So in case you don't know The Pit loves pie. He would eat pie morning, noon, and night. By baking him a pie, I can basically ensure his complete and total servitude for at least 24 hours. However, let's be honest baking pie is really freaking hard and takes an incredible amount of effort. Hence, we were both thrilled to discover the Humble Pie less than 2 miles from our house! The Humble Pie Store is a cute cafe tucked away into the still spotty Baker neighborhood, the decor was a combination of reclaimed wood tables and walls, with metal seats and fixtures. The succulent plants, mason jar water glasses, and mismatched plates gave it a very homey feel. But seriously it is all about the pie, and they carry a healthy selection of both the sweet and savory. Sure they have coffee and other cafe regulars, however did we mention PIE! We made our first visit tonight and I think it's safe to say it was a good idea to pick up the Frequent Pier card.
I was craving some dessert and was torn between the blackberry, peach, and the apple-raspberry pies. The nice pie lady (I don't know the proper term for one who works in a pie shop) informed me she also had a peach-honey pie in the back and I was sold on that one. I also got a Grape soda (they carry Rocky Mountain Soda Company) so that my sugar rush could be complete. I passed on the a la mode because even I'm not that much of a glutton. The pie was served warm and I was thrilled at first bite. The crust was an unbelievable flaky perfection and the filling was sweet, but not cloying. I think the honey and peach really combined well together and the filling texture was firm and juicy. Final verdict pie may just equal happiness!
To say that I like pie is an understatement, I could eat pie all day long, and still want more pie. I had the Italian Pot Pie, one of the savory selections, and it was mighty tasty. The filling was made with sausage, tomatoes, peppers, and spices in a tomato based sauce. The mix was tender and succulent and enclosed in super flaky crust. I accompanied my pie with a Bhakti Chai, which probably was not the wisest pairing. The drink was tasty, but spicy pie and spicy Chai do not a combination make. I would recommend getting the Chai with one of the sweet selections. My only issue with Humble Pie, is that it isn't within walking distance, however that is probably a good thing for my waistline. As a wise man once said, "Love me some pie!".
So I hate spending three to four dollars for a plastic pack of fresh herbs that inevitably goes bad after one use. For a long time I have wanted an herb garden, but I have the black thumb of death and was afraid that this would be a waste of time and money. After one month of growing my herbs, I am happy to report this is so easy that anyone can do it. I decided to plot in pots because I live in Colorado and would like to be able to move them indoor at the end of the summer. I also wanted to keep each herb separated, since I don't have the horticultural knowledge to know how to keep one plant from overrunning another. What you see above costs around $60 and took less than 30 minutes to pot.
I purchased small $3 herbs in plantable pots from Lowe's, but you can buy them from any grocery, home improvement, or nursery. Also, if you have friends with herb gardens you can just ask for clippings. Mint is especially prolific and transplants well. For the first round I got Mint, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, and Basil because those are the herbs I cok with most often.
I did not buy my pots at Lowe's or Home Depot because frankly the prices there are exorbitant. I bought my pots at Ross, even though the selection is limited, the price made it worth while. All 5 pots cost what one of the larger pots would have cost at a typical home improvement store. If you don't like pots you can use just about anything to plant in, given more energy I might have went on a thrift store scavenger hunt to find cool items to pot my garden in.
Then I simply filled the pots about half way with potting soil, dropped in the herbs still in the degradable casings, filled the sides with soil, and watered. The basil pot got two plants because we love and use more basil. The mint got put in a bigger pot as well because it spreads too quickly and needs the room to grow.
1 x Thyme $2.89
1 x Rosemary $2.89
1 x Mint $2.89
1 x Sage $2.89
2 x Basil $2.89
1 Bag Potting Soil $9.97
1 x Large Solid Color Pot $7.99
1 x Large Pattern Pot $9.99
1 x Medium Solid Color Pot $6.99
1 x Small Pattern Pot $3.99
1 x Small Pattern Pot $3.99
Total Cost $60.26
At this price I only need to use my herb garden about a dozen times and it pays for itself. I was worried at first that I would eat too much and the plants would regenerate quickly enough. I am actually having the opposite problem and I can't harvest fast enough and I often have to trim down the leaves on the Sage, Basil, and Mint. I'm hoping they survive indoors during the winter, but I'll have to wait and see.
