Denveater - Deconstructing Colorado Cuisine, Dish by Dish

Getting Down & Dirty—or At Least Earthy—with Terra Bistro & Dwele in Vail

From the Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival I repaired to Vail just in time to catch Dwele at the Soul Music Fest., i.e., just in time to fall in love with Dwele—not only his supersmooth, bass-groovy, Stevie Wonder-dipping-into-hip hop sound but also his supersmooth, bass-groovy way with the ladies, as he demonstrated his favorite pickup lines:

Dwele (squatting down as fan strokes jacketed arm): Do you know what material that is?
Fan: What?
Dwele: Boyfriend material.

This year I was a guest, but I had so much fun at the Gerald R. Ford Ampitheater (who knew the infamously awkward Ford was so secretly funky?) that I definitely intend to attend all on my lonesome next year, so as to get as low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low as a 40-year-old Jewess from Oklahoma can possibly get.

Afterward, I got high at Terra Bistro. Like Denver's own Potager & The Kitchen in Boulder, the handsome longtime destination—showing my kind of style, all clean lines in brown & beige with stone floors—was apparently flying the local/seasonal banner before it was cool. Of course, in the wrong hands, the freshest, juiciest, most pristine ingredients in the world can turn to mush; good thing chef Kevin Nelson's hands aren't wrong.

As always, whenever I'm an occasional guest rather than an anonymous paying customer, I follow a few rules: 1) I state as much upfront. 2) I only write about my experience if it genuinely pleased me—if it didn't, I don't. Biting the hand that fed me would be a shitty thing to do. 3) I fully expect you, dear reader, to take my opinion with a grain of salt (unprocessed & hand-harvested, in this case); how can you or for that matter I say for sure I haven't been compromised in some way in these instances, or that I received anything close to the same treatment as everybody else? For all I know they sprinkled magic dust over my food.

If so, they probably started with the bread spread, because I couldn't keep my greasy paws out of it, an appropriately earthy, dal-like mound of split peas, lentils & garlic in spiced oil.

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But actually, all that said, my favorite dishes weren't the ones I ordered. For instance, while these moist, flaky, perfectly cooked salmon cakes in Boston lettuce cups were fun to wrap up & eat with said paws,

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I'd have liked them even better if they'd come with more pickled red onion & less honey-mustard dressing, which almost overpowered the fish. The broth in the Dungeness crab & cucumber "gazpacho" a companion ordered, meanwhile,

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was little more than lime juice, scallions, & S&P—I can't imagine they made it without vegetable or shellfish stock, but I can't swear to it either—& all the better for that, if you have the taste for pure sour citrus I do.

As for the brown butter–sweet potato ravioli, I'm sure it was fine, but it was the garnish I dug,

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a mound of finely chopped mesclun with walnuts, blue cheese, Reggiano & herbs that they could easily have just put into a bowl all by itself & called a chopped salad, deliciously zingy.

All of which began to make clear to me that the Kitchen's forte is detail, like the funky, crunchy-fried Picholine olive crumbs on my porcini-dusted striped bass intriguingly combined with hearts of palm, frisée & judicious daubs of 2 well-matched, creamy sauces: a tarragon aioli & an orange supréme.

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Or the sauteed, almost crispy kale accompanying the Amish beef filet with blue cheese & Yukon gold mashed, which soaked up just enough of the the smoked tomato demiglace to taste meaty in itself.

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The highlight of the meal, however, had to be the avocado-chocolate parfait with caramelized bananas.

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Don't forget avocado's technically a fruit—but we do forget, because it's got that vegetal mustiness that makes it so savory. Which is precisely why, along with its creaminess, it works so well in desserts, refreshing the sweetness.

Color me impressed—but again, you don't have to take my word for it. This place hasn't needed me to keep it afloat for 17 years.

Terra Bistro on Urbanspoon

Joe Nguyen Doesn’t Feel So Well: Report from the Isle Black Hawk Rocky Mountain Oyster Challenge

For the full story, see the Denver Post, which gives it up for recent Denveater interviewee Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti, who somehow managed to choke down nearly 4 lbs. of deep-fried bulls' balls in 10 minutes. Ugh. And for pics galore, check out this A-Bomb blogpost—you'll see Joe in the 8th & 9th pictures from the top, the guy with glasses right next to the dude in the giant blue cowboy hat. I checked back with our hero of Asia Xpress shortly after the contest was over.

So how was it?

Well, it was interesting. Eating cold Rocky Mountain oysters is like eating cold, chewy batter. Not too pleasant.

