Steamboat Oktoberwest

Steamboat Oktoberwest

Lederhosen, beef, and beer, these three things are always great together.  Bring these together and place them at the base of a great Colorado ski resort and you have something truly special.

This past weekend we were lucky enough to attend Steamboat's 9th annual Oktoberwest.  A festival with an all you can eat beef cook off and over 45 brewers from across the state.  10 different local restaurants were each given the same cut of beef and were let loose to show what they could do with it.  From shredded beef tacos to steam bun sandwiches you were sure to find something that would fit your fancy.  We were sure to try every restaurants entry, sometimes more than once, in order to get a good feel for the local style.  After stuffing ourselves to the gills with various beef dishes we placed our vote and fat and happy stood by for the outcome of the competition.

Of course you can’t enjoy all of that wonderful food without a few wonderful beers to wash it down.  With well over 100 beers available to try you are sure to find something that will quench that thirst.  We were excited to see some of our all time favorite breweries as we approached the beer garden and were equally excited to discover some new favorites.  Horse and Dragon and Denver Beer Co. are among some of favorite places in Colorado to grab a cold brew.  H & D had a wonderful traditional Marzen lager that paired exceptionally well with a number of beef dishes and Denver Beer Co. had the always-favorite Princess Yum Yum, a raspberry Kolsch they recently added to their base lineup.  As much as we love these go to breweries these events are a great opportunity to try breweries you have never tried and possibly have never heard about.  A few new ones we would like to highlight include Storm Peak, a local brewery in the heart of Steamboat, and Broken Compass a brewery in another great ski resort, Breckenridge.  Both of these breweries have our attention for the future.

With a belly full of beef and beer, live music playing and the gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains in the background we were ready for the voting outcome.  Salt & Lime, a local Mexican hangout located on the main drag in Steamboat brought home the prize this year with their fantastic beef tacos.

If your free next year, hike up your lederhosen and loosen your belt and get ready for all the beer and beef you can handle.  The drive amongst the changing aspens and towering mountains is just an added bonus and another one of the reasons the food and beer seen in Colorado is second to none.

3 Forks Farm Dinner

3 Forks Farm Dinner

As friends and strangers alike gathered at Odell Brewing the anticipation of what the night would bring hung in the air.  An adventure soon awaited as 3 farms prepared for our arrivals.  A mob of bikes took off first and the rest of us followed in a shuttle.  With the brewery in our rearview our stomachs were revving up for the culinary expedition ahead.

The first stop was La Familia.  Marias Tamales were on the menu for this first stop.  Everyone arrived thirstier than expected and the beer ran dry for a few minutes but was soon replenished.  Sipping on a cold Loose Leaf while learning about the great things this farm offers and does for the children  and their families was a nice view into the wonderful things farms can teach the youth. After an enjoyable stop we were on our way to our next destination, Raisin’ Roots.

Here we got to see Taylor and Cameron of the Silver Seed and The Gold Leaf some of our favorite local food flippers in town.  On the table waiting for us was a tasty appetizer with local greens, green tomatoes, cucumbers, edible flowers and a tantalizing sauce atop a soft piece of bread.  Paired with the Sunny Rain Golden Tart from Odell it made for a great combination.  Learning about this farm really gave us an open window view into the inner workings of a farm here in Fort Collins.  Ben gave us a wonderful rundown of the inner and outer workings of this farm. 

The third and final stop was Hope Farm.  Here we arrived to a wonderful setting with tables and candles spread across the farm grounds and the foothills surrendering to a beautiful sunset in the background.  One of our absolute favorite culinary crafters was hard at work preparing a meal that would be our favorite of the night.  The Tramp About concocted a beet tartar with a spicy sausage hash on the side.  Horse and Dragon made an appearance here with a Peach Ale to go with a scrumptious peach cobbler.  For those that didn’t want this beer floats were available to crush that sweet tooth.

If you haven’t been to a farm dinner look into it right away.  It is a truly great experience to gather with likeminded people while enjoying great food great beer and learning about the importance of our local farms.

Top 5 Food Truck Rally Must Haves

Top 5 Food Truck Rally Must Haves

Have you been to the Food Truck Rally?  This family fun event is hosted every Tuesday at City Park in Fort Collins.  Between the trucks, entertainment and all the room to play and enjoy the summer heat this has to be one of our favorite summer events!

Now grab you blanket, water bottle and family and friends and try out our favorites!

1. The Tramp About

If you haven’t tried this truck yet, the Po’ Boy is a must! This scrumptious sandwich cannot be missed with its perfectly spiced sausage and delightful shrimp it is a go to.  Also we suggest requesting slaw instead of chips, you won’t be sorry.

2. Corndoggies

Besides their delectable corndogs (Jalapeno Chicken Gouda and the Mac N’ Cheese dog), their beet fries are a must!  These divine pink fries have the perfect flavor with their house sauce.  Don’t be surprised by the color it comes out in the morning. ;-)

3. Bigs Meat Wagon

Their roasted corn is a must! This tasty deliciousness makes for an easy eat while waiting in line or cruising the park.

4. Silver Seed

Don’t be frightened by this all vegan truck because WOW.  If you are a beet feen like us, try the beet lemonade, you won’t be sorry.  You also cannot go wrong with one of the trips (The Good Trip, The Great Trip or el Buen Viaje), which is a tasty sandwich showcasing artichokes with three different flavor palates.

5. Ba-nom-a-nom

Of course you have to indulge in some dessert, and this is the best of kinds, fruit!  This tasty truck turns fruit into soft serve ice cream for a healthier, dairy free treat for all.  You can’t pass up the classic banana with peanut butter on top.

The Tramp About

The Tramp About

This is one of our favorite places to eat in Fort Collins.  Not just one of our favorite food trucks but one of the best places to grab a bite in the area.  They have been around for 2 ½ years and continue to put out great food in fun environments around town.

