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  • Writer's pictureEric Elkins

Ode: The Camote Asado at Alma Fonda Fina

I know, I know. My odes are paeans to Denver’s legends, its gems, the icons – dramatic elegies to the bites and beverages that have stood the test of time (or had their moment and are now just a blessed memory).

And Alma Fonda Fina has been open for mere months – this seasonal dish may not even be on the menu by the time you get there to try it.

But fuck, this small plate of ephemeral delight. This concoction of perfection in texture, flavor, and audacity. This golden moment of enchantment. I have to capture it now, the afterglow in full effect.

It’s a simple idea, really. Roast a sweet potato and quarter it lengthwise then serve a couple wedges alongside whipped requeson (aka ricotta cheese) and drizzle the dish with something acidic. Comfort food on a plate.

But what Chef Johnny does here elevates the experience while maintaining the uplifting simplicity of the ingredients.

The first thing you notice (just try to keep your eyes from rolling back into your head) is how perfectly the potato is cooked. The skin agave-sweet, delicate and crispy, and the inner pulp tender but not mushy, toothsome but not chewy. Like, I don’t know – it’s the holy grail of precision but comes off as effortless.

Each bite of sweet potato holds together as you smear it with the cool, foamy gentleness of the fennel ricotta and dredge it through the “broken” salsa macha with its nutty heat. The mix of flavors alongside that differential of crunch and chew is one of the best things you’ll eat in Denver. Or maybe anywhere.

It’s all the things but never too much: a zingy and ambrosial panoply of caramel and spice and earth, a delicate crispness and a meaty viscosity. It’s a savory dessert served as an appetizer, a monument to the simple things on a small plate.

But hurry, because this ode will be around forever, but the Camote Asado may not.

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