How many did you eat?

I think officially I ate 3/4 pound, all but 3 pieces on my plate. I couldn't get over the chewiness.

What wisdom, if that's the right word, did you glean from the experience?

I suppose the obvious lesson I learned was that as much as I love to eat, I don't like eating mass amounts of one flavor. Also, I had trained for capacity—to be honest, I just ate Chipotle because the RMOs didn't fill me up—but I should have trained my chewing speed. I would have done much better.

What's next on your speed-eating agenda?

I'm leaning toward doing the Taste of Colorado ice-cream eating contest, just one more time. Then I may retire. It's a pint of Dreyer's. Not sure which flavor they'll use this year—last year it was Drumstick; the year before that I had mint chocolate chip.

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Well, there you have it, folks—the 10-minute rise & fall of a competitve eater. Let that be a lesson in moderation to you—or don't. Tramps like us, baby, we were born to gobble everything in sight & regret it afterward.

Dish of the Week 8/16–8/22: The Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival

Yeah, pretty much the whole shebang (or at least the bits of it I attended), wrapped up in one big shiny bow (click on image to see schedule).

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The 1st workweek of my 40th year on earth was a stinky bitch. Monday I had one of my semiannual bouts of food poisoning, mostly in the parking lot of the Greenwood Village Shops at the Landmark (sorry, whoever pulled in after me). Tuesday I worked for 16 hours straight (sorry, Director, who had to put up with me). Wednesday 1 of our cats developed severe conjunctivitis & I had to help the vet tech hold him still while she took his temperature from the wrong end (really sorry, Jasper). Thursday—I don't even know where to begin. It started with insomnia & went from there. And Friday, I woke up at 5am to pack & get to the airport by 7:30, where I picked up my mom, drove her to Estes Park for her annual Buddhist retreat at the Y, & proceeded to make every conceivable wrong turn en route from there to Beaver Creek, finally arriving just in time to miss what was by all accounts a debauched lunch at Grouse Mountain Grill.

But from there on out was the smoothest of pleasure cruises through demos & dinners &

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aspen groves.

In full disclosure, this was a press trip; I didn't pay for jack. That said, rest assured the richies who did wouldn't stand for anything less than royal treatment. Being in their midst, without a badge to indicate I myself am just a poor (& I mean poor) freelancing slob, I'm pretty sure they experienced what I experienced.

And so without further ado, a few highlights, starting with the "The Perfect Steak," part of the Wine Spectator Demo Series with Beaver Creek Chophouse's Jay McCarthy & Chateau St. Michelle's Tim Clark.

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Here's a fancy aerial view via mirror of the stovetop,

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which wasn't in use—technically this was a seminar about cuts, not a cooking demo, & the discussion focused on food & wine matching above all. Our lovely little portion, in a bourguignonne-esque sauce of red wine & mushrooms with a side of mashed potatoes dotted with carrots, peas & green chiles,

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was paired with 6 Merlots, mostly from the Chateau St. Michelle family (which includes Stag's Leap)—which I must say impressed me far more than any of the CSM whites I've ever tried, my favorite being the  2006 Canoe Ridge, not nearly so fruit-forward as the Merlots that got hammered a few years back by dear old Miles (it seems more than a few winemakers may have actually learned something after getting their asses handed to them by a fictional character), showing rather a nose dusted with dried herbs & barbecue smoke, chocolate & licorice on the palate.

An all-around impressive dinner at contemporary Italian Toscanini started with the terrific heirloom tomato “martini,” less like a bloody mary than gazpacho-infused Cap Rock vodka, complete with basil & an S&P rim.

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Two pancake-sized slices of fine bresaola—air-dried beef from Lombardy—topped a tradition-minded salad of arugula, pine nuts, shaved parm & balsamic-marinated onion.

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Though the classic appetizer as it’s served in northern Italy is even simpler—drizzled not with vinaigrette but just olive oil & lemon juice—this was certainly a lovely, deeply earthy variation thereon.

And my rigatoni was a midsummer night’s dream,

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at once hearty & harvest-fresh, sauteed with fresh artichoke hearts, strips of bell pepper, onion & salami, & shards of pecorino romano, then finished with rosemary & olive oil. I left, I think, 2 or 3 pasta tubes so as not to totally humiliate myself in front of my less gluttonous companions.

But I don’t think they were fooled, since I went on to polish off a float made with root beer vodka (desserts being the only excuse for artificially flavored spirits) & smartly subtle, vanilla-tinged root beer gelato.

