Animals quote

"Animals give their lives to feed us, so it's on us to eat every part of them. It's a form of respect, and it's a better way to live than just treating meat as a disposable commodity." —Seamus Mullen, Chef


SAME Cafe — So All May Eat

The last full day we were in Denver we made it over to the SAME Cafe, a place I had put on our "to-do" list months ago, and we were delighted. The slices of pizza we had (California Chicken and Margherita) were super fresh. The crust was crisp and flavorful, the veggies delicious, and the sauce ... my god the sauce. We also enjoyed the fresh fruit salad (juicy cantaloupe and pears), Asian Chicken Slaw (pineapple, cucumber, cabbage, carrots and chicken) and a modest coffee-mug full of Corn & Squash Stew (squash, corn, lentils, green beans, celery, peppers, potatoes in a light broth).

Sure, the food was fresh and tasty, but that wasn't the main reason we were drawn to the little cafe on E. Colfax Ave. Instead, it was the mission and concept behind SAME that drew us in.

SAME stands for "So All May Eat." Started by Brad and Libby Birky out of a desire to give back, SAME is a "pay what you want" cafe, which also offers the opportunity to receive a meal for an hour of volunteering. That could involve sweeping the floor, doing dishes, serving patrons or even making yourself handy in the kitchen.
This does not make it a place to get a "cheap" lunch. Instead, this allows anyone the opportunity to get a good, healthy meal—from those with to those without. Those who can pay often contribute double to triple what they would have paid in a typical restaurant—I know Ray and I contributed at least $30 for our meal. And those who can't, often the homeless, instead give what they may have or give an hour of their time for a meal. This fills their bellies and let's them feel good about themselves—at SAME, everyone is treated equally.

Moreso, as we marveled over our pizza (better than we've had at some places), Ray made a very good point: For the homeless who volunteer their time in exchange for a meal and opt to work in the kitchen, they are learning marketable skills. Sure, it might not land them in The French Laundry, but good kitchen skills are skills, no matter where you pick them up. And I'm sure with a recommendation from Brad and Libby, this could get someone off the streets and into a job. Maybe it's at a fastfood joint, but it's a start, and it means that if someone is determined enough, they can take themselves even farther, maybe even to The French Laundry.

SAME's menu changes daily, but it always seems to offer 2 pizzas, 2 salads and 2 soups/stews. Their meals are mainly organic, and they are only open for lunch. And it is certainly going to be a place we go to anytime we're in Denver.


Denver Eats & Treats

We've had some amazing meals while in Denver, and our trip is only halfway through! Let me share some of them (excuse the photo quality...these were taken with my iPhone, often in low light):

Machu Picchu pancake from Snooze: quinoa and cornmeal base, sunflower seeds, blueberries, and a drizzle of agave syrup.
Half order of the Backyard BBQ Benny from Snooze: housemade corn bread topped with slow-cooked Niman Ranch BBQ Beef, poached eggs, smoked cheddar hollandaise and diced pickles.
Rumaki from Jonesy's Eat Bar: bacon-wrapped water chestnuts in a whiskey glaze with spicy pineapple chutney.
Seafood risotto from Jonesy's Eat Bar: shellfish (scallops, shrimp, calamari, mussels, cockles) sauteed with garlic, basil, tomatoes, saffron and brandy.
Half orders of dessert from Jonesy's Eat Bar: Chipotle ice cream topping a dark chocolate brownie (left) and dulce de le leche pudding with sea salt.
Burgers from Rackhouse Pub: Spiced Burger with– hot spiced beef, cool jalapeño cream cheese on challah and Bison Burger with cambozola, fresh tomato, whiskey onion on challah and side of beer baked mac and cheese.
NYC Scramble from Water Course Foods: scrambled eggs, sundried tomatoes, spinach, carmelized onions, roasted garlic, basil and brie with sweet potato homefries, homemade biscuit and homemade raspberry jam.
Colorado lamb sirloin from Wynkoop: marinated and grilled lamb sirloin served with mushroom risotto and herb oil and red wine reduction.
Breakfast flatbread from Olivéa: crème fraîche, applewood smoked bacon, onions and
two sunny side up eggs.
Organic carrot and Thai red curry soup with apple pear chutney and cilantro from Root Down.
Carrot gnocchi with baby zucchini, wild mushrooms, Parmesan and carrot-coriander sauce (left) and "Devils on Horseback" cheese and date stuffed peppadew, wrapped in smokey Serrano ham from Root Down.
Organic risotto: black quinoa, Serrano ham, radicchio, brussel sprouts and a savory vanilla saffron sauce from Root Down.
Creme fraiche apple pie from Root Down: granny smiths, cheddar crust, chocolate dipped neuskes bacon & rosemary ice cream.
Whiskey King Pizza from Woody's Woodfired Grill: Whiskey sauce, pulled pork and cheddar on a honey semolina crust.


