Colorado Lamb Chop from Ototo Restaurant, Denver Colorado

I was contacted near the end of September by the PR firm that represents Star Fine Foods; wondering if I would be interested in helping them to arrange a local food blogger dinner. The intent was to introduce local bloggers to their olive oils and most specifically their California Extra Virgin Olive Oil. My role would be to find a restaurant that was willing to participate and use Star’s products exclusively for the meal they would prepare as well as help fill the tables with guests. I was fortunate that some friends had been in attendance at a similar event in California and had shared with me what an amazing time was had by all.

The truth is I seldom go out for dinner; I enjoy preparing food and having friends over for a meal. But I do have a couple of favorite places and a new one I had just been to with a friend had risen to that spot after only one meal. My friend Barb and her husband had discovered Ototo, located on Pearl Street in Denver. Their son attends The School of Rock nearby and they will often gravitate to a local place for a cocktail or glass of wine with a couple of small plates while waiting for his class to finish. She knew I would love it as much as she did and she was right. Warm, cozy, friendly staff and for us that first night, the piece de resistance? We sat next to those floor to ceiling windows in the photo above that we did not realize until the manager asked if he could open them were like a garage door. We were soon feasting on fried sunchoke, steamed mussels and Waygu beef tartar with the perfect late summer evening breeze joining us at our table.

After the details between parties were worked out, it was on and I started to invite people that I knew would appreciate the opportunity to sample Star’s Olive Oils in this cozy environment. I had asked the company to ship some samples to Denver prior to the event and they outdid themselves; everyone who attended was sent home with a bag of goodies including their Extra Virgin Olive Oils from Spain and California, Holy Land Olive Oil from Israel, a flavored oil and the biggest pimento stuffed green olives I have ever seen!

The evening started with a tasting of the Star Olive Oils; I think we’ve come to expect good products from Italy and Spain but I think everyone was not just surprised but excited about how good the California product was. I would compare it very favorably to a much pricier brand that I often have in my kitchen. Without reservation this will become my go to brand; it’s well priced and readily available in local grocery stores. Although purists might not be as favorable towards flavored olive oils, I have to tell you that I enjoyed them and that the Lemon one is The BOMB!

After we had some time to socialize and taste the different oils, we were seated in Ototo’s cozy back room. It was the perfect spot for a group our size; fitting up to about 20 people. We were provided with a menu of what we could expect from Chef Darren and his staff and I believe everyone in that room was excited.

The first course was grilled zucchini that was accompanied with tomato jam, anchovies, capers, and olive oil. It was not only beautiful but the perfect starter with the jam and anchovies packing just a touch of oomph into each bite of the zucchini wrapped around warm chevre. Totally delicious but not too filling; we had a lot to cover in this one evening.

Appearing next was this beautiful dish. Ahi tuna cured in olive oil mixed with orange segments and an olive oil confit of tomatoes served on top of the most amazing tagliatelle pasta. I did not want this course to end. True confession? I have never had tuna this rare. I will never eat it any other way. So Perfect.

I admit when I saw halibut on the menu I most likely felt a bit ho-hum about this course. I want to apologize openly to Chef Darren. This fish was exquisite. Alaskan halibut was poached in extra virgin olive oil and accompanied by fennel that had been poached in saffron. The plate was finished with a fennel puree and fennel olive oil and the resulting colors made for both a gorgeous dish and one with sublime flavors. Despite the seeming abundance of fennel it was the perfect and subtle accompaniment.

Our next course is the lamb that is featured at the beginning of this post. Every course served seemed to outdo the previous one but I was so in love with that halibut that I was sure nothing could compare. I was wrong, so very wrong. Chef Darren Pusateri (on the right in photo) has a private resource for Colorado lamb and it was the most tender, moist and flavorful piece of lamb I have ever eaten. The combination of that perfect piece of meat with the crust of pistachios and olive oil was, in a word, divine. The Chef provided me with the recipe for this dish which I’ve shared at the end of this post; I fear I will have to stalk him after work and find his secret lamb resource…I AM making this for our Christmas dinner! When I say good? I mean I picked up that piece of bone and gnawed every last bite as if it were a chicken leg good. And I know for a fact I was not alone!