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Good as it was, the banana-panettone pudding with white chocolate & hazelnuts ordered by Jen Heigl of Daily Blender was even better, evoking a molten fruitcake—which, come to think of it, is a brilliant idea. Copyright Denveater

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After that was yet another cocktail I don’t want to talk about, thanks anyway, & then I think I ate all the truffles sent up by the 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill to my hotel room at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa—I actually vaguely remember the coconut & Irish cream—

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& then I found myself on a hiking trail at the crack of dawn surrounded by the knock-knock-knock of woodpeckers & signs that said something like: YOU MAY ENCOUNTER A BLACK BEAR. DO NOT APPROACH THE WILDLIFE. Having approached the wildlife the night before, I was all set with that.

And then, 2 hours later, I was drinking a mimosa in the presence of great American hero Anthony Dias Blue

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& standing in the kitchen of Splendido at the Chateau watching renowned Dallas-based chef Stephan Pyles (center), with the assistance of Splendido chef David Wolford (left), cook me & maybe 20 other people

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a 3-course lunch of red snapper tamales with red curry masa, Veracruzana sauce & caramelized bananas,

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coriander-cured lamb loin with cascabel aioli & a salad of pintos, navy beans & black turtle beans (marinated in ham hock stock), arugula &  pickled onions,

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& a chocolate-filled samosa with pistachio, rose & gum mastic ice cream.

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We would’ve had 2 wines, but since De Tierra Vineyards didn’t send enough for more than a taste each of the 2008 Pinot Gris & the 2007 Pinot Noir, the GM of Splendido stepped up to & beyond the plate by pouring us 2 wines from his own cellar as well. That, friends, is what a) polished hospitality & b) $$$ get you. (Again, not my $$$, but rather the $$$ of the socialites around me, including 1 tall, willowy creature entirely in white who was such a ringer for Linda Gray I thought I might actually have been transported to Dallas.)

Honestly, I was such a sucker for Pyles’ flourishes that the fundamentals didn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong, they were great; but if I’d been served nothing but the masa (a little undercooked but delicious anyway), bean salad & ice cream—based on a 200-year old recipe Pyles sampled in Damascus—I’d have been ecstatic.

From there we headed to Vail, which didn’t suck. Details to come.

The Salad Series: Making Do at Casa Grande, Estes Park

I was hot, cranky & hungry when I met the Director in downtown Estes Park. We had dinner plans up at our cabin in a few hours, so lunch needed to be quick, light, simple. Anywhere would do.

Anywhere turned out to be Casa Grande, which turned out to be fine. If you’re looking for better than fine, you’ve come to the wrong place. It’s cute, though, in an Arriba, arriba! Olé, olé! kinda way.

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The chicken fiesta salad included bacon & black beans, a little shredded cheese, guac & sour cream & pico de gallo. It wasn’t a party in my mouth, but it wasn’t drudgery either. Just a little get-together among the usual suspects.
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The Director’s tacos de carnitas came as a slightly bigger surprise, given that the outer tortillas seemed to have been griddled with an unnecessary dusting of cheese. They came with decent refritos, rice that barely registered on the Richter scale of flavor. The meat was a touch tough.

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An uninspired post for an uninspiring meal. Can’t win ‘em all. Take it for what it’s worth if you’re cruising the EP strip in search of sustenance.

24-Hour Dispatch from Vail Part 3: The Sonnenalp

I no longer recall whose stroke of genius it was—pal C’s, pal K’s, pal L’s, the Director’s?—to suggest, while at the 2008 opening of the Westin Riverfront Resort in Avon, we could make a mint selling fake casts in ski towns. But the idea certainly loomed large anew as I roamed the Sonnenalp,

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encountering nook upon nook in which one might prop up one’s plaster-wrapped gam & nurse hot buttered rums all of a snowy afternoon.

Like here,
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here, here,
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or best of all here.

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But the 1 nook in which the jig, so to speak, would just have to be up is the complimentary breakfast buffet at Ludwig’s. It’d be like those ’70s sitcoms wherein someone slams a book down on the witness stand to make the whiplash faker turn: you’d be sprinting from your table to fill up your plate with the goods only to bump into the very dashing gent or beguiling cougar who bought you a sympathy toddy the evening before.

Enough said; check it out (click to enlarge). Not even pictured: the fresh fruit, the scrambled eggs, the hash browns. Did I mention it’s complimentary?

