Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Choctoberfest 2015

Something Chocolate This Way Comes

September 19th was a busy day in MenuManiacs land.  Not only did we have our September lunch at Bushi Cubano Café, but we also attended the 2nd Annual Choctoberfest at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Colorado.  We were surprised by the number of local chocolatiers from our lovely state, and thought we would tell you about some of our favorites. 

But first, a chocolate bust of number 18 and quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning.

OK, everybody still with me?  Ladies, have you recovered from the shock of a handsome dude made of chocolate?  Good.  Let's soldier on.  Oh, and also, note the all chocolate golden retriever in the background. 

We love some good toffee.  Melted Sweets makes their delicious toffee by hand and they are also based right here in the Aurora, Colorado.  They offer several varieties of toffee including white, milk, and dark chocolate.  The toffee has a great crunch followed by melty creaminess as you chew.  Still waiting to for the right store front opportunity, this adorable couple can be found at select farmers markets in both Broomfield and Littleton.  You can also order their products online as well.  Be sure to check out their website and like them on Facebook!

The lovely ladies of Chic Chocolate offer fine dark and milk chocolate bars in refined sophisticated flavors with sassy names like Drama Queen and Women Who Wine.  We snagged a little piece of each at the fest.  All of their creations can be purchased online or by calling their 800 number on their web site.  P.S.  Dudes are welcome to order as well.  Just sayin'.

Finally, a Scottish culinary creation we can support!  Stewart's "Much ADough About Muffin" LLC makes this amazing sweet treat called Tablet.  Before you say, "Tablet?"  Let us explain.  The awesome guy in the kilt at the booth explained to us that it has been named Tablet for years and years.  Possibly centuries.

Can we just say, "They can take our lives, but they will never take our Tablet!"  This stuff is amazing!  It is like brown sugar and butter, crumbly yet creamy, and comes in plain (understatement), chocolate topped, pecan topped, or bourbon.  Seriously, let that sink in...Bourbon.

They also sell toffee as well.  It has an almost smoky taste to it and is extremely smooth and soft.  It is more the consistency of caramel.  According to their website, they sell a traditional Scottish shortbread, scones, and crumpets. To be honest, we are not sure if they had their shortbread at Choctoberfest because we were so enamored with their Tablet samples.  They pride themselves on small batch recipes and also do custom cakes.  We love Tablet.  There, we've said it and feel better for it.

Satchi Fudge is an award winning company that makes an amazingly creamy, silky fudge.  We tried several samples and each was amazing. The Dark and Silky confection was just that, intense dark chocolate with a smooth texture and just enough sweetness to balance the natural bitterness of the chocolate. They sell fudge in the traditional "bar" form but also in jars which makes it easy to warm up and pour over ice cream, use as a dip for strawberries, or just eat with a spoon.  Do yourselves a favor and visit their site and like them on Facebook.

Who couldn't use just a little therapy from time to time?  The Chocolate Therapist is ready to fill your prescription for the proverbial chocolate fix stat.  They offer a wide variety of products from bars to cocoa nibs.  The Chocolate Therapist hosts chocolate and wine pairings at their Littleton store and we can't wait to schedule our first outing there.  For those of you that can't make it their store, never fear!  You can purchase their 16 piece pairing collections online and have it shipped to your home.  In addition to the wine pairing collection, we also spotted a BEER pairing collection proving that chocolate really can go with anything.

There were over 70 vendors at Choctoberfest this year and these were just a few of our favorites. There are many more exciting companies out there to explore.  We are very excited.  Let us know if you like this type of post as it isn't our typical focus.  We had a lot of fun and we hope this encourages you to get out there, find an expo or festival near you, and learn about great local businesses.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Buchi Cafe Cubano

Espresso Yourself

Wikipedia informs us that Café Cubano (also known as Cuban coffee, Cuban espresso, cafecito, Cuban pull, or Cuban shot) is a type of espresso that originated in Cuba after espresso machines were first imported there from Italy.  A Cafe Cubano is regarded as a mid-afternoon standard in places like Cuba, Miami, and Key West.

And that brings us to September's blog pick and FINALLY our first Cuban restaurant, Buchi Café Cubano.  This cozy restaurant located northwest of downtown Denver in the Sunnyside neighborhood right at the intersection of 38th and Clay seems to be thriving after seven years in business.  They have a very nice patio with a beautiful golden cover if you prefer to sit outside and food is available to eat in house or you can get it to go to enjoy at home.  The owner is originally from Key West and wanted to bring authentic Cuban cuisine to the Denver area.

