Thursday, July 28, 2011

Whoopie pies are the new cupcakes

As Mike Callicrate's birthday drew nigh
Ranch Foods Direct celebrated with Mile High Whoopie Pies
by -- who else? -- Mike, the Whoppie Pie Guy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Scenes from a chuckwagon chowdown

Ranch Foods Direct cooked up free burgers, and visitors lined up to sample a chuckwagon cooking smorgasbord, during the 2011 Pikes Peak or Bust rodeo in Colorado Springs in mid-July. It was the second chuckwagon cookoff in a month; in a repeat performance, the cowboy cooks whipped up hearty meals from donated Callicrate Beef. New this year at the Pikes Peak or Bust event, special ticket-holders had a chance to sample fare by each of the competing wagons. Then they got to mark their ballot for a people's choice winner. That option was a hit! The entrees ranged from standard chicken-fry to smothered steak to spicy beef tips to lightly seasoned shredded beef, all accompanied by beans, potatoes (mashed or roasted), gravies (white or brown) and desserts (bread pudding and cobbler.) Enough to last us all through to next year! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fuel Cafe Hosts Slow Food Denver

Chef Bob Blair and Fuel Cafe, a unique restaurant in a unique setting, hosted the inaugural Slow Food Denver "Community, Art, Food and Education" (C.A.F.E.) dinner last night. Three wonderful food projects in Denver were awarded $1,000 micro-grants from the evening's proceeds; they included a mobile farmer's market that will travel to under-served areas, a horticultural therapy program for at-risk teens, and a community garden emphasizing heirloom vegetables and seed-saving. For the main course, Bob Blair prepared a Callicrate Beef flank steak, cooked to a perfect deep crimson and presented against a beautiful palette of salsa verde and salsa rossa sauces, in green and chili red shades. The art of the food complimented the artwork exhibited throughout Fuel's unusual spaces (its high ceilings, wide halls and garage door openings.) Herbs and tomato plants were flourishing on the rain-washed patio outside.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Celebrated signpost of summer

Celebrated signpost of summer: the first Colorado peaches have arrived at Ranch Foods Direct from the Western slope of the mountains. Peach season signals a special interlude in the ongoing kitchen ritual that extends from spring until a few weeks after the final freeze. But peaches are so good, it's often hard to wait until you can get them to the kitchen, as at least one poet has noted...

"From laden boughs, from hands, 
from sweet fellowship in the bins, 
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all..."

Blind rush and bald pleasure aside, peaches do lend themselves to slightly more complex compilations of food bliss, blessings which include peach salsa, peaches grilled, peach pie or cobbler. The fruit's sensual sweetness stands out in a dish or lends delight to a minimal mix of ingredients. Here's a perfect demonstration: Martha Stewart Living's simple side salad of peaches, basil and red onion marries three of summer's most memorable flavors in an elegant splash of sunny golden colors. Art for the table, rendered effortless.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 15: Anniversary party at Trivelli's

Steve and John Trivelli originally planned to keep Trivelli's 35th anniversary low-key. But their mother, Barbara, was having none of it. The timing also happens to coincide with the passing of family patriarch, John Sr., in 2005. "She wanted to make it a memorial," Steve says, adding that when Italians do something, they typically do it big. "At Trivelli's, we like to party; we like to have fun!"


The tiny sub-shop - famous locally for its Philly cheese steak-style sandwiches - will have special festivities from 11 to 2 p.m. Friday, July 15, showcasing neighborhood businesses (including Ranch Foods Direct) grilling burgers and hot dogs, and offering hoagie specials throughout the day. John Jr., who plans to leave the shop in August to focus on marketing a line of children's books, will be signing copies of his delightful Wanna Bee series, which playfully introduces kids to various professions.


Trivelli's, still holding down the fort at the original 2927 N. Nevada, is a local institution. "We belong in an institution, that's for sure," Steve quips. Back in August 2005, Ranch Foods Direct ran an article on the family business in the newsletter to honor John Sr's passing. Since that time, brother Tony has left the former sub-and-pizza shop at Barnes and Austin Bluffs and moved to Florida. Steve says his mom (whom he calls "4-foot-8-inches of dynamite") is still "ornery as all get out" and, at 74, only just retired from working at the shop three months ago to do more traveling. She's planning to be at the store on the 15th to enjoy the celebration. (Steve and John also have two sisters, Barbie and Lynn, who both live in Mississippi.)


Steve admits the restaurant business is tough but says things have never been better at Trivelli's, which is seeing double digit growth in traffic every month. "We've done more advertising and direct mailing," he says. "But what's going on at a deeper level is that people are sick of the $5 sandwiches at Subway. Their meats and cheeses are the bottom of the line, and people are getting their fill of it." A 6-inch hoagie at Trivelli's is $5, bringing the price of the full meal deal to just under $8. The monster 12-incher goes for $10. "The value's there," Steve says. "There's no question about that."


One of the big selling points at Trivelli's is, of course, the tender beef from nearby Ranch Foods Direct. "I've got to buy good food; otherwise, I'll be a Subway," Steve says. "Our name is on the building. It means something to me. Everybody knows Trivelli's."


Roughly 200 customers a day rotate through the closet-size space, which also features a handy drive-through window, open Monday through Friday 10-8 p.m. and Saturdays 10-5 p.m.

Come by their celebration and show them some love on Friday, July 15!

Read a recent review from the Dine and Dash feature in the CS Indy.