Lazy Summer

I’ve been known to be lazy in the summer. And a byproduct of this malaise is that I cook less…a lot less.  I can’t bring myself to prepare anything more than a salad or a frozen veggie burger on a day that’s hotter than 25 degrees.  Mostly this is because I want to be outside, enjoying the sun and doing fun things.  It may be as simple as having a glass of wine (or two) on my patio with a book, meeting a friend for a walk, or going for a bike ride, but the end result is always the same on these long summer days.  Food is not cooked.

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I go through phases based on the seasons, and in the summer, as soon as the days get longer and the air gets warmer, the social butterfly in me comes out.  Beach after work? Beer on a patio? Dinner with friends? I just can’t say no in the summer.  It’s like I stop thinking about how much sleep I want, or how much money I’m spending, or the fact that if I go out I will inevitably have to buy lunch the next day.  I just say yes!  A friend of mine told me about her ‘summer of yes’  a few years ago and I quite like the idea of having a couple of months a year where you just do what feels right!

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But, lately, as the summer days are starting to get shorter (it’s dark now at 9pm, le sigh) and the air is a little cooler I’ve been incredibly inspired in the kitchen.  It’s like I’m a lost little puppy who found its way home! In the past couple of weeks I’ve been cooking, and baking (which is rare for me) up a storm.  My fridge is always full and I haven’t had an excuse to go for lunch in a while.  My husband is in heaven!

Now don’t worry, I’m not going to use the f word just yet, because we still have 4 more weeks of summer to go, but I will say that the days of just salad satisfying me for dinner have officially passed.  So in case you’re wondering, here’s what’s been going on in my kitchen.

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I made a split pea soup for my husband to have as an afternoon snack at work (yeah maybe it’s weird, but he likes it).  Just a little something simple I threw together the other day.  2 cups of dried split peas, 4 cups of veggie stock, diced carrot and onion (which I sauteed a bit), a couple pinches of herbs de Provence and I let it simmer for about an hour before I pureed it with my immersion blender.  Easy peasy (literally)!

I also made an awesome grilled vegetable ratatouille the other night.  I grilled up zucchini, these funny looking round light green squash (not sure what they are called), a couple peppers, eggplant and tomatoes and once everything was cooked to my liking, I sliced it up and threw in some crushed garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, herbs de Provence (yes, this is a theme), and seasoned it with some salt and pepper.  It was even better cold the next day!

Since I clearly have France on my mind, I also made my own version of a French potato salad.  I used mixed white and red nugget potatoes, thinly sliced fennel and green beans. My vinaigrette was simple too, grainy dijon, champagne vinegar (vive la France!), and olive oil of course.  That with a glass of rose and a Peter Mayle book and you might as well be spending a year in Provence!

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I’ve also rekindled my love for Deb Perleman’s blog (Smitten Kitchen).  I’ve made her barley, corn and haricot vert salad, as well as her chickpea and roasted pepper salad. Both were hits with friends at BBQ’s.  And as we speak, I’m waiting for her herbed potato and summer squash torte to come out of my oven.  I had fun making it so even if it’s terrible it’s not a loss!  Getting a little more comfortable with my mandoline over here…no big deal!  Let’s hope I still have all my fingers at Christmas though!

And on to the piece de resistance. The baking. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s usually pretty good…and not too sweet.  I hate overly sweet, sugary things.  I see kids at sporting events with cotton candy stuck all over their hands and faces and I have to look away, like I’ve seen a snake or something.

Every August with zucchini is in abundance I make this chocolate olive oil zucchini bread. Who are we kidding, it’s a cake, but it’s a healthy cake!.  Simply amazing!  I also adapted a recipe from my new Turkish cookbook for a fig and walnut cake.  Here’s my version:

  • 8-10 fresh figs, quartered
  • 2 T semolina or corn meal
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T orange juice, or zest of an orange
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 1 cup yogurt (I used goats yogurt as it’s more Turkish)
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour an 11″ spring form pan and set it aside. Mix the figs together with the semolina and 2 T sugar in a small bowl. Beat the remaining sugar with the eggs until smooth.  Add orange juice, olive oil, buttermilk, vanilla and yogurt.  Mix until smooth and then add the walnuts, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir until incorporated.