We sat down with Tim and talked a little about the wonderful food experience known as The Tramp About…

Tim and Brandon are the architects behind the truck.  Before opening, they worked the Jax Fish House food cart.  Both have traveled all around the United States and that’s where they get their inspiration for the menu.  From the Po’ Boy to the Cubano to the Pulled Pork Tacos you can find foods fashioned after various fairs around the country.  Aside from their fan favorites they often rotate their menu every few weeks.  This is where the name stems.  Tramp About is an unknowing nod to Mark Twains A Tramp Abroad, the owners picked the name and then discovered the book later, the fit was perfect.  It’s all about taking a culinary adventure through various regions known for their eclectic style.  From New Orleans to Portland you can travel the states with your taste buds.

The truck owners learned how to perfect their process while working for various restaurants and really tasting the food.  Tim gave us a great example of how to really focus on the details of the food.  For instance a BLT can easily be ruined but can just as easily become a delicacy by placing the right ingredients in the right places.  This attention to detail shows up in every dish served from the crafty little cart.

We asked Tim what his favorite places to grab a bite here in town at the moment are.  Jax Fish House, Nick’s Homestyle and The Silver Seed are among the favorite places he tends to indulge his cravings.

The Tramp About is one of the best places to eat in and around town.  You can find them at the food truck rally and regularly at Odell on Thursday and Sunday.  New Belgium gets them on Fridays and they post up at Weldwerks in Greeley on Saturdays.  Next time you see them check these guys out, you will not be disappointed.

Behind the address 415

Behind the address 415

When we think about places to take out of town guests Restaurant 415 on Mason always comes to mind.  It is the perfect mix of healthy and not so healthy and really has food for all types of eaters.

Five years ago Restaurant 415 opened its doors.  Head chef and part owner, Amelia Mouton is a self-taught chef that grew up in a family with parents who loved to cook.  Similar to the menu, Amelia based the menu like her parents cooking, her Mother liked to cook fresh and light while her Father loved to cook more comfort heavy foods.

Amelia started off cooking for friends and family for fun and soon started to get hired out for catering gigs.  After catering and her friends telling her how much they enjoyed her food she realized maybe this is something she should take more seriously.  Amelia started off working at a Whole Foods in Austin, TX where she learned a lot about various foods she would later incorporate into her menu.

As a woman in the kitchen and born in Fort Collins, CO, Amelia had a good size hill to climb.  Growing up a vegetarian, she wanted to run a restaurant for those with food allergies.  With her creative energy she was able to build the delicious menu at Restaurant 415.  Her favorite things to cook are vegetables, especially squash which shows since it is our favorite spaghetti squash we have had hands down.  To keep the creativity going without having to switch the menu favorites, the staff is now hosting leisure hour during the week with delicious seasonal specials.

Besides working hard to keep her restaurant a local favorite, Amelia has made a couple of rounds on Food Network.  She was on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives the second year in business.  Naturally being nervous on national television and a show we have all seen millions of times, Amelia describes Guy as fun and easy to work with.  She laughs till this day getting requests for signed menus via phone calls.

Her second round on Food Network was with Guy’s Grocery Games a year later.  Let’s just say this was a challenging experience, sounding exactly how it looks on the show.

Besides the amazing menu and delicious local goods, we had to ask about the favorite cocktails.  Each juice used in the cocktails is hand juiced daily.  They have a very premium and distinctive flavor and try to focus on the simple aspect so they help elevate the food.  As Amelia described it, “A little bit classy and a little bit trashy.”

If you have not been to Restaurant 415 or if it has been awhile we suggest you go and try some of our favorites including the bacon mac or crispy polenta. 

Feeling Social

Feeling Social

Walking around Old Town you may not notice this hidden gem hiding beneath Tula Boutique.  A clock glowing on the sidewalk catches your eye, as you make your way down the stairs you wonder what awaits you at the bottom.  Just outside the door you see a stone pineapple (a symbol of hospitality and the main symbol for Social).  As you open the door you are greeted with soft lights and the low murmur of folks sparking up conversations with perfect strangers in the style of a speakeasy from yesteryear.  From a 21 year old enjoying their first legal drink to a grandma sipping her favorite whiskey you never know who you might meet at Social.

We sat down with Nate and learned a little more about what makes Social tick.  Nate grew up in Kremmling, CO and found himself bartending at a country club in Iowa and then later worked at a bank for a time in Minnesota.  Family brought him back to Fort Collins and he realized the service industry was calling him back.  He saw an open barback position at a new interesting bar here in Fort Collins and quickly climbed the company ladder.

Social has been a part of the Fort Collins food and drink scene for just over 3 ½ years and continues to climb to the top of locals and visitors favorite places to grab a craft cocktail.  Head bartender Raffi is a bonafide cocktail and flavor master.  Every time you take a sip your tongue is surprised at the wonderful balance of flavors.  Social tries to use as much local and Colorado spirits as they can while still keeping their drinks up to the highest quality.  Since the opening, over 200 different cocktails have been featured on the menu.  Just about every time you go in you can find a new interesting cocktail you haven’t tried before.

Aside from the topnotch cocktails served at Social they have a surprisingly tasty selection of edible treats.  It’s quite amazing to see what comes out of the limited kitchen.  From the wonderful charcuterie plates to the always go to blistered shishito peppers (a Savoring Fort Collins favorite) you will not be hard pressed to find a great snack to pair with your favorite beverage. 

Social has great specials running throughout the week as well.  Monday is service industry night.  If you are in the industry stop by after 8pm and receive a free small meal on the house.  Every week the kitchen staff will whip up a different tasty meal from scratch for your enjoyment.  On Tuesday night they have all night happy hour.  On Wednesday night they have community punch night.  It is only $3 for each glass so if you have a rough day stop by for a little hump day relief.  Thursday night is 20% off wine.  Stay tuned for the new summer lineup coming soon. There are sure to be some new favorites on the menu.

Social is a wonderful place to celebrate, hang out with old friends or possibly meet a few new friends.  So come get “Social” at one of the best-known unknown spots in town.

