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Food: Glenwood’s landmark Riviera Supper Club unveiling breakfast and lunch

Beginning March 15, The Riviera Supper Club & Piano Bar is set to become more than a place for supper. It plans to officially start serving breakfast and lunch, too.

According to Riviera owner Jonathan Gorst, following last year’s Easter and Mother’s Day brunches, customers coming in for dinner wanted to know when they could return for more than just an evening meal.

“I think it was by demand,” Gorst said. “Using innovations and the way that we do everything from scratch here and putting that into the breakfast and lunch scene, I think there is a pretty big opening for that.”

Gorst said the Riviera would serve a full breakfast and lunch menu Wednesday through Sunday.

Wednesday through Friday customers can order off the breakfast and lunch menus beginning at 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday starting at 9 a.m.

Customers can also order from a full bar selection, including coffee cocktails featuring Glenwood Springs’ own Mountain Mama coffee.

“They only use the top 1 percent of coffee beans produced in the world … so we are going to have pretty amazing coffee cocktails,” Gorst said of the beverage lineup in addition to more traditional breakfast options like mimosas and bloody marys.

Breakfast fare is to include chicken and waffles, frosted flake crusted stuffed french toast, biscuits and gravy, avocado toast and more, he said.

“I discovered chicken and waffles a long time ago, and these are some of the best,” Gorst said of the dish prepared by Riviera Supper Club Executive Chef Travis Owen. “I’ve been to the place that started it in Hollywood, and this is a rival for that, for sure.”

The lunch menu offers everything from the “Boozy Burger,” which includes a half-pound of all-natural Colorado beef, drunken onions, swiss, sriracha bacon, and a balsamic reduction, to Colorado beef stroganoff, as well as lighter fare like caesar salad and tomato soup.

Gorst said that he and Owen were excited for guests to experience the Riviera outside of just supper.

“Sometimes people feel, a little, that we are formal, which we are not,” Gorst said. “You come in here for dinner and there is a piano player…”

That piano player, often times Gorst himself, did hint at special music performances for occasional breakfast and lunches, too.

“We are talking to some small jazz groups, because we would like to see jazz brunch Sundays,” Gorst said.

mabennett@postindependent.com

Food column: From Louisiana to Glenwood Springs – home cooking at the Bluebird Cafe

The weather outside is frigid, and it still feels like the middle of winter. This is the time of year when warm food with kind friends is necessary. The good cheer of the holiday season is over, but it is still very much needed.

I recently had a nourishing experience with Susan Thomas, who is the co-owner and manager of the Bluebird Cafe in downtown Glenwood Springs.

Thomas has been the co-owner of the cafe with Kurt Hans, of Boulder, for about a year. She was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and grew up in Shreveport. While in Shreveport, Thomas operated a Cajun and Creole restaurant that specialized in home cooking. In Baton Rouge, she ran a restaurant that offered northern Italian cuisine.

“The Italian immigrants brought their distinct cuisine to the area. Later, their food was influenced by the local Creole population,” Thomas said. “I’ve brought that influence with me here to the Bluebird.”

The Bluebird Cafe doesn’t just serve coffee and pastries. With Thomas’s knowledge and recipes, the cafe now serves Italian and Cajun specialities. I was fortunate to have Thomas invite me to share some of this food with her at the Bluebird Cafe. Surrounded by art and Cajun nostalgia, we enjoyed a meal fit for kings and saints. The atmosphere was cozy, and the food was superb.

This is how Thomas wants all guests to feel.

“This is a very happy space that welcomes the community,” Thomas explained. “We want our customers to feel like they are stepping into their own living room with friends.”

I certainly felt welcomed, and I tried several dishes — both familiar and unknown. For our dinner, Thomas prepared Sensation salad, red beans with rice, a muffuletta sandwich, and for dessert, banana foster.

Thomas kindly shared these recipes with me to share with you. These dishes are also available as specialties at the Bluebird Cafe when available. All recipes are listed below, and Thomas also offers private cooking courses at the cafe for those who want to learn more.

Sensation Salad

According to Thomas, Sensation salad is a popular dish found in Baton Rouge and the surrounding area. Her version uses fresh spring salad mix with the Sensation dressing and is garnished with parsley and sweet peppers. It is an elegant mixture of sour, savory and a little bit of spicy. It’s the perfect option to start a meal with heartier fare to come later.

Serves 2-4 people

Ingredients

1 package of fresh spring mix

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 cup virgin olive oil

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

1. Combine minced garlic, lemon juice, vinegar and oil in a large glass container with secure lid. Thomas likes to use a recycled olive jar. Shake contents well.

2. Add parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and shake the jar again until ingredients are fully mixed. Any unused dressing can be refrigerated for later.

3. In a large salad bowl, toss the spring mix with enough dressing to fully coat the lettuce. Then serve immediately and garnish with parsley sprigs.

Red Beans and Rice

This is one of Thomas’s favorite dishes from her childhood. When she was young, she struggled with dyslexia. She helped herself overcome it by learning how to read recipes and cooking them with her mother. Recipes helped bring the words to life for her. This is one such dish.