Spoon half the batter into the pan, then sprinkle the figs on top.  Top with the rest of the batter and bake for 40-45 min. depending on your oven.

So there you have it, I’m back in the saddle after some summer shenanigans. I’m feeling inspired and happy back in my kitchen where I belong.  Soon enough there will be posts about football and stew and red wine, but for now, I’m enjoying this beautiful lazy summer here in Vancouver!

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Hipster Foodie Trifecta

Hipsters are to Vancouver what hippies are to Portland.  In Vancouver hipsters tend to look like they just walked out of a Where’s Waldo book with their Herschel backpacks.  They congregate around microbreweries, overpriced thin crust pizza joints and just about anywhere with a communal table.

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I’m not hating, because I totally dig all this stuff in a big way too.  And according to my husband I have hipster tendencies.  I’m not full blown, but borderline.  What I’ve come to realize is that not only do hipsters start fashion trends, but they also start food trends.  I became acutely aware of this after the whole Voodoo Donghnut phenomenon happened. In case you’re not aware, Voodoo Doughnuts is a doughnut shop in Portland that’s been around for as long as I can remember.  I recall going there in college for PMS doughnuts (yes, they grind up Midol and put it in a doughnut) and no one in Portland was ever that excited about, but hipster tourists decided that it was worth talking about, and now it’s a thing.

So, flash forward to 2014 and look at the number of what I like to call ‘hipster dounut’ shops in Vancouver.  Lucky’s Doughnuts was awesome (hello French cruller)  and then Cartem’s Donuterie showed up…with their earl grey donut that tastes like a kids cereal and oh, wait, it wouldn’t be a proper hipster donut shop if they didn’t offer a bacon donut.  These designer donuts ain’t cheap; it’s like they’re the new cupcakes.  And I could honestly take em’ or leave em.

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Brussels sprouts are next on the hipster hit parade.  Previously thought of as little cabbagy stink bombs, they’re so popular now you see them on the menu of pretty much every restaurant in Gastown.  I loooove brussels sprouts so I’m cool with it, but if I have to hear one more person rave about the brussels sprouts at the Flying Pig I’m gonna lose it. They all taste pretty much the same, and you can make them at home in your oven really easily!  Even the d-bag set over at Glowbal has embraced the brussels sprout.

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And my last item in the hipster foodie trifecta is the microbrew.  I don’t know why everyone has suddenly realized that good beer is awesome.  Thankfully the PBR boat seems to have sailed away from Vancouver, and the real hipsters are all about the IPA’s now.  I called it years ago, when I proudly proclaimed that Alexander Keith wasn’t making an IPA, he was making a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and now we all know it’s really a just a boring old lager. I’m not saying I’m better than the YVR hipsters because I’ve been drinking the hoppy stuff since the 90’s, and it’s rad that we have all these little breweries around town (thank little baby Jesus for 33 Acres).  I recently jumped on the growler bandwagon myself and am absolutely loving it. But I don’t want to talk about beer like the real hipsters do, I just want to drink it and enjoy it. Hops are hops, and liking the darkest porter the world has ever seen doesn’t make you some sort of badass.

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Anyways, enough of a rant, if you don’t feel like going out to a hipster joint and paying $12 for crispy brussels sprouts, just make mine at home!

Gretchy T’s Hipster Brussels Sprouts

Preheat the oven to 450. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and once it comes to a roll add your brussels sprouts. Put the lid on it and let it cook for 5-6 minutes or until you can pierce them with a knife.  Drain and rinse with cold water to cool them off.  Cut the sprouts in half and put them on a lightly oiled sheet pan.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle a little more olive oil on top.  Spread everything around to coat, and then make sure all the sprouts are cut side down on the pan.  Roast them for about 8 minutes and then toss them.  I roast mine for another 6-8 minutes, because I like them almost overdone on the inside, but crisp on the outside.  Play around with it and see what you like.  You can do them for longer on a lower temperature, you’ll figure it out.

The secret is to sprinkle the sprouts with freshly grated parmesan cheese right out of the oven. Drizzle with some white truffle oil and squeeze half a lemon over the top.  You’ll feel like the Flying Pig has come to your kitchen! All you need is a growler full of the good stuff and you’re all set. Happy hipstering!

