As someone who believes so hard that love is everywhere and that people are good at their core, I was devastated by the news of the shooting in Colorado–especially since we had just been there and were treated SO well by the land, food, and people. News like this always hurts my heart in the worst way. I feel sad for the victims, their families, and also the shooter. The fact a person could have such a void of love in their life that they felt the need or desire to do the things he did is incredibly sad to me.
Our time in Colorado was made so special not just because of the food, or mountains, or beautiful scenery–but because of the wonderful spirit & hearts of the people there. Behind all of the great places and things are people who ensured that those things remained great. I have seen how people there are strong, creative, and adapt to change. They seek adventure and long to make the world a better place. I have no doubt that they will band together & weather this storm together, and that the people of Colorado will make their state even better and stronger than it was before.
It feels somewhat appropriate that I had planned to recap some of our trip to Colorado today–in a way, I am hoping to pay homage to the wonderful place that it is by showing the love I have for it.
We really had the most amazing time. During our stay, we split our time mostly between Denver & Boulder. From the moment we touched down, we were awestruck by the beauty there.
We got in pretty late in the evening. The next morning I had a meeting at the University of Colorado at Boulder. It was such a beautiful campus–amazing how all the buildings are the same style (seeing as my alma mater is a jumble of buildings that all look really different). Afterwards, we drove up Baseline Road and got a beautiful view of Boulder. The UC Boulder campus is easy to spot because of the beautiful roofs!
It was such a gorgeous view up there!
One of my favorite things that we did during the trip was the Savor the Flavors tour, given by the fine people at Culinary Connectors! Although they offer a wide variety of options (restaurant tours, brewery tours, and self-guided tours), the Savor the Flavors tour is offered in many different areas, but we did the tour of the Highland neighborhood of Denver. It was a really creative way to see one of the many Denver neighborhoods!
Our first stop was the Pig & Block Charcuterie (3326 Tejon St, Denver). A charcuterie is a shop that specializes in pork products. The owner also sold other meats and products as well. We got to sample various cured meats–they were so delicious that Dan and I went back a week later to get goodies for a hike & picnic. The owner here was very sweet and extremely passionate about what he does–and very helpful when we went back the next week!
I loved their pig diagram. Vegan friends, look away!!
Our next stop was right across the street–Rosa Linda’s Mexican Cafe(2005 West 33rd Avenue, Denver). This place is owned by a lovely family who risked it all in 1985 by opening this restaurant. The risk certainly paid off! What I love about their food is that it is MUCH healthier than most other Mexican food you would find. As they put it, “we serve the food our family eats every day!” (and they were all skinny :)
We got to sample their black beans, chips & salsa, rice, and a few varieties of burritos! One was actually made with cactus. how cool is that?! My favorite was the one with shredded beef, though. It was flavorful and tender! Oh, and we also got margaritas. :)
Our last stop was my favorite. Spuntino (2369 West 32nd Avenue, Denver) is a new restaurant. Although they are currently known for their gelato and creative popsicles (french toast popsicles, anyone?), they are trying to get the word out about the amazing meals they offer as well. Dan and I were intrigued, so we went back for dinner the next week–and it was one of the best meals of my life. But…more on that later. :)
For the tour, we got to try any gelato flavor we wanted. I went for the Amaretto, and Dan tried the Mango. Both were fantastic!
I loved their decor and menus, too!
We also got to sample a local wine. The company is called The Infinite Monkey Theorem. The name is based on the theory that monkeys typing on a typewriter will eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare. The cool thing is that they produce wine…in a CAN. And apparently, it’s really good! We didn’t get to try that, but it’s a pretty neat idea.
The IMT wine we tried was called The Blind Watchmaker, and it was delicious! We actually got a bottle of it when we went back there for dinner the week after.
The tour was such a wonderful way to see some local restaurants and meet some of the faces behind some of the great food in Denver!
We got a dinner recommendation from the owner of Culinary Connectors–she actually wrote us a whole list of places that we should check out. We didn’t get to tackle the whole list, but we did get to a few spots. Her recommendations were excellent, as you’ll see. :)
For dinner, we decided to go to ChoLon Bistro (1555 Blake Street, Denver). This was, hands down, one of the top meals of my life. From the moment we walked in, I had a feeling we would be dining well–but I had no idea what we were in for!
The cocktail menu was intimidating, and I loved it.
I decided to go for the Spring Passion. Dan tried it and said, “WOW. Let’s recreate this at home. What’s in it?” It had leblon cachaca, passion fruit, chili infused canton, and lime. What was that? Do I know what any of those things are? No. No I don’t. Minus the lime. And kind of the passion fruit. So there will be no recreating this at home, sadly. But it was the BEST cocktail I’ve ever had. I took my time with it because it was so wonderful.
I don’t know what it was, but loved their table set up! Maybe it was the square plates.
Instead of serving something like bread and butter, they brought one of these to to every table:
This was some kind of rice puff with black sesame seeds…and it was less messy to break apart than you might think. :) The sauce it came with was WONDERFUL! It had a similar taste to the tomato mixture that is served at indian restaurants. A deep, rich flavor with a tinge of sweetness. I honestly could have made this my meal.
For an appetizer, we ordered the duck spring rolls with cilantro yogurt. The duck inside had an intense, rich flavor. Paired with the cilantro yogurt, it was a perfect balance between dark & bright flavors. Also, I loved the presentation.
At ChoLon, they serve the food “family style”–meaning it’s meant to be shared! I love that idea. We went for the Berkshire Pork Ribs in smoked tamarind BBQ served with a green papaya salad, and the Seared Salmon with miso-buttered corn with a shitake vinaigrette.
The ribs were amazing. Not only were they cooked perfectly, but they were full of flavor too! The green papaya salad was cool and refreshing. I loved how much the food was about balance–something rich balanced with something light, something full of flavor balanced with something that had texture instead of intense flavor. The cuisine design was incredibly smart!
The seared salmon was great, too.
The salmon was super crispy on one side only. It was a neat way to get a different texture. However, the fish itself wasn’t anything spectacular–it was just salmon. However, the corn was really amazing. Tons of texture AND flavor! I was so surprised to see that the flavorful part of this dish came from the “side dish” instead of the main part of it. Tricky!
Dan and I took a while to relax before getting some cappuccinos. :)
And of course, the cappuccino was delicious! Do I sound like a broken record? I bet I do. But that’s only because it REALLY was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It’s almost a good thing we don’t live in Denver…because I get the feeling we would be there as often as we could afford!
In the next installment of Colorado Adventures with Katie & Dan… (hehe) I’ll talk about some more excellent eats, beautiful views, and hangin’ in Boulder with the hippies. :)