Delvickio’s Italian Restaurant in Broomfield, Colorado

This is just a short post to recommend one of my more-or-less-neighborhood restaurants, Delvickios. They are about ten minutes by car away from my apartment here in Broomfield, Colorado.

They serve fresh Italian, including a very good Ceaser with fresh-baked breadstix:

And a nice house salad, too:

Of course, they are wonderful at the pasta game:

They have the full range of Italian fare, such as pizza, calzones, chicken, veal and beef dishes, and the standard lasagne, linguine, spaghetti and so forth. I’d also mention the wine selection – it’s good and they are knowledgeable about how to pair it with your food if you ask.

If you go to their website, don’t be confused because it says “Pinocchio’s” – that’s their sister restaurants. The one in Broomfield is Delvickios, who, I might add, gets the best reviews out of all of them on Yelp.

Last but not least, they have a dessert my husband adores called Kentucky Bourbon Pie.

And if the weather is nice, you can sit on the patio under some cozy canvas awnings.

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White Asparagus, or Spargel, Germany’s Favorite Spring Vegetable

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Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.

This post was originally published on April 2, 2014 and updated on March 26, 2019.

Because we had such a mild winter and an early spring this year, white asparagus, or Spargel, appeared in late March at the markets and supermarkets here in Bavaria.

It normally appears about mid-April and is enjoyed with as-close-as-Germans-get-to wild abandon until late June. It is not unusual for a German to have Spargel three or four times a week during Spargel season. The season is over on Johannistag, the Catholic Feast of St. John, on 24 June. During that time Spargel is in every outdoor market and supermarket and on every restaurant menu. Restaurants and pubs usually offer a special “Spargel Menu” during this time.

My German “mom”, Hilde, nearly sets her clock by it and always buys several kilos from the same local farm each year. She serves it chilled in salads, warm in sauces, or pickled. It’s Germany’s first fresh spring vegetable and is a welcome break from the winter root vegetables. It’s also a harbinger of all the fresh garden fare just around the corner.

Spargel is so prized in Germany that it is sometimes referred to as Königliches Gemüse, or the royal vegetable.  In fact, cities large and small, including Bonn and other locations, have Spargel festivals celebrating the beloved morsel. 

White asparagus, a perennial plant, is the same variety as the more familiar (to Americans) green asparagus. However, in central and southern Europe it is grown under the earth in long mounds that make the fields look like giant sheets of corrugated cardboard. Sand and compost is troweled over the young shoots, preventing them from receiving any sunshine. Nowadays the farmer uses plastic sheeting over the rows as well. The resulting lack of chlorophyll is the reason the spears are white and the taste is mild.

Unlike the green kind, white asparagus has a tough, bitter outer skin that must be removed. I learned the hard way how difficult it is to peel white asparagus. Especially without the right tool. I set out to experience Spargel in my own kitchen a couple of years ago after I moved to Germany. I got my vegetable peeler and kilo of spears from the market and went home.

Standing at the tiny sink in my tiny German kitchen, I tried to peel the Spargel as you would a carrot. After many broken stalks and a couple of finger slices, I accomplished it. However, I discovered afterward that I had made two big, amateur mistakes.

One, I should have been using a peeler dedicated to the task, which looks like some sort of Medeivel torture device:

 (You see I have one now.)

And, strike two, I was peeling the spears holding the top of the stalks near me and trying to peel them by moving the peeler away from me toward the bottoms. Just like a carrot.

BUT, the proper way is:
1. Use the peeler made for the task
2. Hold the spear in your palm with the top near your wrist
3. Peel with gentle pressure from just under the top down to the bottom

I’ve seen people in the market peel the stalks for customers, which would have been a great idea for me! They use peelers that have two or three blades and make quick work of it. However, it looks as though it would take some practice even then. It is quite a sight to see a skilled Spargel peeler at work. One must keep in mind that Spargel dries out quickly, so peeled spears would have to be cooked within hours.

The most expensive stalks are thin ones that have just been picked that very day. Less costly are the larger, tougher, older spears, but they, too, can be prepared into delectable dishes. Spargel is consumed as fast as it can be harvested. Workers come from other countries to harvest the Spargel. It is hand-picked  stalk by stalk and washed in facilities located on the farms where it grows. I’ve seen many fields of rows of Spargel mounds with (usually) women bent over them during harvest.

White asparagus used to be hard to find in the States, but I’ve noticed it more and more. A store like Whole Foods would probably have it and I actually found some in a Super Target last time I was home.

Aside from peeling it, it’s fairly straightforward to cook. You can steam it in a veggie basket or double boiler or even a dedicated asparagus pot. Or simply boil it on the stovetop until tender.

