge was born.

At $1.50 per package for the .35 oz. Veggie-Go's, they aren't cheap, but good wholesome food usually isn't. And, really,  it is only $1.50 so I picked up a few to try them out. These are definitely not your typical fruit snacks!  All of the ingredients are organic and natural. For example, the Sweet Potato Pie is made of organic sweet potatoes, apples, pears, pecans, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. These fruit snacks are super thin and melt in your mouth. Holy flavorful dried fruit! The Sweet Potato Pie was delicious!

Compare that to the General Mills Fruit Roll-Ups that we all remember eating as a kid, which contain pears from concentrate, corn syrup (of course), dried corn syrup (why?), sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil...wait, there's more! Plus 2% or less of citric acid, sodium citrate, acetylated monoglycerides, fruit pectin, dextrose, malic acid, vitamin C, natural flavor, and color. Yuck!  Veggie-Go's shouldn't even be compared to these, but I thought I'd throw this in here just so you could see how different they are. And to think I was even allowed to eat those as a child!

Back to the good stuff -- the Cinnamon Spiced Beet was chewier than I would have expected and had the cinnamon spiced beets along with crunchy flax seeds. 

I also tried the Mulled Wine, which I loved, as well as the Mountain Berry Spinach. 

I love that you can have your fruit and eat it too...without the preservatives or artificial ingredients! They are a great source of vitamins A and C too.  I really like supporting companies that create good, wholesome food.  If you are interested in trying them, you can order them directly from The Naked Edge by clicking hereThey sell them in packs of 12 or 24. Then you can try the wholesomely exposed goodness for yourself!

Friday, September 9, 2011

VG Burgers, Boulder

UPDATE: This restaurant has closed.

On my last day in Boulder, I was seeking a low-key lunch so my friend, Corey suggested we go to VG Burgers, a 100% vegan fast food restaurant. I had dined at VG Burgers last year and wasn’t particularly impressed. Again, this experience was similar.

I ordered the black bean burger, which was $8 plus a $3 combo that included a side salad and natural soda. Corey ordered the “bacon cheeseburger” with the combo as well. The bacon cheeseburger is the most expensive item on the menu at $10.  It is a very pricey fast food establishment.

We ordered at the counter, then sat down and waited for our food.  I chose a Blue Sky soda in black cherry, which was really tasty. When our food arrived, I was pretty disappointed at the presentation. I mean, I realize this is a fast food establishment, but at $11 - $13 per plate, I expect a gourmet burger. Instead, I got a black bean burger on a bun topped with salsa, avocado, and iceburg lettuce. In fact, iceburg lettuce was strewn all over the plate and was  even the main ingredient of the salad. So disappointing.  The burger was nothing special and the salsa really wasn’t that good.

The last time I was here, I had ordered the bacon cheeseburger and was not at all impressed with it. I gave it another shot as I tried Corey’s meal. I did not feel any different – it really wasn’t anything special and it really was not worth $10.

Afterwards, I ordered the soft serve ice cream in a cup with a vegan hot fudge that they recommended. Now, this was really good. It is a coconut milk-based ice cream with a locally made fudge and I thought it was delicious.

So, while I am glad to see there is a vegan restaurant in the area, I think they could really step up their game. It is one thing to serve these sandwiches and charge $5. It is a whole other ball game when you start charging $10 for a sandwich at a fast food joint. The expectation of exceptional food is set by charging high prices, then the consumer is disappointed when it isn’t exceptional. I would recommend coming here to try the soft serve ice cream, but the burgers alone aren’t worth the trip.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Zudaka, Boulder

UPDATE: This restaurant has closed.

Boulder is known for being one of the healthiest cities in the country so it is surprising to find that it is not that vegetarian friendly. The last time I was here last year was to attend a 7-day intensive at a vegan cooking school and I had the pleasure of dining at the few vegan-friendly restaurants in town. On this trip, I wanted to find a new place at which to eat so I did my usual Google search for vegan restaurants and discovered Zudaka.

