Not surprisingly, I'm having a blast hanging out with food people at the IACP conference in Denver. The opening reception last night was at the Denver Art Museum, which has a beautiful new wing designed by Daniel Libeskind (below).
A lot of you will probably recognize the lady in the picture at the top of the post: Shirley Corriher, food scientist extraordinaire and author of 2 tomes on the hows and whys of cooking, Cookwise and the newly released Bakewise. Near the end of the evening, I spotted her relaxing in one of the museum's comfy seating areas. I told her how much I liked her books, and she was lovely. When I asked for a picture, she was happy to oblige, provided that we do what Julia Child always did for pictures: instead of "cheese!" we had to say, "1, 2, 3, sex!" Why would I argue?!
For the reception, chefs from Denver and Boulder's restaurant community set up stations and turned out fabulous food all night. Honestly, there was so much good stuff, I just wandered around for two hours in a haze of gastronomic nirvana. Very impressive, and I was thrilled to see Jennifer Jasinski, chef at Rioja, plating up spectacular salmon tartar with orange gastrique and arugula ravioli with almond sauce.
Other highlights were the beet mousse with local goat cheese from Root Down and everything, especially duck liver pate and a beautiful vanilla bean panna cotta dessert from the soon to be opened Olivea (chefs from sister restaurant, Duo, were helping out). The dessert was garnished with "candied mangold," and since I had no idea what that is, I asked the pastry chef and learned that it's the pink stem of rainbow Swiss chard! As soon as she told me, I tasted mild chard flavor. She dips thin pieces in simple syrup with a lot of lemon and bakes it in a low oven to make it light and crisp--fantastic!
Other restaurants that represented were Black Cat and Frasca Food and Wine (winner of the Beard award for Best Chef Southwest in 2008), as well as Cure Organic Farm, all in Boulder. I'd love to go have a meal at every one. Even better, all these restaurants are focused on sustainable and local ingredients as much as possible.
The picture above is a whimsical sculpture right outside the museum. You'll notice it snowed in Denver yesterday! Of course today is bright and sunny. Looking forward to more culinary revelations in the next couple days. After last night, I'd recommend Denver to anyone looking for a great foodie destination!