Traditional ways to serve it include hot with Hollandaise sauce or cooked and chilled in a vinaigrette. Chilled Spargel is a good addition over top of a green salad.

There are as many new and different recipes for Spargel as there are traditional ones. Hilde gave me her recipe for Spargel Gemüse, in which boiled white asparagus is brought together in a white sauce with a kind of diced bacon.

Another recipe I am looking at right now in my Franconian cookbook is to take three thin, boiled spears and wrap them in thinly sliced ham. Lightly sear the rolls in a fry pan with butter and remove. Deglaze the pan with a little white wine and some of the asparagus water. Add salt, pepper and an optional hint of nutmeg (Germans tend to overdo the nutmeg thing, for my taste) and reduce for three minutes. Add a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche to the sauce and serve over the asparagus rolls. Potato pancakes are the side on this recipe. Sounds awesome!

About the only thing I’d caution against is using garlic or hot spices with white asparagus. It’s flavor is very, very mild and is easily overpowered. Otherwise, my second recommendation is to serve a Spargel dish with a chilled German white wine such as Müller-Thurgau or a Riesling. So it’s not all beer, pork and potatoes here in Bavaria, but you do have to be in the right place at the right time to get this tasty spring delight.

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Santa Giulia Wine Estate, Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy

In preparation for my latest book coming soon, be sure to get your

Photos for No Apparent Reason (PFNAR) 2017

and 2015

Because, coming soon, PFNAR 2016!

Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.

This post was originally published on January 26, 2014 and updated on February 12, 2019.

In my last post, I promised you accounts of my Tuscan vacation in December.  One of the daytrips we took included a visit to what has to be our entire group’s favorite destination of that week, Santa Giulia, near Montalcino.

One of our tour guides referred to the family that owns this small wine estate as “The Holy Family” and it is easy to see why. Firstly, the family consists of the parents and one son. Secondly, they produce just heavenly wine, food and experiences!
We were met early that morning by yet another handsome tour guide, Andrea Caroni. Andrea is the twin, and younger brother by five minutes, of our driver from the previous day, Marco. They run a chauffeur and tour guide service which I highly recommend. They drove us to all of our daytrips save one that week and also roundtrip from the Florence airport. They speak perfect English and couldn’t be nicer or more knowledgeable, so give them a call if you need Tuscan driving service. Tell ’em I sent ya!
Andrea drove us to the area just southeast of Siena known as the Montalcino wine-producing region. This area is famous worldwide for its Brunello di Montalcino red wine. Sign me up!
If I haven’t impressed upon you that the Tuscan countryside is just simply breathtaking, then take note now. I can’t describe just how pleasurable it is to just soak it all in while standing on a Tuscan hillside. These sweeping vistas consist of huge rolling hills and deep valleys, all drenched in the most golden of sunlight.
As Andrea drove us southward, the landscape slowly morphed into even more beautiful views, if that’s even possible. The hills became more gentle yet with valleys still as deep. And every earth tone known to man is represented, many times in close juxtaposition. This area is known as the Clay Hills and have been designated a UNESCO preserved area because of a couple thousand years of human agriculture that has helped shape the hills and valleys.
Interesting is, several years ago before I ever went to Tuscany I painted a mural on the dining room wall in my Florida house. I always referred to that room as my “Wine Room” and to the room itself as my “Tuscan verandah.” Much to my surprise, the real Clay Hills look exactly like my mural, from the angle of the slopes to the colors! I was speechless.