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24-Hour Dispatch from Vail Part 2: Kelly Liken (insert your choice of pun here)

I don’t need Google to know there must be a million of ‘em: Kelly Liken—what’s not to liken? or We be lovin’ Kelly Liken! or whatever. Especially now that her stint on Top Chef D.C. has made her a household name.

And I don’t need to incorporate a pun of my own into the title to foreshadow a positive review of her eponymous Vail restaurant. Between her résumé & the raves she’s garnered over the past few years, the name alone is synonymous with culinary distinction. Presumably, something would have had to go horribly awry for me to have been colored unimpressed (what color is that, anyway, gray? puce?). And given that, as I noted in Part 1, I was a guest on a press trip, a bad meal was even less likenly (okay, just 1).  Moreover, had such a fluke actually come to pass, rest assured you wouldn’t be reading about it here; biting the hand that literally fed me would be beyond uncool. That’s why I rarely accept this type of invitation as a blogger; when I do, it’s with a fair amount of confidence that any praise I have for the place will be unassailable, from the cocktails & amuse-bouches to the assorted sweets that come with the check.
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The trip was billed as a tour from market to table; sure enough, on Sundays in season, to coincide with the Vail farmer’s market, Liken forgoes the regular menu to offer a 3-course prix fixe built around produce from rotating local farms—in this case Granby’s Morales Farms, Platteville’s Miller Farms, & Palisade’s Wynn Farms—along with a supplemental Colorado wine pairing (which, at $15 for 3, is a stellar deal, especially in light of a wine list that includes a $10,000 bottle of Domaine de la Romanée Conti).

Fitting, then, that among the standouts was the simplest of salads; the below photo doesn’t do justice to this showcase for incredible fresh spinach—mild but still truer to its funky roots than, say, baby spinach—set off by lightly pickled radishes & crispy bits of onion, all lent warmth by a bacon–red pepper vinaigrette.

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Make that, then, the deceptively simplest of salads; its flavor profile was actually fairly complex compared to that of the caramelized spring onion soup, light in texture but intensely sweet, with only the slightest telltale allium nip. (My guess would be that it was purely vegetarian; I tend to appreciate the umami heft that meat stock gives the classic version, but I admire the desire to derive every last drop of flavor from the bulb.) In the center sat a parmesan-sourdough crostino that got soggy quick but was good while it lasted.

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As a table of 3, we got to share the entire selection of entrees, but I was secretly thrilled to be the official recipient of the grilled pork tenderloin.

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Beneath the juicy, tender, rose-delicate meat was a roasted cauliflower puree so rich & creamy that I wrote in my notebook, “just like foie gras!” Surely that was the booze talking…or was it?! I’ll put it this way—I’d bet money there was something unusual about its preparation, a bit of stock whisked in or something. An spunky spring onion pesto & wedges of caramelized spring onion also added zing.

Herbed risotto (see the left edge of the pile) enthralled above all for those wedges of globe squash, lightly brown-buttered & a touch sweeter than, say, late-season zucchini; spooned around the edge was roasted yellow pepper puree, & on top, a blossom of what according to the menu was crispy eggplant but mostly tasted like crisp (nothing wrong with that).

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Similarly, it was the clean, clear, exquisite tomato-tarragon nage that stole the show from the pan-seared striped bass with potatoes, asparagus & chives (& more spring onion).

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For that matter, the same went for the sable tart—so named for its crumbly, sandlike consistency—with vanilla mousseline; lovely, light & crunchy as it was, the spirit of the summertime dessert inhered in the juicy zestiness of the strawberry-rhubarb compote.
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In short, if the Sunday Harvest Dinner is any indication, it’s Liken’s ingredient-driven sense of restraint with respect to technique that may be her greatest asset. Those who really know how to cook also know when they don’t much have to.

24-Hour Dispatch from Vail Part 1: The Wildflower at The Lodge

The vast majority of Colorado is wasted on me. I don’t ski or snowboard or snowshoe or make snow angels or snow cones or do anything in snow except trudge through it miserably as little as possible. I’d hike if it didn’t entail going up so much. I have a bike, which I ride to the liquor store & back.

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But the opportunity to take a 1-day press trip to Vail wasn’t one I was about to pass up, given that in summer it promised to be a “market-to-table experience” rather than a “mountain-to-examining-table experience.”

And it was. Winding all the way through Vail Village, the Vail Farmer’s Market & Art Show is purportedly the largest in the state, its 100-plus vendors showcasing everything from fresh-dug onions & loaves of organic ciabatta to woven Ghanian baskets & portraits of ski bums to tamales & empanadas.