The only photo of the meal I did not have was for the Olive Oil ice cream and Salted Caramel Sauce with Hazelnut Souffle and a Honey Olive Oil Tuille. Our fabulous finish. As luck would have it though, my friend Karen who also attended the dinner made her own version of the olive oil ice cream and the salted caramel sauce. I have lifted this photo without her permission and will ask her forgiveness later but also hope you will visit her blog, Savoury Table, where she has provided a recipe for this delicious finish, claiming this ice cream to be one of the smoothest and creamiest ever. Exactly. A spot on description. Add the salted caramel sauce and it was just the perfect finish to our meal.

You might think an entire meal with the emphasis on each dish including olive oil would be overdone but it was anything but. It complimented everything but overpowered nothing. I personally use olive oil in most of my dishes, either alone or often mixing with butter for the fat component. Except when using it as a dipping sauce for bread I don’t think the idea is to actually taste it on its’ own, it’s like other ingredients, the melding of all of them together is what makes the perfect whole. And to a dish, this whole meal was amazing.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Chris Yemma with DGWB Advertising and Communications out of Santa Ana, CA. He worked with me through this entire process, was so easy to work with and I hope, despite having to travel to Denver in a snow that came way too early while suffering from the beginnings of a cold, that he enjoyed this spectacular dinner as much as everyone else did.

I continue to hear kudos for the meal; I mean huge kudos. The combination of Star Fine Foods products combined with the effort by the staff at Ototo made for what many have called one of their best meals ever. We are still talking about it, actually dreaming about it might be more accurate!

I’m pleased to be able to share with you the amazing lamb dish that was prepared by Chef Darren but be sure to check out the sweepstakes at the end of this post that I’m doing.  Star Fine Foods has provided a fabulous gift basket for the winner; now you can try everything we had at our tasting and more!

Huge thanks to Adam Larkey for photos of the olive oil tasting and dishes we enjoyed during the evening, to Karen Harris for her photo of the ice cream and to Ototo for the outside photo of their establishment.

Colorado Lamb Chop from Ototo Restaurant, Denver Colorado
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A wonderful combination of rare, juicy lamb topped with a crisp olive oil and pistachio crust.
Serves: Serves 6-8
  • 4 oz Butter, softened
  • 4 oz Pistachio
  • 2 oz Olive oil
  • 6 oz Bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ - 1 Garlic clove
  • 5 Frenched Double Lamb Chops seasoned with salt and pepper
  1. Put all ingredients except lamb chops into processor and process til smooth.
  2. Grill seasoned lamb chops to desired doneness.
  3. Let rest for 4 minutes, slice each chop to separate into 2 portions.
  4. Mound pistachio mixture on top and broil just until crust is brown.
The crust for this lamb is so good and can be used for other meats as well. I halved the portion that the restaurant provided me for this post but Chef Darren has also suggested freezing for use as needed. I would use it on chicken, pork or even sprinkled on top of vegetables. SO good!

Now for that Sweepstakes…

I thought that after teasing you with how wonderful this evening was that it would be only fair if my readers had an opportunity to experience some of Star Fine Food’s products. They were happy to oblige and have promised to ship this gift basket filled with an assortment of their products to the winner of a sweepstakes. Included in the basket are Cara Mia Artichoke Salad and Artichoke Hearts, and an assorted of Star products including Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Extra Light Olive Oil, Garlic Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Seasoned Rice Vinegar, Spanish Olives, Spanish Salad Olives, Maraschino Cherries and two recipe books.

How to win?

  1. Main Entry [Required] – Leave a comment below sharing your favorite use for olive oil.

Want extra entries?

Each item you do will get you ONE chance to win for a total of 3 chances. If you are already doing any of these, they do count; just make note of that in your comment. You MUST leave each entry as a separate comment or only one comment will count!

