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Archive for the ‘Food and Drink’ Category

Boulder Farmers' Market, Boulder, CO

Oh glorious spring! You’re finally here!

Saturday was the first day of the Boulder Farmers’ Market, a sure signal that spring has arrived and summer is just around the bend.

There were just a few people there to check it out.

Boulder Farmers' Market, Boulder, CO

Aside from a wee bit of wind, it was a lovely, sunny spring day. Vendors had lots of young seedlings, lettuce and other early crops for sale.

Boulder Farmers' Market, Boulder, CO

Abbondanza farms had a particularly large bounty, including a precious selection of eggs in unusual colors — aqua, powder blue, amber, brown and apricot. (Unusual, that is, to those of us who didn’t grow up around hens.)

They were steeply priced at $7 a dozen, but I’ve been searching for a small, local source for eggs (If you’ve read anything about the poultry industry, you know that “cage-free, vegetarian fed” doesn’t mean a whole lot when you’re talking about grocery store eggs), so I sprung for a half dozen to try them out. What the heck; it was the day before Easter!

Boulder Farmers' Market

Photo by Eric Gray.

Boulder Farmers' Market

Photo by Eric Gray.

The next day, I couldn’t resist snapping a few pics of the prized eggs before we fried them up for breakfast.

Boulder Farmers' Market eggs, Boulder, COBoulder Farmers' Market eggs, Boulder, COThey were delicious and had bright orange yolks, just as promised by the Abbondanza fellow at the market.

I’m so looking forward to a long season of discovering more treasures at the farmers’ market!

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More friends are undertaking an exciting new business venture (suck it, recession). The lovely Suzanne Moore and her husband Ian, with business partner Matt Notter, have opened a new sports bar in Boulder at 28th Street and Bluff (just south of Valmont).

Over the years, I’ve witnessed Suzanne’s hubby Ian hone his finely tuned bartending skills at the neighborhood joint Outback Saloon, just down the street. (Suzanne and I honed our finely tuned drink-sipping skills here, too, and at places all over Boulder, oftentimes after long days working at Blue Mountain Arts, where we met.) Now Ian’s come into his own as barman extraordinaire with the opening of his 28th Street Tavern.

Ian Moore and Matt, 28th Street Tavern in Boulder Colorado

Congrats, Matt and Ian.

Eric and I attended the grand opening and were blown away by the beautifully renovated space, which includes a nice loooong bar, a small stage for live music, a juke box, a billards room, dart boards and a back patio.

The Grand Opening of the 28th Street Tavern in Boulder Colorado

Photo by Eric Gray.

The Grand Opening of the 28th Street Tavern in Boulder Colorado

How cool is this room? This where we hung out the most. Photo by Eric Gray.

The Grand Opening of the 28th Street Tavern in Boulder Colorado

Photo by Eric Gray.

The tavern is painted in warm reds and has spiffy new wood floors. We spent most of SuperBowl Sunday afternoon there, along with a huge grand opening crowd, watching the game on the big-screen TVs and sipping Ian’s yummy cocktails. I was drinking cranberry vodkas, but I hear the bloody Marys are to die for.

The Grand Opening of the 28th Street Tavern in Boulder Colorado

Well hello, lovely ladies. That's Suzanne on the right. She doesn't look a bit like she's been working 20-hour days helping to get this bar open.

28th Street Tavern has great happy hour deals on weekdays 4-7pm (oh how I LOVE a happy hour that goes until 7pm!) and all day Sunday. So now you’ve got an irrefutable reason to go check it out.

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I am so in awe of people who can just up and start their own businesses. That’s what my friend Guy Knox did recently when he opened Red Rock Coffeehouse on Iris and 28th St. in Boulder. Guy had been working in the coffee biz for years when his employer, Peaberry Coffee, closed all its corporate locations — and Guy found himself poised to take all that coffee knowledge and venture out on his own.

He didn’t waste any time. And he didn’t cut corners. His shiny new shop is beautiful, with lovely wood accents, striking photography and some gorgeous custom decor (look up as you enter the shop). It’s a warm, calm, quiet and clean atmosphere that I imagine will continue to grow in popularity with students and the-coffeeshop-is-my-office crowd.

But enough about the ambiance. No one’s going to go to a new coffee shop if the coffee isn’t good. Never fear; Guy did the right thing and sought out a local star as the source of his beans: Kind Coffee. If you’ve ever stopped at the Kind Coffee store in Estes Park, you’ll know what to expect: a robust, slightly creamy espresso — that happens to be fair trade and organic. There are also fancy teas from the Tea Spot and a couple of different (reportedly amazing) chai varieties to choose from. Throw in a few decadent baked goods from Breadworks, and I’m sold.