Silver to Gold, Seed to Leaf

Silver to Gold, Seed to Leaf

When some people hear vegan they tend to get a little scared.  When you try The Gold Leaf Collective all of your worries will melt away. 

Taylor Smith, owner of the well-known Silver Seed food truck has done it again with the new restaurant on Laurel, The Gold Leaf Collective.  Between the food truck, the restaurant, the bakery and the catering company him and his staff can really explore the wonders of the local fresh food scene.

Taylor is originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan and came here January 1st, 2014 to sprout up a food truck here in Fort Collins, CO.  With Fort Collins lovin’ on local it was the perfect fit for his exciting new twist on a food truck, The Silver Seed.  With a number of local farms available here in Fort Collins and their willingness to collaborate with local business it seemed like a perfect city. The name comes from the beautiful silver color that happened to be underneath when they were cleaning up the truck. 

Originally it was to be a healthy food truck but some new friends and a new look on life pushed him to try an all vegan truck.  Taylor and his great staff are working in collaboration with a number of local farms in the area to form a rotating fresh menu you can’t find anywhere else.  The menu will rotate about every two weeks or so using as much of the food they can, no waist is a big part of the restaurants culture.  They really focus on keeping all of their food as local as it can be.  It’s a risk if the local farms have a rough year but trust me it is completely worth it once you have a taste.  It is a very rewarding and tasty experience to eat food grown by your neighbors.

One of the coolest things about the restaurant is the atmosphere.  It is so very relaxing and welcoming., candles, waterfalls and plants surround you.  Taylor explained it best “It’s like scrap booking in a room”.  As you look around you notice more and more interesting little things, for instance the tops of the lights are the same as the water cups.  I feel like every time you go in there will be something new that will jump out at you.  You really get to feel close to the chefs creating in the kitchen; the chefs themselves deliver the food to your table as soon as it is prepared ensuring the freshest taste and presentation you can expect.  It is all about connecting with your food and where it comes from.  As Taylor said it best “It’s a soul feeding experience”.

If you’re afraid of the word vegan think again and try the Gold Leaf Collective. Keep an eye out for some local events and classes they will be offering as well as a liquor license, can’t wait to see what they will do with that! Visit for more information.

More than just a corndog

More than just a corndog

When people ask me about John Lawyer, one word always comes to mind to describe him, passionate.  The Corndog King of Northern Colorado is so much more than a corndog slinger; he is an Asian inspired chef, as well as a flavor cuisine rock star whom just so happened to grow up in an Italian restaurant in Longmont, Colorado.

John actually started his journey in the food scene as early as thirteen working at an Italian place with his family.  He remembered growing up loving the kitchen and even asking for a blender for his birthday in 8th grade.

He started taking cooking seriously when living in Springfield, IL working in an Asian restaurant where he became the Sous Chef.  He ended up helping open a couple of Asian restaurants, learning the art of sushi and other delicious Asian cuisine until he was able to purchase his own restaurant.  Besides the typical cuisine he also loved experimenting adding pop rocks into his Firecracker roll long before it became a popular concept.

Once he realized it was time to come back to Colorado, John sold the business and went back to school for respiratory therapy.  As rewarding as this career was and still is for him, he missed the creative aspect he had with cooking and decided to jump back in the game.

John and his co-owner Natalie are big into cycling and one day were riding up Left Hand Canyon to Ward, CO when they noticed a street sign in the woods.  The street sign read, “Lickskillet Road” and they thought how awesome of a name that would be for a café one day.  Later, they made a fake restaurant on Facebook and started posting photos of the meals John was cooking for her and their friends and they started getting calls for reservations to their restaurant which is when the idea of the food truck was born (Lickskillet is now the name of John’s catering company).

They found the truck in Loveland, bought it, sat on it for a bit then finally gutted it and turned it into the famous Corndoggies truck we all know and love today.   This truck was not always going to be a corndogs truck but John knew he wanted to do a retro food and make it modern and Corndoggies was born.  They went to a white trash 4th of July party, pulled up in their new truck and jokingly made all of these mini dogs for their friends.  The joke ended up being on them because they were a huge hit and after more and more friends told them how much they loved them they realized, this was the food they needed to do with their truck.

As many of you can agree, Corndoggies is a much loved Fort Collins staple.  Just between you and us, a second Corndoggies truck is on the way! Personally, having been to a couple of John’s special dinners we cannot wait to see what this chef has up his sleeve in the world beyond corndogs.  Keep an eye and an ear out for their new ramen experience…

The Taste of Loveland

The Taste of Loveland

The Taste of Loveland has always been a favorite event of mine all the way back to when I used to work it for a local restaurant.  The number of booths when you walk in the door seem to stretch beyond your imagination.  Whether you’re a beer, wine, spirit enthusiast or just a lover of food this is definitely the event for you.  For only $45.00 a head you can have all the food and beverage you desire conveniently placed in a warm inviting atmosphere. 

When you first walk in the door you are greeted by the very friendly staff who then take you to choose your glassware, beer taster or wine taster.  While we chose the beer taster it does not limit you to only drinking beer.  You may rinse your glass and are free to enjoy the wonderful selection of wine and spirits at your disposal as well.  With glass in hand we were set loose on the droves of vendors spread across the floor.

One of our first stops and one of our favorites for a while was the wonderful brewery Crooked Stave.  We first discovered these guys at another local event and have been totally obsessed ever since.  They are a Denver based brewery that really excels in the sour beer game.  After hitting a couple more beer vendors we quickly realized we needed some food and quick.  The hardest part of the event is choosing your next culinary adventure.  As the tantalizing smell of chicken wings wafted passed our nostrils we knew that would be the perfect pairing to the satisfying suds we had in our hands.  Enter Wing Shack… now with locations all throughout Northern Colorado it has always been a favorite of ours.  The Garlic Hot wings went down quite nicely and we could have stayed there and continued to gorge on those tasty little birds but knew we had other people to see and food to eat. 

