A Foodie’s Journey through Denver in a Day

Union Station Denver

Stop 1: Breakfast

No trip to Denver is complete without a few food stops, and if you are a foodie like me, I would recommend starting with a hearty breakfast at Snooze AM.

If you haven’t heard of Snooze, then it’s time for you to try it. Snooze is my go-to breakfast place early in the morning. As the adage goes, “the early bird gets the worm;” in this case, if you arrive early to Snooze, you’ll beat the lines and get in fast. So literally, don’t snooze…or you’ll wait a good hour or so for your breakfast.

Snooze was started in Denver in 2006 and has now expanded to California, Arizona, and Texas. I personally love to start with their Straight Up or Spicy Bloody Marys or their fresh-from-the-tap Mimosas. Then I love to dive into one of two items, either their 3-Egg Omelets or their delectable Cinnamon Roll Pancake, the latter of which I always order on the side anyways and split it with those at the table. That is, of course, if I feel like sharing!  You honestly can’t go wrong with any item on their menu.

Visit them at the Denver Union Station starting at 6:30 a.m. at 1701 Wynkoop Street, Suite 150, Denver, CO 80202. They are tucked inside the really cool and renovated Union Station.

Stop 2: Walk it off

Once you’ve filled your belly, it’s time to burn off some of those cholesterol-laden calories. I recommend enjoying the sights with a light walking tour with Denver Free Walking Tours.  They start at 10 a.m. and meet at the Veteran’s Memorial off Lincoln Street, and they end at Coors Field.  It is about a two-hour walk and covers about two miles. Thus it isn’t too much of a hike but it’s enough to get you going.  If you are pushing around a stroller, it isn’t too hard to manage either. These tours run May 1st through October 31st, seven days a week; then from November 1st to April 30th, they run only on Saturdays and Sundays.

Denver Civic Center

These tour guides work off their tips, so do tip them generously! The tour covers the State Capitol, the Civic Center, the Denver Art Museum, the U.S. Mint, Larimer Square, and 16th Street Mall, and finishes at the famous Coors Field.  These are all the really essential places to visit while in town.  This is indeed a great way to experience downtown without having to think too much about it.

Stop 3: Food Truck time!

Perhaps I shouldn’t have recommended a big breakfast, but given that you’ve now already walked some of it off, you can indulge once again.  Do this at the Civic Center Eats, which is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from May 2nd to October 5th. It is Denver Metro’s largest gathering of gourmet food trucks and carts (23-25 food trucks to be exact).  You can taste everything from local burgers to Cajun to Indian food and all the while enjoying live music and the beautiful setting of the Civic Center Park.

Stop 4: Nap or Drink…your choice

Yes, I said, take a nap. If you are lucky enough to be staying downtown or nearby, head back for a nap and enjoy a food-induced nap.  Why?  Because tonight you will be eating at one of the top James Beard award-winning restaurants, Rioja, and you’ll need room for this wonderful cuisine. However, before you do take a nap, make sure you’ve already booked your dinner reservations at Rioja.

If you are not able to nap, enjoy a beer back at Union Station’s Terminal Bar, which has a great line-up of Colorado beers, or enjoy a coffee across the way at Pigtrain Coffee Company, where you can experience phenomenal lattes.

Another great stop is a place where you can see all of Denver from a rooftop while enjoying a beer.  Go to Tap Fourteen, on the rooftop of Hayter’s & Co, half a block from Coors Field, where you can choose from a rotating list of 70 top Colorado beers on draft! You can try out their great beer offerings from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday- Friday or start early on Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. with brunch.  Tap Fourteen has many other activities and events; check out their homepage.

Stop 5: Award-Winning Dinner

Finally, the famous and historic Larimer Street located in Lower Downtown Denver (known locally as LODO) is where you will find a number of great restaurants besides my personal favorite mentioned earlier, Rioja. Perhaps this particular restaurant is a place I recommend because I am partial to (and have lived and worked in) the wine region in Northern Spain called La Rioja.  However, Rioja (the restaurant) is actually a place where James Beard Award Winning Executive Chef Jennifer Jasinski and Tim Kuklinski bring together local and Mediterranean ingredients to create sophisticated plates. While the food is not typical of my favorite wine region in Spain, Rioja’s many food and wine offerings stand out on their own and create their own little piece of heaven.