We arrived at Santa Giulia and were met by Gianluca (Like ‘Jean Luc-a’) Terzuoli, the son and winemaker. He gave us a quick tour of the wine cellar, which was by far the smallest we saw that week.
Gianluca led us into a tiny concrete room crowded with big wooden wine barrels and talked about his vocation and their plans to expand. He then gave us an overview of the official Italian wine designations of IGT, DOC and DOCG, which, to be honest, we’d heard at least four times that week before Gianluca explained it.
Basically, winemakers in Italy must follow strict rules to be able to designate their wines with one of those abbreviations. It’s the Italian equivalent to the French Appelation designations. Winemakers must submit their wine and proof of the winemaking methods to an official committee. DOCG is awarded to wines that have been made following a strict set of rules about type and percentage of grapes used, aging time, and so on. DOC is slightly less restrictive, and IGT is less restrictive still.
For example, Fattoria di Corsignano, the wine estate where we stayed, is located in the Chianti region. For their Chianti Classico wine to earn a DOCG designation, they must submit it to the Chianti Classico Consortium. Some of the rules are that the wine must be made from at least 80% local Sangiovese grapes and a maximumn 20% other specific local red grapes. If the Consortium passes them, they get to call their wine DOCG and get to use the black rooster logo. No other winemaker gets to do that. The Consoritium issues only a specific number of paper bottle seals to each estate, depending on how many they applied for. The seals bear the black rooster and a serial number; one seal is affixed to each bottle produced. If an estate misplaces their seals, it’s an act of congress to get replacements, apparently.
By the way, I have a personal theory that the black rooster logo was chosen so that English speakers can refer to it as the ‘black cock.’ But I digress…
In case you’re interested, here’s a link to the Brunello di Montalcino Consortium website.
Anyway, as Gianluca continued his spiel, I did a few photos:
This next one is a photo of a glass airlock atop the wine barrels. We saw a lot of them on our rounds that week. We were told that Leonardo da Vinci designed these airlocks. I couldn’t verify that with a short internet search, but it is oft-quoted. The airlocks are cool either way!
Next, Gianluca led us into the farmhouse. It was inviting and warm on this chill day!
His mother, whose name I believe was Mirabelle though I can’t be sure, was bustling around in the kitchen preparing one of the most delicious meals of the week for us:
We explored the lovely, cozy room and Cyndie and I found cookbooks about Tuscan bread to buy on the sideboard. We warmed ourselves by the fire and chatted with Gianluca for a while. Presently, Mama called us to the table. Insistently, because, after all, it was ready!
I can’t tell you how delicious this food was – better than any else we had that week. And let me tell you, we had GREAT food that week! Andrea told us that, in addition to Gianluca being the winemaker, his father raised pigs and made capicola, salami, prosciutto and lombo, my new favorite pork cold cut. We sampled all of it. Wow.

Mama served us pecorino from the local area, which is a delicious sheep’s cheese. All you Americans eating pecorino romano, forget it. This is way different!

Mama hooked us up some fresh bruschetta:

The best part of this fantastic meal was the homemade pasta with meat ragù:

For dessert – as if anyone had any room at all for dessert! – was what she called Crema Chantilly, a lemon cream dream between layers of puff pastry sprinkled with cocoa: 

Of course, throughout the meal we were served a different estate wine with each course. The star of any winery in this area is the Brunello DOCG, which was truly exceptional here. However, my absolute favorite of these wines, and of the whole week’s wines, was their Rosso (means ‘red’ in Italian), which is their IGT. Oh my but it was delicious! My only regret is not buying a case of that ruby red jewel, it was so fruity and wonderful! I learned that Brunello means ‘brown’ in Italian and was the name of the local grape variety around Montalcino.

However, it was later scientifically proven that the Brunello grape was the same as the Sangiovese grape grown in other regions. This is a prime example of how the terroir, or climate, soil, air quality, etc., changes the taste of a grape and therefore a wine. The Italian powers-that-be decreed that the Brunello grape be called Sangiovese like the rest of the vines elsewhere. However, the wine’s name stayed the same.

Cyndie and I spied the ceramic pitchers on the table bearing the estate’s name. We SO wanted one of our own, but, alas, they were only for serving. These were gifts from a local potter friend. There were none for sale. Obviously they don’t get the merch expectations of American tourists! We tried to clue them in but I don’t think they believed us.
 

I asked Mama for her recipes as we were leaving. She immediately began rattling them off in Italian (she speaks no English) so Gianluca and Andrea had to haltingly translate for me. In my tipsy condition, I scrawled them down as best as I understood them and had Mama sign the paper. I’ve since transcribed my scrawlings into a typed sheet and hope to test them out in my own kitchen. I’ll let you know how that turns out. I think I’ll start with the ragù

Reluctantly, we drove away from this beautiful little operation with full stomachs, slightly fuzzy heads, and the fondest of memories, promising to return one day. I know we will.

Here are Bram, Andrea and James enjoying Santa Giulia’s views:

Leave me a comment and let me know what you liked most about Santa Giulia. Stay tuned for more Italy next time!

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Siena, Italy, and Fattoria di Corsignano Agriturismo

In preparation for my latest book coming soon, be sure to get your

Photos for No Apparent Reason (PFNAR) 2017

and 2015

Because, coming soon, PFNAR 2016!

Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.

This post was originally published on January 19, 2014 and updated on February 5, 2019.

