Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sassafras American Eatery - Denver, CO

Elvis Beignets. I cannot get you out of my mind. You're crack. You're pornographic. You're filthy good. You're a round volcano waiting for me to bite into you and splatter your sticky gooey peanut butter mousse lava all over my extremities. Did I mention their bacon molasses jam also?
I was here for several reasons. My friend couldn't stop talking about Succotash. Succotash this, Succotash that. I wanted to eat here so bad but couldn't find any restaurant called Succotash. I was angry, pissed, thinking she was teasing my food mad sensibilities. Yeah, she clearly got that name wrong. Second, the Sassafras American Eatery chef had such a great interview in the Westword. Third, I needed a brunch destination and their menu rocked my face.
Alongside the beignets, we also ordered the buffalo hash with chicken fried eggs and fried green tomatoes benedict. I seriously cannot wrap my mind around the chicken friend poached (soft boiled??) eggs. How? It doesn't matter because I made a gif of me slicing into it.
My girlfriend describes her fried green tomatoes benedict in this manner "My first bite was perfect. Soft tomato, crispy outside, warm egg and hollandaise. Subsequent bites were inconsistent.... sometimes the tomato was hard and parts of the dish not as hot as I desired. The cornbread was superb and filled with chunks of corn and jalapeƱos."
Not only does Sassafras serve great tasting food, it's also fun to play with. We received advice that the Voodoo Jam tastes really great with cornbread. I concur. Their cornbread reminded me of cornbread I used to make with jalapenos, cheese, and whole corn bricks (kernels). Great memories there.
Afterwards, I wanted more, but I wasn't wearing my elastic waistband jeans. Each dessert featured chocolate which I avoid. I was craving french toast, but tried to be sensible, but then I saw the french toast on someone else's table. Just gorgeous looking with the bacon and blackberries. I want more Sassafras!

Sassafrass American Eatery
2637 W 26th Ave
Denver, CO 80211

Devil's Kitchen - Barcelona, Spain

You know what's an unusual sight? Entering a pub where everyone's staring intensely at the futbol game on television. I know I'm in a major futbol country, but the Spanish are much louder. I look closer. Lighter complexions, yellow jerseys, aha! Dortmund versus Arsenal, a German runs this establishment, therefore German futbol. Mystery solved.

Not knowing whether to wade through the crowd and block a view, I waited near the back. Finally, someone came to take my order. Devil's Kitchen has a select menu featuring burgers and German sausages, fries, wings, and beer. For beer, you have cheap or good. I chose good and asked for something dark. I was forewarned it was the most expensive, but I accepted. It was light, like most German beers I've tried, but had some light spicy notes.
For food, I ordered the well regarded Devil Burger and Fries. The waiter asked me where I was from. I respond with "Colorado". Then he asks confirming "so, you don't want mayo, right?" Correct. They will serve you mayo for an extra €.30 and perhaps mild scorn if you're sporting anything but a Spanish accent.

I received the beer and discovered the server's sister lives in Boulder, Colorado. He's visited numerous times for skiing and loves our scenery. Go Colorado!

I received my burger, but screwed something up in the progress. They give you white waxy paper for eating and the chef reached with his metal spatula on which the hamburger lay. I inadvertently touched the spatula trying to help. My future advice- just move the wax paper so it's easier. The only available seat was tucked in the far back corner, a longer reach for him.
The burger was great. The meat was flavorful, the bun hearty, some juices ran. The fries were a welcome sight also, nearly covered completely in paprika. You should see all the sauces I had. When in a German restaurant, go with the Curry Sauce. Delicious, especially when applied on my burger too.
After the game, people cleared out relatively rapidly. I took my ticket up to the register and paid. They have a different system when the game is on. Assuming you want to watch every minute, they'll hand you your ticket and you'll pay afterwards. Good futbol loving system.

Devil's Kitchen
Carrer de la Lleialtat, 4
El Raval
08001 Barcelona

Las Sorrentinas - Barcelona, Spain

Ever cut into ravioli and it wilts beneath your fork's pressure? This ravioli doesn't. Las Sorrentinas' ravioli is packed; no, stuffed with ingredients. Cutting into their ravioli is like revealing the center of a dense cake.

I passed this place last night after midnight yesterday. Most of this area was closed or closing, but I made note of their location. I visited this restaurant the next day around mid-afternoon and it was moderately busy. Seating is mostly shared around 3 tables and some counter seating. A WC visit gives you a fine view of their kitchen.

Their menu is posted outside, but the prices are incorrect. The ravioli is actually €1 more. Fortunately, their menus inside are all updated. Barcelona locals might be more familiar with them under their original name, Con Pasta y a lo Loco.

I ordered the beetroot ravioli with poached pears in sugar, goat cheese, and ricotta topped with green pesto and ricotta. Their menu advertises picking a pasta, a sauce and a topping. Since the prices build on each other, you probably don't have to get all 3.

Wow! Was that ravioli delicious! First, it was smothered in green pesto lending a small grainy earthiness to balance my ravioli's slight inherent sweetness. And then ricotta balanced everything else with its refreshing intact creaminess.

I strongly recommend this spot. It is slow, but they advertise this. If you're traveling by yourself and don't get alone with your thoughts, bring a book, practice your Spanish with someone at your table, or order a salad or soup to keep you busy.

Las Sorentinas
Pl. Sant Pere, 5
08003 Barcelona
+34 930 102 114

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ten's Tapas Restaurant - Barcelona, Spain

I count myself fortunate I stumbled onto Ten's Tapas Restaurant earlier tonight. Chef Jordi Cruz has an outstanding pedigree with his 4 Michelin stars. Now let's forget I know this less this shades my review.

Ten's menu caught my eye. It hung off the awning leaning into the pedestrian path's center. It highlighted the 15 tapas menu items in 3 languages including English. I quickly scanned looking for something interesting and eye fell upon several items, but would my friends want to try this restaurant? They did.

After checking with management, we sat ourselves outside. As our server was receiving our drink orders, he sung Chef Jordi's praises. For myself, I ordered the foie gras dish with sichuan pepper ice cream (intriguing) and the slow cooked egg dish. I also shared some bread, fried potatoes, and black rice (all not photographed).

Onto the dishes. First, we have the foie gras with figs, sweet and sour stir fried bread with sichuan pepper ice cream. Overall, this dish was quite sweet. The crunchy topping (perhaps the stir fried bread?) alleviated some of the sweetness. I was hoping the sichuan pepper ice cream might lend slight heat in balance, but even that was blatantly sweet with little peppery bite. What sat between each foie gras piece was lost in the shuffle.

The second presented dish was the slow cooked egg with Iberian ham and sobrassada paprika sausage, permantier potatoes, mature gouda and rocket salad  It sounded really good and again, presented well. With those components, this is a lustworthy dish. However, I was told that to properly eat it, one must swirl it around thoroughly and apply it atop the tomato toast. My gorgeous dish became a seething eggy mass. It tasted nice, but the egg overwhelmed everything else. The iberian ham, sobrassada paprika sausage, mature gouda - all lost.

Where does this leave Ten's? Merely satisfactory. I appreciate Chef Jordi Cruz's presentation skills and willingness to pair disparate items. However, I am underwhelmed when a dish doesn't elevate any one flavor or masks too many pieces. 

Also, the service was confusing at times. Our waiter was quite thorough, but sometimes too quick with his suggestions. Customer(s) and waiter must work harder to overcome both 
 a challenging menu and language difficulties (he spoke acceptable English, though quick and Catalan tinted).

Carrer Rec, 79
08003 Barcelona