Table Talk for April 8

April 8 2008, 10:00 PM
Food Fight: The Cupcake Wars, Continued Two shops in Bluebird District on Colfax Avenue are counting on your sustained devotion to cupcakes. The dueling businesses (they're situated about a block apart) take two different tacks. Eight-week-old Lovely Confections is a classic niche bakery, with a half-dozen cupcake flavors in the case, a drink menu that includes milk and lattes, and cafe tables at which to enjoy your treats. Owner Porche Lovely's focus is on purity—she uses as many local, all-natural, and organic ingredients as possible. (To wit: She sources her cream, milk, and eggs from Morning Fresh Dairy outside of Fort Collins.) Depending on the flavor, we find Lovely's minicakes range from having perfect crumb to being slightly dry, but her spot-on buttercream icing is the best we've tasted. 1489 Steele St., 720-524-7770, www.lovelyconfectionsbakery.com    Since December 1, The Shoppe has been baking up a different experience—one that's retro, and oh-so-cool in its kitschy all-white space. Co-owner and pastry chef Emma Skala (of Emma Rose Cakes) whips up flavors including coconut cream, chocolate-peanut butter, and seasonal goodies like strawberry champagne. Cupcakes are decorated at Skala's whim—which means mounds of coconut flakes, colorful sprinkles, and sometimes neon icing—and she also bakes up vegan and gluten-free versions. Of the dozen flavors we tasted, the cake quality varied—though we found the treats filled with raspberry or lemon to be perfectly flavorful and decadent. Bonus: More fun comes in the form of The Shoppe's cereal bar (20 cereals from Trix to Special K) that can be mixed and topped with the likes of homemade granola, chocolate syrup, marshmallows, and blueberries. 3103 E. Colfax Ave., 303-322-3969, www.theshoppedenver.com —Amanda M. Faison Best Bites: Mel's Halibut with Lentils A midweek visit to Mel's Bistro on Sixth Avenue led us to chef David Oliveri's halibut dish on the new menu. The fresh combination of pan-seared fish, lentil-veggie medley, and caper brown-butter sauce tasted of spring, and the dish quickly became the envy of the table. 1120 E. Sixth Ave., 303-777-8222, www.melsbistro.com —AMF Cool Sips: Metromint When we learned that Aix chef-owner Rachel Woolcott drinks Metromint water when she needs a pick-me-up, we had to give it a try. We found the ultra-refreshing mint-distilled water at Whole Foods and Cost Plus World Market, and now it's a staple in our fridge. We do, however, prefer the original flavor to the newfangled flavors such as orangemint and chocolatemint. Check out more of Woolcott's favorite things in our interview. www.metromint.com —AMF Event: Taste Test With thought-provoking shows such as Failure: Feel Free to Hate This Exhibition, Belmar's The Lab has become Denver's go-to gallery for dynamic art. While The Lab has traditionally focused on visual works, over the next two months it turns its edgy creativity to the culinary arts. In its four-part Taste Test series, The Lab brings together a scientist, historian, an anthropologist, a market owner, and several chefs to discuss the ingredients bacon, salt, mushrooms, and honey. Each evening two experts discuss one ingredient and then present a meal spotlighting the featured ingredient. Watch out for experts like Pete Marczyk, owner of Marczyk Fine Foods, Jorge de la Torre, a chef at Johnson & Wales University, and Jim Downing, a scientist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. April 10-May 1, 404 S. Upham St., Lakewood, 303-934-1777, $20, www.belmarlab.org —Kazia Jankowski New: Glacier Ice Cream & Gelato in Denver In last July's Top of the Town issue, we picked Glacier Ice Cream & Gelato as our top spot for best ice cream. The jam-packed ice cream flavors, like three-nut rocky road, reminded us of Ben and Jerry's, and the creamy gelato, with flavors such as lemon-raspberry, tasted of pure decadence. But back then we had to drive to Boulder for this treat. Thankfully Glacier opened a second location near I-25 and Hampden Avenue late last summer. Now it's easy to start off spring with a cone of coffee caramel crunch ice cream or lemon gelato, Glacier's most popular flavors. 7155 E. Hampden Ave., 303-300-6661, www.glacierhomemadeicecream.com –KJ

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