New Mexico 4 Bean Chili

I have a great tried and true 3 bean chili in my repertoire already, but four beans is certainly better than three right?  I got the idea for this New Mexico style chilli after picking up the Happy Planet version for a very rushed supper one night before Christmas.  They call theirs Santa Fe Chili, so I’ve decided to call mine New Mexico to be different.  Theirs is also $6.99 for a single portion, and mine probably cost that for what I’m going to guess will be 6 portions.  By the time I add some guacamole and cheese on top I’ll probably be looking at around $2.50 per meal. I also happened to have some leftover pico de gallo leftover from last night nacho extravaganza so I threw that on top too.

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I would like to preface this by saying that I do not have Happy Planet’s recipe for chilli, as much as I would love it.  I simply looked at the ingredients on their package and decided to give it a whirl.  Chili is a very personal thing I think.  Some people, like me, enjoy the addition of a little cinnamon or cocoa powder, where others are repulsed by that idea. Some people love to add insanely spicy chili peppers, and others would say chili has to have meat in it, not just beans.  In the states you can even buy a beanless chili (in a can of course)! Here’s a family favourite from the days when I ate processed food if you’re wondering what the heck to do with beanless chili (total sidebar I know!).

Anyways, my New Mexico version contains all of the ingredients that Happy Planet uses with the exception of yam puree.  I had a yam out and ready to go, but my crock pot got too full of other stuff so I had to leave it out on this round.  I also had to guess at their spice blend, because they don’t list out the individual spices they use.  But really, everyone knows that chili powder is the one essential ingredient you must use, and in addition to that, I’d also suggest cumin is necessary.  I like to add a little ground coriander and a pinch of cinnamon.  I didn’t use cocoa powder this time, but for some sweetness I did add maple syrup.

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The beauty of a pot of chili is that it’s cheap, nutritious, quick (since the slow cooker does all the heavy lifting) and it will make your house smell amazing.  It also lasts up to a week in the fridge so you don’t have to eat it every day.  Do make sure you plan ahead, because you’ll need to soak your beans overnight!

Beans: 3/4 cup each dried pinto, red kidney and black beans, and the same of chick peas (or garbanzo beans as we’ll call them for the purposes of making this a 4 bean chili).

Soak the beans overnight and then drain, rinse and pick them over.  I found a small stone in my beans a few weeks back, so don’t overlook this step.  I have been boiling my beans in advance of putting them in my chili, because I find that they cook better.  I don’t like my chili beans to retain any bite as others might.  I like them to almost mushy.  There is nothing worse than letting your chili cook all day, only to find that your beans aren’t done to your liking. 

Chili:

  • 1 large can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 large can tomato sauce, or jar of strained Italian tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 pepper (colour of your choice) chopped – I used an orange one
  • 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen)
  • 2 T real maple syrup (if you’re going to use the fake stuff use honey instead)
  • 3 T chili powder
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground coriander + fresh if you have it
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • Juice of a lime

Mix the above in with the beans in a slow cooker and season with salt and pepper (save the fresh coriander and lime juice for the end).  Turn on high for 1-2 hours, and then reduce to low for another couple of hours, or until you’re ready to eat.  You could probably do this over low heat in a dutch oven if you don’t have a slow cooker, but it will require some attention during the cooking process.

Top off your smouldering beauty with cheese and guac, and sour cream if you’re feeling in the mood.  I like to scoop mine up with tortilla chips, but that’s also optional.  Enjoy, and if you have any additions or variations let me know, because I’m also up for improving on my chili!

I washed mine down with the remnants of my growler of “Ocean” from 33 Acres and it was absolutely delicious!

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2013 in My Kitchen

As I sit at my desk, counting down the minutes until I can legitimately leave the office on New Years Eve, I can’t help but think back on everything that’s happened in 2013.  It has been a year of change, adventure, and reflection on life; all positive!

At the very end of 2012 I bought a bike.  It changed my life, I love it and it has made my carless world so much bigger.  I’m healthier, more active and so happy I got to start 2013 with new wheels!

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My husband and I started the year off realizing that we could use my mom’s US Netflix account, so we began watching documentaries of all sorts.  After getting depressed about the state of the world from too much Zeitgeist, we started watching food docs…and decided to become vegetarian. The husband has been stricter about this than I have, but since last February I can count the number of times I’ve eaten meat on both hands.  For him it would be meat and fish on one hand.