And last but not least, here are some of my favorite suggestions for cooking the herbs from your garden:
Pesto and Sausage Pasta
Fontina and Sage Mushroom Sandwich
Basil and Goat Cheese Burgers
Rosemary Polenta Fries
Herb Roasted Chicken
By now you have heard about the Monsanto Boycott. If you haven't now is the time to educate yourself, because regardless of whether you believe Genetically Modified Foods are harmful or not, it's frightening that major food corporations can put dangerous substances into their products and not be required to label them. The patenting of seeds and attacks on small farmers are equally disturbing. If you are already on the anti-Monsanto bandwagon, you should check out the Buycott app that will help you determine which products to avoid.
It's summer and that means it is farmer's market time, the time when we can get local produce and homemade food stuffs every weekend. To find the closest farmer's market to you check out the Denver Farmer's Market website or the Colorado Fresh Market website.
And in that's disgusting news, here is a list of things I would never eat and am getting slightly nauseous just looking at the pictures. It would be nice if instead of gimmicks, restaurants would try to serve actual food...
Have you been to Punch Bowl Social? Have you gotten drunk there and found a pleasant hookup or are you a local disgusted by the hideous LoDo influence in our hipster neighborhood? Here's the Denver Post's discussion and Westword's review. I like the fact that it is bringing so many jobs and consumers to Baker, however it has the worst meat-market frat party vibe. I tried to give it a chance, but ultimately the food sucked and for me that is the trump card. We didn't review it on the site because we don't waste our time on negative reviews, only mentioning it now more for the neighborhood controversy than the actual eats.
The Pit has longed to dine at one of Masaharu Morimoto's restaurants since first falling in love with his food watching the original Japanese version of Iron Chef and then Iron Chef America. The man had knife skills, creativity, technique, execution, and a humbleness that is rarely seen in an American chef. For our 3rd anniversary we decided to take a weekend in New York City and fulfill one of The Pit's culinary fantasies. We dined at Morimoto NYC and enjoyed probably the best modern Japanese cuisine we have had either stateside or in Japan.
To sum up my meal in a word, "Perfect." From first bite to last this was the most thought out and precise meal I've ever had. A feast for all the senses. Each plate was constructed with impeccable presentation, aromas to tantalize the palate before each morsel is tasted. Each texture with a counter point to entice the tongue. And flavors across a spectrum to excite each of the taste buds and keep them bagging for more. So basically what I'm saying is that I have a massive man crush on Morimoto and food crush on his dishes.
The Omakase, a seven course tour designed to highlight the best of Morimoto's cuisine, was the only logical option for me on the menu. I paired my meal with the Morimoto Daiginjo which was a clean crisp sake, with slightly floral notes and a touch o' citrus.
My first course was a pate of tuna with an assortment of mix-ins. The tuna pate was a familiar flavor, but it was elevated beyond similar dishes I have had by the mix-ins. The mix-ins were wasabi, cream cheese, hoison-type sauce, scallions, and fried tempura bits. With my little plate scraper in hand, I devoured every last morsel. Then ate the single raspberry on the side for a pop of sweetness.
The second course was a sashimi of Aji. The Aji was covered with a simple clover salad and a tangy ponzu sauce. The flavors were crisp and precise. The Aji has a distinct snappy texture that is different than most sashimi, the flavor is also very subtle and was perfectly complimented and not overpowered by the sauce.
The third course was an anchovy, olive oil fondue with assorted vegetables, crisps, and a bologna cube for dipping. The fondue itself was creamy with a strong briny flavor, an interesting juxtaposition after the crisp flavor and texture of the previous course. The vegetables kept the sauce from becoming too overwhelming and provided enough textural variance to keep the palate amused. Once again their were no survivors.
The fourth course (oh yes there were seven courses to keep me fat, dumb, and happy) was a single perfect bite of oyster on the half shell with foie gras. If it was any more decadent I would have melted into a puddle on the floor. I just wish there was more than that single amazing bite. Alas, Morimoto knows what he is doing and left me begging for the next course.
The sushi course was fifth and like the glutton you know and love, I added a few extra pieces to sate my fish lust. I mean that in an I love to eat fish way, not in the Troy McClure creepy way... Where to begin? There was Tuna, and Snapper, and Mackerel, Oh my! Each piece was an excellent cut with a fresh, smooth flavor. I'm normally not a fan of kasutera, more commonly known as egg sushi, but this one was light, fluffy, and melted in my mouth. I added on the live octopus and the kinmedai or golden eye snapper. Both were excellent and a rare treat not available at the average sushi joint.