I had never heard of Zudaka and my friend, who is vegetarian and lives in Boulder, had never heard of it either! But, we were both interested in checking it out.  It is a small vegetarian Latin dive in a strip of other businesses in downtown Boulder.  When we walked in, it was pretty busy and the host just told us to sit wherever we'd like.  The simple menu consists of appetizers, arepas, entrees, soups, salads and desserts. The best part about the menu is that each dish is marked as to whether it is vegan/vegan-friendly and/or gluten-free. That sure makes ordering a lot easier.  We started off by ordering some drinks. I tried the soursop juice, which was a sweet juice from Venezuela.  We also ordered an appetizer. While there was only one person waiting the entire restaurant, she was very quick and responsive.

Our appetizer was baked yuca, which is explained on the menu as a tuberous root from the potato family that has a delicate flavor and is native to South America. We omitted the sour cream so it was just served with fresh salsa and guasa -- the Venezuelan version of guacamole. The yuca root was very tasty and I loved the guasa - it was similar to guacamole, but creamier.

For dinner, I ordered two arepas, which are traditional Venezuelan cornmeal dough pocket sandwiches. There is a wonderful variety of these sandwiches so I had a hard time choosing. The first one I ordered was the Reina Pepiada, which is meatless chicken in avocado puree.  The chicken/avocado mixture is stuffed in the cornmeal pocket, which is about the size of an English muffin. It was pretty tasty.

I also ordered the Domino, which is black beans and vegan cheese. This one was okay, but not as good as the Reina Pepiada.

Although these sandwiches won't knock your socks off, for about $5 each, they are fairly good and priced appropriately.  This is a very low-key casual restaurant that serves very inexpensive food. It is a great place to grab a quick Venezuelan-style lunch in downtown Boulder.

4457 N. Broadway
Boulder, CO 80304
(303) 442-2717

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Black Cat, Boulder

Black Cat is an upscale bistro in downtown Boulder with its own farm from which it sources its vegetables. Although it is not an exclusively vegetarian/vegan restaurant, it had been highly recommended to me by chefs at the cooking school I attended, The School of Natural Cookery, in Boulder.  My friend, Corey, and I dined there last year and it was so enjoyable that I immediately made reservations to go again once I booked this trip. Reservations are encouraged and often necessary.

We were actually seated at the exact same table at which we were seated last year – a quaint bench in the window facing the bar.  Our waiter, Ben, was quick to approach us to explain the menu and the drinks. They have this amazing cocktail list featuring speakeasy-type drinks as well as an extensive wine list. Corey ordered one of the cocktails and I just decided to go with the wine pairing as we already knew we were ordering the 5-course vegan tasting menu…and I wasn’t driving.  The waiter informed us that it is actually 7 courses if you count the intermezzo. Wow. The waiter continued to explain that 70-80% of the food is sourced from their farm and the rest is purchased locally.  He also let us know that the chef would be choosing the entrees and that even he did not know what the chef would choose to serve us until it was served. I love the element of surprise so I was super excited.

We were first served a couple pieces of bread and olive oil. Normally, I wouldn’t even mention bread, but this bread is truly amazing. In fact, I’d say it is probably the best bread I’ve ever had. It is moist, soft, slightly salty…and just amazing. Corey agreed and has even considered asking if he could buy some on a regular basis!

The first course was marinated summer vegetables with spiced walnuts. It was a delicious mix of fresh green beans, root vegetables, broccoli and carrots. The walnuts were exactly what it needed to give it a different kick.  The first wine was a sparkling wine from Austria by V. Szigeti, which was a great pairing.

The second course was a curried coconut soup with a squash blossom from the farm. This soup had a fantastic flavor to it and it was appropriately paired with a minerally white whine from the Franken region of Germany by Hans Wirsching (2009).

The third course was this amazingly fresh Dolmades stuffed with spiced Farro and sprinkled with fine lemon zest. It was laying over an amazing green tomato basil sauce. The basil sauce paired with the citrus gave it a unique and unexpected flavor. The wine pairing with this dish was a sparkling Pinot Noir from France by V. Albrecht.