I’ve learned to cook wonderful new foods and our diet now consists mostly of beans, lentils, kale (and other dark leafy greens), cauliflower, squash and pretty much any veggies that can be oven roasted.  I’m no longer afraid to try new things in my kitchen and I’ve hosted several successful dinner parties with brand new recipes.   I’ve also embraced new flavours to the point where my spice drawer is completely over flowing.  At the suggestion of my mother, who wouldn’t touch a lentil if her life depended on it, we both went to the doctor to confirm that our new diet wasn’t killing us.  I’m happy to report that we are both healthy and getting all the required nutrients from vegetarianism, and our cholesterol is fine, despite a more than modest increase in cheese consumption…HOORAY!

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I spent my birthday this year on a plane to Reykjavik, where upon arrival I was wished a happy birthday by a very nice Icelandic customs official.  I showed my passport to about 20 other people in the Vancouver and Seattle airports and got no love, so Iceland was off to a good start for me!  We spent 2 weeks in Scandinavia having a wonderful adventure. The highlight was the first 3 days in Iceland, which started at the Blue Lagoon, included numerous waterfalls, the cute seaside town of Reykjavik, walking between the continental plates, and a hike on a 1,000 year old glacier.  After that we spent a week in sunny Denmark, fell in love with the beautiful, cyclist friendly island of Bornholm, and experienced the beauty and expense of Norway.  No joke people, $15 for a pint!

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We ate great food throughout the trip, 90% of which was in simple cafe style restaurants where you order at the counter and your food is brought out when it’s ready.  We developed an obsession for Icelandic hot dogs (all bets are off on holiday!), had an amazing roasted celery root veggie burger in Copenhagen, bravely tried pickled herring, and had one of the best Indian meals of our lives in Oslo.

After an amazing trip, I  came  home to a beautiful and long sunny summer in Vancouver that was filled with bike rides, picnics on the beach, and just about every other weekend spent in Whistler with various friends.  I realized the importance of just saying ‘yes’ sometimes, and not over thinking how much something will cost, or what it will involve. Sometimes you have to just do things!  I also was reminded that my backyard is pretty awesome!

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I also discovered a love for all things bitter this year.  Move over IPA, ESB is now my brew of choice.  And although I do dearly love an Aperol spritz on a hot summer day, I have a new appreciation for the broader spectrum of Italian bitters.  My favourite new cocktail of 2013…the negroni!  Who says your palate can’t change!

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After a busy fall, I’m ready to enter 2014 energized and open to new experiences and challenges.  My resolutions for the New Year include reading more (and playing Candy Crush less), continuing to try new recipes and experiment with new flavours in my kitchen, and taking up photography as a new hobby (with my sweet new Canon EOS camera!). So look for great new photos, which I will no longer have to pinch from google for my posts, new recipes as I start to formulate my cookbook, and tales from another adventure that will likely happen mid year (destination TBD at this point).

I hope you all have a Happy New Year, and will leave you with one of my favourite recipes from 2013.

Spaghetti Puttanesca 

  • 1 package spaghetti, spaghettini, or penne (or really any pasta that makes you happy)
  • 1 jar strained Italian tomatoes
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced (or 1 T anchovy paste)
  • 3 T capers, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 T dried chili flakes (or less if you can’t take the heat)
  • 1/4 cup shredded basil leaves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1 medium onion, diced

Cook the onion in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until soft, then add the garlic and simmer for 1 minute (don’t burn the garlic).  Then add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients, except the basil.  Let the sauce simmer for 20-30 minutes over low heat (or longer if you have time).  Add the basil right before you serve it over your cooked pasta. You can finish it with a little Parmesan cheese if you want, but I don’t think this is traditional.

Buon Appetito!

 

Eating and Drinking in Norway

Norway was the last stop on my Scandinavian vacation and after Iceland and Denmark I honestly didn’t think things could get more expensive.  But I was wrong.  When people tell you pints cost $15 in Norway they aren’t lying.  It’s a beautiful country, it’s incredibly progressive politically and environmentally, and Norwegians are for the most part pretty cool.  But it is also freaking expensive; by far the most outrageously priced place I’ve ever been. (Photo below with me and my $7 ice cream bar).

