I recently returned from four incredible days in Colorado. I had never been and now I understand why people vacation there. It was beautiful everywhere you looked. We are lucky enough to have friends that decided to get married in an unreal location, so we were along for the ride. Literally along for a 45-minute ride up a mountain to Piney Lake, which was the backdrop for their big day. I think the ride down was faster because most of us had enjoyed ourselves at the bar.
It was the trip of a lifetime, so I thought I’d share a few recipes inspired by our Colorado meals. Whenever I visit somewhere new, I like to re-create the food from the trip. It’s the best way (in my opinion) to bring your memories home with you. Before we get too far down this rambling rabbit hole, the title (Give me the hot dog, baby) refers to one of our favorite It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes. If you need a laugh, go to season 10, episode 1 on Netflix and thank me later.
We arrived at the Denver airport a little before lunch on Thursday and Nick’s parents did not fly in until later that night, so we had time to explore. I Googled ‘Denver restaurants’ while waiting in the Budget rental car line for our Subaru (how appropriate). After browsing a few different websites, I found the place: Prohibition Bar. Not only did the name appeal to me, but the menu looked great and it is located in the downtown Capitol Hill area. I am a sucker for anything government related and the location fit the bill. After a twenty-minute drive through some interesting areas (lots of medicinal stores…), we found it. The Colorado Statehouse, the Federal Reserve, and the Mint were all located within a few blocks.
Prohibition was a friendly little find. We had the bar to ourselves and the bartender was nice enough to charge my phone while we ate. We browsed the cocktail list and found a drink called ‘Breaking Bad,’ which was the obvious choice. It was a fancy Old Fashioned and we shared it, meaning Nick drank most of it. He ordered one of each taco option and the veggie one was the best of the bunch – the spice level would make any carnivore not miss the meat.
I went with the kitchen sink salad since I knew we had a five-course dinner ahead of us. The corn, avocado, goat cheese, chicken, and dressing hit the spot. I loved it so much, that I re-created it for my lunch rotation this week. I added pepitas (tiny green pumpkin seeds) and made a cilantro dressing (recipe below). As we left, we noticed a sign in the bar that said, “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.” ― Frank Sinatra
We did a few laps around Denver in the car and then headed back to the airport for round two. After a few quality hours spent in the cell phone lot drinking Snapple and listening to songs on the radio (including a song about Jesus smoking pot), we were on our way to Vail! It’s a 2.5-hour drive, which isn’t bad, but something to consider if you have an early AM flight coming home.
While I was a Colorado newbie, this was not Nick’s family’s first rodeo. They had secured reservations for Beano’s Cabin months in advance. It lived up to the hype and it was a meal I’ll never forget. It’s located within the Beaver Creek resort area and you take a shuttle (or horse) up the mountain to the cabin.
I had butternut squash soup, salad (greens + peaches + vanilla mascarpone + almonds + balsamic), lemony risotto with asparagus, honey smoked wild salmon with a sweet corn mushroom hash, and an assortment of desserts. I was confused by the dessert options and ordered a fig and goat cheese tart that was not a tart. It was a very nice, but odd cheese and bread plate. Nick chose the best of the bunch and had a rhubarb strawberry creation with ice cream.
The winner for the entrees was the pork porterhouse with cheddar grits and peaches. I plan to re-create this one soon. We’re in a food desert while the Marsh stores slowly go out of business, so we had the grits (recipe below) with bbq chicken and roasted broccoli instead of the pork.
You’ll notice that I didn’t take pictures of the food at Beano’s – it was the kind of place that I wanted to enjoy with the people I love. So, use your imagination. I’ve captured the flavors and memories by writing about the experience and hopefully you’ll take a little inspiration from the menu too.
On Friday, we experienced a $92 gondola ride that ended with a hot dog on top of a mountain near Vail Village. Thrifty Libby would have walked up the mountain to save a buck, but Colorado Libby did not have the proper gear. Once down the mountain, I ditched my sandals for a fancy new pair of Merrell hiking boots, so holler at me if you’re up for a hiking sidekick in Eagle Creek this summer. Traveling is expensive, but you just have to suck it up and go with the flow. It’s another incentive to cook your own meals a few times a week – you’ll eat well and save money.
Our last two days in Vail went by so fast. Piney Lake was the highlight: there were kids in canoes and dogs on paddle boards in the background as Nick’s best friend got married. It’s one of the most magical places I’ve ever been. Here’s to kicking off a summer full of weddings.
Side note: I found Denver’s business card in my suitcase while packing for the trip. The discovery is especially ironic because the destination was Denver. I’d like to think it was a ‘God-wink.’ She was always up for adventure, so my suitcase was a fitting place for her card to have settled. XO
Cilantro Lime Dressing for Prohibition’s Kitchen Sink Salad
Inspired by Epicurious
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar (or honey)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup old-fashioned grits
- 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- salt and pepper
In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Slowly stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are tender, 20 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cheese and butter. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.