The fourth course was a lentil fritter surrounded by curried carrots and squash and topped with a pistachio korma. This Indian-inspired dish was absolutely spectacular. I would have been satisfied to have had an entrée of just this dish for dinner.  It was paired with an amazing Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan blend from Cotes du Rhone by Domaine des Escaravailles (2009). This was one of my favorite wines of the night.

I took a few bites before I photographed the lentil fritter. :(
The fifth course was a squash risotto with a creamy coconut base topped with a squash blossom. Again, this dish was delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever had a risotto with coconut milk, but it works quite well with the Arborio rice. This dish was paired with a 100% Gamay from the Beaujolais region of France by Christian Vergier (2009). Very nice.

The sixth “course” was the intermezzo of a sorbet, which was fine, but nothing really special. At this point they brought out not one, but two, dessert wines – one white and one red.  They were both spectacular. The red was a Grenache from Banyuls, France by Les Clos de Paulilles (2008) while the white was a Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc from Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont in Bordeaux, France by Chateau La Rame (2005).

The seventh and final course was a variety of strawberries, champagne-dried apricots, dried apples, and pistachios paired with a dark chocolate sauce. This was a nice light ending to a magnificent meal.

I think the chefs at this restaurant are amazing. I know that there are many of them under the direction of Eric Skokan and they are all amazing.  This has to have been one of the best dining experiences of my life. The dishes were unique, creative, and inventive; the wines were spectacular; and the service was exquisite. It is pricey, but appropriately so at $62 for the tasting menu and an additional $37 for the wine pairing. This is a must-visit restaurant for anyone in the Boulder area. And, for anyone doing a foodie tour of the U.S., this restaurant should be on the top of your list. 5 stars.

Black Cat
1964 13th Street
Boulder, CO 80302
(303) 444-5500

Black Cat on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Leaf, Boulder

As one of the few vegetarian restaurants in Boulder, Leaf is well-known throughout the area.  After having dined here last year, I was looking forward to another great experience and I was not disappointed.

When you first walk in, you see a very cool looking bar displaying a wide variety of liquors. Then, when you turn the corner into the dining area, you see dark wood tables and chairs with Mooi Random lights above (my favorite lamp ever!).  I was having lunch with April, a fellow food blogger whose blog is called, "Epicurean Vegan." It was so great to have lunch with a fellow blogger! I also met another good friend of mine, Corey, at the restaurant.  We all sat down in a booth near the window and immediately proceeded to order drinks.  We were just there for lunch so we all ordered juices. I had the Hibiscus cooler, April had the mint lemonade, and Corey had an Izze.  Corey and April liked their selections. Mine was okay – it was just a bit tart, but hibiscus can be that way.

The waiter was very helpful with explaining the dishes as well as recommending certain entrees over others. All of the dishes are clearly marked as to whether they could be made vegan or not, which made it easy to narrow down.  I decided to order the Jamaican Jerk Tempeh dish while April ordered the Beer Batter Tofu Sandwich and Corey ordered a vegetarian sandwich. 

The Jamaican Jerk Tempeh entrée was absolutely delicious and the presentation was spectacular.  It was layered vertically with Black Emperor’s forbidden rice on the bottom, a deliciously seasoned tempeh in the middle and sautéed Swiss chard on top, then it was topped with fruit salsa and a crispy sliced plantain.  The sauce was a coconut plantain sauce that was scrumptious. The dish had just the right level of spiciness. The flavors were just wonderful together.

April also enjoyed her Beer Batter Tofu Sandwich and although I didn’t try it, I was quite impressed at their ability to batter and fry silken tofu as I know how difficult that can be.  Corey also enjoyed his sandwich.

As it was just lunch, we did not order any dessert, but the last time I was here, I really enjoyed their desserts as well.  If I was in Boulder for just one day, this is one of the two restaurants I would visit with the other one being the Black Cat.  The food is delicious, creative, and well-presented; and at $9-12 per entrée the price point is just right. Highly recommended.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant
2010 16th Street
Boulder, Colorado 80302

Leaf Vegetarian on Urbanspoon