Campfire Sandwich Recipe

_DSC4029Sandwiches on the grill are great, but even better are sandwiches on the campfire! Close your eyes and imagine the smokey-ness of the hot embers and burning wood, slow-cooked into an assortment of fresh goodies pressed between soft slices of delicious homemade bread. A recent camping trip inspired my boyfriend and I to create a gourmet sandwich that we not only made for dinner, but also savored once again for breakfast. We’re happy to share the camping meal happiness with you as well. So now, open your eyes, gather your gear and ingredients, and go camping to enjoy this recipe! Continue reading

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Love for Italy in Denver – Shells and Sauce Restaurant

Aren’t neighborhood restaurants some of the best? I’m currently living in the area of downtown Denver known as Capitol Hill and within dangerously close walking distance is the enticing restaurant, Shells and Sauce. Much in the same way I became enamored with Italy last Spring, so Shells and Sauce has drawn me into it’s Italian food haven. I just seem to keep going back and I’m starting to take friends as well. Continue reading

A Cote at Z Cuisine – My Escape for European Tastes in Denver

My latest-greatest that is turning into a regular spot where they know my name, is A Cote, the bar-side of the French Bistro, Z Cuisine. Snuggled into the cozy neighborhood of Lower Highland, they are only a few blocks walking distance from the pedestrian bridge that spans across I-25 and into Riverfront Park. I seriously LOVE A’Cote. This little bar is right in the corner of an older, historic building on the corner of 30th and Wyandot Street, just a block east of the busier street of Zuni. If you’re not sure in your mind’s eye where that it is, think of where Little Man Ice Cream is and then picture walking just a couple blocks west of there, which takes you on just a bit of an uphill walk. And if you don’t have a reference point for Little Man Ice Cream…well, get out more in Denver’s LoHi neighborhood, snow or sun! So getting back to A Cote…

A Cote is magical and when I miss Europe, it’s my go-to. Traditionally French in every way, all the way down to that European neighborhood feel I love sinking into on their wrought iron bistro chairs outside their bar windows. On a warm, sunny day recently, I was walking past and the owner Patrick and his friend Brian, were sitting outside on those lovely colorful chairs, drinking Rose wine in the sun. I had met the owners, Patrick and his wife, a while back, so I stopped to chat with him and ended up joining them for what turned into a few glasses of Rose wine for myself as well. After all, it was my birthday and that was my idea of how to celebrate and enjoy the special day. Sitting there and talking with Patrick about the restaurant was wonderful because he is from France and so his French accent made me feel even more like I was back in France. We talked about the local Denver art community with his friend Brian Comber who is an artist that does paintings of different mediums and specializes in etchings that he creates in the original, traditional methods.

The company was wonderful and the Rose wine was delicious! It was no surprise that later that evening I returned to enjoy my birthday dinner there. The Beef Bourguignon is one of the dishes they are known for and it was wonderful. We accompanied that entrée with their French Onion soup, freshly hot and full of amazing flavor. As any good European menu will have, A Cote and Z Cuisine feature fresh salads, vibrant with local ingredients and the rich-tasting colors of vegetables. They put great value into using local ingredients from Farmer’s Markets, and it is one of Patrick’s passions incorporated into the bistro to “eat real, eat local”. Their cheese board is amazing, with an assortment of heady cheeses that explode into a different tastes with every thing they are paired with. Try each bite with a different delight, such as olives, crostini, meats, and candied walnuts. When the little brown bag appears on your table after first arriving, be excited to look inside. It won’t be full for long because it’s their fresh soft bread, served warm and accompanied with smooth luscious butter that is sprinkled with sea salt, ground pepper, and the bold red color of paprika seasoning.

While Z Cuisine is the main bistro, A Cote is the absinthe bar side and adjacent to the restaurant. Both share their menus so you can eat and drink from either menu in both areas. At the back of the bar A Cote is a beautiful display of their wines, where they are encased on shelves behind glass. Together they give a tantalizingly intoxicating representation of the regions of France according to the language of wine. Since I had Rose wine earlier, I enjoyed with dinner one of their cocktails, which are sexy combinations of liquors, fresh herbs and ingredients, all heightened in their creative flavors by either an absinthe rinse or a full-on absinthe base. Did I say absinthe? You read correctly! They have a tasteful array of absinthe to choose from and experience.

And being at A Cote is always an experience. I’ve been there several times before and every time, I’m entranced by their art displayed on the walls and hanging from their ceiling. On one wall, they project silent foreign movies, some of a past-era and in black and white, while others I have seen are animated and imaginative. Near the front is a beautiful chandelier that reminds me of a little girl’s princess room…the pastel colors on the varying sizes of gems and stones dangle in loops with ribbons and lines that curve in a figure eight shape and are alight with tiny bulbs of white light. To sit under this artistic display of light, is one of my favorite spots in the bar. My other favorite spot is at the front where a leather red bench borders the wall just under the large windows that frame the corner of the building in an L shape and afford a picturesque view of the neighborhood outside. When the weather is warm and lovely outside, they slide open those large wood-framed windows and one can recline their body to lounge languidly on the booth. Caressing a tall slender glass of wine and perhaps dangling an arm outside those deliciously open windows, one listens to the jazz standards softly playing in the background of the pleasant conversations floating through the air…ahhh…do you see what I mean? It’s like stepping into France without leaving Denver.

