With access to fresh produce grown on nearby farms and a number of culinary rock stars calling the Rocky Mountain region home, Boulder has earned its reputation as a foodie town. Pre-COVID, inventive pairings, layered cocktails and multi-course dining experiences were served up in crowded rooftop bars, historic venues and even low-key cafes across the Front Range.
While the ability to fully break bread together has been limited due to the pandemic, Jessica Benjamin — producer of First Bite, Boulder County’s nine-day food week — has offered a literary solution to fill the gastronomic void. “A Bite of Boulder,” a cookbook that features more than 40 recipes from 30 local restaurants, was released this week.
“It’s absolutely a love letter to the local culinary scene, but it’s not just mine in Boulder,” Benjamin said. “It’s a love letter from the community to itself, reminding us how vibrant we are and how resilient and resourceful we’ve been.”
“A Bite of Boulder,” features Christina Kiffney’s stunning photography of beautifully prepared dishes, like Zolo Grill’s cactus and corn fritters and Café Aion’s fragrant paella.
Cuisine from Corrida, Basta, Blackbelly, Black Cat, Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant, Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar and many more is artfully featured in the post.
“The soul of this book comes from all corners of the city – from legendary food writer John Lehndorff, Boulder County Farmers Markets executive director Brian Coppom, owners of Cured Coral and Will Frishkorn and a dozen others pillars of our food community,” says Benjamin.
Benjamin has also adorned the pages with his own visually vivid culinary anecdotes, while lead writer Sarah Carpenter gracefully lets readers discover the stories of some of their favorite establishments and dishes.
The book swings open the kitchen door to reveal the ingredients and methods behind some of the region’s most popular dishes, prepared by big names in the industry like “Top Chef” winner Hosea Rosenberg, Blackbelly and Santo and Bradford Heap of Salt and Colterra from Niwot, now closed.
The inspiration for this passion project came when Benjamin found himself recreating pasta from a Mile High restaurant.
“At the end of April, I saw a video on Instagram of Jennifer Jasinski, from Rioja, Denver, of her making ricotta gnocchi that made me swoon,” Benjamin said. “As I turned the extra pound of ricotta from my fridge into these gorgeous gnocchi, my husband and I talked about all the memorable visits we’ve had in Rioja. Around the same time, my dad sent me a link about a restaurant publishing a cookbook, and the light bulb went out.
While many of the dishes featured are from Boulder-based restaurants, readers will also see mouth-watering dishes from Acreage in Lafayette and Empire Lounge and Restaurant in Louisville.
Fifty percent of the proceeds from sales will go to establishments featured in “A Bite of Boulder.”
“Our restaurants are the backbone of the vitality of our cities and they desperately need all of our collective efforts to survive this pandemic,” Benjamin said. “I’m honored to have worked with so many amazing people to this end and I know that had I had the time, we could have included many more whose voices often speak out in favor of good food and supporting people. local suppliers. I am honored by the scale this project has grown and by the contributors from idea to completion.
The book – which retails for $29.99 – can be purchased online at FirstBiteBoulder.com or picked up in person at Boulder Bookstore, Cured, Peppercorn, Food Lab, Sweet Ruckus Gifts and Savory Spice Shop.
“Jessica (Benjamin) has really been creative this year with First Bite and has been very generous in her support of the restaurant community,” said Josh Dinar, owner of River and Woods. “I’m actually a co-founder of the event and it was such a pleasure to see it in such good hands and such an honor to be among the other restaurants that work so hard to keep Boulder’s food scene strong. ”
Root vegetable latkes, from chef Daniel Asher of River and Woods, are featured in the book. Until December, cooking enthusiasts can pick up kits containing all the ingredients needed to prepare this unique favourite. The kit and book together cost $60. Shoppers can also choose to add Hanukkah candles, chocolate gelt, and optional wine pairings, if desired.
“Chef Daniel (Asher) chose the root vegetable latke because it’s a winter comfort food that’s a nod to both his heritage and his love of local, seasonal ingredients,” Dinar said. “Additionally, we are opening Ash’Kara Unorthodox Cuisine on West Pearl Street in the coming weeks and the dish is a great link to the restaurant’s Israeli fusion menu.”
In addition to allowing people to bring a bit of the River and Woods experience right into their kitchens, the restaurant is taking steps to accommodate diners during the colder months.
“We are excited to set up a covered, heated lodge in the backyard of River and Woods and will serve there all winter – or at least as long as health mandates permit,” Dinar said. . “In the warmer pockets we will also have the fire pit seats. Plus, we have a really fun private table for four to six in the Airstream River and Woods trailer that can be reserved for special tasting menus.
Fifteen Boulder County establishments featured in the book will be offering matching takeaways to celebrate the cookbook’s release throughout the weekend.
From paleo chocolate chip cookie dough from Shine to homemade sushi kits from Japango, there are plenty of possibilities for a delicious night out. There is also always the possibility of ordering ready-made takeaway meals, if cooking fans want to take a break from their role as chef.
“During our annual Restaurant Week, which we plan to return in 2021, diners can explore several restaurants over the nine days, try somewhere they’ve never been and perhaps find a new restaurant for special occasions. specials,” said Benjamin. “This cookbook is all of that on a grander scale. Now you can try 30 different restaurants, different cuisines and really spend time getting to know them by reading their stories. These recipes are the first bite of these restaurants and I hope readers will think back to them when they order in search of something new.
Starting Black Friday, fans will have a chance to win prizes on First Bite’s Instagram account as part of the brand’s “12 Days of Giveaways”.
“Each day we will be giving away items from local businesses like Food Lab, Savory Spice, Art Source International, Savvy Boulder and Union Stitch & Design,” said Benjamin. “To enter, entrants simply need to have purchased a cookbook from the First Bite website. It will be an exciting week and it will be another way for us to help uplift many local businesses in this time of collective need.
Even after home chefs go through “A Bite of Boulder,” Benjamin hopes they’ll keep revisiting these thoughtful selections in all seasons.
“The biggest thing missing from pandemic life is connection,” Benjamin said. “There’s nothing quite like walking into your favorite restaurant on a Friday night, greeting friends, being served your favorite drink without ordering. Restaurants give a sense of belonging somewhere. Socially distanced meals at 25% capacity or takeout orders don’t feel the same. I hope this cookbook serves as a reminder to not lose sight of belonging to so many places outside of our homes.