To break up the hedonistic orgy in my mouth, we had mango ice palate cleansers. A perfect cool and slightly sweet way to get me ready for the main course.
For the main course I was delivered a surf n' turf of Wagyu beef and lobster claw with a side of creme fraiche. I'd like to tell you how wonderful and succulent this dish was, but honestly this was well into my second carafe of sake and I just remember it being their one second and then gone the next. I do distinctly remember the bed of potatoes under the steak that were tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, a perfect sponge for the delicious Wagyu drippings. Somehow the potatoes vanished as well.
And dessert was not forgotten. I was presented with something called a Mango soup that had fruit chunks and a scoop of green tea ice cream. It was mildly sweet in a reserved manner as is typical in Japanese cuisine. This was very refreshing after the richness of the main course.
I could easily sit at the bar and continue for another seven as spectacular as the meal was. Morimoto took my mouth through a variety of tastes, textures, and dishes that left me in culinary nirvana. However, my gut was full, my wife was drunk, and we had spent the equivalent of a car payment on one amazing meal. So we took our leave, dreaming about our return visit.
I was a little intimidated by the menu. I don't like sushi and normally find some sort of tempura or cooked dish whenever The Pit drags me to a sushi restaurant. So I ordered a carafe of junmai, because I remember a pleasant moment getting drunk on that somwhere in Takayama and proceeded to pester the poor waiter with various questions about all the ins and outs of every dish, most importantly, does this have onions or raw fish? Since The Pit was ordering a seven course meal I figured I needed to get a few courses just to keep up. After agonizing over several different delicious sounding dishes I decided to go with a simple green salad, shrimp tempura appetizer, and the Duck Duck Duck main course.
The green salad was a simple spring mix with a light, citrus vinaigrette. At first I was nervous because of the cured and shaved bonito topping, but the texture was rough and unexpected from a fish. So major life accomplishment, I ate uncooked fish on a salad and liked it! (My husband is pointing out that is was cured and I pointed out that I said uncooked not raw, either way a big, bold step for my taste buds!) The bonito flavor along with some crunchy fried morsels I couldn't place, maybe tempura crunches or fried fish skin, made this simple salad superb. I practically licked the plate clean.
My starter was a crispy rock shrimp tempura served two ways, with a wasabi and a spicy kochujan sauce. The flavor profile of each was complicated and muted, each flavor was zesty with some spice, however the heat did not overpower the other elements or subtract from the flavor. The dipping sauce was a play on ranch that made this dish itself feel like high-end buffalo wings. The shrimp was juicy, moist and incredibly fresh. I did end up picking off some chive shavings from the top (why chef's why?) still the dish was incredible.
Even though I did not order the Omikase they thoughtfully provided me a mango, ice palate cleanser as well. The cold, mildly sweet bite was a perfect follow up to the spicy shrimp.
I do regret not ordering something lighter for the main course. The Duck Duck Duck was delicious, only by the time it arrived the salad, appetizer, and the carafe of sake had taken their toll on my stomach space. (Okay full disclosure, 2 carafes of sake) Not wanting to waste either the crispy duck or the duck croissant sandwich, I gnawed away before entering a small food coma. I passed the duck egg to my husband and admitted a full, happy defeat.
Just seen on concourse C at Denver International Airport, Rootdown will be opening a new location!!! You loved them and their sister restaurant in the Highlands, soon you can love it on the go. I might be willing to fly Delta more often if this location brings back the duck confit crepes! Even if the new location is only half as good as the original Rootdown, it will still be the most appetizing place in the entire airport!!! Looking forward to checking this out next time I travel.
The Picky Girl
Just when you thought the South Broadway neighborhood couldn't get any more hipster, here comes a rockabilly biker bar. Gary Lee's took a run down garage and renovated it into a funky industrial modern restaurant and bar. Everywhere you look there are amazing details like the bar taps made from the intake manifold and the grease rags as hand towels in the bathroom. On sheer ambiance this place is worth a visit, especially if you get a chance go on a night with live music. You'll feel like you slipped into the movie Cry Baby when a Betty Page look-a-like wails on that upright bass. The food is mostly a selection of smoked meats and hearty fair, when it comes to pub food Gary Lee's will satisfy. Combined with the overall concept, beer selection, and atmosphere it's worth your time and money.