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In fact, prepared food booths outnumber produce stalls by a noticeable margin: giant barbecued turkey legs, Greek pastries, crêpes, samples from area restaurants. But the mechanics of eating are hard enough for me to master without adding bipedalism into the equation, so I opted for a sit-down lunch; as we had big dinner plans, my host suggested her favorite for light salads & sandwiches al fresco, The Wildflower at the Lodge.
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Best-laid plans, best-laid plans. Turned out they were only serving a small brunch menu, which we glanced at closely enough to notice a couple of salads before taking a seat on the mellow patio amid flitting hummingbirds & live piano music.

Not, however, closely enough to notice they were part of a prix-fixe. A 4-course prix-fixe.  A 4-course prix-fixe that started with

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strawberries in fresh Devonshire cream plus

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a 3-tiered stand of croissants, muffins, scones, intense lemon curd & light, bright rhubarb purée, followed by a melon coupe with slivers of prosciutto & a splash of port poured tableside—the only false note in it all, struck by the slightly stale croissant, being resolved sweetly by the dense-crumbed, buttery berry scone.

And then came my salad, a veritable Dale Chihuly seaform of refreshment.

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Three red curry–grilled jumbo shrimp & a fireworks of both fried sweet potato & yam twists topped a half-shell of watermelon filled with its own chunks, along with fat mixed berries, sliced shallots & radishes, & mixed greens in a lime dressing: a zesty, tropically tinged, shining example of the basic truth that in the simplest dishes lies the clearest indication of a kitchen’s commitment to quality. (First the roast chicken, where inferior ingredients & technical mistakes have nowhere to hide; then the galantine.)

Thus did I suspect that the egg salad, which my host ordered sans hoagie roll to wind up with a truckload of the stuff plus a simple side salad, was just a fluke. Made with crème fraîche, it was indeed super-creamy, but the menu description also included black truffles—not truffle oil but actual slices—which, of course, would be the whole point of ordering it, but which I neither saw nor tasted.

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The oversight was easy enough to forgive seeing as how a) it wasn’t my dish, b) the level of service was such that if we’d asked, I don’t doubt they’d have showered us with fungus petals in apology, & c) the desserts marked a sure return to form. As the solid version of an Irish Car Bomb, Guinness-spiked chocolate cake with Bailey’s ice cream is nothing new, but based on the meal so far my expectations centered on careful treatment, not wild originality, and that it revealed aplenty, from the moist, loose-grained, dark-flavored cake to the trimmings: shard of toffee, browniesque crumble, smear of caramel.

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Meanwhile, the orange-grapefruit soup stunned in its cool clarity, highlighted by a scoop of honey-lemon sorbet.
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All that plus a bottomless glass of sparkling wine—prosecco IIRC—came to $40 before tip, which would be more than fair anywhere, never mind in a resort town.

It was the right foot on which to start off an afternoon expedition, as you’ll see in Part 2.

Dish of the Week: Clementine Kicker at Kelly Liken, Vail

So what if “Dish of the Week” has lately morphed into a euphemism for “glug, glug, glug”? “Food” & “drink” are kind of arbitrary distinctions anyway. Take soup versus a smoothie.

I’m sans every last shred of energy, so I’ll have to explain what I was doing swanning around Vail later. And I’m sans card reader, so I’ll have to upload the photo of Kelly Liken‘s Clementine Kicker later too. But, you know, it looks like a drink. For now just close your eyes & picture a lowball filled with fresh ginger & jalapeño muddled & mixed with Svedka Clementine Vodka, agave nectar & lime juice, strained & served on the rocks. UPDATE: See?

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Don’t sweat the flavored spirit; rest assured it attains some measure of dignity in balancing the invigorating spice with its citrus shine. The bar staff’s light touch behooves the cocktails generally here; almost as good & every bit as cleanly refreshing was the Cucumber Lime Elixir, combining Colorado’s own Cap Rock organic gin with house-squeezed cucumber-lime juice.

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As for the grub, stay tuned.

Dispatch from Pueblo: Goffo Giacomo’s

According to its homepage, “Giacomo’s is the place where you will find the food is exquisite, the service is of the highest standard, and the environment is relaxing.” The awkward wording says it all as to just how goffo (that’s Italian for “goofball”) this red-sauce joint sitting amid the fast-food chains off I-25 in Pueblo is. Since the food’s really pretty awful, I would have categorized it under Eateries That Give Me Hives if it weren’t for the soft spot I have for such casas di kitsch as this.