Rioja Meal

At Rioja, I recommend trying their egg-yolk ravioli, which is deliciously divine and cooked to perfection. With a buttery dish like this, I would recommend pairing this with a wine with enough acidity to cut through the starch, butter, and yolks. A chardonnay or a pinot blanc would pair well with this plate, given the acidity and body typical these wines.

If you plan to go to Rioja, I would recommend booking via OpenTable in advance as this place is well sought after. They open at 5 p.m. for dinner and are located at 1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO.

I hope you have enjoyed this day as much as I have!

 

Foodie Paradise from Rioja to Portland

When most people think of Europe, they imagine the patisseries and the beautiful coffee shops with Parisian-looking people in stylish clothes sitting outdoors at café tables on narrow cobblestone streets, with beautiful churches in the background.

My idea of Europe may have initially started that way, with the romantic Parisian stereotype, but soon enough I was introduced to the hustle and bustle of the Spanish way when I stepped foot in Rioja.

RIOJA

Rioja has a beauty to it, a simplicity to it, a way of capturing your heart and soul with not only the love of wine by its inhabitants, but also with their love of food and, ultimately, of life. This is why I called this place home for two years and why my heart yearns for it every day. It was a way of life, not just a place in which I lived for two years.  It was an escape to an alternate reality that brings for me new meaning to the maxim “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Cobble stone streets of Rioja

 

The Spanish know how to live life; they live it fully every single day, from the moment they wake up and head down to their local cafe for a “café con leche y una tostada” to their evening get-together with friends after work for a quick drink and some tapas. Rioja is truly what I would call a foodie paradise. Their foods are simple, not overly complicated. They take the simplest of things and make them spectacular without a lot of tricks. Simple dry-cured ham, or Jamon Serrano, which is a leg of pork that is covered with salt for two weeks, then rinsed and hung to dry upside down for a period of six months or more.  The resulting meat, which is cut in thin slices just before consuming, is spectacular and buttery; it simply melts in your mouth. The very best variety of these hams is called Jamon de Bellota.  It is from pigs fed on acorns, and it is incredible. Right now my mouth is watering as I am picturing my favorite place, Cafe Bar Garcia on Calle San Juan, 28 in Logroño, where I get a “Zapatilla,” a thin slice of bread spread with olive oil and jamon serrano, then grilled.

Here is a picture of my mother holding up this wonderful delight.Mom enjoying her jamon serrano

 

Another spectacular and yet so simple dish is their “Champi,” which are fresh local mushrooms that are brought in that same day, cooked with garlic and olive oil, stacked, and topped with a tiny shrimp. It may not sound like much, but every single person who has come to visit me raves about how wonderful this tiny stack of mushrooms cooked, or rather, bathed in garlic and olive oil, is their most favorite thing in the world. If you go to Calle Laurel in Logroño, make sure to stop by Bar Soriano.

 

champi

I could go on and on about the beauty of Rioja and its amazing food. Did I mention that they have world-class wine too? In my opinion, it is some of the best wine in the world. For more information on Rioja, check out my write-up here on this website.

PORTLAND

Unfortunately, I had to leave Rioja: with my master’s program ending and the economy in Spain not improving, it was time to pick my next adventure. I needed a place that offered culinary delights as well as the world of wine.  Perhaps that is why I was drawn to the Portland area, and now to Portland itself, my soon-to-be new home, where the food is local, fresh, and delicious.

Lately, I’ve been writing about all the incredible events that I’ve had the privilege to attend—events including wine and spirits, and, most recently, including cider. Oregon has so much to offer, and Portland as a city has the most interesting culture of young, enthusiastic people who are focused on sustainability and everything that is local.

