Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hanging in Boulder, Another Year Older

Hethyr:  If you’ve read the last couple of posts, you’ll know that I’m currently on an elimination diet to heal my gut.  I had another appointment with Dr. Restricto last week and was told that I need to be on this diet for at least another month and then we’ll reassess to see if I’m ready to add certain foods back.  I was pretty bummed to hear that but I know it’s all for a good reason and if it makes me feel better in the long run, then it’s worth it.  HOWEVER, I have a birthday coming up this week…  How old am I going to be, you ask?  Don’t you know it’s not polite to ask a lady (or young girl, in my case) her age?  As some country song by someone I’ve never heard of says “I’m old enough to know better but I’m still too young to care.”

Since my birthday is right around Labor Day (and sometimes actually falls on Labor Day), I often get the three day weekend to celebrate.  This year, Jon has a school function on my actual birthday, so we decided to celebrate early this weekend.  I made sure to ask Dr. Restricto if I could do a little cheating and she said “Yes!  Eat whatever you want – it’s your birthday.”  I knew that I didn’t want to go completely overboard or I’d feel like crap, but there are a couple of things that I’ve been missing terribly.  So…

I decided on my perfect day.  We got up without an alarm, I did yoga and then we headed up to Boulder to hang out for the day.  We started with a trip to the famous Saturday farmers’ market.

It's the biggest one I've ever seen!

I was pretty much set on a good loaf of bread, some kind of savory jam or spread (we ended up with two different types of olive tapenade), some good cheese and some heirloom tomatoes for lunch, so we set out with intention.  We found everything we needed and some extra items for good measure.  We brought home some extra cheese, sweet corn and olive tapenade.

Searching for the perfect
organic produce

Where we eventually bought
our tomatoes

A plethora of pretty, pretty produce

With our market booty, we headed to Boulder Creek for a picnic.  We found a nice little spot by the creek’s edge and laid out our feast.  The weather could not have been more perfect – mid-70s and sunny with a tiny bit of a breeze.  Some people were floating down the crystal clear creek in tubes, some were wading around and many (like us) were just lazing near the water’s edge soaking up rays and enjoying the beautiful day.

Boulder Creek on a perfect day

Crusty bread with Camembert, olive and red pepper
tapenade and a gorgeous heirloom tomato

Me with my mouth full

The ducks wanted in on the feast

Drinking wine out of plastic cups
by Boulder Creek - that's class.

After lunch, we headed to Pearl Street for a little vintage shopping before dinner.  Although the vintage shops seem to carry mostly 80s clothing and nothing we were really into (are we seriously THAT old?!?!), we had fun poking around and laughing at some of the tackier items.

At around 5pm, we walked to the restaurant where we wanted to have dinner to check it out and see if we could get reservations (we were told on the phone that they only took reservations for parties of six or more).  Apparently, they do take reservations but they were full for the whole night.  The hostess said for the best chance of getting a table, we should probably come back in about 20 minutes - yep, 5:20pm.  Well, we really, really wanted to eat at Salt the Bistro so we made a quick trip to one more vintage store and then headed back.  We were able to get a table outside and decided to have a drink before ordering anything so we might be a little hungrier when we actually made our order.  Jon had one of our favorite local milk stouts from Left Hand Brewing Company and I had a local gluten-free beer from New Planet.  See?  I tried to be a little bit good.

Finally we decided on an appetizer of crusty bread topped with shiitake and matsutake mushrooms from local Hazel Dell Mushrooms and some kind of buttery white sauce, drizzled with truffle oil.  Of course we never remember to take pictures before digging in, so you’ll probably notice some bites missing…

We knew we wanted to order dessert, so decided against salad/soup and first course and went straight for the entrées.  Jon had a beautiful salmon dish and I opted for the local grilled pork chop with crispy polenta, local green beans and a grilled Colorado peach.  The pork chop was one of the tastiest I’ve ever eaten in my life (it was brined before cooking) and unlike most gourmet restaurants, the portion was so large that I brought home half for lunch today.  Amazingly, this is the dish that I really wanted above anything else on the menu and everything was within my dietary guidelines.  See?  I was good without intention, even!

