Jessica Benjamin believes food is love. As a Boulder-based foodie, event producer and mother of two, Benjamin saw how hard restaurants have been hit by the global pandemic, inspiring a generous project born straight from her heart. She is the producer of First Bite, an annual event highlighting Boulder County’s dining scene, and decided to create a cookbook in lieu of First Bite’s Boulder Country Restaurant Week this year. The robust effort of creativity and collaboration has already created a buzz, inviting diners from all over the state and beyond to rally around Boulder County restaurants.
A Bite of Boulder cookbook will be released this fall. Jaunt Media Collective, the media company behind YOGA + Life Magazines and Spoke+Blossom Magazine, is working with Benjamin as the publisher on this exciting project.
“The real goal of ‘First Bite’ — the reason we host a restaurant week — is to create and strengthen community, to deepen the connection between restaurants and their customers,” Benjamin says. “This year, since we couldn’t offer a traditional restaurant week, yet restaurants need our support now more than ever, we came up with the idea of a cookbook to connect people with restaurants they love or haven’t tried yet – all while giving back to the eateries. A Bite of Boulder honors local chefs and restaurants, and celebrates some of their most popular and beloved dishes to date, allowing home cooks to make these dishes for their loved ones.”
Over 40 recipes of appetizers, entrees, sides desserts and cocktails are photographed by Christina Kiffney. Recipes include OAK at Fourteenth’s famous kale salad, Santo’s unforgettable red chili pozole, Colorado-inspired cactus and corn fritters from Zolo Grill and Chimera Ramen’s smashed cucumber dish.
In collaboration with Society Insurance and Downtown Boulder Partnership, each of the 30 participating restaurants will receive 25 complimentary copies of the book. At least 50 percent of the proceeds from book sales will be split evenly between all participating restaurants.
“Food truly is love, so dig in at home, share favorites with friends and celebrate Boulder in a delicious new way,” Benjamin says.
Chimera Ramen’s Smashed Cucumber
By owner and executive chef, Edwin Zoe
2 small Korean and Persian cucumbers
2 tsp rice vinegar
dash of toasted sesame oil
1 tsp of chili oil
pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp of minced dried shrimp (available at most Asian grocery stores)
scallions, finely sliced
- Cross cut two small Korean or Persian cucumbers in half, then quartered cut lengthwise, so that each slice is about 2-3” long.
- Cover with plastic wrap on a cutting board and then smash cucumbers with the flat of a knife or meat mallet. Not too hard, just a few whacks. This creates more surface area for dressing.
- Place the cucumbers in a mixing bowl. Add rice vinegar, a dash of premium pure toasted sesame oil, chili oil and a pinch of kosher salt to taste.
- Sprinkle finely minced dried shrimp over the top.
- Place in a dish and garnish with finely sliced green onion.