Colorado pastry chefs show off their winning ways with chocolate at the Holiday Chocolate Festival

by TERESA J. FARNEY teresa.farney@gazette.com- Published: December 27, 2013 | 12:00 am 0

The Holiday Chocolate Festival drew bigger crowds than ever at The Broadmoor on Dec. 14. In addition to eating as many sweet treats as they could, the attendees were eager to see who created the winning truffles and other confections. Two chefs from our region made us proud.

Here's a look at the winner's circle:

- Ana Musial, from The Broadmoor, won the Chocolate Confection award.

- Courtney Lundin, owner of 1492 Chocolates in Monument, won Open Class Truffles.

- Robin Autorino, owner of Robin Chocolates in Longmont, won the Hand-rolled and Molded Truffles award.

- Molly Ortega, from Aurora, won the Cake Competition.

- Cheryl Altman, owner of Ooey Gooey in Castle Rock, won the Cupcakes and Cake Pops award.

Mug envy

About a year ago, Phil Duhan, who has owned Oscar's Oyster Bar, 333 S. Tejon St., for 11 years, started selling Moscow Mules.

"I spotted the drink being served at bars in Denver and thought it would be great to add to our menu," he said.

And he was prepared for the inevitable: Customers swiping the lovely copper mugs in which the drink is served.

"The server had asked for my ID when I ordered the drink," he said. "That's how they prevented mugs from being taken."

He started with eight mugs and has lost three of them.

"It's the server's responsibility to ask for the ID and if they don't and come up short, they have to pay for the mug," he said.

The mugs cost $35 each. The drink, a mixture of vodka, ginger beer and lime juice, costs $6.50. Details: 471-8070, oscarstejonstreetbar.com.

Passing the branch

Mark Meltzer, owner of The Olive Branch Restaurant, 23 S. Tejon St., is closing the eatery Sunday. He has owned the restaurant since 1979. To celebrate the occasion he will have a plant sale at 2 p.m. Sunday. Here's you chance to snag one of the dozens of hanging plants, which will be sold for $10 to $20. Details: 475-1199, theolive branchrest.com.

Secret dining room

The Front: Pizza, Wine & More, 1670 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., is not your everyday pizza joint. It looks like a pick-up-and-go place, but hidden behind a door is a very nice dining room.

"It's sort of like a speak-easy, with the kitchen as a front for another business," said Anthony Pignatiello, who owns the new eatery with his wife, Karine.

On Jan. 9, the sit-down dining room will be open and will offer 46 diners family-style dinners featuring reasonable prices. Evening dining will be offered 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Lunch hours are 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Details: 527-0171; thefrontcs.com.

Exotic dining

Tajine Alami , 10 Old Man's Trail , offers a New Year's Eve six-course feast for $40 per person. Complimentary glass of champagne and belly dancing included. Details: 685-1119, tajinealami.com.

Shuttered

- Caf?Corto Coffee Gallery, 115 E. Kiowa St., has closed. Owner Benjamin Gallegos-Pardo took a position with Colorado State University.

"We were not growing and did not have budget to get over the hump," he said. "It's bittersweet for us."

And bitter for us as we kiss goodbye to his excellent Cuban sandwich, arepas and other Latin-style specials.

- Great Wall Seafood Buffet: Mongolian Grill & Sushi, 5760 N. Academy Blvd., has closed.

"KVOR" Table Talk

Guests on the "KVOR Table Talk" radio show on 740 AM, 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday: Matthew Schee, executive chef at The Craftwood Inn; Joleen Allis, independent chocolatier with Dove Chocolate Discoveries; William Gillum, wine consultant at Downtown Fine Spirits and Wines; and Rick Velliquette, general manager and partner, and Raj Adhikari, owner, of Little Nepal Indian Restaurant.

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Send tips about restaurant openings, closings, menu changes and food specials to teresa.farney@gazette.com, 636-0271, Twitter @tffoodie or Facebook Teresa Farney.

To view a video for this week's featured recipe, Holiday Pretzel Treats, scan this QR code with your mobile device or go to gazette.com.

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