Serves 2-4 people

Ingredients

2 links of andouille sausage

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup water

1 package of dried red kidney beans

1 green bell pepper

1 yellow or white onion

2 stalks of celery

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tomato

1 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 cups cooked white long-grain rice

Directions

1. Soak the red kidney beans overnight for best results.

2. Sauté sausages and vegetables separately. Cook sausages thoroughly and sauté vegetables until they are softer and caramelized.

3. Combine sausages (and drippings), vegetables and spices with 1/4 cup of water in pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes. Add additional water as needed while simmering.

4. Serve with cooked long-grain white rice and garnish with parsley.

Muffuletta Sandwich

Immigrants from northern Italy brought this recipe to Louisiana. It is named after the muffuletta bread, which is large, round and flat. Thomas imports the muffuletta bread directly from Gambino’s bakery in New Orleans. The sandwich is crispy, gooey, savory and has some fire.

Serves 2-4 people

Ingredients

1 loaf of Muffuletta bread (substitute with Italian bread)

1/3 cup olive oil

2 slices cheddar and provolone cheese

1/4 pound Genoa salami and ham

1/4 cup giardiniera olives

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon of red pepper

Directions

1. Half bread lengthwise, and drizzle olive oil on each side. Sprinkle both sides with herbs and pepper.

2. On one of the slices of bread layer olives, salami, ham and cheeses.

3. For extra crispiness, toast the sandwich using a panini press. Cut into quarters and serve.

Banana Foster

Finally for dessert, we indulged in banana foster. This dish was created in New Orleans, and one of Thomas’s favorites. She recommends it for romantic dinners or a treat shared between good friends. With an artistic flare, preparation becomes performance when Thomas burns off the extra alcohol shortly before serving. Please do this with caution.

Ingredients

4 medium size ripe bananas

1/2 cup butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup rum

1/4 cup amaretto

1 orange, juiced

4 scoops of vanilla ice cream

Dash of cinnamon

Directions

1. Cut bananas in half lengthwise.

2. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add brown sugar and cook while stirring constantly.

3. After two minutes, add bananas to skillet. Add orange juice.

4. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in liquor, rum and carefully ignite the fumes above mixture. After flames dissipate, return to heat, and cook for two to three minutes or until soft.

5. Serve with scoops of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle sauce on top, and garnish with a piece of toffee and sprig of mint.

Food column: Vegan mac and cheese

(Editor’s note: The Post Independent introduces a new bi-weekly food column and recipe today from local contributor Jordan Callier, to be included as part of our new Saturday Food section. Enjoy!)

Eating vegan is more of a lifestyle than a choice, and it is not just for hipsters. People choose a vegan diet for many reasons. For some, a vegan diet is necessary for personal health or ethical reasons, while others choose to eat vegan for its minimal environmental impact.

I am not a vegan, but in the last several years, I have eaten less animal products for health reasons. I was recently diagnosed with a genetic blood disorder, hemochromatosis, which causes my body to absorb too much iron from food. While many different foods can cause an iron overload, certain animal products are definitely off limits to me. For better health, I have opted to eat a more plant-based diet.

Eating a vegan diet can also have drawbacks. Frankly, some of the vegan food is not as tasty as animal-based food. Vegan cheese? Yuck. Living in a small town, it can also be difficult to find affordable vegan products, while preparation can take a lot longer than processed foods — vegan or not.

Instead of feeling disheartened about the difficulties of a plant-based diet, I often use Pinterest to find culinary inspiration. One such recipe that caught my eye is “Super Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese.” The original recipe has 92 five-star reviews and takes about 20 minutes to make. If 92 people give it five stars, then there is a good chance it is delicious.

Mac and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods, so I am thrilled to find an easy to make vegan replacement. I approach this with an open mind, because I fear the coconut milk will make it too sweet. The best way to find out is to make it.

I find all of the ingredients, except one, at our local City Market. The produce is beautiful and fresh, and I really do enjoy the Private Selection brand “Italian Trottole” imported from Italy. The noodles are wonderful al dente, and they also hold up if you accidentally overcook them as I have done many times. The only ingredient I cannot find at City Market is the nutritional yeast flakes. Luckily, Vitamin Cottage carries nutritional yeast flakes, and the yeast flakes really are the secret, since they add that cheesy flavor dimension to the dish.

Once my ingredients are gathered, and staged in an aesthetically pleasing way, I am ready to go. I always improvise ingredients from original recipes to add my own signature, so I also include scallions, vegetable bullion, curry, turmeric and fresh made bread crumbs. My modifications add some extra time but are worth it. See my modified interpretation of “Super Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese” below.

I have no idea what to expect, but I am blown away with the results. The sauce is creamy and rich. It does not exactly taste like cheese, but it is certainly complex and flavorful. I’m usually a light eater, but I happily help myself to a second bowl. I have enough leftovers to eat for days.

This is a cheap, easy and delicious dish for those who are vegan or just looking to be adventurous. The recipe can be made for about $20 and can feed a family of five. Whatever your reasons, this could be your new healthier, carbon conscious comfort food — as good as grandma’s, if grandma was a hipster vegan!

Jordan Callier is an avid foodie and owns a digital marketing business in Glenwood Springs.