Red Rock Coffeehouse, Boulder, CO

Red Rock Coffeehouse, Boulder, CO

Hi there, Guy! Your new coffee shop rocks (pun intended).

Red Rock Coffeehouse, Boulder, CO

Red Rock Coffeehouse, Boulder, CO

Ooooh. Look at the gleam on that new machine!

Red Rock Coffeehouse

I love the choice of coffee beans: Kind Coffee out of Estes Park.

Red Rock Coffeehouse, Boulder, CO

Super neato vintage posters from Art Source International on Pearl St.

Red Rock Coffeehouse

Red Rock Coffeehouse, Boulder, CO

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When Eric and I heard Happy (which is the new, shortened name of Happy Noodle House) was having a prix fixe dinner and cocktail “social” on New Year’s Eve, it was a foregone conclusion that we’d be celebrating there. And having recently read something about how noodles are an integral part of traditional Japanese New Year celebrations, it seemed appropriate, too.

Oh, who am I kidding? I just wanted an excuse to get dressed up (having read the part of the invitation that said “formal attire” with glee) and really pig out at Happy.

A lot of other people did, too, it seems. That morning, I noted on Twitter that the event was sold out. Oh goody! I love a big crowd!

We arrived for dinner a tad late, but luckily a table was waiting for us at our favorite spot in the bar against the wall. On top of that, we found out that our favorite server, Chris, was assigned to our table! Let the cocktails flow and the fun begin.

We started off with an amuse bouche — mine was a taste of their intoxicatingly good carrot-coconut soup (seriously, I could live on this stuff) — and the Crazy 88, which is a refreshing, cucumber-kissed sparkling wine cocktail. The drinks and amuse went down the hatch so quickly that I missed getting a picture of them.

In our first course, the famed crispy greens from their regular menu made an appearance, this time joined by satisfying hunks of seasoned tofu and surprisingly tasty cauliflower bits. Accompanying was a Kiss the Sky — a zesty gin drink with ginger and lavender liqueur.

First Course, New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

First Course

New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

Kiss the Sky

My second course was a crunchy, fried egg roll served with a creamy sauce. Can’t remember what all was inside the egg roll, but I do remember I snarfed it. The drink was the El Presidente (being swilled by me, below), which was described as a rum version of the Manhattan.

New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

Second Course - I couldn't hold back, so it's partly eaten here. Sorry.

New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

El Presidente (the drink, not me)

The main courses were enormous (way too much considering what we’d already eaten). What I could manage to fit of the broth-y noodle bowl with mushrooms and garlic was soothingly delicious.

New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

Main Course

The prix fix dessert was a tapioca and fruit tarte. Chris and I bonded as fellow tapioca haters, while Eric tried to convince us that “if we could just get past the texture….” Uh-huh. Instead I had a special off-menu concoction from the kitchen — consisting of miso, caramel and chocolate — that also got devoured before I could snap a picture.

All this, and THEN the official party cocktails started to arrive: a glass of champagne, a punch, the French Mojito and Death in the Afternoon (an absinthe drink that was a favorite of Hemingway’s and has an interesting back story that I wasn’t capable of absorbing at the time — ask Mark and he’ll tell you).

New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

French Mojito

After toasting the new year with neighboring parties, polishing off a few more cocktails and taking a dozen pictures on variations of this theme:

New Year's Eve, Happy, Boulder, CO

we decided it was time to bid the wonderful Bitter Bar and Happy folks good night.

We stumbled over to the cab stand on Pearl Street and realized we wouldn’t get home until about 5am if we waited in the ridiculously long line.

I suggested we see if additional cabs were pulling up at the downtown hotels. We walked to the nearest one (let’s just call it the Mt. Mulien Motel & Mpa), and asked if they could call us a taxi. My inebriated husband may have given the slight impression that we had been guests at the hotel’s restaurant (you know, Mill’s), and before I knew it, we were being whisked home in a toasty warm shuttle van. For free. (Plus a whopping, guilt-assuaging tip.)

If the increasingly blurry photos above didn’t scare you off and you’re interested in attending a bash at Happy, I noticed they have a Valentine’s Day event coming up. My words of advice: 1) Ask for Chris. 2) Pace yourself.

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Are high unemployment rates good for coffee shop business, as more people seek an office away from home? Well, if it’s any indication, there are now four coffee shops within a three-and-a-half-block span on Pearl Street’s East End. And they all seem to be busy pretty much nonstop: Laughing Goat, The Cup, Starbucks (not exactly everyone’s favorite locavore hot spot, but still…) and, now, Atlas Purveyors.