  1. Follow @creativculinary & @Star_Fine_Foods on Twitter and tweet the following statement then come back to this post and tell us you tweeted:
    I just entered 2 win a basket of Olive Oil, Olives & more fm @creativculinary & @Star_Fine_Foods – Enter here #giveaway
  2. Subscribe to Creative Culinary’s email updates. This is different from an RSS feed! When you click the link, you will see “Subscribe to Creative Culinary.” Once you subscribe to the email updates, you will get an email confirming your subscription and announcements of new posts will be delivered via email. Or let us know you already get our email updates.

Important Details:

  • This sweepstakes is open to USA residents, age 18 and above only and will run until Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm EST.
  • Winner will be generated via and will be notified via the email provided on the comment form information.
  • Winner will have until midnight, November 18, 2011 to claim the Star Fine Foods gift basket or we will choose another winner.
  • Winner will receive one gift basket of Star Fine Foods products (retail value of $65). Product will be shipped directly to the winner by Star Fine Foods.


This sweepstakes prize is provided to you by Creative Culinary and Star Fine Foods. The views and opinions expressed on this site are based upon my experience with this product. Star Fine Foods paid for my assistance in setting up this event and provided similar products to me free of charge, however, I was not compensated for this article or expected to provide a positive review.

We have a Winner!

Drawing on November 14 at The winner is Elle with, comment #21 after ignoring any non US based comments. Congrats Elle!


  1. Madam Charcuterie says

    Love this post! Difficult to choose a favorite use for olive oil because I use it for so many things! I would have to say my fav may be in prepping foods for grilling…. From rubbing meats to marinades and tossing veggies prior to grilling.

  2. Ilene Mitnick says

    Olive oil is the number one used food item in our pantry. We live on it and love on it. We cook with it; flavor with it like we do with salt; sear with it; smear with it; and sometimes we plain old inhale it!

  3. Cindy A. says

    I am hooked on olive oil for bread dipping. Add in some toasted garlic and I could seriously eat an entire loaf of bread by myself. So good!

    Thank you so much for offering such a lovely and generous giveaway.

  4. says

    What an amzing time you’ve had B, and I love the wa you wrote this post. Almost felt like I was there…almost! I love that first picture…it’s leaping off the screen, and the poached halibut too. Great great menu…and great desserts too. I love olive oil too…beautiful post!

  5. says

    I follow you both if you on twitter! And I tweeted about your contest, much to my dismat because I never win and tweeting about it lowers my odds even more! ;o)

  6. says

    What a great evening Barb! Though you shared the highlights with me to see the fab photos (‘Bravo’ Adam), the menu, the restaurant facade, it was just like being there. So sorry I missed it but you clearly did a fantastic job (never a doubt). Not entering the contest just wanted to pop by for a ‘full read’!
    Boulder Locavore Most Recent Post: Chipotle Sweet Potato Gratin

  7. says

    Beautiful photos, Barb! I love that American olive oil has been taking off – we even have olive oil producers here in Texas. I think American oils hold up excellently against their Mediterranean counterparts, and it’s great to see Star embrace them all!
    Megan Most Recent Post: Persimmon Sweet Potato Soup

    • Creative Culinary says

      Thanks An…I can most often find a roast locally (at least in the price range I want to spend) and I’m going to try it with the crust on top.

  8. says

    WOW… what an event!! And I couldn’t agree more that the Star California Olive Oil is fabulous!! WHEN (not IF) I get out to Denver, we are definitely heading to Ototo for dinner, lunch or drinks, or whatever!!!
    Wonderful re cap of an amazing event… and I making this lamb ASAP!!
    Nancy@acommunaltable Most Recent Post: Mushroom Succotash

  9. Faye says

    Wow, those lamb chops look fantastic! I love lamb; that would make a great Christmas dinner. My favorite use for good olive oil is adding a few herbs and dipping warm bread in it!