Now, I’ll take you with me on part of my December trip to Tuscany, which did not disappoint. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know I was in Tuscany last May for a fantastic dream vacation with my husband and our friends Carmela and Ivan. We loved it so much we went there again with another couple, Cyndie and Bram, in December, just a week before Christmas. If dream vacations can be improved upon, this was it.
That one week seemed like so much more time, with daytrips, shopping trips, cooking classes and an ongoing stream of fabulous wines and eats. We stayed at Fattoria di Corsignano, the agriturismo where we stayed in May. As with all agriturismi (Did you see what I did there? Used the Italian plural, I did!), it’s a working estate that produces its own wine and olive oil in addition to offering sleeping and eating accommodations to the likes of us. The owners, Elena and Mario, really outdid themselves in providing us an amazing, memorable stay.
The one photo I took that pretty much sums up the entire trip has to be this one:

Unless, of course, it’s this one:
We had booked a 5-night package and everything was taken care of, from rides to/from the Florence airport to meals to cooking classes to chauffeured daytrips and everything in between.
We boarded a plane in Munich,

… flew across the Alps,

… and were met at the airport by Marco. I love it when handsome Italian men are looking for me!

Marco drove us to Corsignano, near Siena, where we were met by the staff and where, I might add, we were the only guests. It was the week before Christmas and I highly recommend this time of year for something like this because it is not crowded. We did have to make sure the people and events were available before booking because of the holiday season, however, so do your homework in advance if you go.
What followed is one of the most enjoyable, memorable weeks of my life. I can’t wait to tell you more about our adventures and experiences in future posts!
I’m convinced I am destined to live in Tuscany. The golden light is phenomenal and everywhere you look is truly a picture-postcard. It’s nearly impossible to take a bad picture. To demonstrate how stunning and changing the Tuscan countryside is, take a look at this series of shots from our bedroom window several mornings in a row at approximately the same time:
Next time I’ll introduce you to a small wine estate near Montalcino that produces extraordinary rosso and brunello. Stay tuned!
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The Kitchen Bistro on Pearl Street in Boulder, CO

I know you read last week’s post about Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado. If you haven’t, do it now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

. . .

Ok, now that you’re familiar with the area, head to the west end of Pearl and cross the street that ends the pedestrian area. On the north side of Pearl, about a quarter block from the corner, turn right into The Kitchen bistro.

The Kitchen is a self-proclaimed bistro that focuses on locally sourced, farm-to-table fare. Everything is super fresh, and the menu changes often, depending on what’s in season and good. Icing on the cake is the wine! They specialize in pairing the best wines with their food. Often the wine is something you never heard of or can’t easily get at local liquor stores.

I’ve seen The Kitchen on all the “best-of” lists in Boulder, and I’ve seen the location in Denver but never stopped there. The first time I dined at The Kitchen was in May this year. My brother-in-law was visiting and had offered to buy us lunch. I didn’t hesitate to drag us all to The Kitchen. As it happens, it was UC Boulder’s graduation day as well, so there were a LOT of people with the same idea. However, we arrived rather early and managed to get a table right away. We chose a really small space on the sidewalk, but somehow it was more private than it looked and was great for people-watching:

There is a related yet separate cocktail lounge upstairs, cleverly called Upstairs. I’ll visit that one soon!

This year they are celebrating their 15th anniversary!

The place isn’t very big, about the width of a regular storefront, but it stretches the length of the entire block.

In addition to the crowded graduation-day meal, my husband and I returned a couple of weeks later, sans brother-in-law and sans the crowd. It was better for photos, of course, and here are some interior shots.

Here’s the lunch menu:

At present they are featuring summer wines with a special on rose’:

On that second visit, I chose the Rezabal, a Spanish rose’. I’d never had Spanish rose’, but I love Spanish reds, so I took a chance. It was marvelous – and beautiful!

Can a wine be dry and fruity at the same time? Also, it was chilled, which was great with the ceviche we ordered.

Here are some of the menu items we’ve sampled from both visits and other tidbits:

The service at The Kitchen is impeccable! In fact, our waitress from the first crowded incident remembered us and what we ordered when we spoke to her on the second visit! We were waited on by multiple people, runners and so forth, who all seemed up-to-date on what we ordered and what hadn’t shown up at the table yet. And the food took no longer to arrive during the crowded visit than on the not-crowded one. Impressive.

In researching this article, I discovered that there are other The Kitchens in Colorado (Denver and Ft. Collins), as well as Chicago and Memphis. The Boulder location is the original, though. The biggest surprise from my research is that the restaurants were co-founded by Kimbal Musk, Elon’s brother! The other co-founder is Hugo Matheson, a renowned chef. He and Kimbal also founded a non-profit that brings food gardens to schools to educate young people about where their food comes from.

In case you cannot tell, I highly recommend this place. The prices are more than reasonable for what you get there and the people are fantastic. Although I want to try out many other places in Boulder, it will be hard not to want to go back to The Kitchen each time!

So, stay tuned for more Pearl Street pearls!

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