TESS ON THE TOWN, Dec. 23, 2011

So, what do a couple of sushi chefs lay out on the Christmas table?

In the case of Christopher Boyd and Josh Roberts of No Coast Sushi, it’s likely going to be something off the hoof: prime rib. This is western Colorado, after all.

But that doesn’t mean something that used to swim won’t be on the table, too.

Roberts, lead sushi chef, spends the holidays with his two sisters, two brothers, parents and assorted holiday orphans in his hometown of Craig. Because Christmas falls on Sunday this year, he has three days off from the restaurant to spend with the clan.

The family tradition is to serve prime rib cut from a side of beef from an area ranch. Occasionally, the holidays include wild elk or a free-range bird from his aunt’s farm in Limon.

Roberts usually makes a side such as scalloped potatoes, and a horseradish cream sauce with wasabi for the beef. His sisters pitch in with green bean casserole and apple and cranberry salad.

In a nod to family roots, homemade gnocchi and sometimes spaghetti make it onto the menu.

On Christmas Eve, the family noshes on appetizers and fondue.

Although Roberts is the big sushi lover in the family, he prepares a salmon broiled with “good mustard, basil and drizzled with honey that his mom and grandmother love,” he said.

Roberts gets his fresh fish, for the restaurant and for himself, from Honolulu Fish Co., an ardent supporter of sustainable fishing. When one species appears to be over-fished, the company switches to a comparable species.

Among the newer fish served by No Coast are wild-caught Tasmanian salmon and bigeye tuna.

Over at the Boyd household, Okinawa-born Christopher and wife, Lisa, celebrate Christmas with her family in the Kannah Creek area.

On New Year’s they celebrate with Boyd’s mother, Sumiko Boyd, owner of Suehiro Japanese Restaurant & Sushi. Because his mother is Buddhist, New Year’s is the big holiday on Christopher Boyd’s side of the family, Lisa Boyd said.

Perfect arrangement, I think. There’s no disagreements about which family to visit for the holidays.

In Kannah Creek, the table is laid with prime rib and duck or goose from an organic farm source.

Christopher Boyd’s contribution to the feast is a cold, smoked green-tea salmon with crème fraiche and capers.

The Boyds, go all-out Japanese on New Year’s with many kinds of fish, Lisa Boyd said.

The menu includes octopus salad, herring roe and natto, a traditional fermented soybeans.

It took Lisa Boyd a while to warm to natto, because, she said, it has that “stinky feet smell, like good cheeses.” But she loves the super-healthy dish now.

Researchers have found the protein-rich natto to have a blood-clot dissolving enzyme.

After the holiday respite, it’s back to the “crazy busy” work at No Coast, Roberts said.

The eight sushi chefs at the almost 5-year-old restaurant earned their trademark blue bandannas mostly through apprenticeships, rather than culinary school, Roberts said.

The restaurant’s busiest period is from December through June, for reasons they can only theorize: Approaching and into the new year, resolutions are made and people want to eat healthier food.

WINE-PAIRING DINNERS: Italian regional dinners at Il Bistro Italiano with wine from Planet Wines continue into the new year.

The first 18 dinners sold out quickly, but the first three of 2012 still have available seating, as of press time.

The specialty regions and dates are:

Jan. 20, Veneto.

Feb. 26, Puglia.

March 18, Lazio.

Call Planet Wines, 424-5432, or Il Bistro Italiano, 243-8622, for reservations.

QUOTE: “I once wanted to be an atheist. But I gave up, they have no holidays.” — Henny Youngman

Send tips and ideas to Tess.Furey@gj sentinel.com.


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