By Gwen Clayton
Pumpkin spice, gingerbread, maple and chocolate are famous flavors in autumn’s kitchen and bakery, but most locals know those delights are equally at home in the taphouse and coffee bar as part of everyone’s favorite seasonal brews.
The holiday brew season kicks off with Allegro Coffee Roasters on Tennyson Street where roastmaster Nathan Fulton and his team are preparing specialty drinks such as ginger snap lattés and Galapagos La Tortuga special roast. Allegro makes their own flavored syrups and roasts beans onsite. One of the most popular requests every year at this time is the maple cold brew. Allegro adds pure maple syrup to the single-origin java sundahejo as the coffee is being kegged.
“Cold brewing is perfectly made for the winter,” Fulton said, explaining that the drink’s origins trace back to Nordic communities where people took coarsely ground coffee and let it extract in cold water over a period of 12 to 24 hours, a process that decreases the coffee’s acidity.
“There's still some of the acids in there, but they’re not going to be as bright in the flavor,” Fulton said. “That slower process brings out a cleaner cup in the end.”
The addition of maple gives the cold brew a seasonal touch, and the darker roast adds a bold flavor and body. The low acidity minimizes the stomach problems often resulting from the holiday season’s hustle and bustle.
Beer lovers can head down a little ways to Joyride Brewing Company in Edgewater. The brewery’s So Fresh and So Cream is a blueberry-flavored American style cream ale that has a little bit of maize in it for texture as well as to dry it out.
“By itself, it’s a very nice lawnmower beer,” said Joyride’s brewmaster and co-owner Dave Bergen. “And then we add a little more than 400 pounds of blueberry puree, so it has a beautiful purple hue to it with pink foam.”
The beer also serves as a fundraiser for Pints for Prostates. One dollar from each pint sold will be donated to fight prostate cancer. Bergen’s mother is a breast cancer survivor, and his father survived prostate cancer. The October and November seasonal beers have a special meaning for him.
“Pints for Prostates is an awesome organization that combines everyone’s love of beer with making sure we’re taking care of men’s health," Bergen said. “We recently just finished off our batch of Breast in Show Saison, which is our breast cancer benefit beer. November is National Men’s Health Month, so we chose to do Pints for Prostate.”
Other seasonal brews at Joyride include a Belgian dubbel that pairs well with the traditional turkey meal with all the fixings. This year’s batch of dubbel will feature 400 pounds of black currants. It’s scheduled to be released the week before Thanksgiving. Further on in December, Bergen and his crew will be coming out with their annual Naughty and Nice holiday porter releases. Naughty is brewed with cherries and chocolate, while Nice features vanilla and oak.
“I always look forward to when they bring back Naughty and Nice,” said Meghan Logue, a regular Joyrider. “It’s the perfect holiday beer with all of the right flavors.”
Over in Wheat Ridge, the new Discovery Tap House has opened its doors just in time for the holiday season. Karen Carpio-Thomas started the business in August of this year with her husband, Gary. They currently have two seasonal milk stouts on tap: Left Hand Milk Stout out of Longmont, and Factotum Slogger Sweet Stout from Denver. Their other seasonal tap includes a Peach Habanero Imperial Red Ale from Crabtree Brewing Company out of Greeley.
“We don't have set beers,” Karen said. “Taps rotate. They’re replaced with new beer and new breweries. There’s always something new.”
Karen said when she and Gary are selecting a beer, they look for uniqueness, variety and a Colorado locale.
“We want a style that we haven't had on the tap wall before,” she said. “Our goal is to bring small breweries that were a little further out.”
Discovery Tap House is located at 4990 Kipling St., Suite 7, in Wheat Ridge. Joyride Brewing Company’s address is 2501 Sheridan Blvd., in Edgewater. Readers can find Allegro Coffee Roasters at 4040 Tennyson St., in Denver.
By Tawny Clary
Ready or not, the holidays are here. Rather than finding our loved ones the perfect gift for the perfect price (which let’s face it, is sometimes more exciting than the gift itself), some of us have to worry about what we are going to feed our loved ones during the holidays.
Even more so, some of us feel inclined to host, but have no desire to cook – due to either lack of time or lack of successful preparation outcome (that’s right; those of us who are terrible cooks).
Thus, we enter the magical world of holiday catering.
Luckily, this area of metro Denver is filled with a variety of businesses that specialize in just that.
If you are not sure where to begin, let’s break it down into catering types.
There are locally owned restaurants where customers can have their favorite meals brought to their homes for parties.
Then there are local chain restaurants and grocery stores (i.e., Boston Market, King Soopers, Whole Foods, etc.) that have pre-designed packages to serve classic holiday meals.
Finally, there are the catering companies who are here to help custom design any type of holiday event you put forth.
Still not sure which direction to go? Well, maybe it would help to hear from the professionals.
We sat down with Marvin Williams, the General Manager of Abrusci’s Fire & Wine Restaurant. He gave us some insight on the catering styles of Abrusci’s as well as tips in general for anyone looking to cater a holiday event.