One of the most popular appetizers is the smoked sausage platter. We've ordered it several times and each time it's a little different, the cheese and crackers obviously are obviously grocery store off the shelf, but that's okay because they are really just to accompany the meat. The exact sausages have varied every time we have ordered this plate, the only constant is spicy. Do not order this dish if you are looking for mild flavors. Even the sweeter meats will leave a searing aftershock in your mouth. The sausages had so much kick that The Picky Girl would only try two of the four types. The Pit on the other hand enjoys this starter in its entirety. In fact the lure of a big mound of spicy smoked sausage distracted him from other options. Next time the fried avocado will make it into his mouth.
The Picky View
I ordered the open faced chicken sandwich and was pretty happy with the results. The chicken had a good smoky flavor and nice char, it might have been too dry, except that the mashed potatoes and gravy kept it moist. The bun was light and fluffy with a golden brown toasting. The classic elements combined into a fairly tasty sandwich that was too messy to pick up and had to be eaten with a fork and knife. Like everything else at Gary Lee's the gravy was spicy which depending on your palate could be fantastic, for me it was a bit much. The fries were homemade, heavily seasoned (surprise), and the right amount of crispy. My only major qualm with the meal was that too many fries were piled into my sandwich. When you are craving a hearty, filling dish on a cold night this sandwich fits the bill nicely.
The Pit View
Slab of ribeye stake with caramelized onions and aioli, how could you go wrong? Well, if you slice the stake into strips to cook that's how. The flavors were on, but the texture wasn't quite what I was expecting. I suppose this was done to make the sandwich easier to eat, only for me It took away from the experience. The caramelized brussel sprouts that came on the side were pretty special. Mainly because these where the first that I actually devoured. Normally, I'm put off by the bitter bite of the sprouts, but the accompanying spaghetti squash and peppers brought enough sweet to the party resulting in a scrumptious bite.
As both math nerds and foodies, it is practically our duty to celebrate Pi(e) Day. For those of you uninitiated in the ways of Pi(e), let us help. In mathematical terms, Pi describes the relationship between a circles circumference and it's diameter. There is a long history of Pi and why it is necessary for engineering, architecture, mathematics, science, and general happiness.
In food terms, Pie is the substance the Pit will beg and plead for the Picky Girl to make for him. The Picky Girl's preferred pie to make is Alton Brown's Apple Pie recipe, however for this Pi(e) day she decided to take a risk and make her own recipe. The results you can see pictured above. (I like to think Alton Brown is giving his approving smile to say "Yep, I told you to put booze in that pie crust and it worked." Take a look at the recipe below if you want to try and make your own. Please note, picky girl baking is slightly random and disheveled so recipes are approximate. Lessen or add ingredients if it feels or tastes wrong to you.
Mixed Berry Chocolate Pie
1. Sift Sugar, Salt, Cocoa Powder, and Flour together in a bowl.
2. Chop the chilled butter and chilled shortening into small, half inch or so, pieces.
3. Add the butter and shortening to the dry ingredients and mix. I like to hand mix dough, but if you have a food processor or nice standing mixer that will probably be less messy.
4. Gradually, pour in the Whipped Cream Vodka, until the dough is cohesive, but not too sticky. If it's too dry add more Vodka, if it's too sticky add more flour, just be careful not to over work the dough.
5. Form the dough into a disk, cover, and refrigerate.
6. Wash the berries. Remove the tops from the tops from the Strawberries and quarter.
7. Gently combine the Blueberries, Strawberry pieces, Blackberries, Blueberries, and Sugar.
8. Preheat the oven to 425 F and grease a 9 1/2 inch pie pan.
9. Roll out the pie crust dough, liberally dusting with flour. (I completely stink at this activity. My best advice is that if you have a thin plastic cutting board, roll out on top of this and then flip onto the pie pan. Some people use wax paper, but I'm so bad at this I need something with more strength.)
10. If you're like me you will then spend the next few minutes fixing your imperfect crust, when finished gently scoop the berry sugar mixture inside, until level with the top of the pan. Pour the Whipped Cream Vodka over the filling.
11. Roll out the rest of the pie dough. Use a knife or pizza cutter to create 3/4 inch dough strips. Weave over the top of the pie. Use berry juice to join separate dough pieces.