We next decided to switch it up and go on the hunt for some local spirits.  That’s the beauty of events like this, you can step out of your box and really get to try things you wouldn’t often try out on the streets.  We spotted a vendor hat we had heard many good things about from friends in the area, Dancing Pines.  They offered things like Chai Bourbon, Black Walnut Bourbon Liqueur and Spiced Rum among many other tantalizing liquids that we had to avoid for the time being.  We were certainly not disappointed by any of them! 

Next we set out to find more food for our swimming bellies.  We spotted one of our favorite Loveland area eateries Door 222, always such a wonderful experience with them.  As we scanned the growing crowd of patrons and vendors we decided some artisan cheese and meets would do us right.  After cramming down some delicious charcuterie from surprising enough the one and only King Soopers we headed out to find something to satisfy our sweet tooth.  We headed over to a local favorite Donut Haus and enjoyed some classic but ever so tasty Chocolate iced donuts.  We chased the donut with a newly discovered favorite, Nooku Bourbon Cream.  So sweet and so much wonderful flavor in such a small glass.

Where else can you grab a plate of chicken wings, sushi rolls and donuts and chase it down with a tasty beer followed by a nip of your favorite liquor?  That is the joy and wonder that is The Taste of Loveland!

Hops + Vine Dinner

Hops + Vine Dinner

We made our way into Mainline Ale House and sat in the private glass window room with a great group of people.  Every table looked welcoming, and ready for the delicious foods and drinks to come.

Our first course included compressed fruit salad w/ fresh honeydew, pineapple, watermelon, balsamic caviar pearls paired with Perambulation Ale from Horse & Dragon Brewing and Big Easy Chenin Blanc from South Africa.  The compressed fruit looked luscious with amazing flavor and color. The balsamic caviar was a perfect touch.   The beer was absolutely wonderful, only made once a year and each generation being different always makes it interesting.  For an ale, it had a sour touch to it while still being refreshing, this is one we have to get our hands on again.   The Big Easy Chenin Blanc (a winery owned by the one and only Ernie Els) was also delicious and light with this delightful pairing.

For the second course we enjoyed pork belly steam buns, brown sugar pears and toasted pine nuts paired with Agitated Aardvark IPA from Horse & Dragon and Chime Pinot Noir, from California.  Claire has always wanted to try steam buns and boy did they not disappoint, so very tasty.  The brown sugar pears were a great touch with the pork belly.  The hops in the IPA were a great pairing with the mellow flavors of the sandwich and the Noir really complemented the buns as well.

The third course included Colorado lamb rack, curry whipped potato and charred romanesco paired with Scottish Tradesman Coconut Porter from Horse & Dragon and The Pundit Syrah, from Washington.  The curry whipped potatoes were the best.  The flavor of both the curry and potato came out nicely without overpowering the other, which made this a wonderful marriage of two foods.  Both drinks in the third course were delicious and really brought the meal together.

For the fourth and final course we had strawberry shortcake and white chocolate mousse paired with Citrus Fiesta from Horse & Dragon Brewing and 14 Hands Sparkling Rose from Washington.  The strawberry shortcake was served in a very inventive way, white chocolate mousse and jello making up the layers.  The Citrus Fiesta was on the sour side, which was great to cut the sugar and the 14 Hands Sparkling Rose was delicious and great on its own.

We ended the night after meeting some great new people and having the always wonderful feeling of a full satisfied belly.

Perfect Pairing: A night with the Moot House and Ballast Point Brewing

Perfect Pairing: A night with the Moot House and Ballast Point Brewing

As we walked into the Moot House, the English style pub, we were excited to see what the beer dinner with Ballast Point Brewing would bring.   It was a fun setting and a good opportunity to meet some new interesting people.

As we got to know each other, our first beer arrived at the table, Sculpin IPA.  A refreshing beer paired with one of our favorite dishes, Korean fried chicken, scallion guanchong gastrique, with a hoisin barbecure sauce.  The chicken was lightly breaded and the greens and sauce were delightful together with the beer.

The next brew delivered to our table was a blackberry sour winch.  This was our favorite beer of the evening.  Served beautifully to our table was diver sea scallop, pea shoots, blackberry reduction, with fennel essence.  The scallop was cooked perfectly and the thick piece of bacon was a wonderful surprise hiding beneath.  It really mellowed out the tartness of the sour beer making it a great match.

The following beer was Manta Ray, an employee competition made IPA.  This tasty beer was paired with the most surprising and delicious dish of the evening, bhuna gost, Colorado lamb, tap root puree and mint chutney.  This was an amazing dish resembling a stew that was definitely a highlight.

Next up, Bourbon Barrel Aged Tongue Buckler (a great name for a beer) paired with maple leaf duck, “cascabel” butter, accompanied with maytag blue cheese polenta.  The sauce on the duck was delicious and paired nicely with the blue cheese polenta, not overdone on the blue cheese.

Dan loved our next dish, spinalis dorsi, langosta, chard, “vitellote” puree.  The steak was cooked rare with a similar surf and turf touch with the lobster piece on top.  Both pieces were served deliciously over “vitellote” puree, a yummy purple potato mash.  This dish was nicely paired with Victory at Sea, a coffee porter.

Last but not least was the vanilla bean geniuses white chocolatier mousse, bulls blood “essence”, sea salt pistachio sable paired with Red Velvet, a blonde beer with a hint of beets giving it that velvety red color.  This dessert was perfect, not too sweet but really left the mouth watering.  The white chocolatier mousse was delicious with the moist pieces of cake.  The pieces of sea salt pistachio sable was a perfect touch to top it all off.

After coming here we were a little ashamed and embarrassed that we had never been to the Moot House before.  It has been a Fort Collins staple for years and you better believe we will be back as we were treated to such a wonderful dining experience.

Daddy Cakes Bakery: One bite at a time

Daddy Cakes Bakery: One bite at a time

Are you looking for a place that will make your wedding cake? Looking to grab a pastry and a cup of coffee? Or looking to grab a quick lunch? Look no further than your local neighborhood bakery, Daddy Cakes!  We stopped by and asked them a few questions and sampled some of the goods.  We were not disappointed.