Baby Squirrel Cuteness

So we're in Denver on vacation—one of the best cities in the US—and we decided to do a little recon in some of the neighborhoods, since we want to eventually move here.

We checked out the Cheesman Park area yesterday, which has a HUGE park in the center, and came across this little fella (or lady) on our walk.

I've never seen a baby squirrel before (no, this wasn't a chipmunk, I checked). It was not afraid of us, which I was partly happy about because I didn't want it getting scared into the street, but I was a little concerned with how trusting it was.

It even climbed on to Ray's foot and hung out for a little bit, very curious. It made little chittering noises the entire time, and came over to me when I squatted down to say hello.

Before we left, the squirrel climbed up a tree where it's sibling was taking a nap in the crook of a tree limb. The 2 climbed towards each other and hung out on the side of the tree, looking at us and each other. A very cool part of our day (I'm easy to please).


Brewfest Chick

On Saturday, my husband Ray had one of his lifelong wishes fulfilled. As he posted on Twitter:

My dream of being married to a hot brewfest chick comes true today. :D

I was lucky enough to see the call for a volunteer to pour at Geraghty's Fall Beer and Food Fest for Sly Fox, and I jumped on it, nailing the gig as the first person to respond. I was ecstatic, and a teeny bit nervous, because I had always been on the other side of the table at fests. But I love beer and can handle taps, so I knew I'd be good to go, and I was. It was awesome.

To read more about my little adventure, check out my post at Bathtub Brewery, the homebrew blog I keep with Ray. You won't be disappointed!


Smokey Shrimp Chowder

Last weekend, when Ray was off at GameLoop in Boston, I decided to make chowder. I was originally inspired by Real Simple's Shrimp and Corn Chowder with Fennel recipe I had pulled out and saved months ago. However, upon reading the recipe, and the reviews, I started making changes.

I wanted something that would be satisfying, while not too heavy, especially because it's been pretty miserable in the Philly metro area, heat-wise. I also wanted to make sure the chowder stretched a bit, since we don't have a lot of time to cook on week nights. This means making a big batch of something Sunday and living off of it for as long as possible.

• 3 strips duck bacon (I used D'Artagnan uncured smoked duck bacon)
• 3 tbsp unsalted butter
• 1 leek (white and light green parts), chopped
• 1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced
• kosher salt and black pepper
• 2 cups chicken stock
• 1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• bay leaf
• 1/4 tsp chicken bouillon
• 1 lb raw peeled and deveined medium shrimp
• 8 oz frozen corn
• 8 oz frozen peas
• 3/4 cup light cream
• 4 tbsp lemon juice
• Dried dill weed to taste
• Hot paprika to taste

•Thaw shrimp in cool water for later.
• Cook 3 strips of duck bacon in the main pot you'll be making the chowder. Once crispy, drain on a paper towel and set aside.
• Toss chopped leek and mushrooms into the pot with the rendered duck fat. Add 2-3 tbsp of unsalted butter and cook until leeks have softened and mushrooms have reduced in size. Season with salt and pepper.
• Add chicken stock and simmer.
• In a separate pot, boil cubed potatoes with 1 cup white wine and 2 cups water to cover the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Boil for 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
• Add 1 cup white wine to pot with veggies and chicken stock. Keep simmering.
• Once potatoes are tender, transfer them into the main pot. Reserve their cooking water. Add bay leaf, 1/4 cup white wine, 2 tbsp lemon juice, pepper and 1/4 tsp of chicken bouillon. Cook down for 10 minutes until flavor is concentrated.
• Add concentrated cooking liquid to main pot, along with corn and peas.
• Add the 3/4 cup of light cream, dill and parika. Crumble the duck bacon and add. Simmer for 10 minutes
• Add thawed shrimp and simmer for 5 minutes.

The flavor is great—the smoked duck bacon makes all the difference, in my opinion. I was a little disappointed with the shrimp—I didn't feel like they added much more flavor, so maybe I'll try this with some different seafood in the future. The broth was just right—not too creamy and gloppy, and the potatoes remained tender for a whole week.

Not to mention that the condo smelled wonderful.