But then there was dessert.  >=)  Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Cake.  Oh yeah.  The description per Salt’s website is “black onyx chocolate cake with hazelnut butter & housemade Earl Grey ice cream.”  It was devilishly good.

Half-eaten Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

On the way home, Jon and I laughed about how much my idea of a perfect day has changed in the 14 years we’ve been together and about the fact that we’d probably end up in bed by 10pm.  Here’s to getting old!  And here’s my recipe for my perfect birthday…

Perfect Birthday
1 hour of yoga
1 cup of coffee for hubby and 1 cup of tea for wifey
1 hour at the enormous and awesome Boulder farmers’ market resulting in:
1 good loaf of crusty bread from local Udi’s bakery
1 wheel of Camembert cheese from local MouCo Cheese Company
1 jar of olive tapenade and 1 jar of olive and red pepper tapenade from
local Loredana’s Pesto
2 ripe organic heirloom tomatoes from local Cure Organic Farm
2 ripe organic peaches for dessert from western slope Ela Family Farms
6 ears of organic peaches & cream sweet corn to take home
1 wedge of raw milk cheddar-style cheese and 1 wedge of Buckhorn cheese
            from local Windsor Dairy
2 hours of lounging by Boulder Creek eating lunch and drinking wine
2 hours of vintage shopping and people-watching on Pearl Street
3 hours of fabulousness at Salt the Bistro for dinner and drinks

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jon:  Boulder is such an amazing place.  It’s one of those distinctive, uncommon towns where you can have a profoundly entertaining day doing nothing more than walking, sitting and eating.  The creekside picnic with fresh, local bread, cheese, fruits and veggies—and red wine to wash it down—was about as fun and relaxing as it gets.

But the thing that makes Boulder Boulder is the people.  Sure, there are thousands of college kids with every kind of style (and lack of style) imaginable.  But the locals provide the truest entertainment.  Whether it’s the dreadlocked African-mask wearing drummer, or the fire juggling clown, or the mysterious guy who walks around town in extremely slow motion, you don’t need to look any further than the streets and sidewalks for amusement.  My favorite peculiarity of the day came in front of a music stage where a roller-skating dancer was putting on a performance that would almost certainly make a Las Vegas showgirl blush.

Although there were only eight entrées on the menu at Salt, after thirty minutes I had managed to merely whittle my choices down to six.  I decided that I would revert to the “panic order” decision that comes when the server is standing and waiting with pen and paper in hand.  Since she had proven to be friendly and helpful, I went ahead and asked our waitress for her input on my dilemma.  As she was describing all the potential pros and cons of each option, Hethyr brought up the very astute point that perhaps I should stay away from the Pan Roasted Wild Alaskan Salmon because it was not caught locally.  The server mentioned that it wasn’t all that far away—it was just from up there in Alaska.  I bit my tongue and refrained from pointing out that Alaska was actually 3000 miles away from our current location.  I suppose that both Alaska and Colorado are mountainous, snowy, and a part of North America, so I could see where Sarah Palin one could get confused.  Anyway, the point of the story is that I ordered the salmon.

I can see Alaska from here!

Sorry fellow foodies, I promise I’ll eat an extra Colorado peach today as my penance.  Don’t forget to wish Hethyr a happy birthday on the 7th!


  1. Oh.... my.... goodness, I love this post! Jon, tsk, tsk... funny though! Hethyr, that's the best "perfect day recipe" I know! I think we're definitely getting wiser but staying young and fun at the same time... no problem with that! Here's to an early birthday wish... may the rest of your glorious life be filled with happiness and peace, including the best food you can find, the tastiest wine or gluten-free beer, and all of the love from those who think you are amazing! xxoo