Daddy Cakes is located at 514 S. College Avenue next to Big City Burrito.  Rudy and Angi Burns came from Arkansas and purchased Babette’s Feast, a local catering company in September of 2011.  After doing that for a while they got excited to grow from a catering company into a retail bakery.  The name comes from their friends and family calling them Mom and Dad. They are open from 7-4 Monday through Friday and 7-2 on Saturdays, closed on Sundays.  You can also find some of their pastries in local businesses around town.

Daddy Cakes concentrates on mainly…cakes.  Yes they are great at making cakes, for different occasions such as weddings, birthdays and just the average Tuesday that needs a cake.  If you just want a slice you can always go that route as well.  The bakery even has cake stations where you can watch the artists at work.  Rudy said it reminded him of the old pizza parlors.  The owners really foster an environment of creativity that focuses on making the cake look great while also tasting great.  The staff consists of the Burns and four other employees.  They also offer quiche, sandwiches, salads and a variety of both sweet and savory croissants, and magic bars (really quite addicting) as well as carrot cake, flourless chocolate torte, lemon bars, scones and it goes on.  Is your mouth watering yet?   You can wash it all down with the great coffee they offer.  They made their own house blend choosing the roasting temperature to the type of bean used.  They get this coffee through an organization that deals more in direct purchasing and as the owner put it is “coffee with a purpose”.  Oh and a little bit of an inside tip… donuts may be on the way.

The one thing that stuck with me other than the delicious treats was what the owner said his mission was with this bakery, to simply feed others.  That about says it all to me.  So stop by and grab a smile and a pastry.

Feast of The Seven Fishes at Jax Fish House

Feast of The Seven Fishes at Jax Fish House

We didn’t know eating seafood was such a long-standing tradition on Christmas Eve but when we found out Jax Fish House was hosting we had to go see what it was all about.

We weren’t sure what we were in for but our lust for new and interesting food has taken us on a wonderful food adventure and we were excited to see what was ahead.  The restaurant was bustling with the anticipation of the night ahead.  We didn’t know if we would be eating family style or what the set up might be and it turned out we have a relaxing meal for two.

The feast began with a gorgeous plate consisting of Big Eye Tuna Crudo, Sweet Potato Crab Arancini and Oysters on the Half Shell paired with a sparkling wine.  The tuna tasted so fresh and delightful.  The Crab Arancini was one of the best things we had and the Oysters (a fairly new food for us) had a nice vinegar pickle taste to them.  The sparkling wine was a nice way to wake up the taste buds at the beginning of the meal.  The nice dry light taste was a great sidekick to our beautiful dinner guests on the plate.

The second course was not to disappoint, Insalata Mista and Baked Cherry Stone Clams, both so good.  The Insalata Mista had fried anchovy, grilled baby octopus, gigante beans, arugala, cauliflower, olive and cured egg yolk with an anchovy vinaigrette.  Octopus isn’t usually something we cross the street for but this was so surprisingly tasty we found ourselves looting the bowl of the little creatures.  The Cherry Stone clams had a nice parmesan crumble that was fantastic.  The Chardonnay paired very well.

The third course was the mother of them all.  Pan Roasted Swordfish with gnocchi ala romana and hazel dell mushroom bolegnase with Raito Bianco Mussels on the side paired with one of our all time favorite types of wine, Pinot Noir. The swordfish isn’t something we often see on a menu but rest assured it will be something we look for in the future.  The fish was so well cooked and the mushrooms were a surprisingly nice companion to the fish. The mussels were swimming in the most wonderful and creamy buttery broth that made me want to forget my manners and hoist the bowl to my lips.  

For dessert we were presented with Zeppoles along with a pomegranate crème anglaise and biscotti break caramel.  By this point of the meal we were quite well satisfied but we of course found room for these crispy sweet little balls of wonder.

As we made our way out the door in a seafood and wine fog we knew this was a great way to start our Christmas Eve and might possibly be a new tradition for Savoring Fort Collins.

Cranked Up Coffee

Cranked Up Coffee

During the Caffeine Crawl this past August, we got to experience the amazing Cranked Up Coffee.  Since we are huge fans of beer on nitro, we knew nitro coffee had to be just as amazing and it was!  After this experience we had to learn more about Larry, the owner of Cranked Up Coffee and what inspired him to start his business.

1.  What made you decide to dip into the coffee world?

I have always enjoyed working on machines as well as cooking and 3 years ago started building a home coffee roaster. After extensive research and trial and error I built several roasters always striving to make the contraption better. With this process I gained a great amount of coffee knowledge and fell in love with extracting so many different flavors, some subtle, some strong. 

After working in the trades as an hvac mechanic for most of my life I wanted to enjoy something new where I could apply my skill set, be outside riding, and share something with others they will appreciate. Voila Cranked Up Coffee

2.  Why nitro coffee/tea?

I read about nitro coffee almost 2 years ago and knew before even trying it that it would be delicious. I ordered commercial equipment shortly after with out tasting it before hand and was right. The body that nitro coffee has when made properly is like a soft velvety and bubbly stream of smooth flavor. 

There are so many different types of coffee that produce different flavors when infused with nitrogen. No two will be the same and much like beer different brewers will have different flavor profiles and methods. It can be as simple or as complex as one wants to make it. I enjoy continuously striving for  better flavor extraction and smooth texture. It is liquid alchemy.

3. Where do you get your coffee beans?

I source my beans from local roasters in Fort Collins and the front range including Peritus who has an amazing espresso blend, Cafe Richesse who source beans from their own family's plantation in Brazil, Copper Door in Denver who roasts fully on wind and solar power and am excited to continue featuring other Fort Collins roasters on our rotating tap. 

