December 13 2005, 10:00 PM
Sweet Stuff...You didn't see Duo listed in our Best New Restaurant story (December/January), because our editorial deadlines had come and gone when Duo first opened its doors. Executive Chef John Broening, formerly of Brasserie Rouge, does a bang-up job cooking inspired seasonal cuisine (don't miss the roasted chicken or any of the soups), but what tips the scale is Duo's dessert menu. It's rare (and becoming increasingly more so) to find a small, independent restaurant that employs a pastry chefeven part time. But owners Keith Arnold and Stephanie Bonin buck the trend and bring in Venezuelan-born Pastry Chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom to work her magic several times a week. Lozada-Hissom, who incidentally is behind Udi's famous artisan granola,credits her grandmother ("who had the hands of an angel") for her love of pastry and her delicate touch. For proof, order the apple tart with mandolin-thin apple slices glazed with honey on an almond shortbread-like crust. (Drizzle the ceramic thimble of black currant coulis across the top and allow the homemade vanilla gelato to melt just a tad). The beauty of this dessert, says Lozada-Hissom, is "the apples taste like applesyou can taste what it is. The flavors are clean and the crust, the sauce, they don't overwhelm." 2413 W. 32nd Ave., 303-477-4141, www.denverduo.com. National appeal...It seems Denver is making a splash on the national scene. Not only did 5280 contributor Kate Meyers pen InStyle magazine's December cover story on Gwyneth Paltrow, the issue also featured Swimclub 32 as the bar to frequent and locally made Vinotes as a hot gift idea. We've already sipped many a drink at the Highland hotspot and, in our December/January issue, raved about Vinotes by 529 Cards, the Denver company behind the clever wine tags. The handy gift cards with check-the-box greetings slip over the neck of a wine bottle: Choose a greeting, sign your name, and forget about worrying if your hostess will remember that you so kindly brought the bottle of Dom. Find Vinotes at local wine, liquor, gourmet food, gift shops, or visit www.529cards.com. Better Buttah...More press: This week the Chicago Tribune names Epicurean Butter,a Denver company blending up compound butters, as one of the top 10 new products of 2005. Denver chef John Hubschman and his wife Janey dreamt up the business of infusing butter with gourmet ingredients and then packaging it for home cooks. Our response: Bravo. We like the honey pecan (on French toast or a bagel), pumpkin spice (on buttermilk pancakes), wasabi ginger (on steak or salmon), and tomato chipotle (on grilled cheese). The butters are so good they quickly become indispensable, begging the question...why didn't I think of this? www.epicureanbutter.com.