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Because it ended up being so cost prohibitive I was thankful we had only budgeted 4 days of our trip for Norway.  We spent 2 nights in Oslo (arrived early in the morning via DFDS Seaways overnight ship from Copenhagen) and 2 nights in Bergen, with the obligatory Norway in a Nutshell fjord tour connecting the two cities.  Norway is amazing, but before you make plans to visit, a buyer beware advisory is in order for a couple of reasons which I will touch on below.

Part A: Food in Norway is Insanely Expensive

Here are some examples of what food and drink cost us in Canadian Dollars (keep in mind that we are not ‘fine dining’ types when traveling:

  • 2 pastries and 2 cappuccinos (to stay) – $30.00
  • 2 cups (not bowls) of soup, 1 small bottle of lemonade and the most amazing brownie ever (to go, from Cafe Bastant) – $50.00
  • 2 vegetarian Indian entrees and 1 large beer (sit down) – $75.00
  • Large very basic vegetarian pizza (to go) – $35.00
  • 1 Haagen Dazs ice cream bar and a pastry (to go) – $12.00
  • 1 large cup of loose leaf rooibos tea (to stay) – $6.00
  • Chips, guacamole and salsa and 2 pints (to stay) – $50.00

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Note that you do pay more to stay at cafes and coffee shops like elsewhere in Europe, so a great way to cut some of the cost is to get your food or drink to go and find a nice park somewhere.  But cost aside, we did find that the quality of the food in general is very high. We had really great Indian in Oslo; better than most places in Vancouver. We also found getting take away a much better value.

But if you think those food prices sound crazy, just wait until you hear about the booze. Pints in restaurants will run you $15+ for standard Euro style pilsner.  Wine by the glass (for crappy stuff I’d never heard of) are around the same price. Mixed drinks started at around $18 most places.  So you’d think the bars and pubs would be empty and people would be drinking water with their meals right?  Think again, most places are just as busy as similar type joints in Vancouver.  Some were packed, some pleasantly busy, and others totally dead.  Booze is a whole other animal in Norway, which brings me to…

Part B: Norway’s Crazy Liquor Laws

We wondered why everyone getting off our DFDS ship was totally loaded up with flats of beer and wine bottles galore.  And then we went to the grocery store and realized we had made a huge mistake.  At first I thought $6 for a 6 pack of tall cans of Carlsberg seemed like a screaming deal.  Then I realized that the price was for a single 500 ml can.  We decided that was too rich for our blood, after sharing a $17 bottle of King Fisher with our Indian dinner, and went home to make tea instead of having a night cap.

The next night we debated going out to a nice hipster type pizzaria in our neighbourhood, or getting a take away pizza and picking up a couple of expensive cans of beer to have at home. We figured the savings would be worth it and opted for take away.  Pizza in hand, we headed back to our rental apartment in Oslo, stopping briefly at a corner store for beer. The husband went in to check out the prices, and after noticing that there were no prices displayed he asked the clerk, only to be told “beer time is over”.  The clerk pointed to his watch; it was 8:15pm.  When he told me we couldn’t get beer I thought he was joking.  Wikipedia filled in the rest.

You can buy beer at a grocery store in Norway, until 8pm on weekdays and 6pm on Saturdays.  Don’t even think about trying to buy alcohol on a Sunday.  If you find a Vinmonopolet (liquor store) you can get beer, wine and spirits there until 6pm weekdays and 3pm on Saturdays.  So if you work late and want to pick up a bottle of wine on your way home you’re totally screwed.  And if you think you’ll run into the grocery store right at 8 and then head to the cashier think again.  If your purchase isn’t scanned through the till before the regulated time you’re out of luck.  They have some sort of intricate system wherein the registers can’t scan the barcodes beyond “beer time”.  So plan ahead if you don’t want to spend a fortune in the pub!

Conclusion

Norway is amazingly beautiful and has a lot of interesting culture.  People there maintain a very high standard of living, have one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world, and make $19 an hour for minimum wage.  They don’t have to save for retirement because they automatically get a pension from the government (via high taxes paid throughout their lives) and if you become unemployed, you get four years to figure yourself out!  Now that’s socialism!