4. Where can people find your cart? When?

People can find Cranked Up Coffee's nitro coffee bike on SW corner of Mountain and College by Rare Italian Cuisine most days of the week 10-2 sometimes in earlier in the AM and often later in the PM or Call for delivery 970-237-0334 (business and home).  We can also be found at many events all over town and are available for booking, weddings, business meetings, parties and hangovers we got what you need. Cranked Up Coffee can also be found at Tap and Handle at 307 S College Ave. 

5. What made you choose Fort Collins?

I chose to start a business Fort Collins because I have lived here for 5 years and love it. Craft beer brewing and bikes, now craft coffee is on the rise! This town is always pushing itself to become better resulting in new and interesting businesses.

6. What are your top coffee shops in town when going out?

I have always enjoyed relaxing at the Wild Boar Cafe on South College.

7. What's your favorites hobby or hobbies?

I enjoy hiking and camping, sometimes in more extreme environmental settings. I'm a sci fi and fantasy nerd for sure and I like throwing the lacrosse ball around or just sitting on the lawn at City Park. 


Come and check out Cranked Up's other drink offerings nitro matcha green tea, nitro spiced black tea, spicy n sweet ginger bubbly, made to order nitro cream soda. Nitro coffee frappes with chocolate sauce drizzled on top and coming soon gourmet muffins and pastries. Best gluten free muffin ever.

The Brewers Table @ New Belgium

The Brewers Table @ New Belgium

Beer and food and food and beer.  There are few things that put a smile on my face more than these two things, but when you put them together they can make the other one that much better.

Pairing a good beer with good food is an art and a craft.  It has been gaining more and more traction and sliding right in there next to a good wine pairing.  Beer as we all know is a big part of the Fort Collins food scene.  That is why The Brewers Table, a beer and restaurant team from Austin, Texas decided to try out this fairly new concept with us here in our lovely city.

New Belgium was gracious enough to provide a wonderful setting for this taste bud party.  As we entered the confines of the brewery we were ushered up to a beautiful room where we would be partaking in our food and beer experience.  We were then greeted with a fire roasted cauliflower chip and dip with smoked trout roe, wow what a treat for the tongue.  As the roe still lingered delicately we headed for the bar to see what exciting new beers awaited us.  First up to bat was the Sour Blended Saison.  Lately sours have been on the forefront of my beer brain and this one did not disappoint.  As we made our way to our seats we noticed the tables weren’t adorned with the usual salt and pepper.  On each table we were presented with fresh hop salt, beer wort pickles, spiced brewer’s yeast, fermented pear buttermilk dressing and malted vinegar. We made sure to try each and every thing.  The pickles covered in the spiced yeast and pear dressing was just the right thing to get our palate primed for more.

As we were getting to know our fellow beer and food lovers at the table, the next course was emerging from the recesses of the brewery.  Fall squash barbeque with charred vegetable tare and blistered brassicas with pecan sauce and smoked goat feta, paired with an imperial coffee sour stout, wow…  The squash was sliced in half and filled with a succulent pecan sauce making it one of the favorites of the night.

Now that our mouths had been entertained we were ready for the main attraction, the meat.  First out was the grilled Alamosa striped bass with boiled potatoes (the hop salt and malted vinegar was a welcome addition) paired with a whiskey barrel aged Fat Tire.  Sometimes whiskey barrel aged beers can be a little much for us but this one had an amazing nose any plastic surgeon would be happy to call their own.  Some might find it tough to eat something that is staring back at you from the plate but picking the meat from the bones of a big gorgeous fish is a great experience everyone needs to try.  Just as our belts were starting to protest we were presented with a most enticing rotisserie Texas lamb shoulder with fire roasted alliums matched with the ever tasty blackberry Oscar.  You can always taste the extra love that goes into a slow roasted prime cut of meat and this one had a lot of love.

No great foodie experience is without a great desert to bring it all together.  Poached apples and pears with brown butter sable and wort cream paired with a honey orange tripel.  Need I say more?

We have never had a good reason to go to Texas but we can’t wait to take a trip to Austin and see these guys in their natural habitat!

Salmon Bake at Sunset

Salmon Bake at Sunset

We find ourselves walking down a dirt road with the faint sound of laughter and joyous conversation growing ever so slightly louder.  As we approach with loaded anticipation a line of barrels cut in half are smoldering to our right, tents are filled with various tasty libations to our left and a small band drapes the seen with the velvety sound of smooth rock.

First order of business is seeing just what the smiling faces are offering under the tent to our left.  On the table we see jars with an alluring green liquid, Northern Lights.  A local cocktail concocted from Jax Fish House with Old Town Distilling Vodka, Lemonade, Cucumber Puree, Drumroll Pale Ale and Native Hill Basil.  For me any cocktail with cucumber is gonna catch my fancy, and this one did not disappoint.  Refreshing and just slightly tart it paired extremely well with the oysters offered alongside.  As we worked on our second Northern Lights, servers emerged from the prep tent carrying trays with some interesting appetizers proudly displayed atop.  We enjoyed many tasty treats from Jax Fish House including Tomato and Yuzu Gazpacho with Cucumber Kimchi, Crab Tater Tots with Arugula Aioli and Smoked Trout piled on top of Beet Chips and Crème Fraiche.  The problem with this is we could have eaten about a hundred of each and soon we found ourselves resisting the temptation to pluck any more of the tasty morsels from there perch.

As appetizer hour was being wrapped up and everyone around was glowing a little from the cocktails, we were directed to the long family style dinner table.  The backdrop of the farm and the foothills conjured up feelings of a fairy tale land where all the people from town gather at a huge table and share a feast foraged from the ever giving land around them.  Soon we were seated and exchanging pleasantries with the folks around us.  We enjoyed a very tasty salad made by Jax Fish House with Native Hill spicy greens, quatrix lola rosa (still not too sure what this is), carrots, pickled beans and walnuts all gently blanketed with a roasted fennel vinaigrette.  This paired extremely well with the Zard-Alu Sour Apricot from Odell Brewing and provided just the right transition to the main attraction, the Salmon.

