Denver Part 2

Thursday the 28th we headed into Denver with Dave and Melissa to have brunch at Racine’s. We were a little late for the breakfast menu, but they were still serving a couple items so I had the Huevos Rancheros. It was very filling and delicious, and Jill enjoyed her Smokin’ Gouda and Turkey Croissant. After that we headed up to Fort Collins, first to stop at Lambspun for the ladies to get yarn, then walked around downtown a little before heading over to the New Belgium Brewery. We had scheduled a tour online, and had a sample of their Sunshine Wheat while we waited. The tour was fun, I really enjoyed the Dark Heather Saison and Tom’s Beer (the latter brewed with apple and only available at the brewery and around town).

Jill and I changed into nicer clothes and we headed back into town for reservations at Rioja. We started by splitting some appetizers: fresh bacon (cardamom spiced Kurobuta pork belly and Madras curry scented fresh garbanzo bean purée), a flight of artisan cheese (Plin di Capra, Gorgonzola Dolce, Fumaison Brebis), paella gnocchi (rice crusted saffron gnocchi, PEI mussels, Hawaiian blue prawn and calamari) and artichoke tortelloni (goat cheese and artichoke mousse stuffed pasta, artichoke broth). The artichoke tortelloni was my choice and my favorite, great combination. Jill and Melissa wanted middle courses, Melissa had the spinach velouté soup (velvety purée of spinach, roasted squash and parmesan tuile) while Jill tried the warm Brussels sprout salad (roasted delicata squash, pancetta apple vinaigrette and pistachio pistou) which I helped with since it was mostly sprout leaves (not a fan of the boiled kind, but this was good).

For entrees, we got the Muscovy duck breast (with saffron manchego risotto, pistachio pine nut stuffed Medjool dates, saffron almond cracker and spiced citrus jus), Colorado lamb two ways (grilled t-bone and house made lamb merguez sausage), braised Wagyu boneless beef shortrib (with gorgonzola creamed farro, pear arugula salad and candied walnuts) and seared sea scallops (with fennel parsley compote, chamomile beurre blanc and napoleon of: hazelnut phyllo, carrot and parsnip purée). It would be hard to pick a favorite, the lamb t-bone, shortrib and duck were all superb. Dessert was nearly impossible, but the beignets stuffed with sweet goat cheese and black mission fig were recommended, and I did managed to finish one (it was amazing). After dinner Melissa and Jill headed home to pick up Sam from the babysitter and Dave and I headed to the airport to pick up our friend Carl. It took awhile (we were lucky our luggage came out so fast), then we stopped for some supplies on the way back.

Friday Dave drove Carl, Jill and I to Winter Park again (Jill picked it since she’d had a lesson there before and hadn’t seen too much of the mountain). We got in a good couple runs on some of the steeper greens (here’s us at the top of Winter Park mountain):

us skiing

Melissa and Sam soon showed up, and we all came down and then back up for Sam’s first day at a resort. We skied with them a little, then Carl and I went off by ourselves over most of the territory Dave and I had done there before (although I really enjoyed Bluebell, which we hadn’t tried).

Dave Melissa Sam

At the end of the day we were still skiing and Jill headed back with Melissa and Sam, and Dave waited at the Cheeky Monk for us. I had a Kwak and since the ladies called to say they were getting takeout, we decided to eat there. I had the fish and chips which was very good, the fries were as good as Granville Moore’s in DC. After dinner we headed back where Dave made Manhattans and we talked into the night.

We got up the earliest of the trip on Saturday as Carl and Dave went off skiing and Melissa and Sam took us to the airport. We got in ok and I had a smoothie from Jamba Juice for breakfast. The flight was fine too, but Dulles was crazy. We got in at 3:30, and the snow was already thick. We had to take the people mover instead of the AeroTrain because we landed in the D terminal, then waited over an hour for all the luggage. We got in the taxi line, moved a little, then the line didn’t move for 30 minutes. At that point, I called our friends Josh and Akaemi, and they were home and came and got us (we owe them the most expensive dinner they want). We got home at 6:30, too late to pick up Illa so we got him today. Today’s been a catching up day, watched a lot of TV and surfed.

Denver Part 1

Sunday the 24th we got up early and took a cab to Dulles, checked in our luggage (and paid the highest fees I ever have, 4 checked bags on United for $100) and headed through security. Our flight was full but we didn’t have a problem – it was bumpy, but got in early, and turbulence is always more entertaining when a toddler is giving play-by-play (“Up!” “Down!”). We got our luggage and our friend Dave was right there to pick us up.

