Monthly Archives: February 2016

Tasting around Denver

I’d been to Denver, Co once in my life and the main thing I remember is that we visited a Celestial Seasonings store. Yes, I was a 40 year old teetotaler at the age of 12. This time, the Ween reunion show was a great excuse to get better acquainted with this mountain town. We arrived at the Brown Palace Hotel close to midnight and went straight to bed but not before I snapped a pic of the old hotel’s creepy “The Shinning-esqu” lobby.


Brunch the next morning was breakfast in bed, which was meh and not photo-worthy and definitely not worth the $70 price tag for room service. It was nice to lounge around in robes for an unseemly amount of time though. Around 2pm, we ventured out, got coffee and sunglasses. What is this crazy orb in the sky?!?


All that walking around in the “Mile High City” really worked up an appetite so we headed to Illegal Pete’s  in LODO for burritos. Illegal Pete’s remind me of Seattle’s BIMBOS CANTINA with better food and even fewer fucks given (if that’s even possible). I got the Green Chili Burrito as recommended by Andrew who, left to his own devices, would probably eat every meal at this place while in Denver. It was quite tasty as was the Hornitos shot with a Tecate back, natch.


Then, we were off to the Ween show! VIP, bitches! Chocolate and Cheese Fountains!

The show was amazing, of course! The love and excitement were palpable and the cast of characters lively!

We ended the night relatively early so we could have a full day on Saturday.

For Brunch, I discovered a restaurant with many kinds of Benedict and a veritable plethora of Bloody Mary and Mimosa variations. Perfect. It was called Sassafras American Eatery and the wait was an hour so it must be good! We bided our time at a nearby bar called prohibition. which, as the name suggests, had excellent cocktails. We even ran into some folks going to the second night of the Ween show!

Brunch, finally! Can’t go wrong with fried oysters smothered in hollandaise and topped with a sprinkle of bacon!


A post brunch nap was definitely called for so I relaxed in the room for a bit while Andrew puttered around town. When we finally met up, it was Jaymos and romance.


I kept the Jaymo and passed along the rose to this handsome devil.


Being that it was the day before V-Day, many restaurants were slammed so we walked around a bit and admired the lights and the hometown pride. Go Broncos! Sportsball stuff!


Finally we snagged a pair of corner bar seats at a fancy Spanish restaurant called Rioja. Our meal started with the “Rioja Picnic” a delicious mix of charcuterie, cheese, bread, olives and other delights. Clearly not picnic basket portable though. To its left is their take on French onion soup. The fussiness of the presentation 100% made up for by the deliciousness of the broth!


Then it was Venison with butternut squash, mustard greens, fregola sarda, pickled sultanas, pecans and fig-sage purée for Andrew and octopus farfalle with preserved Basque chiles, piquillo peppers, tempura preserved lemons, gremolata and a caper-chile emulsion for me!

Too stuffed for dessert but still room for old timey cocktails at Green Russell where we dipped our toes into Denver’s craft cocktail scene and were impressed, if a bit bemused by the “Speakcheesyness” of it. While Seattle seems to be slowly growing out of its arm band and bowler hat phase of cock-tailing, Denver is still firmly enmeshed. But, to quote Seinfeld, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”


Then, late night room service with a bottle of bubbly for and fruit plate for Valentine’s Day.


We had a great time in Denver! It had a very small town feeling but with a lot of eating and drinking opportunities, which is what truly matters to this Hungry Ginger. And valuable lessons were also learned. Cocktails a mile high lead to hangovers a mile deep. They’ve got to have something for that at Celestial Seasonings, right?


Branching out and it tastes so good!

My go to cuisines are French and Italian, probably because of my undying love of cheese and butter, and the fact that these are what my parents, who both taught me how to cook, generally tended towards. This year I want to branch out and cook different types of cuisine, specifically various Asian cuisines. I started a little bit last year, cooking some recipes from 660 Curries, an immense tome that Andrew bought for me years ago. He gave me an ultimatum…cook twice from this book before we move or else it’s going to Goodwill. As December of 2015, I had cooked exactly zero recipes from this cookbook, so I was a little freaked out. The thing that had stopped me thus far was all the sub recipes. For any given recipe in the book, no matter how simple seeming, there seemed to be at least three sub recipes. They ranged from simple, like garlic and ginger paste, to more complex spice mixes (there are 4 different kinds of garam masala you say?). Finally, one Sunday when I was feeling rested enough to tackle a couple recipes, I made some ghee (clarified butter, yo…not too complex), whipped up about 8 tablespoons each of ginger and garlic paste (most recipes call for one tablespoon of each so I froze the remainder), bought some generic garam masala (let’s not get too crazy here people) and I was off! Of course I picked two Indian takeout faves, Chicken Tikka Masala and Saag Paneer. It took about three hours in all and the flavor ended up being pretty close to some of my favorite Indian places…although I have a suspicion that many places add cream to their sauces (the recipes I used only called for the clarified butter) which really does give them that richness.

My Indian adventure happened in December and to continue my culinary education, I recently purchased Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes and on Saturday, in preparation for a party which required a decent foundation, I whipped up one of their fried rice recipes. Whenever I cook rice for a recipe, I usually cook more than it calls for and freeze the extra for just this type of situation. Fried rice is actually better with day old (or more if it’s been frozen) rice. The day prior, I defrosted about three cups of rice, made sure I had the ingredients (the “strangest” ingredient for this particular recipe was fish sauce, which I already had for some reason, kicking it in the back of the pantry) and 30 minutes later, we had some delicious fried rice. I have to say, I could get used to this! I’m not even missing the cheese and butter!