Sep 292009
Authors: Madeline Novey, Mike Kalush

Being the indecisive people that we are, neither of us was able to pick a single restaurant or idea to focus on in our column./

But with our indecisiveness came opportunity: the Downtown Tasting Tours, as part of the city’s overarching Homegrown Fort Collins harvest celebration./

The idea of the tours is almost like a food fantasy come true: selecting an appetizer, an entree and a dessert from three restaurants of our choice.

The only thing that would make it better is if each restaurant delivered the food to our front doors while we got our feet massaged in reclining chairs while watching Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.”/

This awesome food idea led us, once again, back to our annoying trait of indecisiveness. Where do we go? What do we eat? As we read the specialized menu from each restaurant, our mouths watered and we giggled like little children at a puppy store.

To solve this dilemma, we put our fate into the hands of 51 ripped up pieces of paper and a co-worker, Steve Benton.

From the three piles — in which 17 pieces of paper represented each of the participating restaurants — one for our appetizer, dinner and dessert, the following was drawn:/

Appetizer: Beef Tataki ($8.95) and Edamame Trio ($7.95) at Suehiro Japanese Restaurant/

Entree: Buffalo Ravioli ($13.95) at Rustic Oven/

Dessert: Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese Cake at Sonny Lubick Steakhouse ($6)/

Not bad for just Steve and a combination of ripped scraps of paper.

As we ventured out, we figured we’d bring along our fate’s chooser. Steve’s restaurant experience — which included working three San Diego food joints — and sophisticated palate (along with his wallet) would help us out in our tasting tour. /

As Mike took 20 minutes to photograph the first dish, we sat there staring at the grade A Charolais beef seared to perfection, served sashimi style over a bed of shredded radishes and carrots.

The dish was coupled with a reduction of the Japanese spice mix — made up of soy sauce, a cooking sake called mirin, ginger and lemon, among other ingredients — in which the meat had marinated throughout the day./

The Edamame Trio — featuring sea salt, sesame oil and barbecue toppings — complimented the hormone-free, Denver-raised beef./

After chatting with Suehiro’s chef, 2005 CSU graduate Julia Halualani, we packed up the camera gear and headed west across Old Town Square to the Rustic Oven at 123 N. College Ave./

Never walk into an empty restaurant, that is always a good rule of thumb when looking for a place to eat, and Rustic Oven was no exception.

The buffalo ravioli was delivered and we all drooled over the freshly-made pasta dish — even the gluten-free Madeline couldn’t resist taking a bite.

The tender, Colorado-raised meat folded inside the Denver-made pasta and topped with a sauce made from spinach and Alamosa-grown mushrooms was the epitome of an Italy-meet-Wild West fusion./

And then, we headed south to Sonny Lubick’s./

Going underground, into the brick and football-memorabilia-laden establishment, the three of us took a seat next to the glass-paneled wine cellar.

Though skeptical of the star ingredient in the dessert — goat cheese — we were blown away by the cheesecake’s lighter texture and more-savory-than-sweet flavor.

Served with peaches, a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of mint, the two slices of cake (because we couldn’t share just one between the three of us) proved to be the cherry on the metaphorical cake that was our progressive dinner tour of Downtown Fort Collins Friday night./

In its inaugural year, the Downtown Tasting Tours serves to highlight local chefs and their use of locally-grown ingredients in menus designed with the Colorado producers and Fort Collins food lovers in mind./

Though the tours run only here through Oct. 4, we hope the use of local ingredients by local restaurants is a trend that is here to stay./

Staff photographer Michael Kalush and News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at Their column runs biweekly on Wednesday’s in the Collegian.

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