It was a free day and the middle of the afternoon and he suggested we stop at the Yard House for some food and beer. Jill and I split a Caesar salad to start, then she had a Spicy Chicken Breast sandwich and I had the Cuban Roast Pork Dip. I had samples of a couple beers and the Breckinridge Vanilla Porter and Jill had the Ska Buster brown ale. After lunch we checked out rental gear as Jill didn’t bring her skis (they’re not in good shape), but they were expensive.

We headed up the mountain to Evergreen where Dave lives with his wife, Melissa and their son, Sam, whom we hadn’t met before. We socialized for a while, then Dave made Bolognese sauce and pasta for dinner. Unfortunately I (and Jill to a lesser extent) was suffering from altitude sickness (Evergreen is at 7,220 feet) and hadn’t recognized the symptoms earlier (headache and dehydration) and I didn’t have much of an appetite (I’d also only got 3 hours of sleep the night before). We went to bed right after that.

Monday morning we were feeling much better, but not 100% so we canceled our plans for skiing that day. So we headed towards Denver in separate cars, Dave and I checked out a Mile High Comics location and Jill and Melissa went to a yarn shop (Sam has daycare). We met up at the Wynkoop Brewery where we had lunch. Jill had a salad and a Reuben and I had the ribs. I nursed a Chile beer while I was there (interesting – not spicy but has the taste) and Jill had a Railyard Ale.

After lunch we headed over to the Tattered Cover to look around, then split up again. Dave and I hit the flagship REI store where I picked up a water bottle and belt, then went to Red Rocks. Amazing natural theater – I’ve always wanted to go to a show there, now I want to even more.

Red Rocks

That night Dave whipped up a lemon chicken recipe that Melissa sauteed vegetables for. This time we got to enjoy the meal and it was very tasty. We still headed to bed early as we were still tired.

Tuesday was finally the skiing day, and we’d picked Winter Park from Dave’s choices (he has a season pass for two mountains with associated discounts). We stopped in Dumont to pick up skis for Jill, then were at Winter Park within the hour. Jill got a lesson, and Dave and I did one run with her before it started, then wandered off by ourselves.

We skied all over the mountain, including going up to the top of Parsenn Bowl twice, where I had both my favorite run (down Juniper at the bottom) and least favorite run (we were trying for Juniper again, but ended up in the trees for a while). Jill had finished a little while before us and met us in the Starbucks.

We headed back and stopped in Da Kind for soups. I had the garlic leek and the creamy tomato and Jill had the garlic leek and we split a pastrami Reuben, nice and filling. Dave got some more soup for Melissa and we headed back. We played with Sam, then after he went to bed watched 24 (one of their shows) and Burn Notice (new to them).

Wednesday we went to Copper Mountain, the other mountain in Dave’s pass. It took a bit longer to get there, but only a little over an hour. We were soon in our gear and on the slopes. Jill didn’t want to take a lesson, so we skied with her for the first two hours. She’s doing much better, took on a tough, long green first time out. After we parted ways, Dave and I kept going, as high as Union Peak, the tallest place I’ll be this trip at 12,313 feet.

I was tired before Dave was, so he took on the back bowl of Union Peak while I met up with Jill and helped her finish her lunch of chili and hot dog. He wasn’t too much longer, and we headed back to his place with a stop at the supermarket and liquor store. He made a snack of Rochlette cheese that was melted on their wood burning stove and served over pickles, carrots, zucchini and bread, then later on made crepes with asparagus, hot Capicola and blended Swiss cheeses. We had crepes again for dessert: delicious Bananas Foster.

No more football, please

Friday night I got my hair cut on the way home from work, then grilled pork chops. Later we watched TV, including the blow your mind finale of Dollhouse (Whedon fans, if you dropped it, the second season is great).

Saturday I watched a bunch more TV as the DVR was filling up, then we headed out in the afternoon over to the Birchmere with the Jewells and got our line tickets, then went over to Rt’s Restaurant for appetizers. Jill and I split a Cajun Caesar salad (using Creole cornbread for croutons), then I had oysters three ways and she had shrimp and grits.

We got back with plenty of time, got a table for four next to the soundbooth and helped Janice with her onion tangle, then split a pepperoni pizza (they’ve dropped their burgers from the menu). Jake Armerding was not only playing with the band, he got to open this night, had a nice but short set. Eddie From Ohio was of course great, lots of great banter and a nice setlist with some old gems.