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At lunchtime on a weekday, I was the youngest customer in the dining room by far; the garden club set was out in full leisurewear force, trading notes on hedgerows over iced tea & spumoni or whatever.

As for the repertoire, you know everything’s scampi this & parmigiana that. The lunch menu’s also heavy on the sandwiches—not panini but red-white-&-blue basics proffered in charmingly retro lingo (“ground sirloin char-broiled to a desired temperature & served on a golden egg bun”). The early bird menu (natch) has, get this, a section labeled Pasta & another labeled More Pasta. And the dinner menu boasts all manner of golden oldies, from escargot in garlic butter & fried cheese sticks to broiled orange roughy & trout almondine.

The cooking itself, though, isn’t so old-fashioned. Minestrone was supposedly homemade but had Campbell’s written all over its mushy cubes of beef & carrot in salt-tastic broth.

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The chef’s salad was just so much sloppy storebought stuff.

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And guaranteed you wouldn’t know the styrofoamy garlic bread from Stouffer’s.

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But it wasn’t all bad. Spaghetti fritto may sound & look silly in that heap topped with a giant sprig of rosemary—presentation is not Giacomo’s forte—but it tasted okay all right, sauteéd in butter & garlic with peppers, onions & mushrooms.

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Better still was the side that came with it—a small meal in itself, composed of a meatball & a chunk of sausage, both housemade, in marinara. Seemingly mostly pork, they were nice & rich if quite mild (no peperoncini or fennel seeds here).

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Earlier objections notwithstanding, a plate of those in a low-lit, still-life-hung & faux-ivy-strewn dining room with Sinatra (you expected who else?) in the background has got to beat the heck out of a McAnything gulped down in the glare of a corporate pit stop.

Sucking Eggs at Red Rocks Grill

A large, liberal American in the Whitmanian sense, with a bloodlust to contradict my bleeding heart, I can never help but marvel how a good collection of wall-mounted hunting trophies really ties a room together into some sort of cheerfully morbid petting zoo. And since the Director, the Constant Watcher & I happened to be hashing out our plans for MORRISSEYTOWN—an amusement park (or, as we like to think of it, dejection park) based entirely around the lyrical death throes of everybody’s fave frontman of phantasmironica—just as we entered the Red Rocks Grill in Morrison (coincidence? think not), we were pretty sure we’d come to the right place. Its furry decor

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at once inspired a brainstorm for our own Life Is a Pigsty dead-petting zoo & made for an ideal setting in which to sketch out the details of the Meat Is Murder concession stand. (Not to mention a fitting pitstop before catching Jaws up at Film on the Rocks.)

But we were wrong. Foodwise, it was not the right place. That much became clear with a glance at the menu, one of those faux-newspaper inserts listing such “Red Rocks Originals” as a BLT & a Monte Cristo (what dictionary did they get their definition of “original” from?), a Santa Fe pasta with chicken, green chili & cheddar startlingly served with a flour tortilla, & a teriyaki chicken dinner dolefully described as “two 6 oz. breast [sic] drenched in teriyaki sauce”—maybe one of the exceptions to the guarantee that “most of our food is homemade”?

Certainly I’ll eat crow (could probably just pull one down off the wall) if the dinosaur eggs weren’t the finest becrumbed, cream-cheese-product-injected jalapeno-like objects ever to roll off an assembly line out & out of a box.

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As for the “special jalapeno jelly” it comes with—I’m thinking raspberry from a jar with a drop of hot sauce in it?

The rest was neither here nor there. There was nothing particularly wrong with the Director’s combo plate #4, for instance—a steak-&-bean burrito with green chile plus two shredded beef tacos. When I asked him how it was, he shrugged. The bite or two I took revealed a fairly mild green chile & not much else of note.

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My taco salad with chicken was likewise just fine, with more lettuce under there than you’d think. If the salsa was made in-house, though, it did an amazing impression of Pace.

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I think you must have to be pretty darn sharp to catch the sorts of nuances that would distinguish the Constant Watcher’s Mexican burger from, say, a beef burrito, unless it’s just the fries on the side. My own powers of observation weren’t up to the task. I’m open to enlightenment on this one.

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Either way I don’t plan on coming back here to taste the difference for myself. One too many Mexican burgers and the next thing you know you’re starring in Morrisseytown’s Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others burlesque revue.

Red Rocks Grill on Urbanspoon