IMG_7794

The plan of attack for N. Missississippi Tour with Forktown Food Tours

If you are new to Portland or simply wanting to experience a bit of the foodie scene in the region, you should check out Forktown Food tours. It is a great way to explore the four quadrants of Portland and experience not only the food but also the culture of each area.

I went on the North Mississippi Ave. tour, led by Kelsie, a 6th generation Portland native who loves all things food, art, music, and culture. North Mississippi Avenue is a historic, artsy, and exciting neighborhood on Portland’s north side and is one of Portland’s newest culinary hot spots, full of great food and personality.  It is fun for locals as well as for out-of-town visitors.  This part of Portland is well worth the visit!  I would recommend coming very hungry; perhaps skip the traditional Portland brunch and leave room for these offerings, as you are going to need it.IMG_7801

The tour led us through seven different places, starting at a sit-down meal at Mee Sen Thai Eatery for some great Thai food, then on to a food cart called Gabagool, which featured a phenomenal Italian flat bread mozzarella and capicola sandwich, which my husband devoured in 2.5 seconds. We then went to the super locally-sourced Little Big Burger which offered a perfectly-sized goat cheese burger to pair with a nice organic HUB IPA. Did I mention that they have the world’s best Truffle fries? Wow…enough said.

IMG_7808

As if there had been room in our tummies for more food, we then took a little break and headed to Sidecar 11, a great little intimate speakeasy-style whisky lounge where we had a chance to pair prohibition-era cocktails like the Gin-Gin Mule with some great seasonal aperitifs.

IMG_0050

At this point, we were only half way through the food tour, and I was wondering how I was going to fit the great Koi-Fusion Korean/Mexican fusion tacos that came next. What is great about the food cart area next to one of my favorite watering holes, PROST, is that you are allowed to bring your food cart food into their patio or restaurant.  Who could ask for more?  Great German beer and great Portland food! (Disclaimer: My husband is German, so this is the perfect way to satisfy his love for German beer and my love for Portland food carts.)

IMG_7817

After this we finished off with a visit to the cute little salt-and-chocolate boutique shop called The Meadow, where we did a salt-and-chocolate tasting, and then headed off to Ruby Jewel for their real ice cream sandwiches, which are literally two fresh cookies with fresh ice cream between them.

This tour was phenomenal and well done.  I would love to go on some of their other tours as I am sure they are just as great. Check out Forktown Food Tours for more information on their upcoming tours.

That was just Northeast Portland; wait until I get to Southeast Portland! Thanks for joining me on my foodie adventure from Spain to Portland. Cheers!

IMG_0055

 

 <a href=”https://plus.google.com/110830109140128127622&#8243; rel=”publisher”>Google+</a>

7 Reasons I’m Crushing on Portland

Portland is a city of many faces and adventures. Whether you are a local or a visitor to this lush, green, eclectic city, there is something new for everyone. Join Lauren in her adventures through Portland in her “7 Reasons I’m crushing on Portland” post! I know I am still crushing on Portland after being in Oregon now for almost two years!

Looks like I need to add a few places to my PDX Must Visit List! In particular, I need to visit Blue Star Donuts and check out Burnside Brewing! I can’t wait to try the Blueberry Bourbon Basil donut at Blue Star Donuts and enjoy a Burnside IPA! Cheers!

Eat.Drink.Write.Be Merry.

Image

A few weeks ago, I was on Spring Break (one of the many perks about working in academia).

I traveled up to the great state of Oregon, and developed a serious crush.

Portland and I…it’s getting pretty serious you could say.

And, as much as I love Los Angeles through and through, here are 7 reasons Portlandia will make you swoon!

1. Portland Is Like A City In A Terrarium

2013-11-17 14.31.59 I’ve never been to a city where there were so much foliage and trees! My lungs practically exploded from oxygen overdose.

I’ve never visited a city that felt so “green” before! Everywhere you turn in Portland, you are constantly reminded that you are in a city, tucked in a forest. From bridges covered with moss to the gorgeous Willamette river that divides Portland, you can literally look up any direction and see the towering trees hugging the skirts of the city.

View original post 1,073 more words