Curb Your Hunger

Curb Your Hunger

Food truck… seen it.  Sandwich shop… seen it.  Put them together with a passionate team and great ingredients and you have something truly special.  Curbed Hunger is not your run of the mill sandwich truck.  From The Pickled Islander to The Figgy Stardust you are sure to find something you will both enjoy and make you question the sandwich choices you have made all your life.

Owner and operator Brennan McAuliffe before joining us here in beautiful Northern Colorado was managing a pizza restaurant up in Leadville, CO.  He wanted to step out on his own and use the knowledge and experience he had gained to start his own culinary adventure.  Sandwiches seemed like a simple enough transition from the pizza world so the food behind Curbed Hunger was born.  Along with his partners Allison Ziraldo and Jason Skinner they have come up with some very unique and tasty sandwiches but there is nothing simple about it.  We tried both two sandwiches I mentioned earlier and were not disappointed.  The Pickled Islander is made up of jerk braised pulled pork with jicama-fennel slaw and green chili crema and the Figgy Stardust consists of grilled steak with caramelized onion and fig jam with blue cheese crumbles and baby arugula.  If your mouth isn’t watering you may want to get that checked out.  You can tell from the ingredients I just mentioned that these are not your everyday meat and cheese sandwiches.  Each sandwich is made to order and is totally worth waiting a couple minutes.  You can taste how unique these sandwiches are with just one bite.  The jicama-fennel slaw was truly something I would never think of but tastes so very good (plus its fun to say). 

The food truck seen is continuing to thrive and we are very excited for that.  There is nothing like rolling up to one of your favorite breweries and seeing one of you favorite food trucks parked outside.  It’s a win win situation for everyone involved and that’s why Northern Colorado is such a great place to be.  The collaboration and comradery shown by the various places around here makes it a very special culinary hotspot.

If you haven’t tried Curbed Hunger we recommend hunting them down and reinventing what you thought a sandwich could be.  Take a look at curbedhunger.com for more information on catering and locations. 

Peel Away from the Everyday

Peel Away from the Everyday

Now we all know Fort Collins is overflowing with restaurants and food trucks and breweries but every now and again it’s good to venture out a little bit and see what other towns have to offer.  We recently were invited to Peel Handcrafted Pizza in Frederick, just south of Longmont.  The drive was absolutely worth the trip and some!

Peel Handcrafted Pizza has been open since 2015 and is the quintessential family owned and operated restaurant.  From the head chef to the wine expert just about everyone is in some way connected to the family.  The building was once a coffee shop and the wood in the restaurant is original to the local grocery store that used to be located next door.  They really put a huge enfaces on keeping their food as local as it can get and that really shines through in the fresh tasting ingredients. 

We started our meal with a cheese and meat board that would rival any we have tried.  The Maple Cheddar was one I wouldn’t mind having every day of the week and the beer pickles were something to write home about.  Next we had a Kale Salad that really highlighted the fresh local ingredients they stand for.  The Chardonnay they recommended was the perfect paring for this crisp tasty pile of greens.  We also tried one of the staffs cocktail she concocted, Taste of Sunshine, which we definitely recommend. After the salad we were then served a delicious Meatball and Pappardelle Pasta, which was a pasta with meatballs that I would definitely recommend.  As we were chatting with our friend Chea the main attraction arrived…the pizzas!  Now we have all have a favorite pizza place and we all eat pizza pretty regularly.  As you begin to venture out and try different pies you pick up certain flavors and textures that are special to that particular pizza.  One of the things we always look for is a good crust.  That to me is the trademark of a great pizza, you can pile any number of ingredients on top but if you don’t have a solid base to build on, the pizza is lost.  Peel definitely scored an A+ on their delightful dough.  We had the honor of trying two very delicious pizzas.  The first pizza, fungo, had 3 different types of mushrooms and truffle oil, definitely not your everyday.  It was so well balanced and never overwhelming.  Now we aren’t fungus fanatics but we have been forcing ourselves to try them more and more and are acquiring somewhat of a taste for them.  A great introduction to mushrooms is definitely atop a tasty pizza.  The other pizza was there classic pepperoni with a subtle but very intriguing twist.  No mozzarella used at all but instead parmesan was substituted.  This gave their pepperoni pizza a certain character all its own.  To top it all off they supplied us with 3 different deserts to try: the Lori Lees Truffle Trio, Chai Crème Brulee, and the Pie in a Jar.  All three were so good.  The truffles are actually from a local chocolate shop right down the street.  We definitely are huge fans of crème brulee and the chai mixed in was truly a treat for the taste buds as was the pie in a jar.  The drinks that we got to try stand alone all by themselves but they did a great job pairing certain wines and beers with the dishes that were served.  I wish we would have taken better notes on the beverages but I guess we will just have to make another trip back so we can learn more. 

