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):
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).
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.