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Thursday, June 30,2011

Bácaro, bikes and bruschetta

By Clay Fong
photo by Sue France

 

The most enjoyable meals aren’t just about the food — they’re also about the company, and in some instances, a sense of common purpose. Such is the case with Boulder’s Bácaro Venetian Taverna’s combination Sunday bike ride, lunch and fundraiser. The ride is a monthly event that pulls together an amiable collection of cyclists of differing ages and abilities.

The experience began at 9 a.m. as riders gathered and enjoyed free-flowing cups of coffee and platters of warm pastry. I was particularly partial to the bite-sized helpings of strudel and buttery croissants. Once participants fueled up on light breakfast, the ride began in earnest, with multiple mileage options to accommodate varying fitness levels.

It’s a no-drop ride, so trip leaders stop at strategic points to ensure no cyclist is left behind. This approach is reassuring to a dawdling recreational sort such as myself, especially since slowpoke best describes my riding style. On rides that aren’t no-drop, I irrationally fear my absence wouldn’t be noted for quite some time, until someone spotted a flock of raptors circling my motionless body.

Fortunately, my morbid fears were unwarranted, as the ride itself was a pleasant 37-mile jaunt through the plains, with a trek up Lefthand Canyon to the Ward turnoff. Upon returning to the restaurant, riders discovered that staff had prepared communal tables, complete with ample carafes of water, in anticipation of a family-style Italian meal.

The eagerly anticipated repast opened with slightly doughy slices of bread, which were redeemed by authentic sourdough flavor and crisp, pencil-sized breadsticks. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil made for a traditional and satisfying dip. Olive oil is an indicator of restaurant quality in my book, and Bácaro’s is best  described as delightfully full and fruity. But most importantly, an attentive staffer kept my water topped off, which was a welcome effort, given post-ride-rehydration imperatives.

A steady procession of plates soon arrived, beginning with a refreshing salad of baby greens accented by slivers of flavor-packed grape tomatoes and a subtle vinaigrette with a hint of lemon. Given the communal nature of the meal, the best approach was to take small portions of each dish. The sheer number of choices guaranteed one’s cycling-induced hunger would be sated, and the constant introduction of dishes could be described as nearly relentless.

Standouts included fried calamari, crisp and delicately battered, and served with luxurious aioli and tangy marinara. Impeccably al dente tubular pasta came sauced with tomato, zucchini and silky eggplant. Proteins included tender pulled pork and delicately sauced white fish. Bruschetta featured fresh diced tomatoes to excellent effect, and rosemary-scented potato wedges contributed hearty heft to the meal.

The total cost of the experience was $35.79, including tax, tip and a soft drink. While not inexpensive, it’s a reasonable tariff considering the quantity and quality of the food and ride. Additionally, a portion of the receipts went to support Singletrack Mountain Bike Adventures, a local nonprofit promoting youth cycling.

The brainchild of Executive Chef Fabio Flagiello, who also wore the hats of genial host and ride leader, this unique experience earns itself the culinary equivalent of the King of the Mountains leader’s jersey. Riders and diners interested in experiencing this championship fare and outing should visit www.bacaro.com to determine the timing of the next monthly lunch and ride.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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