Not only was the food so very tasty but the service was absolutely top notch.  They really went out of their way to make it a truly comfortable and inviting experience.  When you have wonderful food served by wonderful people you have a recipe for success.  Thank you for a great culinary experience from top to bottom.

Stop, Taco Time!

Stop, Taco Time!

Food truck work is hard work.  We have talked to multiple food trucks around the area and we have definitely learned how difficult it is to keep a good food truck working at tip-top shape.  We met the owners of The Taco Stop at their prep kitchen and learned a little more about the ins and outs of the business.

The Taco Stop has been around for five years and shows no sign of slowing down.  Owners Cesar and Berenice are hard at work keeping this mobile eatery running at full steam.  Berenice is originally from Texas and Cesar is from Mexico City so you know you are getting an authentic experience.  Cesar started his culinary career while living in Mexico City.  He sacrificed and learned all he could when he could.  He actually won some safety competitions at work, which allowed him to attend culinary school.  This helped him to hone his skills and recipes even further.  When they came to Fort Collins their dreams of owning a food truck quickly were realized.

The Taco Stop now consists of the original cart, the trailer and now the new addition to the taco family the truck.  The new truck is a stunning piece of machinery.  As you approach it you quickly see the beautiful colors but as you come closer you start to see more and more detail.  The Mexico City skyline surrounded by flying tacos is a truly awesome touch.  Aside from the absolute beauty the truck also offers a wider menu selection.  The Taco Stop is known for its amazing street tacos and quesadillas but the truck is allowing the team to spread its taco wings and include nachos, salad bowls, burritos and even breakfast!

As we spoke with the owners we got a great inside look at what it takes to keep them at the top of their game.  They are at their prep kitchen almost every day making it (as Berenice said) their second home.  We got to step inside the new truck and take a look around.  The trailer was a little tight but we were told the truck, among its other pluses, allows the taller guys to work more comfortably which  I can absolute appreciate.

Cesar and Berenice are among some of the more driven and focused owners we have met.  The love and care they show for their craft and their team is a most welcome and refreshing sight.  Cesars quote about how he is trying to run a business where every one from the top to the bottom benefits is how every business should run.

For more about The Taco Stop and more info about where you can find them visit their website www.thetacostopfoco.com.

ONO ... oh yes!

ONO ... oh yes!

The food truck scene here in Fort Collins is always evolving and growing.  They are elbowing their way into the food scene and don’t show any signs of slowing down.  The trucks around the area have some of the best finds to feed that hunger in all of Northern Colorado.  We recently found a new truck that will undoubtedly find its way into our regular rotation.

Ono Hawaiian Grindz meaning mainly delicious Hawaiian grub says it all.  We sat down with Elissa and Nate and learned a little about the truck and the inspiration behind the wonderful food.  Elissa’s family is from Hawaii so she grew up eating the local fair.  Nate and Elissa moved here from North Carolina about two years ago, it didn’t take long for them to see the opportunity for a new original truck to join the ranks.  The truck has been open since July 15th of this year and I’m guessing we will see them for some time.

After meeting with them we were extremely intrigued to try their food.  The very next night we took a trip out to Windsor to see our new friends and try some of the great things that made our mouths water the day before.  We couldn’t decide on what to get so we decided to try some of their favorites: the Poke Fries, Classic Spam Musubi and the Loco Moco Burger.  We ate until our eyes hurt but it was totally worth it.  The Poke Fries are hand cut with teriyaki marinated raw tuna, homemade crab dip and a spicy mayo on top.  I don’t see us ever going here without getting this.  The tuna was so fresh and wonderful.  The Spam Musabi was definitely one of my favorites.   A handheld snack composing of sushi rice, teriyaki spam, seasonings and green onion all wrapped in seaweed breaded in panko then deep-fried for that perfect crisp… so so good.  The Loco Moco burger was a great addition for those that just want to dip their toes into the world of Hawaiian food.

After trying their food and getting to know the faces behind the truck we are excited to see where this truck goes in the future.  They have already found themselves around the top of the food truck players in the area.  You can look for them at Mash Lab Brewing in Windsor on Thursdays and at Maxline Brewing on Saturdays for the time being.

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 thegoldleafcollective.com 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.