Saturday, February 21, 2009

A hike up the Rockies and High Tea at Brown Palace & Spa

I was finally feeling better,after suffering with a massive headache, running nose, and blistering fever for 2 days. Ron suggested some fresh air, and we found ourselves up in Boulder hiking on one of the many paths in the mountains.

There was a little snow on the ground but as you can see the sun was shinning the day was warm, high 50's in Denver, don't really know the temp up in the mountains, but we weren't cold and it was just what the Dr. ordered.

I guess it's called Boulder Colorado, because you see these massive boulders all along the way and surprising to me was the red soil (clay?)

One of the many spectacular views from almost the top of Flagstaff Mountain.

Another stunning vista. Boulder must have really healthy people as we saw many people on these trails and they didn't look like tourists. The road to the top is a winding curving steep climb and I was surprised,amazed to see a long distance biker struggling up the road on his race bike. Man was I impressed!

What you don't see is the 5,000ft drop literally inches behind Ronnie, and with 30 mile winds I just wanted to quickly take the picture and have him move away. Show -off!


My reward was High Tea at the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa. Of the infamous "Unsinkable" Molly Brown who struck it rich in the Colorado gold rush and entered folklore when she survived the sinking of the Titanic. What many don't know is that she was a woman of many passions. She travelled, performed and ran for public office. She also shared a dream with many women of her generation : the right to vote. Unfortunately her Home/museum closed at 3:30 and we arrived there afterwards and were too late for the tour, but a few blocks away was her Hotel a stately Grand Old Dame of a hotel in downtown Denver. After being ill and not having much of an appetite, that walk in the mountains did the trick and all the delicacies of high tea turned out to be just the right amount.

Ron waiting for his favorite...warm scones which were coming hot out of the oven..

Scrumptious maple pecan scones with creme fresh, strawberry jam, tea sandwiches of crab, egg, cucumber and of course chocolate treats that just melted in your mouth all enjoyed with a pot of organic Earl Gray Tea.

Our beautiful little table

and me, tired but happy..

I know I look pale, a little bit of the cold is still showing, but my spirits were lifted.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Flagstaff House Restaurant, Boulder Colorado

Ron has been working In Denver Colorado since the 11th of January, and well I hadn't really planned on going out to be with him, But he didn't need to twist my arm too hard when he asked me to come out.
Ron and I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day, oh we have exchanged the odd card, dinners and box of chocolate in the past, but it really is not a big occasion for us. However, after hearing nothing but rave reviews of this fabulous restaurant, Ron took the opportunity to take me out to the Flagstaff House Restaurant in Boulder Colorado.

The Flagstaff house Restaurant is run by the Monette family (Don and his 2 sons). It is nestled in the Boulder Park mountainside at an elevation of 6000ft. (Now you know why Denver is called the Mile High City). The restaurant was originally a cabin built in 1928. The family has owned it since 1971 and have greatly expanded the property, featuring floor to ceiling picture windows and several indoor levels and outside terraces. But do check out their website as this place has won MANY awards and you can read up on it much faster than I can type about it.
We started our journey by driving from Denver where Ron is staying for about 20 minutes through a long curving winding road up the mountain side , not something I would want to do during icy weather. We arrived around 8:30 and started in the richly crafted mahogany bar, complete with cozy fireplace, plush comfy leather seating and some drinks to start the evening.
Unfortunately, I wish I was a better photographer, and that the evening wasn't so misty as the view of Boulder was absolutely breathtaking. We were surrounded by these beautiful floor to ceiling glass windows and there truly was not a bad seat in the house. Not to mention that the service from the moment the valet guys took our car was exceptional! When I say these lovely people were absolutely phenomenal, I am not kidding they were great and most of them had already put in a 10 hours by the time it was our turn, and we were still there at 12:30 and everyone of them were still as fresh and attentive as when we arrived. The evening started with warm bread, walnut bread, fromage rolls ,artisan bread and we each had our own butter pots.

The first dish came and it wasn't anything we had ordered. They served us a complementary appetizer of salmon mousse wrapped in phylo dough piping hot and melt in your mouth tasty.

We were told by our sommelier that we had made a good choice in our wine selection. I can't list a price as the wine list was actually a wine Bible a 160 page leather bound book that boasted a 160 page wine list. When I looked through it and saw the prices ranged from 320$ to 21,000$ for the champagne I figured I would let Ron order, but reminded him that I am in desperate need of new kitchen counters and didn't want him to blow our granite budget on the wine. But that being said they do have a Wine Cellar on the premises that boasts over 20,000 bottles of wine.

