‘Tis the season to give the greatest gift of all…the gift of Cook Street classes! Available in all denominations, our Cook Street gift cards make perfect stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, and thoughtful gestures to the foodies in your life. Best of all, you can customize them to the foodie in your family! Click here to purchase a gift card today.
Please note: gift cards are non-refundable and are redeemable for classes and/or merchandise only. Gift cards are valid for one year from the date of purchase. Click here to see a course calendar for an idea of the variety of awesome classes offered by Cook Street!
This year, we’re offering great add-ons to make your card an even more impressive gift. Please note that these sets cannot be purchased online; if you’d like an add-on, please come to Cook Street during business hours or call the Café at (303) 308-9300. Add-ons include:
The Wine Savvy gift set includes The Wine Bible and a wine aerating spout.
The Spice gift set includes two Savory Spice blends as well as The Spice Bible.
The Pastry Perfection gift set includes one reusable pastry bag and five decorative pastry tips and a coppler attachmnet.
The Grilling Guru gift set includes Weber’s Big Book of Grilling and a Hells Handle grilling spatula.
The Food Lover’s Companion gift set includes The Food Lover’s Companion and a navy blue Cook Street Apron.
Gifts for all your foodie friends are just a click away! Click here to order, and Happy Holidays from Cook Street!
Well, it’s that time of year again. Yes, yes, the leaves are changing. Yes, the days are getting shorter and the daily temperature has dropped so it’s wonderful to be outside again. But I’m not talking about that. It’s crush time! That glorious time of year when those wine grapes, vitis vinifera, as we wine geeks call them, are ready to be made into wine.
Last week, I was up in Evergreen Colorado helping Creekside Cellars make wine. Red wine. Specifically, we crushed Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Mourvedre, and a teeny tiny bit of Pinot Noir, a rare treat for Colorado vintners.
So, here’s how the day went: First, we had to clean the bins the crushed wine will be stored and fermented in. Not a glory job by any stretch, but certainly more pleasant than that guy on TV who volunteers (actually seeks out) to do dirty jobs. These bins had some dried grape residue from previous crushes and general outdoor dust and dirt, nothing more foul than that. Then we assembled the pump hoses. A simple task although a bit challenging at times as the hoses don’t necessarily want to bend in the direction we wanted them to. Last year I didn’t get the clamp on exactly right and we had a bit of a blow out as the grape juice was being pumped into the press. Fortunately, that happened at the end, so only a small amount of juice christened the winery floor… Once the hoses were attached and put in all the proper places, the crusher/destemmer was turned on – not as sexy as that might sound, I just had to flip a switch.
The grapes are slowly dumped into the destemmer while one person gently helps shovel them in as well. The destemmer is a stainless steel basin with a big corkscrew- like thing in it that rotates clockwise, pushing the grapes down a little shoot into a basket like thing that rotates counterclockwise. Magically, the stems come out one end of the machine while the grapes get gently crushed and pumped into a settling or fermentation bin (yes, the ones we cleaned earlier). The stems are shoveled into yet another bin that a local farmer uses as compost once all the season’s grapes are destemmed.
So, everything is running smoothly until I hear a frantic shout, “Shut it down!”. What happened was the bin was overflowing and bubbling down the sides of the bins and onto the floor, making a sticky pinkish red mess all over the place.
Let me back up. The juice that sits in the bins get a bit of dry ice placed on them to prevent immediate fermentation, to prevent bacterial growth and to allow the skins of the grapes to bleed all that lovely color into the juice to give wine that deep ruby red color that is so enticing (ok , now think sexy) in the glass. So, the dry ice causes the juice to bubble madly and of course, the ice is all smokey and foggy and spooky-like as it hovers over the juice. Which is fine when it’s in the bins. When it’s bubbling and gurgling all over the floor, not so pretty (nor sexy).
How could a thing like that happen, you ask? Well, four containers of petite Sirah fit in one bin so, naturally, we thought the same amount would fit of Malbec. Not the case. Much juicier. And as it turns out, the bins had more grapes in each of them than in the Petite Sirah.
Once all the grapes are processed, it’s time to clean. Again. Lots of cleaning. Wine making is not a completely sterile process, but the cleaner the equipment is, the cleaner and fresher the wine tastes. So, no major crises at the winery, just a few blunders only one of which I’ve shared with you today.
Debbie Gray, CSW is Wine Instructor at Cook Street. For years, she has helped Denver’s most exclusive restaurants and venues create wine programs and train their staffs in wine service and the basics of wine education. She is well recognized and respected for her knowledge, palate, and infectious enthusiasm for every aspect of wine.
How can it be Friday again? Luckily, there’s no dearth of culinary events to tempt you this weekend. And remember, it’s always a good time to check out Cook Street’s chock-full calendar of cooking and wine classes so you’ll have great plans for weekends to come. Here’s a taste of what’s going on in Denver and around Colorado:
- GrowLocal potluck/party: Get serious about your locavorism in a dining event that takes place in an urban garden and benefits Growing Our Urban AgriCULTURE at 2828 Larimer Street. Bring a potluck dish to share (preferably one that incorporates local ingredients). Call 303.389.0085 or visit GrowLocal for more information.
