Jay Fox's Dining Guide

This'n and That'n

THIS’N AND THAT’N

“The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live.” — Confucius

FESTIVAL ITALIANO — a somewhat disappointing end to a spectacular weekend. After six years of perfect weather, Sunday afternoon brought moderate winds and then a light drizzle to the crowded Belmar Center (www.belmarcolorado.com) located in Loverly Lakewood, where some 75,000 folks from all over metro Denver dined on Italian fare, purchased Italian goods and enjoyed a variety of entertainment, including Frank Sinatra reincarnated in the body of Derek Evilsivor. The man not only sounds like the chairman of the board, he even looks like him.

After spending most of Saturday and Sunday at the festival, I arrived home late Sunday afternoon to report on the foods that I tasted that G hadn’t tasted. G sent me back to pick up a half dozen sausage sangies from Abrusci’s, sausage eggrolls from Three Sons, and whatever I could carry in the way of pastries from Pane Fresco, a magnificent baker who unfortunately sells only at fairs and farmers markets.

The wind huffed and it puffed, but it didn’t blow anyone down, nor did it cause the still large crowd to dissipate. But it probably prevented some latecomers from showing. To my knowledge, none of the vendors ran out of food, but another few thousand visitors would’ve been better. The vendors I talked to after the festival sed that business was about the same as last year, which made them very happy. Most of the vendors will return next year, so mark September on your 2010 calendar.

The deliteful Belmar director of marketing, Stephanie Jackson, sent me the list of winners: Best Dessert: Dolce Sicilia, Best Snack/Meal: Zamparelli’s, and Best In Show: Pane Fresco.

On the subject of G sending me places, G sent me to buy cherry tomatoes. As a dutiful husband, but one who can’t tell a banana from a persimmon, I go to King Stoopers where the PP (produce person) points me to a table. I take two boxes of what I thought were cherry tomatoes only to get home and face the wrath of SWMBO. I of dense mind and even denser body had bought grape tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes. The difference, according to G, is that the latter won’t do for the dish she was preparing.

The next morning I return the GTs to King Stoopers, and went to Sunflower Market where the staff is allegedly well-informed and knowledgeable. The PP gave me two packages of — you guessed it — more of them damn grape tomatoes. But I didn’t know that ‘til G got home and called me and “observed” that I had screwed up again. Heck, I don’t even like the damn things.

FOX ON RESTAURANT ANALYSTS. They’re worse than restaurant critics. If you think a bad review from a restaurant critic can bury a restaurant, try an analyst’s report. This is some dude who sits at his desk and eats a Sabrett® hotdog with all the flavor boiled out of it. Speaking of Sabretts, G and I have been to New York several times recently. This is the home of the PPS (Pushcart Peddling Sabretts). The Sabretts in NYC usta be great, but now they all suck. Here, you’ll find six pushcart vendors peddling their wares on the same corner with these hotdogs sitting in boiled water all day. Hell, you’d taste like crap, too, if you sat in a bucket of boiled water all day.

I found a recent analyst’s report interesting (Darden Finds Secure Footing (Zacks - Analyst Blog) - Sep 14, 2009). Fitch recently revised its outlook on Darden Restaurants Inc. to “Stable” from “Negative.” The rating agency believes that the company is well positioned in the casual dining segment, which is still recuperating from the economic turmoil, plagued by rising unemployment and weak consumer spending. The revision in outlook reflects Darden‘s competitive edge and its ability to generate significant cash flow. Very interesting. I doubt that the analyst ever ate at any of the Darden Restaurants group, which includes Capital Grille, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Olive Garden. I really don’t consider Capital Grille a “casual dining” restaurant. The point being, if that same analyst decided that the Darden group’s numbers weren’t to his or her liking, then a negative report can cause serious declines in stock values as well as the restaurant chain’s ability to borrow funds. Fortunately, most restaurants other than national chains aren’t evaluated by analysts.

FOX ON CLOSINGS. One of G and my favs, Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse, not the one in Glenwood Springs, but the one at 250 Josephine St. in Denver, closed its doors after a relatively short run. That location has had its problems. Can’t seem to get Cherry Creek shoppers to eat at that west end.

Then there are those that aren’t in my list of favs. Chicago (6680 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood) is one. The family that owns and operates this restaurant are not only unfriendly, but often downright nasty. They grunt at you. If you ask for something a little different, they moan. A good friend took me there recently, altho I didn’t want to go cuz I had been there twice previously. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. The Vienna dog was cold and overpriced, the pork tenderloin sangie was tuffer than tire treads, and the Chicago-style Italian beef was icky soggy. Fortunately, the restaurant is only open for lunch, from 10 am ‘til 7 pm most days, so why bother? If you want good Chicago style grub, head for Nonna’s Chicago Bistro (6603 Leetsdale Drive, Denver, 303-399-2000; www.nonnaschicagobistro.com).

Yeah, OK. I could say something good about the restaurant, Chicago. They sell Fannie Mae chocolates. It may even be the only retail outlet in Colorado. But it’s kinda like the Mexican (ho, ho, ho) eatery across the street, Casa Bonita. Don’t go there to eat.

FOX ON SMALLER THINGS. Have you noticed? Aren’t you mad yet? Should we revolt? Everything you dearly love is now smaller. Here’s a partial list just off the top. Mayonnaise is now 30 ounces, 1 lb cans of coffee are now 13 ounces. Bread comes in smaller sizes. And tuna? Oh my gosh!!! Remember it usta be a 7 ounce can, and then it was 6.25, then 6.125. Now it’s down to 5 ounces. FIVE ounces? I need two cans to make one sangie! And ice cream? What was a half gallon and had 16 servings is now 56 ounces and only 14 servings. What’s wrong with these people? Why don’t they just raise the price and quit screwing around? Kroger, parent of King Stoopers, is getting so cheap that they took the name of the ice cream flavors off the top of the package. Why would they do that? Can they save that much money? So now, if your store doesn’t have upright freezers you have to lift each and every package to find out what flavor is inside? How dumb is that? OK, if you insist, we’ll award Kroger the Dumb Package Of The Year Award.

I figure soon they will change the size of shoes. Our shoes will be smaller. Now I wear a 13D. I’ll have to switch to a 10B. But what if they drop the size of only one of the pair of shoes? Your right foot is now a 10B and your left foot is still a 13D?

Don’t even mention Girl Scout cookies. I am so mad about that I’m not buying Thin Mints anymore. What do Girl Scouts do except sell cookies? So if no one buys the ridiculously overpriced cookies anymore, will the Girl Scouts of America go away? Good. Bye.

FOX ON GOOD THINGS. The blueberry muffins at Fisher Clark Deli & Bakery (723 S. University Blvd, Denver, 303-722-2091; www.fisherclarkdeli.com) will blow your mind. Actually, probably everything this wondrous deli & bakery serves will blow your mind. If you don’t remember Mary’s name, you’ll remember her cooking at Tante Louise or her husband, Fred Bramhall’s baking at Bluepoint Bakery. Fred still operates Bluepoint, but he comes over to Fisher Clark just to bake them muffins, and lotsa other goodies. The muffins are so good you’ll want to have them put in a bag to go. Soes you don’t miss any of the crumbs that might fall. Soes you can eat muffin and all. Oh so bad!

Cya.

Mr.?Fox has finished filing all his clients’ tax extensions, and the restaurant critic/tax consultant is back at his best, telling us about food. A little criticism, a little humor, a little sweetness, and a bit of whatever, Jay can be reached at Jay@Jayfoxcpa.com.