Remember those barrels set ablaze earlier?  The glorious pink salmon filets were placed on long steaks and were angled just above the flaming barrels to impart a natural smoky wonderfulness that can’t quite be described in this short blog.  The beautiful mountains of salmon were accompanied with Bacon Braised Collard Greens, Potato and Turnip Au Gratin and Chilled Ramen Salad creating an eating experience rivaled by few.  The feeling of community was overflowing all around us.  There is just nothing quite like sitting at a giant table with large platters of glorious cuisine being passed all around.

Just when I didn’t think it was possible to put any more food inside my bulging belly, the Farmers Cupcakes arrived.  Chocolate Beet, Carrot and Blue Hubbard Squash…  Holy moly were these just the right touch to top of an already fantastic experience. 

As this was only the second annual Harvest Moon Salmon Bake we can only hope there will be many more to come and that we are lucky enough to share in this old world way of connecting with the people and community around us.  

Brick + Mortar: the pop-up dinner experience

A local chef and a few interested food enthusiasts have taken over the Welsh Rabbit Bistro every Sunday.   Come on by or call and get your name on a seat, Josie Sexton will be waiting to walk you through a very enticing foodie experience.

This is a new concept coming here to Fort Collins, a pop-up restaurant.  The name is Brick + Mortar.

They have both brunch and dinner that is constantly rotating from week to week.  Local chef Cameron Trezoglou has a month long collaboration with the restaurant and is serving up some exciting and interesting food.  The focus is on local home grown ingredients, a lot of which you wouldn’t guess is from around here.

We went for dinner and tried some wonderful options.  One of our favorite things we had was the salad foraged from areas around Fort Collins.  The edible flowers not only looked amazing on the salad they added some great flavor.  The smoked trout was cooked to perfection and had a most enjoyable smoky flavor without being overpowering.  Perhaps the best part of the meal was the sunflower ice cream, with one special way to present it, dry ice.  The ice cream was placed in a ramekin on top a bed of dry ice and a bit of water was poured in to activate the ice and produce a smoky ambiance you have to experience.

It always feels great to support local business and it tastes great to eat local.  This place hits both of those points right on the head.  I definitely recommend giving them a call and getting your name on the list for the next great culinary adventure.

Life of a chocoholic

Life of a chocoholic

With the two-year anniversary of Nuance Chocolates coming up we decided to ask the owner Toby Gadd a few questions.

Why did you decide to open a chocolate shop?

I just love chocolate that is the main reason.  I was born a chocoholic, when I was a kid I would always trade my candy items for chocolate after Halloween.  My wife and I took a trip to Costa Rica and toured a chocolate museum where you made a simple chocolate at the end and it was almost bizarre how good it was.  Soon after we were purchasing thousands of dollars of equipment to make chocolate for fun.  I got to a point where I just didn’t want to be in the corporate environment anymore and sold my previous business and soon our hobby turned into a business.

How did you come up with the name Nuance?

My wife and I would go on walks with our dog and would munch on chocolate and we would discuss the various subtleties and nuances each different chocolate had to offer.  We made lists and Nuance was always on the list.  There are as much as 600 different flavor compounds in chocolate making it more diverse than most foods.  This definitely makes it hard to get bored.

What is your favorite chocolate?

That’s a tough question.  It all depends on what time of day it is or what I may be drinking at the time. Much like all of the great beer in town I may like a good crisp pale ale after a bike ride or a nice dark porter on a cold night.  Chocolate is very similar in that respect.

What does Nuance offer?

We have milk, flavored milk, dark and single origin bars.   At this moment we have forty-three different bars in the case. We currently have nineteen single origin bars, largest selection in the world.  We have sipping chocolates and brewing chocolate and chocolate with coffee and other great drinks with chocolate.   We also have hand rolled truffles, nibs for baking, cacao powder and a few other things.  Our factory is just two blocks away on Oak Street. Choosing the right cocoa bean is important we only accept about twenty percent of the beans we receive to make chocolate.  We are very serious about getting ethically and sustainably sourced beans.

What is your favorite drink in Old Town?

The Fort Collins beer scene is good in my opinion.  It’s hard to choose a favorite.  I really like the Spicy Punjabi at Cooper Smiths, any beer on the porch at Odell is great, Snowbank has one that uses my chocolate that I also really love.

What is your favorite desert to get in town?

Honestly I really like my chocolate a lot.  Copper Muse has a sipping chocolate with rum that is really tasty (Nuance and Copper Muse did this before for a special event, it is not available year round).  The Kitchen made a hazelnut tort using our Madagascar chocolate that was amazing!  Frozen yogurt is always a family favorite. 

What local vendors have you collaborated with?

We have done things with Feisty Spirits, Copper Muse, Coffee Registry, Bean Cycle, Golden Poppy and a number of breweries around town including: Odell, New Belgium, Snowbank and 1933.  We also have done a little with Blue Skys Winery and Savory Spice.  We also have joined up with The Lyric where we provided some tasty samples to go with the movie Chocolate.  I love to always support local. 

What is your favorite activity to do around town?

I have always loved cycling and mountain biking.  I love just being around the Old Town Area and being a part of the local community.

Why a Goat as the mascot?

It has always kind of been a family mascot.  My wife grew up with goats around.  Goats are very prevalent in regions around the world that grow cacao.  And honestly they are just fun goofy animals that we like.

Who doesn't love coffee?

Who doesn't love coffee?

With the world of craft beer and liquor growing steadily, people often forget about the other part of the ever growing specialty beverage industry.  I’m talking about the drinks that shake us from our nightly slumbers and help us take on the challenges of everyday life, and after a night with its more “spirited” cousin it is often the only thing lifting our heads from our pillows, caffeine! 

Sure the other side of the craft beverage world helps us deal with the worries and problems of the day, hopefully after the day is done, but millions upon millions of people around the world turn to caffeine to face the day ahead.  Here in Fort Collins we have a good number of specialty coffee and tea shops with friendly and knowledgeable staff.  But how do you know which one to go to?  Well SavoringFortCollins and The Lab Team are here to help.  The Lab Team has established a fun new way to explore the local beverage seen, The Caffeine Crawl.

