April 27, 2007

2Mayto 2Mato says taste of the Caribbean via India

When it comes to starting a new restaurant, being creative with the menu is only one side of the equation. For example, how does one find a kitchen equipped for preparing homemade choka – much less educate an audience as to what choka might be? What is the proper pairing of food and cinema? And what in the world do you do with a ghost on the roof?

New taste of the Caribbean

The history of Trinidad, the larger of the twin islands of the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, off the coast of Venezuela, has long been spiced with the food and music of India. East Indians first arrived in Trinidad as an immigrant work force in the 1830s, and have, in turn, added a Caribbean beat to their native cuisine.

These unique flavors are on the move again, and are now available in Fort Collins at 2Mayto 2Mato in the Scotch Pines center at Lemay Avenue and Drake Road.

“The main difference between Indian preparations and ours is that we use fresh herbs and spices instead of powdered spices,´ said Angela Ramdass, who owns 2Mayto 2Mato with her sister, Ria Samaroo. “We don’t use cream or milk unless it’s curry with coconut milk. But that’s not an everyday thing. The gravy in our curries comes from the cooked ingredients.”

Born in Trinidad, Ramdass moved to New York when she was 18. Then 10 years ago she moved to Fort Collins.

“I have a bookkeeping business,” she said. “But last year I started making choka, an appetizer in Trinidad, to sell at farmers’ markets. My friends said I should.”

Last summer, Ramdass sold her two chokas (tomato and eggplant) as well as “Trini-style” hot sauces and chutney at farmers markets in Fort Collins, Loveland, Berthoud and Laramie, Wyo. They sold so well that it seemed appropriate that the business have a kitchen of its own.

“At first we leased kitchen space at the Pita Pit in Greeley, but this February we opened our own kitchen at Scotch Pines,” she said. “We originally intended to be just a retail store; then we thought, ‘Why not?’ We can serve food here, too.”

Regular offerings include “doubles,” a popular Trinidad chickpea “sandwich,” and aloo (potato) pie, with an additional vegetarian and non-veg dish posted daily on the Web site www.2mayto2mato.com.

In its own way, 2Mayto 2Mato redefines cyber café.

Jerry Poduska, marketing director, explained that the site, which also includes a weekly menu, serves as an interface with those who want to see when a favorite dish is coming up or to read descriptions of unfamiliar dishes.

“You can register for the daily e-mail menu that lists specials and offers coupons,” he said. “We’ll start delivering sometime in May.”

Movie munchies remade

Something about the communal experience of going to a movie requires food. But as one consumes a mustard-slathered movie dog – gravid with salt – or a large tub of buttered popcorn, it is almost possible to hear those arteries snapping shut. An alternative has arrived.

The recently opened Lyric Cinema Café in Old Town Fort Collins invites patrons to order a plate of dolmas, a bocadillo, or a German sausage, along with a glass of wine or beer, as accompaniments to viewing international films such as “The Namesake” by Indian director Mira Nair or “Black Book” by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven. The titles will change regularly, some staying longer if demand dictates.

“People may know Verhoeven because he directed ‘RoboCop’ and ‘Basic Instinct,’´ said Ben Mozer, co-owner of the Lyric. “But if you look at his early work, it’s amazing. He is doing that kind of film again.”

Mozer and business partner Josh Glossi will be choosing the movies, but plan to leave the café part of the venture up to Loveland caterer Thadd Hollis of j. salt. The current menu is billed as “dishes to accompany white wine or tea,” but a note assures readers that dishes to “accompany red wine and coffee coming soon!”

“We use as many local suppliers as we can,” Mozer said. “The sausage comes from Choice City Deli, the cheese from MouCo and the beer from Odells and New Belgium. When we find some affordable Colorado wine, we’ll offer that, too.”

The ghost on the roof

The course of placing new restaurants in historic buildings did never run smooth. It took Noodles & Co. six months to fix up its location with rooftop dining at the corner of College Avenue and Laurel Street in Fort Collins. It has taken developer Mike Jensen even longer to exorcise the ghost of an Owl Cigar sign at the location of the now-gone China Palace just south of Mountain Avenue on College Avenue.

Jensen’s original plan for Lulu Asian Bistro called for a couple of nice lofts on the second floor, which would have obscured the ghost sign on the side of the building next door. Historic preservation rules, the owl – and those who like rooftop patio dining – won.

“We have had several bumps in the road, like the ghost sign and some structural things,” Jensen said. “But we are ready to get the roof torn off and put in the steel to support the patio. We’ll have the only rooftop patio in the heart of Old Town.”

(As reported elsewhere in this issue, Tailgate Tommy’s old location is now a mixed-use office building.)

For those who have been wondering how an Asian fusion bistro came to be known as Lulu, here is the answer. Tian Lu is the owner and chef, and he will be bringing a style of cooking to Fort Collins that is well-loved along the Pacific Rim.

“The food is a fusion style,” Lu said. “There are elements of Thai, Indonesian and Chinese. But people should come in and enjoy the food to see what it is like.”

Chef Lu has a point. Fusion cuisine, having no traditions of its own, is reinvented by each chef who practices the art. The style is full of surprises to delight the diner.

“I think we will open in three or four months, July or August,” Lu said.

That will still leave plenty of warm evenings for diners to take in the view from the patio on the roof, under the watchful eye of the owl.

Jane D. Albritton is a contributing writer for the Northern Colorado Business Report. Her monthly column features restaurant and hospitality industry news. She can be contacted at jane@tigerworks.com.

When it comes to starting a new restaurant, being creative with the menu is only one side of the equation. For example, how does one find a kitchen equipped for preparing homemade choka – much less educate an audience as to what choka might be? What is the proper pairing of food and cinema? And what in the world do you do with a ghost on the roof?

New taste of the Caribbean

The history of Trinidad, the larger of the twin islands of the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, off the coast of Venezuela, has long been spiced with…

Related Content