Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Went to There: Denver

Let's be clear: I wanted to go to there first and foremost for cousin time; second and second most to bear witness to two wild nights of bloodsucking at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts; and third and thirdmost, to feed. Not on blood, but on the fruits of Denver. And feed I did -- feed we did.

Upon first arriving in Denver I was whisked away to the House of Commons, a tea room in the northwest corner of the city. Tea time, among cousins, is a tradition that has consisted of a lot of talk and little action. But the weather and the company car lent themselves to action on this sunny day, so we enjoyed afternoon tea at a sidewalk table. The service consisted of 4 little tea sandwiches: one roast beef with mayonnaise, one curried chicken, one cheddar and fruit preserves, and one traditional cream cheese and cucumber. On the second tier of the little tea tower there stood two scones, to be eaten with fruit jam, lemon curd, and clotted cream (pictured above.) On the top tier, some little petits-fours: carrot cake, chocolate cake, and a sweet little cookie. In addition, we shared a comforting slice of quiche and a square of peanut butter fudge with a hardened chocolate top layer that was decidedly OOC -- that's "out of control," for my elderly readers.

After Thursday night's show we parked at a corner table at Euclid Hall on 14th Street and we said to the man, "Please to bring us everything fried, please, and everything griddled." Not really, but we may as well have: our meal consisted of an outstandingly crunchy turkey corn dog; a platter of poutine with hen of the woods mushrooms, porcini gravy, and Wisconsin cheddar; a grilled cheese sandwich with Camembert and peach preserves; a cup of mushroom soup; a little pan of roasted vegetables; and a platter of "pretzel fried pies," which were basically stuffed churros. Also, I had the Lagunitas Censored to drink. One cousin delighted in the endless pile of hand-cut Kennebec french fries, and one cousin delighted in parsnips roasted in a honey-rosemary glaze.

And then we fasted. We fasted all night. And then we broke our fast at around 9 the next morning at Sam's no. 3, whose breakfast fare is not unlike that of a typical New Jersey diner, albeit one with a slightly Mexican theme. Eggs, pancakes, french toast: you can picture it in your mind's eye. What I really want to share is a beauty shot from the Squeaky Bean in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver, where we shared this gorgeous roast cauliflower salad with smoked trout, dates, and a parsley coulis. Also on the table: a delectable (if heftily packed) lamb reuben and a pig-shaped pig platter that came with 3 different types of salumi and a tray of toasted sourdough. For dessert, our be-sunglassed waiter, Luciano, recommended the carrot cake and shake: an adorable cube of creamy carrot cake topped with candy-glazed carrot ribbons and accompanied with a beaker (yes -- a beaker!) of vanilla milkshake. It reminded one cousin of horchata and the other cousin of kheer, the Indian rice pudding. In any event it was a delight.

I imagine that some other couple of cousins in this crazy, mixed-up world might have stopped there. "That's enough," some cousin might have said, patting her belly or, worse, skipping dessert altogether. Not these cousins. We stopped by the Denver Biscuit Company and picked up this stunner of a biscuit to-go, which would later turn into an innovative and attractive (if I may say so) late night salami and egg sandwich. With the biscuit in tow we continued on our way in pursuit of Dessert 2.0: Little Man Ice Cream, also in the Highlands neighborhood, also adorable, also cousin heaven.

Little Man donates some portion of rice, proportional to scoops sold, to villages in Ethiopia and Myanmar -- but guess what -- that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to talk about how outstanding the fig gelato was. We ordered it in sundae form with hot fudge and Whopper pieces (who knew both cousins loved Whoppers!? No one likes Whoppers!) and took a little kids cup of honey gelato to-go as well. All to-go items, biscuit included, were ultimately consumed by midnight -- and enthusiastically so -- but also gracefully so.

For 10 long hours we rested and then we set out for more. Our late breakfast/early brunch at Rioja, on Larimer Street, consisted of a yogurt and berry parfait, a little lace cookie and chevre amuse bouche, eggs and pork belly (pictured above,) and the Rioja Benedict, 2 perfectly poached eggs with tomato, spinach, and bacon atop goat cheese biscuit halves.

But biscuits come and biscuits go, and the altitude had taken its toll on this biscuit. Before boarding my flight I stopped at Denver fast-food restaurant Itza Wrap Itza Bowl in the United Airlines terminal at the Denver airport and treated myself to a brown rice bowl with vegetables and tofu -- they dressed it with Thai peanut sauce, cilantro, peanut halves and Sriracha. Have you ever seen Sriracha at a fast-food establishment? Me neither. This actually wasn't so bad for airport food.

That concludes this cousin's Denver eating adventure. All in all Denver has proved to be an excellent source of bar foods, fried foods, desserts, baked goods, griddled foods, breakfast foods, and meats. One can eat well there, but it's certainly no place for any cousin to stay too long -- may I recommend Itza Wrap Itza Bowl for your impending trip home, cousin -- I'll see you in November.


  1. I am looking forward to my gate-side meal already. Today, I went to The Delectable Egg for a wheat germ pancake. Then I had a slice of cinnamon cream cake and a latte from the Corner Bakery. This is the most delicious job I've ever had. xoxo

  2. Based on the contents of this post I too want to go to there.