Blue Maize | AspenTimes.com

Blue Maize

Christina Patterson

From the onset of civilization, humanity has seen food as a gift from the creator and Mother Earth. This is why we say a prayer of thanks before a meal. At Blue Maize I said a prayer after. “Thank you God for those Jalapeno Seafood Poppers smothered with that chili preserve.”

I never thought so much on the concept of culinary art as a spiritual practice until I met owner Thomas Colosi. Thomas is the culinary equivalent of St. Francis. People are flocking to this restaurant as if it was the end point in a holy pilgrimage. The night we had dinner there people were interacting with other people — let me make sure you understand what I’m saying — these were people that we had never even seen before that evening!

They were talking and laughing with each other, offering tastes of food to one another. Total strangers at the end of the meal seemed like one big family. I saw that evening how sacred the act of cooking can be, how when done with consciousness and love it quite literally unites humanity.

There are no pretensions at Blue Maize (apart from that whole uniting humanity thing). The ambiance is deliciously soothing, walls painted in many different colors — red, blue, orange, yellow and beige. The cooking area opens out onto the dining area. The tables are many in number with long booth seating the length of the wall which allows for the continuity of the room and the homey and congenial atmosphere.

The feel is reminiscent of the local taparias in Spain, where locals come to talk, laugh and gather. It is a place of good will and cheer to meet with your brother and drink to the joy of life. It is a place Zorba would be sure to patronize. Non-complicated and refreshing, yet underneath it all, there is a current of undeniable electricity, intensity, and passion.

Thomas, along with his partner Richard Chelec, opened Blue Maize on June 16. They wanted to put together a restaurant for local restaurant workers. Pulling from his own eclectic life and culinary experience, Thomas came up with his own unique version of Southwestern/High Mountain cooking, with Caribbean and Latin American influences tossed in. The outcome is a stunning, explosive, and a sensual taste experience.

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Remember those Jalapeno Seafood Poppers that I mentioned earlier? Well, those were the first things to land on our table. On the one hand, they’re jalapeno peppers stuffed with shrimp and served with a chili preserve sauce. On the other hand, they are the very reason God created taste buds.

We also had the coconut shrimp with watermelon sauce, which was unusual in the best possible way. Also on the app menu is an octopus salad with mixed greens and smoked tomato vinaigrette dressing and a grilled vegetable salad with carrots, peppers, roasted corn, tomatoes and asparagus.

The entrees are everything that Southwestern food should be: tasty, elegant and tasty some more.

The Green Chili Risotto with grilled rock shrimp starts the entree list off, and it just keeps going from there — the Blue Corn Crusted Trout with pineapple habanero sauce and coconut rice was absolutely the most delicious dish of trout I’ve ever had. Fortunately, my companion had the good sense to order the Barbecue Anchiote Salmon with wilted arugula and fire-roasted tomatoes, so he didn’t feel the need to poach on my plate.

Blue Maize also offers a Chili Rubbed Ribeye Steak served with sweet potato fries (which are also available as a side, and way up on the “must try” list) and a Grilled Buffalo Steak with cranberry pasailla and roasted garlic mashers. On the other end of the food chain, check out the Wrapped Vegetarian Tamale served with a lime yogurt.

Also offered are the new world fajitas, marinated in fresh lime juice, with cilantro and spices and served sizzling with sauteed peppers, onions, black beans, tortillas, fire roasted salsa and sour cream and your choice of mixed veggies, (zucchini, carrot, asparagus, tofu) — $12, mixed grill, (buffalo, chorizo, chicken, sausage) — $15, chicken (with mixed veggies) — $13, or mixed seafood –fish, shrimp, octopus, veggies) — $17.

The sides alone are worth the trip here: roasted corn on the cob; slow cooked black beans; roasted garlic mashers; sweet potato fries; or coconut rice. All sides are $3.

Also, you may imbibe from a full selection of wines, beers, coffee and of course margaritas.

Chef Thomas is conscious of serving as much food that is grown, harvested and bred as close to home as possible. He believes in buying from local businesses, thus promoting a strong local economy.

Our relationship with the food that we put in our bodies is essentially the foundational relationship we have with ourselves, and moving on from there the relationship we have with others and with this earth. Energetically, you are what you eat, there is no way around it. With that in mind, pay a visit to Blue Maize.

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