I cannot do the ambiance, food and drink justice by just my writings. It really is a place to experience. As the spring season comes to life in Denver right now, get to know A Cote at Z Cuisine. Whatever the weather may be, it’s like stepping into a different world when you venture to them and join their lovely French company.

Zengo Makes for a Great Denver Happy Hour!

I am finding it very enjoyable to experience new things about Denver, even after twelve years of living here. A lot of times, those new experiences are new places to eat and drink…one of my favorite past-times.

Tonight I enjoyed a great happy hour at Zengo, which is in the LoDo area and right at Riverfront Park. This part of downtown borders the I-25 highway and the Platte River, so it’s easy to reach and a great patio spot when the weather is warm and sunny. Yet even on snowy, frigid nights like tonight, it was a great place for my friend Lisa McAlister and me, to satisfy our appetites. We sat in their bar area, which has soft lighting and low couches, along with tall wood tables and modern stools. The bar is large and curves in a half-circle shape under the colorful assortment of glass lights, dangling as large squares and rectangles. At first I wasn’t really sure what to call their style of food or what it really was. They define it simply and perfectly on their website as Latin-Asian.

Now, I’m not and never will be a “foodsy” person, so regardless of what they or you and I want to call it, I just know that everything I had there tonight, tasted really good. They have a great happy hour menu that Lisa and I picked from. This gave us the chance to share and enjoy from a variety of small plates, which came with a good amount of food, especially at happy hour prices. Between us both, we enjoyed the Wagyu Beef Albondigas (which is the Spanish word for “meatballs”), the Salt and Pepper Shrimp Roll (sushi), a Kabayaki Glazed Salmon Belly Roll (another roll of their sushi), and their Adobo Chicken Steam Buns. Lisa enjoyed a beer and I savored a glass of their featured happy hour red wine.

The service was good and friendly and the environment was pleasant to the senses. In the background the music was soft, which I really like because it’s irritating to me when music is too loud in a restaurant and if conversations are hard to hear. I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable the happy hour prices were as well, with the most expensive item of our choices being $7 for the salmon sushi roll. Throughout the night, I felt comfortable and relaxed in my surroundings, enjoyed tastes that were pleasantly fresh and a unique combination of flavors, and the presentation of the food was a delight for my eyes while it was also a joy for my tummy. I can say with excitement that I’m already looking forward to going back to Zengo soon and will be recommending it to others. And they made it pretty easy for us since they have a great happy hour schedule of Monday – Saturdays, 5pm-7pm. So get in there and let me know what you think as well!

Coffee – My Kind of Art

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In the past I’ve written about my favorite coffee pub, Rooster and Moon. This time though, I just want to write about experiencing coffee – good ‘ol delicious brain awakening coffee….hmmmm. I’ve come to believe that coffee is a type of art. I mean, why not? The taste is of course the first priority but it definitely enhances the experience when it’s done well, such as the gorgeous and delicious latte featured here from R&M. What if we used coffee images, like the one showing here, as inkblot tests? Can you imagine….you’re on a coffee date with someone and you lean over with your latte to ask “So, what do you see in my coffee inkblot?”. Could be very interesting…

Coffee and I go way back. My mother is from the Dominican Republic, home of some of the best coffee in the world in my opinion. And I would like to think that my opinion counts since I’ve been drinking coffee since the age of elementary school. Cafe con leche was my introduction to the coffee world. It’s Spanish for coffee with milk. What they don’t specify in the name is that it’s chock full of sugar as well. If you think that was not enough of a sugar high for kids, don’t worry…we also had it with frosted flakes for breakfast! Whew! Of course this dietary habit would take place when I was actually visiting the Dominican, not so much when I was in the US. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really enjoyed the Dominican coffee, Cafe Monte Alto from the Ramirez Coffee plantation in my mother’s hometown, Jarabacoa. Check it out and stop by for a visit if you’re ever in that beautiful part of the world.

According to Wikipedia, coffee is one of the most-consumed beverages in the world. Studies have shown that it has health benefits, such as antioxidants and the caffeine is not harmful as other forms of caffeine tend to be. It’s woven into multiple cultures as well, with significant meaning to people.

Think of how you enjoy coffee? Or if you don’t enjoy it for yourself, how do you see other’s enjoy the beverage? There’s a comfort to it that, as my Italian friends like to remind me, should be enjoyed sitting down and relaxing, versus  in a to-go cup as you rush to work.

I hope you savor a lovely cup of coffee today and that you take the time to learn something new about yourself by looking into the inkblot of your coffee art.