12. Cover the pie pan with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and cook 10 more minutes.
13. Let the pie rest for 20 minutes, then go nom nom nom nom nom!
And now for your nerd enjoyment.
After several fabulous and food filled weeks in Belize we are back in Colorado and missing some of the unique tastes of the Carribbean. So now that we are settled back in our seafood deprived, yet entirely wonderful state of Colorado we wanted to share the most memorable meals from out trip.
Conch quite literally cover the ocean floor around Caye Caulker, and every restaurant cooks several versions of this large sea snail. The less skilled chef's made conch taste cheap and rubbery even if they could conjur a decent sauce. However, The Little Kitchen, a small and difficult to locate restaurant, made a mouth watering curry conch that highlighted the true potential of this delightful mollusk. The meat was cooked to tender, juicy perfection in a multidimensional curry sauce that had the perfect amount of kick.
Much like men, all meat pies are not created equal. The basic components are always the same; meat and seasoning baked in a pastry crust, still the choices and execution make the difference between mouth joy and eating disappointment. The juiciest, flakiest meat pies could be found at Gary's at the Belize Express Water Taxi Terminal in Belize City. Besides being baked to perfection with spicy beef, they are cheap, just a single Belize dollar (50 cents U.S.) per pie. Have a handful and enjoy the wait for your tour or boat.
Ceviche can be eaten just about anywhere in Central America and through all parts of the U.S. For those of you uninitiated with one of The Pit's favorite foods, let me tell you about ceviche. The basic component is raw fish, cured in a citrus sauce generally accompanied with onion, tomato, cilantro, chiles, or perhaps cucumber. (Picky Girl food nightmare!) Sometimes the fish is mixed or replaced with shrimp, lobster, or conch. The Pit ate ceviche at least once a day (sometimes twice or more) and never regretted it. He never met a fish he wouldn't eat! If you are lucky enough to live near quality seafood here's a link to a tasty Belizean ceviche.
If we were on UHF's Wheel of Fish, we would most certainly want to win Red Snapper. We selected this fish off the catch of the day tray and it was grilled whole for us with a peppery Papaya seasoning at Rose's Grill and Bar. The Picky Girl is a little finicky about what fish she will eat and she quickly devoured this Snapper. The fish was thick, juicy and savory with not a hint of that "fishy" aftertaste. The pinbones were a little challenging to eat around, but completely worth the effort.
Sorry for the lack of posts the past few months. Between work, school, traveling and our innate laziness we just haven't been able to find the time and motivation to write. But now we are back on the interwebs! For our joint birthdays/anniversary (May is a busy month for us) we took a trip to Florida and we ate at The Three Broomsticks at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and enjoy some serious blue crabs in Homosassa.
We went to Homosassa to enjoy some freshwater diving, swim with the local manatees and get some good seafood in between. We enjoyed the local blue crab specialty at the Riverside Crab House. Blue crabs are a sweet crab most often served whole. Since each crab is about the size of your plate, eating them is a very labor intensive event. We enjoyed a steaming, delicious bucket with both the regular seasoning and the garlic crabs. Despite our frustration at removing the edible tastiness from the shell, gills, and other muck, I would recommend getting a bucket whenever you have a chance. And here is a video to help you succeed where we failed at crab meat extraction.
And when we finished up on the coast we headed to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Why? Because in addition to being foodies we are hardcore nerds! We of course ate at The Three Broomsticks. The menu was small and reminiscent of the typical English pub food with a bit of renaissance fare mixed in; Sheperd's pie, fish n' chips, turkey legs. We got the half chicken and the chicken and ribs. They were certainly a step up over typical amusement park fare, but nothing too special.
The Pit's chicken was dry and the Picky Girl's corn lacked sweetness and season. The butterbeer was a different story. We highly recommend that you get the frozen butterbeer, it somehow freezes out the overly sucrose taste that overwhelms the regular butterbeer. The frozen butterbeer had a sweet butterscotch taste and it was nice that they added the frothy topping separate. Frankly, it won't matter what we say because if you are actually at Harry Potter World, you are going to get a butterbeer no matter what. Otherwise, what's the point? Oh and to keep it PG there is no alcohol content, so don't expect to get schnockered off the stuff. If you can't make the trip to Orlando or are scared of freakish crowds, you can try this recipe at home.