Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Corner Office - Disco Brunch Poutine

I recently paid a visit to the Corner Office restaurant on 14th and Curtis in downtown Denver.  It seems to be a trendy, hip joint.  Which would explain why I never heard of it.  Lucky for me that they offer poutine on the weekends.  Denver has started to slowly embrace the dish, rather oddly as an adventurous dish prepared by chefs.  Considering its late-night, after-hours reputation in Canada I find it kinda funny that it is presented this way in downtown Denver.  The again, I've seen more than a few horrified looks when I explain what poutine is, makes sense to dress it up until acceptance grows.

That's what Corner Office is doing.  Not that I have an issue with it, it sounded great!  On the weekends they have what they call the Disco Brunch menu, there's only one poutine dish.  It's slow cooked duck and gravy, fries, mozzarella cheese curds topped off with two eggs over easy.  I ordered the eggs over medium.

The dish shows up, decent presentation, the waiter warns me that the skillet is hot.  I dig in and right away I love the flavors, the strong duck flavor mixed with the egg yolk, the texture of the fries.  Very tasty, savory, salty, stringy melted cheese all going well with the cup of coffee, black.

The eggs are well cooked to order and seasoned with pepper and something else I can't quite identify.  The fries could be a bit crispier, but then I'm biased to slightly over-done fries.  The gravy is tangy and the duck is good too, but not much of it.

And then it hits me, there's cheese.  Stringy, melted cheese.  But no curds.  Did the curds get completely melted in the skillet?  There's no squeaky cheese curds.  This is not good.

You see any curds in there?  Me neither...

The lack of the curds is really a deal breaker for seriously presenting this as poutine.  Curds add another dimension of texture to the dish.  I really did like the dish but it wasn't poutine.  It wasn't quite the dish it could have been.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Common-Link Food Truck in Ft Collins

I have a friend who once told me she would not eat food that came off a truck.  Well, her loss.  Because the poutine that is served off the Common-Link food truck is fantastic!!

The Common-Link truck gets it's name from the sausage laden menu.  How about a Jakalope link?  Spicy rabbit, antelope, cherries and habeneros, crazy!  I would like to try some but this trip was all about the poutine.

They routinely offer the basic beef gravy variety   I have seen a few interesting looking specials like the 5 Barrel Pork Poutine they were serving up just this past weekend.  But today was the standard fare.  And that's fine too.

Common-Link poutine features hand cut Belgian fries served with local cheese curds (Cozy Cow in Windsor) and from scratch beef gravy.  For $6.00 I got a big serving of poutine, plenty to keep me running through the rest of the day.  I went for lunch, and the truck is often at the local breweries in Ft Collins, Odells and New Belgium.  Great brews from these two places so I couldn't miss out on the nitro porter being served up today.

The poutine was served up fresh, really fresh.  I waited a couple minutes for the fries and the whole thing was very hot and that's important for poutine.  The curds from Cozy Cow are local and good, I've bought them myself for making poutine at home.  The fries were perfectly cooked and the gravy was excellent.  Beef gravy can easily be too salty but this was well seasoned and had a nice bite to it.

I'll be back for more and especially to try the specials and even a link or two.  Common-Link food truck doesn't seem to have a regular schedule so give them a follow on twitter or Facebook to keep up with the latest locations.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

In Celebration of Hockey

With the return of NHL hockey I decided some homemade poutine was in order.  Fortunately a couple things came together lately to make this fine endeavor successful.

The first is the discovery of Cozy Cow Dairy right here in northern Colorado that is a source for fresh cheese curds.  Freshness not only ensures the tasty flavor but provides the essential squeak that is a signature of this dish.  My previous supplier of curds were shipped from out of state and several purchases over time proved that they were not very fresh.  Cozy Cow seems to crank out fresh curds about every 10-14 days or so based on their twitter and facebook feeds.  Yes, follow them and they announce fresh curds, right out of the vat.  Fantastic.

So here is the second thing that helped make this tasty evening great.  One of my lovely family members bought me a deep fryer for Christmas.  So no frozen fries in this dish!! Once the curds were obtained I rounded up a couple russet potatoes and did my best to slice them into something like fries.  No fancy kitchen doo-dads here, just a sharp knife and a cutting board.  Here you can see them laid out to dry after a few minutes in ice water to remove some of the starch.  

The final ingredient is gravy.  I went with the jar here and I'm not afraid to say I think that it's probably as good as I could make.  You, on the other hand might be great at making gravy, me, not so much.  Not to mention I didn't plan ahead so that I would have something to make it from.  

 Here's the fries in their golden glory, right out of the fryer!!  

And...the finished dish!  The cheese and fries were great but the gravy was a bit strong for me.  I'll be looking around for something a bit less bold and lower in sodium.  But it was still a tasty dish and a great way to kick off the NHL season.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Poutine Newbie in Colorado

The first time I had poutine it was home-made.  And frankly that was a trick.

Fries are not a problem to come by, or make.  Same with gravy.  Best of all I had the guidance of a real live Canadian.  But there was one thing that was a huge challenge.

Finding cheese curds.

Well, first I had to figure out what the heck a cheese curd IS!  Never even heard of such a thing.  Turns out neither had anyone in any store where I inquired about it.

Not completely true, some people knew what I was talking about, furrowed their brow and asked, why would I want cheese curds?  I would then tell them I wanted them to make poutine.  Next question: what's poutine?  It's french fries, cheese curds and gravy.  No more questions after that, mostly just a look of disgust or a tip about my health.
Keep in mind that Colorado is considered one of the healthiest, skinniest states in the union.  Add to the equation that I live very near Boulder where people exercise and hike and bike more than they work and you can understand the horror I was instilling in these people.

Eventually I did find cheese curds.  Turns out Longmont isn't as redneck as ya'll think it is.  The Cheese Emporium is a long time business establishment and besides pricey and fancy cheese and olives and such, they have just what I needed to complete my trifecta!  Cheese curds from Wisconsin, or some such cow-filled state.

Unfortunately I can't find anything close to fresh curds.  There are Colorado cheese companies but they don't seem do curds.  So in addition to the obvious problem of freshness, they don't squeak worth a damn.  Something I was really looking forward to hearing.

Nonetheless this creation turned out to be one of the best things I've ever tasted.  Perhaps the only artery-clogging food that even comes close is the cheese stuffed, crispy-fried chile relleno.  Something that is far more accessible in this area than traditional French-Canadian cuisine.  No matter!  Let the poutine search continue.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Denver Poutine, Where is It?

As a true blue American, lover of french fries, brown gravy and melted cheese in any form, I was stunned to discover that I had never heard of combining the three together for a fantastically decadent dish, poutine  The Canadians, of course did, and bless them.  It's a deliciously fattening and artery-clogging experience that is finally working it's way south into the US of A.

I'll be visiting various places in and around Denver to sample the fare and give my views of the dishes. It should be fun.  I'll be posting whenever I get a chance to, not on any particular schedule, so you might want to sign up to get these posts via email or sign up for the blog feed.

Also, if you know of places in Denver that serve poutine leave me a comment, I'm sure I don't know them all.  Even if you run your own place, let me know, I'd like to visit!