Abrusci’s is a local sit-down restaurant in the Applewood area that focuses on Italian style and wood-fired cuisine. They offer catering pick-up from the restaurant, drop-off at the home or in-home buffets with servers.
When it comes to planning a catered event in your home with servers, Williams points out a common oversight that people don’t always account for is the set-up time before the event and tear down afterward. He says customers may think they are only paying for three hours of the servers’ time when in actuality they pay for five – this includes the hour before event time and the hour after.
As for placing the order, Williams says to call two to three days in advance for pick up; at least a week in advance for drop-off and at least two weeks for in-home parties with staff. Allergies and dietary restrictions are generally not a problem. In fact, they are happy to make meals gluten-free for an additional charge.
If you are on a tight budget, they can work with you. Williams says the key is to “minimize stuff as best you can.”
Finally, remember it’s the holidays. Be flexible! Williams humbly reminds us that “holiday seasons can be hectic for everyone, including restaurants…. just have patience.”
Speaking of patience, Natalie Sears of Relish Catering & Events near West Colfax points out that dates fill up quickly in their business during the holidays.
Relish Catering is specifically a catering company that has the products from scratch. Sears says when their calendar fills up they recommend customers consider planning events on Sundays or even weekdays, as Fridays and Saturdays during the holiday season usually sell out well in advance. She also said if customers can plan closer to Christmas Day instead of the early part of December, there is usually more availability as well.
Relish does have a minimum amount for catered events. However, they can work within budgets that meet that limit. Sears’ advice for keeping the catering budget-friendly is a more limited menu because it will require a more limited staff. She also says buffets tend to be more budget-friendly than hors d’oeuvres.
With so many holiday menu options, choosing what’s best for your party can be overwhelming. Sears says that customers can be involved “as much or as little as they want.” As it seems to be the trend among most restaurants and catering companies, they are happy to hold your hand through the whole process or let you take the reins.
So, if you are looking for a quick and easy catering solution, you can always go online and order from local grocers and restaurants, but if you are looking for something a little more your style, don’t feel intimidated. Just ask your favorite restaurants or your local catering companies. They are happy to accommodate and serve you at home for your next holiday get-together.
By Elisabeth Monaghan
As the holidays approach, there will be more articles and blog posts about shopping for ingredients without spending too much money, how to cook the perfect turkey, or making those delicious side dishes that will have everyone coming back for seconds. Some are likely to clip these helpful tips, while others are busy coming up with their own. Then there are those who seek new options for holiday meals they can serve at home – especially options that don’t involve shopping for ingredients or, even better, don’t involve much preparation beyond stirring food or cooking it in the oven.
Fortunately, there are meal delivery services that can accommodate the busiest people or the “cooking-impaired.” The trick is to know what it is you want to eat, how many people you wish to feed and how much you can afford to pay for the ingredients (or complete meal).
Not all delivery companies offer options for traditional holiday feasts, but the convenience of having food delivered during a season of extended-hours shopping, holiday work parties, and jam-packed social calendars can be enough incentive to use such a service.
When exploring meal delivery services like HelloFresh, Blue Apron or Home Chef, it is clear from the start that the only way to research them is to first provide an email address. Once the company has received that email, they let the prospective customer tool around
their site to learn about their packages and pricing.
Meals are based on how many recipes per week a customer would like for how many people. For example, HelloFresh offers a Family Plan of three recipes each week to feed four people. The weekly rate is $104.88, but by entering a promo code the first week would cost $74.88. To receive three meals a week for four people Blue Apron typically charges $107.88. With its discount for first-time subscribers, the cost would be $87.88, while Home Chef charges $119.40 for three meals a week for four people. With their new-subscriber discount, that fee drops to $89.40 for the first week. Some services include delivery or shipping fees, while others add those fees on top of the cost of the meals/recipes.
For a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that either is ready to serve or requires minimal preparation, one option is Martha Stewart’s Marley Spoon. For $159.99 (plus shipping), Marley Spoon, ships a kit with all of the ingredients, along with cooking instructions, for a 12- to 14-pound turkey, gravy, four sides and one dessert to feed between eight and 10 people.
Send a Meal provides complete, prepared meals that simply require heating. For Thanksgiving, Send a Meal’s gourmet dinner offerings for up to 10 costs $255.95 (discounted from $334.92). The meal includes a 10-pound, oven-ready basted turkey that will require cooking, along with gravy, dressing, green-bean casserole, red potatoes and pumpkin pie. Shipping is free. Compare this to Gourmet Grocery online, who will feed eight to 10 people with its 10-pound, oven-ready whole basted turkey and three side dishes for $169.95. (This is a sale price, as its usual rate is $239.95.)
Another option is Denver-based SupperBell, which has partnered with local chef and restaurant owner Frank Bonanno to offer its “Frank Bonanno Thanksgiving.” For $149.95, they will send half of an herb-brined roasted turkey with five side dishes. This is enough to serve four to six adults, or four adults and four children. Delivery is free.
While this is not a comprehensive list of options available to those who lack the time or desire to prepare a Thanksgiving feast, it should be enough to give a sense of how much a person will need to budget for a meal delivery service – whether it is a one-time special occasion or an ongoing need.