Thursday, November 06, 2008

Snooze later...

If you find yourself in Denver, you must try one of their top rated breakfast/brunch joints, Snooze. It’s off the beaten path, sort of, and the husband and I discovered, it’s really off the beaten path when you’re walking from 16th street to 22nd in pouring rain. Regardless, we made it, just in time. When we arrived it was about 10:30 am on a Friday, and the place was packed with couple people ahead of us in line. I saw couple open bar seats and asked to be seated there because we wanted to sit down and we were starving.

The feel of the restaurant is fun- serving coffee and hot chocolate in bright yellow mugs, eclectic and retro in their round, metallic tables and chairs. I read on their site they try to be as environmentally conscious as possible; they buy from local vendors, recycle, and use non toxic chemical products. Bonus!

Once seated, the bartender/server was very kind and a great conversationalist. Right off the bat, he asked where we were from and why we were visiting Denver (I bet the knapsacks, tennis shoes, camera hung around our necks and the map of the city gave it away).

For drinks, I ordered a hot chocolate and the husband chose the house brew. The hot chocolate came with cinnamon sprinkled on top (no thank you on whipped cream) and I enjoyed it as I generally do when I am drenched and cold. It was good but nothing to write home about. The husband appreciated the strong coffee.

Onto brunch; we agreed to order two different things to share. I ordered Huevos Rancheros (I have a weakness for good Mexican food- may it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner) and he ordered Florentine’s Eggs. And even with the busy rush, the food arrived promptly. Mine came with three tortillas, black beans, melted cheese, huevos and pico de gallo. The huevos were done my way, over easy; when poked, the yolk run downs the rest of the beans and tortillas. I could taste the garlic and onion flavor in the beans. I added a tad bit of hot sauce for a kick. Other than my disappointment in pre bought tortillas instead of homemade, huevos tasted great.

The Florentine came with poached eggs on a bed of spinach, roasted poblanos and tomatoes with homemade cheese hollandaise and a side of hash browns. Sadly, the husband wasn’t as pleased with his meal as I was. I strongly believe that’s an isolated incident of him looking for a hot and spicy dish (ahhh huevos rancheros comes to mind) and instead he got a simple, mild dish. The cheese hollandaise was a hit for me. I shared my huevos in exchange for the Florentine so it worked out for both of us.

By the time we were done, the line was out the door. 10:30 on a Friday morning was the perfect time for us to grab a bite to eat, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and coffee, read the local paper, westword, and wait for the rain to taper off- all at Snooze. These people have it figured out on serving great food in a reasonable time while also keeping the space green and customer friendly.

Even though we went there weeks after the Democratic National Convention the hype from the convention lingered in the air, and something tells me Snooze, Denver and the United States of America are all happy with the outcome of this presidential race.

Monday, November 03, 2008

as fresh as it gets…

Few months back, a friend suggested I take her place in the local farm’s meat CSA program. She was pregnant and the thought of eating half of a hog or 22 chickens was making her nauseous. understandably.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It’s the idea of sustaining local farms and vendors and supporting environmentally conscious views.

Initially when I first read about CSA’s I came across Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. Intrigued by the concept I found Valerie and the Cincinnati Locavore group she created on yahoo which really made me want to join a vegetable CSA. After contacting local farms I quickly realized vegetable CSAs are much more popular than I expected, here in Cincinnati; none of the farms had space in their vegetable program. I left the idea alone until the pregnant friend approached me for the meat CSA. And I thought I would much rather eat chickens that lived a healthy, free range life than chickens that are locked up in their tiny cages for their short lives, slaughtered and then travel 500+ miles to get to my local grocery store. And same for those pigs and sheeps. baaaaaa. After speaking with the husband and a close friend, we all agreed to join.

Our chore at the farm is to feed the chickens, hogs, sheep (we get our meat from these animals), the farm horses and the dogs. We would essentially be these animals’ food and water providers for the times we sign up to feed them. When we started (half way into the program’s cycle) we had first hand experience with the eggs before we even had our share of the meat. For each chore period we work, we get half dozen eggs.

As you can see, the chickens lay colorful eggs.

The husband made me a simple omelet from the eggs we’d picked the night before. The recipe includes 3 eggs, diced onions, halved pear tomatoes (grown by a close friend), chopped green onions, green chili pepper (as little or as much as you want based on your heat preference), salt and pepper. Mix everything together. Add oil to a small skillet on medium low heat, then add the egg mixture and cook couple minutes on one side. Neither of us are much fans of flipping our omelets but if you are, go head. I am sure your partner, friend or pet will enjoy watching you splatter everything outside the skillet. The key to a good omelet is to cook low and slow. If cooked on high, the moisture cooks out from the eggs and you end up with dried, rubbery omelet.

This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the eggs from the farm because it brings out their freshness and light taste. Once you eat farm fresh eggs, you'll never eat store bought eggs.

Notice how yellow the omelet is; that's not an accident. I read that the locked-up-in-cage, corn and yellow-dye eating chickens lay eggs that have pale yellow yolks while the grass fed, free range chickens lay bright orange eggs. I am also tickled about picking eggs one night and eating them for breakfast the next as opposed to eating eggs that have been sitting in the grocery stores for weeks.

Although we all had our doubts and weren’t sure if we would be able to eat the meat from the chickens we fed and bacon from the hogs we watered, so far the freshly laid eggs have worked out quite pleasantly.

And to that I say Thank You for getting pregnant, friend!