I stopped in Atlas (at the corner of 15th and Pearl) for the first time this weekend to grab a latte. I never had occasion to visit while the location was a tea shop (until a about a month or two ago), but it appears the tea theme has carried over in a pretty big way. They have a wall-o-tea lined with beautiful jars full of loose tea leaves. I asked about one with bright periwinkle-blue flecks in it and was told it’s a creamy Earl Grey. Um, I’ll be trying that next time.

They also had a case full of luscious-looking baked goods. Unlike last weekend, I managed to resist and stuck to just my latte. It was decent. Not as smooth as I like it, but not offensive by any means.

Atlas was very busy on this Saturday afternoon. Just about every table was taken (granted, there aren’t that many). But I managed to grab a seat; take a moment to decompress from a day of ballet class, Christmas shopping and errand running; and soak up the atmosphere.

A couple of the walls are covered entirely with chalk-board surface and display some amazing drawings. One guy was creating some new masterpieces while I was there.

Atlas Purveyors, chalk drawings, Boulder, CO

Something about the place relaxed me, and I found myself inspired and warmed by the sun coming in the window.

I glanced around and saw couples chatting, a mother and daughter sitting side-by-side on a couch, each reading their own book, students working away on laptops and plenty of characters strolling by outside the window. For a minute or two, it was nice just to get absorbed in watching other people’s lives.

Hopefully the shop won’t mind if “that weird girl who stares at people and takes pictures of glasses full of chalk” comes back now and then.

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After burning a bunch of calories in my ballet class yesterday, I decided to replace every last one of them (and then some) by stopping in Tee & Cakes for a little treat. It was my first time in, driven by one of their frequent Twitter promotions.

I chose this little lopsided, orphaned red velvet cupcake and promptly gave it a warm home. In my belly.

Tee & Cakes, bakery and tee shirts, Boulder, CO

The cake was moist, yet the tiniest bit crispy on top (which seems to be a yummy common characteristic of all red velvet cupcakes), and the frosting was a heavenly balance of buttery and sweet — not cloying like the frosting you buy at the supermarket.

Tee & Cakes, bakery and tee shirts, Boulder, CO

I washed it down with a delicious, piping-hot cup of local, organic apple cider.

Tee & Cakes, bakery and tee shirts, Boulder, CO

The small shop was hoppin’ with folks loading up on a dozen cupcakes at a time and cooing over the rack of clever t-shirts (hence the name Tee & Cakes). Apparently, they are so busy on Saturdays that they have a one-dozen limit per customer.

Sufficiently amped up on sugar and warmed by the cider, I headed out for a stroll on Pearl Street and stopped to join a crowd listening to an elementary school chime choir playing Christmas carols. Adorable.

Eagle Elementary Chime Choir, Boulder, CO

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I know that I talk about Happy Noodle House way too much, but it has so captured my undying affection that I just couldn’t resist sharing some pics and thoughts from our most recent evening there.

It’s tough to determine whether my obsession with the place revolves around the food, the cocktails or the service. Friday provided no clarity on this front, as all three were outstanding.

We have by now determined that we prefer to sit in the adjoining Bitter Bar. Apparently so does everybody else. It’s been packed throughout the evening the last few times we’ve been there — while the dining room only seems to reach capacity at very peak times.

We lucked out with two seats at the counter. I love sitting here because the mixologists take the time to get to know what cocktail you’re in the mood for and what your preferences are. I had the Violet Flower (which reminds me of the violet tea I got at Lauduree in Paris one time) and Eric had The Last Word, a citrus-y gin drink that I will definitely be ordering on future visits. (I am intentionally omitting the part about the third drink we ordered, a giant Mt. Fuji Bowl. Pay no attention to the resulting delirious tweet associated with that evening. Anywho…)

While the restaurant’s entrees are always lovely compositions that use seasonal ingredients and refined techniques to elevate simple dishes (e.g. noodle bowls) to culinary marvels, I’ve recently discovered that the side dishes and appetizers certainly aren’t there just for looks.

The carrot-coconut soup, adzuki bean-and-rice fritter, and fried green rice, as examples, are all substantial, full-flavored bites that, in combination, make a great meal. Eric also ordered a side dish this time: the hash. It’s a mishmash of noodles, veggies, calamari and pork, topped with an egg. I think it’s meant to be a side dish for a table of two or three, but it makes an affordable entree, too.

Carrot-coconut soup at Happy Noodle House

Carrot-coconut soup. (Photo by Eric Gray.)

Fritter at Happy Noodle House

Bean-and-rice fritter. (Photo by Eric Gray.)

The hash at Happy Noodle House

The hash. (Photo by Eric Gray.)

With these added choices on the ever-evolving menu, I’m not sure we’ll ever get tired of coming here. I’ll try to keep the RHNPs (raving Happy Noodle posts) to a minimum, though! 🙂

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