Entrepreneur Kimbal Musk founded Learning Gardens, which puts gardens in school playgrounds.
Entrepreneur Kimbal Musk founded Learning Gardens, which puts gardens in school playgrounds. (Denver Post file photo)

I like tipping my hat to people in the food world who do good things (beyond magic in the saute pan). So I can't resist trumpeting what The Kitchen owner Kimbal Musk is advertising on billboards and bus benches in struggling neighborhoods around Denver. Maybe you have seen them. They say things like: Olive oil and salt, 450-degree oven, 75 minutes, $6. The picture on the billboard? A roast chicken. Other billboards detail how to roast carrots and broccoli.

The billboards comes from CBS Outdoor, which is donating the space for The Kitchen's new program. So far, about 20 of them are scattered around, but soon there could be as many as 200. And Chicago and Los Angeles should be seeing the cool ads in coming months.

Musk's involvement with Learning Gardens, a nonprofit he started to put gardens on school playgrounds, inspired the advertising.

"You get in there, you help these kids out with gardening, but then they go home and don't do anything," he said. "They have no cooking skills. The culture of America is all about fast food. I cook at home all the time, and thought, 'Why can I do it, and they cannot?'"

Good question, Kimbal, and let's hope the campaign inspires some people to skip the drive-thru cheeseburger for something homecooked.

You know I dig wine, too, and so how can I not brag a bit on behalf of Beast & Bottle (719 E. 17th Ave., 303-623-3223, beastandbottle.com), the elegant place in Uptown that does wonders with Colorado lamb, among other things.

The joint's wine program, run by the affable and bright JP Taylor, isn't just another catalogue of California chardonnays and Aussie cabernets. Instead, wines from places like Austria, Slovenia and Sardinia pack the compact list. Only a few New World wines make the cut, and lots of the varietals are obscure. Furmint, anybody?

I tried the furmint, a white Hungarian varietal. I want to marry it.

In addition, the wines come in unique volumes. The place offers a list of bottles, most of which sell for less than $50. But then it sells wines by the carafe, including a "pot," which is three-and-a-half glasses, and a litro, which gets you nearly six glasses.

No wine on tap. Everything comes from bottles.

"Our objective is to point people in a new direction," said Taylor.

Wines rotate on and off the menu every week, depending on the menu. Right now, diners are loving the negroamaro, from the Puglia region of Italy, and the Portuguese tinta roriz (which is the same thing as tempranillo).

"We're geeks at heart," said Taylor. "We try to find things we want to drink and get excited about."

It's infectious.

Great news for DIA travelers. ModMarket, probably my favorite fast-casual eatery these days, is opening a spot this spring on Concourse B. Have you been to a ModMarket? The first opened in Boulder, and now seven places sling pizzas, salads, sandwiches and more in the Denver area. The airport dining options have expanded dramatically during the past year, but this is the sort of joint I've really been waiting for.

Tired of tacos? It's time to wake up, Digestans. The Matador Restaurant and Tequila Bar (3496 W. 32nd, 303-561-2855, matadordenver.com) opened last week in Highland. The Portland-based Tex-Mex joint has all the things you would expect, with twists. Take the Hacienda Pie: stewed pork, tomatillos, Dos Equis Amber, pico de gallo, jalapeño cornbread crust and cilantro-lime sour cream. The Matador is big on using Colorado products, and comes with a lot of cool-kid Portland buzz.

Little Bit

I'm eager to try The Matador, but also awfully happy with our slate of Mexican places. My favorite green chile comes from Rocky Mountain Chili Bowl (7305 E. 35th Ave., 303-322-3009, rockymountainchilibowl.com), out near Stapleton. Turns out editors at Food and Wine magazine are equally jazzed about what owner Matt Robinette is doing with hot peppers. They named his chile one of the top 16 chiles in the nation. Looking for a little last-minute spice for those Thanksgiving leftovers? You can pick up jars of his chile at his restaurant. You can spoon it over warm turkey in a sandwich on Friday. And then you can take that post-turkey nap.

Douglas Brown: 303-954-1395, djbrown @denverpost.com or twitter.com/douglasjbrown