- Great American Beer Festival: Yes, this beer festival is still raging on, and if you can snag tickets, you’re in for a craft-brewy treat. Can’t make the cut? Try the Denver Beer Fest instead. Tons of local restaurants are working to make this an unforgettable September.
- Telluride Blues and Brews Fest: Like your beer in a high-altitude setting? Join B.B. King and other blues legends for a festival that’s as much about the juke-joint atmosphere as plenty of delicious beer…53 microbreweries of beer, that is. The festival takes place in Telluride Town Park from 11 to around 9 Friday through Sunday. Click here for more details.
- Colorado Mountain Wine Fest: Beer not your thing? Go for the vino at this wine festival in Palisade. Tastings, classes, food, music, even grape-stomping should sate your curiosity about the nectar of the gods. Visit coloradowinefest.com for more information and a complete schedule.Dish: Brush elbows with Denver’s most devoted foodies as you sample the city’s bounty Wednesday the 22nd at Dish, Denver Westword’s celebration of all things Denver food. Click here to learn about tickets to the event and win some yourself!
That first feeling of fall has finally arrived…and with it are some amazing culinary events that have our mouths watering. Don’t forget to check out Cook Street’s complete culinary calendar for a list of recreational classes at our gorgeous LoDo kitchen.
Boulder FourMile Fire Food Truck Benefit: Get your grub on while benefiting victims of the still-burning fire in Boulder tonight between 4 and 8 p.m. Your favorite food trucks and Boulder businesses will be there. Click here for details and location.
Denver Food and Wine Classic: This event lives up to its name with a classic reputation that’s all about taste. Join Chef Paul Prudhomme and more than 30 area restaurants for food, wine, and flavor. Friday, September 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, September 11, 12-4 p.m. at Metro State University. Click for details.
Denver Beer Fest: It’s finally here…a week deliciously devoted to all things brewed. A huge variety of events are planned at venues around Denver, so get out there and enjoy Colorado’s craft beer tradition! Click here for a complete list of events.
There’s a long weekend ahead, and of course that means that Denver is itching for a great foodie event or four. Here’s what’s on our radar. While you’re at it, check out our updated list of rec classes that focus on fall flavors, classic techniques, unforgettable wines and some international flair.
- A Taste of Colorado: Yup, it’s already time for Denver’s greatest free food fair, featuring over 50 fine food vendors and much more. City Park, downtown Denver, September 3-6. Click here for details.
- Taste of Keystone: Prefer to have your fine food sampling in a resort-style setting? Keystone’s your destination this weekend, with demos, samples, and a good cause. Lakeside Village at Keystone , September 4. Click here for details.
- Denver Beer Fest: It’s (almost) here…a week when beer mysteriously takes over the hearts and minds of all Denverites and gently threatens to overwhelm the world. Yum. September 10-19, various locations throughout Denver. Click here for details.
Summer may be officially nearing its end, but that doesn’t mean we’re getting tired of grilled pizzas, one of our very favorite dishes. Pizza isn’t just easy to make…it’s a great canvas for the explosion of summer flavor we’ve come to expect from the local producers we love. Here are some tips for your next pizza party:
- Go simple. A few vine-ripe tomatoes, a sprig or two of basil, some low-key mozzarella…you don’t need the fanciest ingredients to come up with the best flavors.
- Go seasonal. Why not plunder the bounty of your nearest farmer’s market or CSA share for your next pizza? Squash, potatoes, greens, and even peaches love pizzas (especially on the grill).
- Go sweet. It’s easy to overlook the power of sweet pizza, but why not try some figs, berries, or even nectarines on your next pie? Pears and brie make a great combo, too.
- Go for broke. What’s the fun in making your own pizza if you’re hampered by fears or convention? A blank pie means a blank canvas, ready and waiting for your creativity…and your mistakes. If you’re not making a few gaffes over time, you’re not doing it right!
- Don’t go it alone. Need to perfect your dough or come up with some fab flavor profiles? We’re here to help with Pizza, Pizza, Pizza, a class that’s all about everyone’s favorite pie. Prefer to have your pizza made for you? You can’t go wrong with Cook Street alum David Bravdica’s amazing Brava Pizzeria, a wood-burning pizza oven on wheels that’s usually located at 16th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver.
As summer winds down, Colorado’s culinary events are heating up. Here are a few we’re thrilled about (and while you’re at it, check out Cook Street’s long list of recreational classes by clicking here).
- Lafayette Peach Festival (Saturday, August 21): Enjoy over 30,000 pounds of organic peaches in a festival that explores every facet of the fabled pitted fruit. Click here for details.
- Justice League of Street Food Bash (Sunday, August 22): Food carts are Denver’s new culinary trend…join their gourmet masterminds at a culinary bash that’s all about the cloak-and-dagger cool. Click here for details.