I watched one football game (Saints/Cards) before we headed to bed, then Sunday morning watched the Colts/Ravens – since both weren’t close at the end, it was fairly quick to watch them both. In the afternoon I went shopping to find a receiver for my mom to hook up to her new TV, found this. We headed over to her house where she made us waffles and I hooked up all her components (and worked on her computer). When we got back home, we watched the Viking/Cowboys game and 24 (back in a big way), then Jill headed for bed and I watched the Jets/Bolts and the Golden Globes (nice to be able to stay up late and finish everything).

Today Jill wanted to go to Virginia Kitchen for breakfast so we did, I had the Eggs Benedict and she had the Western omelette. She was out after that, and I read newspapers and played some Wii (including my new favorite training regimen). I made taquitos and salad for dinner, then hopped online for the first time all weekend. Now it’s time for Chuck and hour 3 of 24.

Beer, skiing and football

We headed over to Dogfish Head on Friday night as a friend from high school was attending a happy hour, and we had a beer and chatted for a bit, then got a table for dinner as the bar was way too crowded. We split a Caesar salad to start, then both had burgers. When we got back I finished off the old and new Dollhouses – really picking up steam.

Saturday we were up early to meet up with the DC Ski Club at Shady Grove Metro, then head up to Ski Liberty. My Christmas gift to Jill was her plane ticket to Denver and ski lessons, and I urged her to take a lesson (the fact that the lessons were cheaper had nothing to do with it – maybe).

By the time we got her resolved (including me going back to the car for her socks) and I finished getting ready, the other folks were nowhere to be found, but that was ok as it was my first time skiing in two years. My form was horrible at first, but memory started returning, and by the time I took a break to meet up with Jill, I was feeling pretty good.

Jill was done after two hours of extensive instruction, but I wasn’t and kept going as she got her knitting out. I had tried most of the green and blue runs by that point (the blacks were moguls and I hate those), so I finished the others then focused on perfecting my favorite run, Sidewinder -> Lower Strata. I was getting sloppy right as time ran out, so that was good.

We hadn’t made plans for the night (and Illa had the dogwalker), so we decided to stop in Frederick on the way back. I want to go to Volt at some point, but we didn’t bring a change of clothes. Instead the first place we spotted after parking was Brewer’s Alley, which was a great choice. We both started with soups, a cheddar ale for me and a gumbo for Jill, went well with our six beer samplers. Next she had a pulled pork sandwich and I had a chili rubbed steak sandwich with a tomato-jalapeno jam that hit the spot. After we got home I watched the end of the Bengals/Jets game and all of the Cowboys/Eagles game – didn’t care about the first one, disappointed by the second.

Today was a lazy day, made breakfast then watched SNL and LOTS, then hopped on the computer for more video editing fun and surfing. Then it was time for football and dinner. The first game I was surprised that the Pats got steamrolled, and the second was the game of the weekend, thought the Packers could come back all the way.

I made pork chops and green beans and heated up mac and cheese for dinner and Tom Sietsema’s favorite quick and easy dessert later (with Splenda instead of sugar and store made whipped cream), nice tasty low sugar dessert. Then we settled in for a nice evening of Chuck – hopefully with all the promos it got some good ratings. I like him as an ass kicking spy, although I wish the second episode hadn’t reference a first season episode.

NYE Weekend wrapup

Jill was working a 12 hour shift on NYE day, and we both knew she wouldn’t have much energy for the evening, so didn’t plan anything. So we ended up doing appetizers for dinner, starting a fire, reading and watching Foo Fighters videos (from their great new collection) until it was time and switched over to NBC for the ball drop.

I never left the house all three days of the weekend except to walk Illa. Friday we both had large piles of paperwork to get through, plus I started organizing my comics for the first time in months. We had pork chops and stuffing from Whole Foods for dinner, then watched a number of Dollhouse episodes in the evening.

Saturday I finished my comics, then worked on my new computer. I finished transferring all files, then started moving over the HD video I’d captured with my new camera. I was in the mood for a big salad for dinner, so I made one with ham and cheese. It was chilly, so I made hot chocolate and we cuddled up on the couch and watched Up for the first time. Great movie, but I expect that from Pixar at this point.

Sunday I watched the last episode of Doctor Who with the tenth doctor (great coda), read newspapers, then worked on the computer until the football game. Jill brought me a spinach calzone from Pomodoro for lunch, very tasty. I suffered through one last game (I just knew they could find a way to lose), then grilled steak for dinner. We watched some of the Sunday ‘toons, then Jill headed to bed and iwas up way too late on the computer again. I cut back on the general surfing over the weekend, hopefully can get a routine going on videos that isn’t so time consuming.