Cool tofu salad satisfaction, French Vietnamese cupcakes on Colfax, and Zolo’s famous corn soup

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I’ve been sipping stout at Boulder’s Mountain Sun Pub since it opened in 1993, typically paired with a good cheeseburger and hot fries. Especially in the dark months, that comfort trio filled various voids. 

However, on a hot July afternoon at Table Mesa’s Southern Sun Pub, I looked at the menu and leaned toward the light and a Thai Tofu Salad. 

I like fried tofu cubes anyway, especially in Asian dishes, but the Pub’s housemade garbanzo tofu upgrades the taste and texture of the vegan protein. Tossed in a sweet chili dressing, it’s a chewy treat topping spinach, veggies, pickled carrots and toasted cashews in a ginger and lime dressing. 

I also shared a Boom Boom sandwich—basically, an Italian Philly steak sub without the steak. Ciabatta bread is packed with chewy mushroom filets, roasted red peppers, melted mozzarella, basil and roasted garlic mayo.

The stouts can wait for the February freeze. I abided with a mellow Sobchek Pilsner.  

Another Roadfood Attraction: Trans-cultural Cupcakes

On the road in the Denver area, it’s fun to simply search for: “bakeries near me.” That’s how I found Bánh & Butter Bakery Cafe at 9935 E. Colfax Ave. in Aurora. It’s a new place from Thoa Nguyen, the next generation of the family that made Denver’s New Saigon Restaurant a culinary landmark.

Situated in the former Third Culture mochi doughnut site, this bakery beautifully melds three dessert and bread traditions: French, Vietnamese and American. 

The glass cases are filled with pastries and desserts including filled croissants, fruit cruffins, multi-layer stacked mille-crepe cake slices and egg tarts.

Using fresh house-baked chewy baguettes, the cafe also dishes made-to-order banh mi sandwiches layered with cold cuts or vegan paté  plus pickled daikon and carrots, cilantro, cukes, jalapeno and garlic aioli.

Given the choices, I was captured by the serious cupcakes in cool fillings, flavors and frostings ranging from bright green pandan-coconut to purple ube. For the haul back up to Louisville, I paired a well-crafted, soft-crumbed cupcake that combined the flavors of Thai iced tea paired with an iced Vietnamese coffee. 

Recipe Flashback: Soup Off the Cob

Boulder’s Zolo Grill was well known for its Southwestern cuisine before being shuttered during the pandemic. Over the years, Colorado’s famous sweet corn was showcased on the menu every summer, including in this memorable soup. Zolo’s executive chef Paul Schutt shared this recipe in the 1990s. For added corn oomph, simmer the scraped corn cobs in water, strain and use the liquid instead of water in the recipe.

Zolo Grill Corn Jalapeno Soup

3 tablespoons butter

2 cups white onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, stemmed and deseeded

1 ancho chile, stemmed and seeded

1/8 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/8 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon chili powder 

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 1/2 cups fresh corn off the cob

4 1/2 cups water

2 corn tortillas

Salt, to taste

Sour cream (for topping)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Saute all items except the last four in butter until onions are light brown. Add water and bring to a boil. Cut one corn tortilla into strips and toast strips and a whole tortilla until golden brown. After the soup comes to a boil, add the whole toasted tortilla. Save the strips for a garnish. 

Caitlin Rockett Colorado Sake Co

Remove soup from heat and let it cool for 10 minutes. Puree soup in a blender until creamy. Return to low heat on the stove. Taste and adjust salt. Place in wide bowls and garnish with tortilla strips and sour cream. 

Culinary Calendar: Sake and Chocolate

Colorado Sake Co. in Denver hosts an Aug. 3 sake and artisan chocolate tasting, coloradosakeco.com … Slow Food Denver hosts a Sept. 17 dinner at Hope Hill Farm in Lafayette with chef Sam McCandless of Boulder’s Corrida, slowfooddenver.org/summer-slow-down … Don’t miss the summer 2022 Guide to Boulder County’s Roadside Farm Stands available at BoulderWeekly.com.

Send information about Boulder County and Colorado food and drink events, classes, festivals, farm dinners, farm stands and tastings to:
Nibbles@BoulderWeekly.com.

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