- Denver Harvest Week (August 21-27): Late summer means a bountiful harvest, and EatDenver is hosting its third annual Harvest Week to showcase local harvest-centered menus and the skills of some of Denver’s top restaurateurs. Click here for details.
- Telluride Mushroom Festival (August 26-29): Celebrate all things fungal at the 20th annual Telluride mushroom bash, which features education, demos, and plenty of samples. Click here for details.
What’s on your culinary calendar?
Many thanks to Susan aka DenverFoodGirl, our outgoing My Month In Food Correspondent! Read on for Susan’s thoughts on her month in food and a slideshow of her delicious experiences:
What if anything changed about your relationship with food in the last month?
Taking pictures of everything definitely made me more aware of what I eat. I tried to make more colorful meals at home which hopefully translated to healthier!
Describe your lesson experience at Cook Street.
My Cook Street class was a great experience. There was a camaraderie among the students to help each other and share our food experiences. Chef John shared his extensive food knowledge and had a clear passion for food. He wanted to educate us, not instruct. I loved that. My favorite part of the night was making, and tasting, my homemade pasta. So simple, yet so delicious.
Did you come any closer to finding local favorites or did you stick closer to home?
My fiance and I had a wonderful meal at Venue. We tried both new and old favorites. That just reconfirmed my assertion that Denver Highlands is doing great things with food. I was also proud of my first attempt at stuffed peppers. I already have a couple of new ideas in mind for next time.
What would you tell a friend about Cook Street?
It’s so much more than cooking classes! To me food is all about bringing people together. Cook Street brings you closer to your food and then let’s you celebrate your work through a shared feast at the end of the night.
What was your most memorable experience with food this month?
My most memorable food experience was definitely my wedding shower at the Squeaky Bean. Everything was fresh and flavorful, and the presentation was just beautiful. It was truly a top 10 day for me!
I had a hot dog at a Rockies game that didn’t sit so well with me.
Susan aka DenverFoodGirl has been busily savoring her month in food…and she has an update for us! Says Susan:
When Cook Street gathered for its first annual Chefs’ Circle Dinner on March 22, there was double reason to celebrate: Chef Peter Ryan of Z Cuisine was not only honored that evening, but he announced his return to Cook Street as the Executive Chef Instructor for the school’s professional culinary program. Chef Pete has been a part of Cook Street since its inception, graduating from the professional program in 1999 and acting as Chef de Cuisine until moving on to Z Cuisine as Chef. Now he’s back…and we took a few moments to reacquaint ourselves with the straight-shooting Pete:
Cook Street: What brought you back to your culinary roots at Cook Street?
Chef Pete: Cook Street feels like home, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunities it’s presenting right now. I consider it to be the epicenter of Denver’s culinary world…a place where I got a solid foundation, an ability to cook anywhere, and lots of stupid culinary jokes.
CS: You’ve worked at restaurants with some pretty elevated culinary tastes. What do you cook for yourself when you’re not at work?
CP: I never cook for myself…I’m a chef! When I’m home, it’s beer, pizza, and takeout. I’m a guy first and a chef second. People think that just because you’re a chef you want Oysters Rockefeller every night, but sometimes I want to relax with a PBR and my mom’s sub-par meatloaf. Sorry, Mom.
CS: What Denver restaurant gets you going these days?
CP: Fruition, for sure. Alex is doing amazing things there…his feet are on the ground, but his reach is wide and he’s invested in his own farm and a talented team. I’d call him the real deal. I’m also loving Olivéa and Pete’s Kitchen. Would I go there for sushi? No, but if I want a big breakfast burrito that’s my place.
CS: What’s the lamest culinary trend of recent years?
CP: Fusion. It’s lame, it’s confusing, it’s disjointed, and it represents the lack of a serious foundation. Have you ever tried to put up a ladder on shaky ground and just ended up grabbing at the walls because you’re about to fall? That’s fusion for me. I know a lot of places are doing it, but without a decent focus it’s really garbage-can cuisine.
CS: What do you do when you’re not working?
CP: I work on my Victorian house, drink beer, and play horseshoes with my friends.
CS: What kitchen basics do you think are the hardest to master?
CP: Seasoning is hard to figure out and even harder to teach. You have to mess up a LOT before you can do it right. I can provide guidelines, but I can’t tell you how to understand your own palate. I’ve messed up more asparagus than you can imagine, but now I understand how to flavor asparagus. Anyone can roast a hunk of meat, but to flavor it properly takes talent and skill.
CS: What’s your least favorite kitchen task?
CP: Chopping parsley. I hate that stuff. Actually, I try to embrace all kitchen tasks and never ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself. Nothing is beneath me. It’s humbling, but I can scrub floors, clean up equipment, and take out the trash. It comes with the job and keeps you grounded.
CS: Any foods you can’t stand? What’s your Massachusetts food craving (Pete hails from Plymouth)?
CP: I am not a huge salmon fan. Just don’t have a taste for it. And now you’ve got me craving a big bowl of chowder.