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So yes, it seems outrageous to pay $15 for a pint of beer and $6 for a cup of tea, but when you think about the entire picture it’s really not so bad.  And to put things into perspective, our last night in Bergen we went out for a very nice dinner in a little cafe for typical Scandinavian food and I had a gigantic portion of meatballs, potatoes and vegetables and the husband had a nice quinoa salad.  We had 5 pints between us, and all said our bill was just under $100.  That in Vancouver once you add in tax and tip would have been about the same price.

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Foodie Fun in Denver

I just returned from a fabulous girls weekend in Denver.  It was one of those weekends you never want to end; ok actually I think my liver did want it to end. Five amazing women, three dogs, (all of which we managed to jam into one Subaru Forester for a trip out to Red Rocks Canyon) lots of laughter, some tears and really good times.  Although the number one highlight of the trip was my friends of course, I was pleasantly surprised by how cool the foodie/bar scene in Denver is.

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We started the foodie fun at my friend Lauryn’s restaurant, The Coral Room.  It’s a totally cute neighbourhood spot that has its crowd of locals (as every place we went in Denver does).  The menu is focused on local quality ingredients, and somewhat complex dishes that are far from convoluted, but totally delicious in every way.   After polishing off a meat and cheese plate, complete with house made onion marmalade that was to die for, and delicious castel veltrano olives, I had the Colorado black bass (when in Rome right?) which came with whipped potatoes and sauteed purple cabbage.  We also tried the pumpkin ravioli and the the evening’s special; filet with creamed spinach, crisp potato chips and a rootbeer demi-glace.   Everything was fantastic, had a lot of depth in flavour, and the plates were really well composed without being ‘fluffy’.  The prices are totally reasonable for the portions so this should definitely be on your hit list if you’re in town.  I hear they do a good brunch too!

coral room

After dinner we headed to Williams and Graham, which is this totally cool speakeasy type joint.  You walk in to a little vestibule and then once you get the green light to go in, the hostess opens up a bookcase and you walk into a 1920’s wonderland.  The bar staff are dressed like Nucky Thompson’s cronies in Boardwalk Empire and they serve up just about any classic cocktail you can think of.  We were served frenet which is an Italian herbaceous bitter drink that all the Denver hipsters are into.  It’s like Jaegermeister without the sugar.

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frenet

The next morning, we woke up and needed to tend to our high altitude induced hangovers and headed to Highland Tap & Burger, another cute neighbourhood spot.  It was so warm we could have sat on the patio, but inside was just as nice.  With lots of TV’s it’s a great place to watch the game.  We all opted for their signature cheeseburger, although the menu does have lots of interesting add ons like chimichurri sauce or rootbeer pulled pork (apparently rootbeer is the it food of the moment in Denver).  Seriously one of the best burgers I’ve had in a while.  And the homemade pickles are not to be missed here.  I washed my ‘breakfast’ down with a pint of the Odell Levity Amber Ale to cure what was ailing me.  I also picked up a 6 pack of their seasonal Isolation Ale and it was top notch.  I love a good stouty winter ale, but can usually only drink 1 or 2.  The nice thing about the Isolation Ale is that it’s light and malty, but still has that nice warming winter flavour.

Highland

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The foodie fun continued on the way back from fetching another friend from the airport, at The Berkshire in Stapleton.  If you don’t eat pork you better not set foot in this place, because 90% of their menu items contain pork in some form.  We’re all totally down with the piggy so along with some cocktails we indulged in an afternoon snack of Berkshire spuds (bacon wrapped potatoes), deep fried pickles (bacon free), stuffed wrapped jalapenos (yep, they’re wrapped with bacon too), and firecracker shrimp (do I even need to tell you what these are wrapped in?).  The food was all excellent and the atmosphere is fun.

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Our last stop  was at The Squeaky Bean.  We were spoiled rotten here by our friend Steve and thus, the Bean deserves a whole post to itself that will be forthcoming, so stay tuned.

Needless to say, I left Denver with a happy heart for many reasons.  I got to see my girls, eat some of the best meals I’ve had back to back anywhere, and enjoy fresh mountain air and good local beer.  Oh, and there was some nice wine in there too somewhere I think. Bottom line, if you have an excuse to visit Denver, make it happen, because it’s sneaker hit.  I’ve always said I’d never live anywhere more than an hour from the ocean, but I’d make an exception for D-Town.

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