On our crawl we went to five different stops around Old Town.  We started with the local chocolate shop, Nuance.  This is where we checked in with Sadie and got our schedule of events along with a goody bag full of coffee samples and other fun items.  Now I know this isn’t a coffee or tea shop but they do serve special chocolate drinks, often mixed with coffee.  Coffee and chocolate has and will forever be a great duo so what better place to start our journey than with coffees sweet mistress.  The owner gave a really interesting and fun lesson on where chocolate comes from and why he started his business as we got to try various samples.  It turns out chocolate has a lot more going on than just milk or dark. 

Next we stopped at Bean Cycle, a local coffee shop that roasts their own beans!  Here we tried a drink that is traditionally from Central America.  One of the baristas gave us a step by step on how to make the drink, turns out he got the recipe from one of if not the oldest and most trusted methods of recipe retrieval, his mom. 

The next stop was one that we have never been to but were extremely interested to try, Cranked Up Coffee.  This is a one man coffee cart, but not just any old coffee cart.  As you come closer you see the word Nitro on the side of the cart.  If you have ever had a Nitro beer than the next time you see this cart stop and grab a cup.  The nitrous makes the cold brewed coffee naturally creamy and a little bit sweat with absolutely no cream or sugar added.  If you see him in the afternoon he often has nitro macha tea on his cart, haven’t tried it yet but you can be sure next time I see it I’m running after. 

On the way to our next caffeine fix we stopped at Revolution Artisan Pops.  Here they make homemade premium popsicles with as much local ingredients as they can get their hands on.  We tried the Harbinger Coffee with sweet cream pop and the Raspberry Hibiscus Pop.  Both were extremely tasty but I still prefer a little cream to enhance that flavor. 

Across the street we stopped at a local staple in the coffee community, Mugs.  They have been around for more than a decade serving great coffee and baked goods to the local community.  They have a shop both in Old Town as well as next to campus on Laurel so you can see how they have been so successful here in a city filled with young professionals and students alike.  They gave us a little break from the coffee side and we got to try some delicious tea and baked goods that were specifically paired for the day’s event.  The coconut oatmeal chocolate chip cookie was quite delightful paired with the Smiling Bear Chai. 

As our crawl was quickly turning to a caffeine fueled skip we headed for the final destination on our tour, Harbinger Coffee.  Here we learned just how different coffee tastes straight up as opposed to over ice.  Next thing we knew the owner brought out something I didn’t know was possible, coffee foam.  He had a whip cream dispenser and had concocted a way to make coffee flavored foam.  What an interesting way to top of the day (pun intended).

The Lab Team is based in Kansas City and here in Fort Collins but they do caffeine crawls throughout the United States so look for one near you.

Celebrating New Belgium’s 25th Anniversary with Jax Fish House benefiting Habitat for Humanity

Celebrating New Belgium’s 25th Anniversary with Jax Fish House benefiting Habitat for Humanity

I can truly say for how much I love salmon, I have never been to a salmon bake before and was not sure what to expect when showing up at New Belgium on this warm, sunny evening.  After meeting up with a friend we started exploring and noticed people gathering around the salmon bake itself.  While drooling over the large piece of salmon stretched out over wood blanks, my eyes looked to the fire pit and I noticed it was New Belgium half kegs cut in half.  That was such an interesting and cool site to see (and we do have photos on our Instagram account @savoringfortcollins).

Bofore the main course began I found myself enjoying a fruit fly passionfruit citra sour along with some delicious potato bacon skewers, beet pickled deviled eggs, cucumber gazpacho shooters, and oysters on the half shelf.  My two favorites were the potato bacon skewers (the thick bacon was absolutely amazing I craved it for days), the beet pickled deviled eggs were also a stunning addition and had a delicious pickled flavor which complimented the deviled egg itself.

Soon after we all sat down on picnic tables, family style, with classic place settings surrounded by wonderful people and a very inviting and comfortable environment.  This is when they served one of my favorite beers of the evening, the flowering citrus ale (which is a collaboration with de konink).  This beer was smooth, sweet, and what I would call the perfect summer beer.  Before the second course came out, we all enjoyed some great cheesy bread with butter.  Then we were served our next course, the snapshot braised beet salad with watermelon radish and fromage blanc, snapshot vinaigrette.  This salad was one of my favorites of the evening since I am such a huge fan of Native Hill Farms beets.  This was also my first time finally getting to enjoy the elusive watermelon radish, which was delicious! I will be on the hunt for this again this summer!

The third course included sides such as fat tire farro salad, garden sweet farms grilled kale, and fried rice lucero served with juicy mandarina ipa.  The fat tire farro salad included arugula, macerated tomato, feta, olive and gremolata vinaigrette.  This was absolutely dynamite.  These flavors paired together perfectly, and I will have to try to make something similar, key word is try. The garden sweet farms grilled kale included gigande beans and spring root soffrito. the kale had an amazing flavor.  The last side, the fried rice lucero, included native hill farms rapini and hazel dell mushrooms, which was also quite good.  After the sides came the main attraction, the thing that caught hold of my craving at the beginning of the night and never let go.  The fire roasted salmon with three dipping sauces…including Fresno cucumber aioli, bacon onion jam, and spring ratatouille vinaigrette.  The salmon and the spring ratatouille vinaigrette were absolutely mind blowing!  With the salmon they paired the ever scrumptious, aged cascara quad.

To top it all off they served the bing cherries jubilee with brown butter semolina pound cake, housemade ricotta and olive oil toasted almonds paired with one of my all time favorite beers, tart lychee!   This was the absolute cherry on top.  The pound cake was soft and sweet, but not overtly sweet.  The housemade ricotta I could not get enough of and the olive oil toasted almonds were just the right touch.

This dinner was extremely enjoyable.  I loved everything from the setting, to the family style servings and the opportunity to meet some great new people.  There just isn’t anything quite like eating a great meal paired with the perfect tasty craft brew.