Table Talk for May 6, 2008

May 6 2008, 10:00 PM
Coming Soon: Ink! Coffee to Cherry Creek Ever since Cherry Creek's Emogene Patisserie et Cafe closed last fall, we've been watching to see what would go into that tony location. Finally, an answer: Aspen-owned Ink! Coffee is taking over the glass-enclosed space. We hear the shop—home to our favorite white coffees and blended chais—will open in July. Once the espresso machines fire up, we'll be watching to see if Ink! pulls customers from nearby Peet's Coffee and Java Creek. 2415 E. Second Ave., and three other Denver locations, www.inkcoffee.com —Amanda M. Faison Dining Escapades: Needlefish, Squid with Sea Urchin, and Grunt Last week we embarked on a dining adventure—an omakase (chef's choice) style dinner at Izakaya Den with master chef Mr. Yoshitomi. Toshi and Yasu Kizaki (owners of both Izakaya and Sushi Den) flew Yoshitomi in from Fukuoka, Japan, to prepare this traditional sushi dinner. By our count there were 21 tastes, beginning with a simple rice soup and ending with okra and marinated ginger blossom. In between, we tasted such delicacies as needlefish (a long, folded up piece of fish enhanced by herbs and plum paste), squid topped with sea urchin and a hint of citrus, and tender grunt fish. A real treat came in the form of the gorgeously marbled toro (the highest grade of tuna), which was reportedly the best cut in the entire U.S. market.    In addition to discovering new flavors, we were indoctrinated into old-style Japanese sushi. Yoshitomi requested that the sashimi and sushi (which were served once piece at a time) be eaten within three seconds. This was to preserve the ideal temperature—and flavor—of each bite. We also found, as a whole, traditional sushi to be very subtle: The rice is far less sweet than we were used to, and pieces were served spiced to the chef's liking (no soy sauce or wasabi for dunking). The final effect: The fish is the one and only star of the show. Though I'm not sure we'll order squid or needlefish nigiri anytime soon, we came away from the dinner with a greater respect for the art of sushi—and the next time we dine, we'll carefully ration the soy sauce. 1518 S. Pearl St., 303-777-0691, www.izakayaden.net —AMF Recipe: Buttermilk Cookies We're hopelessly addicted to Seattle-based Molly Wizenberg's blog Orangette. Each week, we eagerly await her food-related posts—and last week's entry, Because of the Cookies, had us baking two batches of the buttermilk cookies with lemon zest. This is a recipe that Wizenberg adapted from Gourmet (which was inspired by renowned cookbook author Edna Louis). We further tailored it by subbing orange zest for the lemon in the second batch. In either form, these springy cookies would make a perfect addition to a Mother's Day brunch, or any special celebration. www.orangette.blogspot.com —AMF Sustainable Dining: Plant a Garden Two weeks ago, the New York Times published the provocative Michael Pollan article "Why Bother?". In five short pages, the author of The Ominvore's Dilemma encouraged individuals to make green lifestyle changes, including growing some of their own food. We decided that Pollan's proposal was very doable, even for the beginning gardener, and we called up John Smith at Paulino Gardens for advice. Smith had a handful of simple solutions to get us started. Plant in pots of at least 16 inches (any smaller and the July heat will burn the plant down to the roots). Mix polymer crystals into the soil and add mulch to the top of the pot to help keep the soil moist. Tackle plants of the appropriate size for a pot (cherry tomatoes, chile peppers, eggplant, or herbs). When you go on vacation, get a plant sitter or move your pots into the shade. And finally, when garden shopping, ask for advice to make sure you get the plants best suited to your growing conditions. Bonus: Check out this weekend's plant sales at the Botanic Gardens and Wildflowers (1201 Madison St., 303-333-4050). —Kazia Jankowski Event: Tea to Tofu Think Colorado and natural foods, and Boulder is likely to pop into mind. The city has the metro area's most varied farmers' market, and is home to companies such as Celestial Seasonings and Horizon Organic. This Saturday, the Boulder History Museum takes a closer look at the roots of this natural foods phenomenon. Starting at farmers' market, the Tea to Tofu tour will introduce participants to local farmers, before heading to the museum, where curator Julie Schumaker will explain the relationship between John Kellogg's sanitarium, the 1970s environmental movement, and Boulder's natural foods companies. Saturday, 9 a.m.–noon. Boulder Farmers' Market, 13th and Arapahoe streets. $25. For more information, call 303-449-3463 or visit www.boulderhistorymuseum.org. —KJ