  10. says

    The dinner was fantastic…each course was perfectly designed and showcased the olive oil perfectly. I can’t even say which course was my favorite…probably either the lamb or the dessert. Kudos to the staff at Ototo for coming up with such an innovative menu. I’ll definitely be back for more dinners.
    My favorite olive oil of the evening was the new California Olive Oil. I like it for finishing my plates or for dipping bread. I haven’ t cooked with it because I don’t like to cook with an olive oil that is so tasty because I think it is a waste of good olive oil Just my honest opinion.
    I made the lamb recipe at home but didn’t have pistachio nuts so I used hazelnuts instead and the recipe was excellent.
    jane bauer Most Recent Post: Gordon Ramsay At The London and a Special Birthday Dinner

  11. says

    Oh gosh what a fun evening! Full of lovely food and testing out a great new product! Would love a chance to try some of these olive oils, especially if they are available in most grocery stores.
    Andrea Most Recent Post: Bourbon Applesauce

  12. Anna says

    Thank you for this recipe! I am a huge fan of lamb chops, I’ll definitely try this one (although I think my kids won’t even touch it). Good for me, more left for me! :)

  13. Lyn H says

    Lamb chops are my husband’s favorite dish! I’ve copied this recipe and hope that the next time we are in Denver, we too can go to Ototo’s for a meal that looks as scrumptious as this one! I’ve never tried any of the flavored Olive Oils, but we use the unflavored oil in so many dishes here. I make my own Pesto and I guess that is one of my favorite uses of it.
    the cats litter box at yahoo dot com

  14. says

    Oh this is one fabulous meal! That ice cream…wow! And those lamb chops are a stunner. I have to try these. Beautiful! What an event and I love the idea of an olive oil tasting menu.
    Jamie Most Recent Post: RETURN TO MILAN

  15. says

    Wow! I enjoyed the Star tasting we had, but I wish I could have joined you at Ototo! Chef Darren’s menu is full of fresh, bright flavors – and wine pairings!! Thanks for sharing the recipe for the Colorado lamb chop – it’s bookmarked! The California olive oil is mellow and fruity – a lovely oil for poaching fish; one of my faves.
    Priscilla-ShesCookin Most Recent Post: A Taste of Fall

  16. says

    Not entering the contest, being a Can-eh-dian LOL. Just want to say what a fabulous evening you and Chris managed to pull together to show off the benefits and cooking versatility of these Star Olive oils. Chef Darren and his staff prepared some wonderful offerings and I’m sure your section of the restaurant was abuzz with nothing but complimentary conversation about this delightfully delicious event. So nice of Chef Darren to let you share this lamb recipe. That pistachio crust sounds irresistible!
    Paula Most Recent Post: Cookies for Some Lovely Snowbirds

  17. says

    What a fab fab fab giveaway Barb and what a delicious menu. Your shots are gorgeous and I am going to try that pistachio crust on a piece of Pork this week. Now off to tell all my American friends and family to enter this contest seeing as I cannot :0(
    Móna Wise Most Recent Post: By: WiseMóna

  18. says

    I am Italian, and being Italian means I put Olive Oil in pretty much EVERYTHING!!!

    That being said….. one of my favorite things I have ever done with Olive Oil is a tasting…..yes a tasting… I gathered Olive Oils from various different regions in Italy, sliced up a baguette into small dipping pieces. And then sat around with friends, dipping a piece in each oil and then tasting it….and comparing and contrasting each region’s oil.

    It was AMAZING!!!!!!!!! Every single regions oil tasted COMPLETELY different!!! Some earthy, some grassy, some spicy, some salty. It was mind blowing!! I never had realized how different Olive Oils could taste! I highly recommend doing this!

    And your evening sounds fantastic! I would love to have events like this in the Hudson Valley!!!

    Va Bene Barb! XOXO
    Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips Most Recent Post: Buffalo Chicken Dip….the food that dreams are made of

    • Doreen says

      what a fabulous looking dinner – and beautiful photos Barb !!! I’m envious and wish I could attend a mouth-watering dinner like that!

      I use olive oil every single day … eggs cooked in a bit of olive oil (instead of butter), olive oil drizzled on a baked potato – salad dressing made with olive oil and lemon or lime juice … yum!

      I went on a farm tour in the county I live in recently and visited 2 or 4 olive oil manufacturers with olive oil made from local olives … lots of varieties and flavors – they were testing a jalapeno olive oil … and had many other flavors including: blood orange, meyer lemon, heavenly garlic, and several other flavors as well as varying levels of olive oil i.e. light … it was wonderful to be able to taste them side-by-side!

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