Buchi is open for breakfast and lunch from 8am to 3pm from Sunday to Wednesday and 8am to 9pm from Thursday to Saturday.  They offer a happy hour where classic Mojito's and other cocktails are available for $5 each.  Speaking of Mojito's, they are our new favorite thing.  This was our first traditionally made Mojito, and it was freshly made with raw sugar, fresh mint leaves, fresh lime juice, sparkling water and rum.  What a difference fresh ingredients makes!  We will never, NEVER drink a Mojito made from a mix again.  This drink was light, refreshing, and incredible.  However, as our wonderful server, Dion stated, "These will sneak up on you.  It doesn't taste strong but you'll feel it by the time you are done."  That is very true.  Thank you Dion for the words of wisdom!  That being said, it is worth a trip to Buchi to just try the Mojito itself.

Buchi and Café Con Leche
Buchi Café Cubano is named after a Cuban espresso called the Buchi, seen here on the left, and is available as a single or double shot.  Obviously, we decided to try it since it was the restaurant's namesake.  The lesson learned about Cuban coffee is this...the Cuban people do not play around with caffeine.  Decaf is not an option and "skinny" coffee drinks are not allowed as the menu plainly states.  When you first see the shot of espresso served in a shot glass, you are a little confused.  The size of the drink is difficult to comprehend after being trained to order Grande, Venti, or gallon sizes of coffee from other java joints.  You soon realize that in about 10 - 15 minutes you will resemble a poodle on a good way, of course.   Let's just say, you will get a lot done and quickly.  Actually, the Buchi is sweetened with organic raw sugar so although it is strong, it is very tasty.  We also tried the Café Con Leche which is basically the Cuban version of a latte and is available with a single or double shot of espresso with steamed milk and sweetened with the same sugar as the Buchi.  All their coffee was very good, not bitter or burnt like the kind other establishments serve.

We tried a couple appetizers during our visit.   Empanadas are basically fried dough stuffed with spicy sauce, chicken, and black beans and served with a smooth chimichurri sauce.  We also tried the Platanos Maduros or pan fried plantains.  Plantains are a type of banana although not as sweet and fried on each side to create a crunchy, carmelized shell. Both were excellent.

Pan con Lechon
Cuban Mix
Pork plays a big role in Cuban food.  We are thinking that it is due to the fact that Cuba is such a small island and therefore does not have a lot of room for cattle to graze.  Pigs require less space and will eat basically whatever you feed them.  Therefore, pork sandwiches abound at Buchi.  They are served on Cuban bread and pressed in a pannini press.  We tried the Cuban Mix consisting of Cuban roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, onions and mustard.  The Pan con Lechon which is a Cuban roast pork sandwich with grilled onions, and also the La Bodega made up of Turkey, Swiss cheese, avocado, tomato and key lime mayonnaise.  All the sandwiches were delicious; however, we really enjoyed the Pan con Lechon due to the delicious flavor of the pork.

For dessert, we tried the Pasteles, a Cuban guava turnover.  Very flakey and light.

La Bodega
We really liked the fact that although spices, seasonings and sauces were utilized, they didn't take away from the flavor of the meat at all.  The food is very straightforward but really delicious.  The best part about our Buchi Café Cubano experience was the fact that the delicious food served there is so inexpensive!!!  The most expensive item on the menu was $8.95.  People, do you know how difficult it is to find that kind of pricing in Denver, Colorado?!

Pasteles - Guava filled turnover
Our server Dion was fantastic! He answered every question we had and was very knowledgeable and informed.  He was constantly smiling and we found him very entertaining.  If you decide to eat at this restaurant request Dion and tell him MenuManiacs sent you.

For the economical wonderful food, Mojito, and coffee (we still haven't slept, and it's been 48 hours)  we award Buchi Café Cubano a fork.  We will definitely be back!  Thank you all and as they say in Cuba...

No deje de probar Buchi Cafe Cubano . ¡Son sorprendentes!

Buchi Cafe Cubano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Officially Unofficial Voting Legend
Take it with a grain of salt, we're not professionals.
Awesome place, we’ll shovel more food in our face!
It was okay. Not our favorite, but we’ll take another stab at it.
Didn’t make the cut.