Ron's appetizer was really a feast unto itself and was easily shared by 2 people that is how big the portion was. It was ,Quail Pancetto wrapped and grilled, Black Trump Mushrooms, with Truffle Infused Italian Heirloom Pollenta with a Sauce of Garlic. (16$) The quail was melt in your mouth, the polentta so creamy it was to die for and the sauce I literally had to hold myself back from taking my bread and just wiping the plate clean.

The second appetizer that I had ordered was the Ahi Tuna Tartar -prepared table side- with toasted triangles(18$) and you could supplement it with Fukucho,"Moon on the water", Junmiaiginjo Sake, Hiroshima, Japan 2 os. (8$).
Now this is where I have to apologize, the picture is fuzzy because my server was mixing it but it originally came presented with the tuna in a circular mound topped with a quail egg , radiating from the tuna where spiral rows of onion, capers,wasabie infused mango, black sesame seeds, garlic crystal salt, nuts and of course that quail egg. But it all happened so fast one minute it was placed before me and the next the server was describing the spiral condiments and then he was mixing everything before I could take the picture. Again This dish was also shareable in size and totally delicious. There were so many wonderful appetizers listed the hard part was making a choice. For my bucket list I hope to be able to return and try all the other delectable items.

At this stage we were glad that we hadn't ordered the lobster bisque but instead choose a salad that we were going to share. They presented the salad on 2 plates and as you can see from the presentation the serving was quite hefty, and that was half the salad. Baby Arugula Parma Procutto,white Truffle Balsamic Vinaigrette,Tuscan whit Bean and Regianno Parmigiano (15$) What can I say without being repetitive, it was fabulous.

This was another freebee surprise, sorry about the blurr. Ron and I each got a flutted cup filled with grapefruit sorbet as a palate cleanser.

And now for the meal, Ta Da! Ron ordered Buffalo Fillet Mignon&Fois Grois "Wellington", in a Brioche Baked covering with Hedgehog Mushrooms, Haricot Verte, Sauce of Black Truffle (66$) I don't eat red meat, but when Ron offered me a bit I just couldn't believe the taste and how it just melted on my palette. Again the sauce, left me wanting to lick the plate, but alas it was Ron's meal.

Sorry the picture doesn't do it justice. I ordered the Tazmania King Salmon, Hawaiian Blue Prawn's Parsnip Puree, Broccoli Rabe, In a Prawn Reduction(36$). Who would have thought that parsnips could be so delectable. The Salmon just flaked apart, the prawns and the reduction complemented the Salmon perfectly. Unfortunately at this point I could only eat half of it. While the meals were spaced out to give you plenty of time to digest and enjoy the conversation I really must say I couldn't eat another bit. But it was so wonderfully flavored and heavenly.
I should mention that there was a special Valentine's Day menu and while many of the items listed where listed as ,"For Two", we chose to modify the menu a bit.
As mentioned I really couldn't put another thing in my mouth and was seriously thinking about forgoing the coffee and dessert but...

Ok I relaxed a bit and ordered the coffee, not just any ordinary coffee either. The regular coffee turned out to be not so regular (6.25$) a cup. The coffee was a blend of 6 coffee's from East Africa, Central Asia and Indonesia with 3 roast colors. It featured a range of complex flavours from fruity to dark and rich with great depth and balance.I had the decaf Ron the regular.
The highlight was the Sugar/Candy Tray that came with the coffee. It was filled with Peppermint candy, brown sugar candy, sugar crystals, white chocolate. milk chocolate, dark chocolate, coconut, and unsweetened whipped cream, what a unique way of serving coffee.

As mentioned above, we did not choose the Valentine Dessert for two, as I seriously could not put another thing in my mouth, so Ron ordered form the regular Menu, a lovely Light Lemon in Almond Tart, with Raspberries whipped Cream and a side of Lemon Ice Cream (11$) I'll take Ron's word that it was delicious and just melted in his mouth and that we should duplicate it at our next dinner at home.
But wait.... it's not the end...

Again the house presented us with complimentary Chocolate coated strawberries ans YES I ate mine! Seems I had a little room Left!

When we left, the bar was cleaning up and there were only a handful of people left the servers looked tired but still cordial and polite, the owners Mark and Scott(The 2 sons) were at the bar having a drink and I had to compliment the chef Scott on a great meal. ( he looked tired)

And a good night to all with a view from our window at the Flagstaff. Total bill With booze, food, wine and tip (300.80$ ) Well worth it.