Ice Cream Worth the Wait

K's Dairy Delite Sign A July mid-afternoon in Buena Vista, Colorado practically requires a stop at K’s Dairy Delight. The menu says, “One location serving the nation!” I count license plates from ten states when we pull into the parking lot. The line is long but no one’s complaining.  

Many customers order burgers but it seems everyone wants ice cream in the form of cones, shakes, malts, floats, sundaes, parfaits or banana boats. The soft serve ice cream is legendary. Choose a regular, waffle, dipped, twinkle cone or a doubleheader.

K's Dairy Delite Exterior The Urban Spoon website ranks K’s as the best ice cream in Colorado, I mumble, “yum” several times as I finish my vanilla cone and wish for a doubleheader. Definitely worth the wait.

We couldn’t resist stopping again on our return trip. This time Bob and I order caramel shakes – WOW! Michael gave his black raspberry shake great reviews.

Columbine Park across the street provides picnic tables and plenty of shade for relaxinBuena Vista Playgroundg while consuming K’s Dairy Delite treats. A large playground will wear off youthful energy before getting back in the car for the next leg of the journey.

When You Go: K’s Dairy Delite is located at 223 Highway 24 South, Buena Vista, Colorado; 719-395-8695.

Colorado History and Homemade Pie

Echo Lake Lodge Sign

It took me 47 years but I finally stepped foot into Echo Lake Lodge, a traditional stop before or after a trip up Mount Evans. It wasn’t an intentional avoidance we had simply never visited the seasonal gift  shop/restaurant. It won’t take us 47 years to return.

Constructed in 1926, many features of the log lodge still reflect that era. 2010 visitors Echo Lake Lodge Ext. appreciate the modernization evident in the remodel restrooms. Stepping into the gift shop feels like a step back to a curio shop of my youth. Sweatshirts, “Hike Colorado” hats, postcards, vials of gold flakes – souvenirs galore fill the racks, shelves and cases. Kids are sure to find something they really “need”.

 

Homemade Pie - ELL

Since the time was 3pm and we had yet to have lunch we were more interested in the restaurant. Years ago I read about Echo Lake Lodge’s homemade pies. The same concessionaire has carried on that tradition for decades. The critical decision is which one to order – apple, peach, cherry, blueberry, butterscotch or chocolate peanut butter. Bob chose cherry with vanilla ice cream while I devoured a slice of butterscotch – crust and filling were both winners.  The peach pie with cinnamon ice cream sounds like a choice I might have toCherry Pie try next time.

Bob preceded the pie with a chicken fried steak sandwich. I opted for a cup of buffalo chili. Both tasty and satisfying. Echo Lake Lodge is open from 8am-8pm, serving breakfast daily until 11am. How about Rocky Mountain trout and eggs for a Colorado breakfast entree? The large Mt. Evans cinnamon roll looks like something one should plan to share.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or a piece of homemade pie – we will be back.

When You Go: Echo Lake Lodge is open seven days a week from mid-May into October. Opening and closing dates determined by weather conditions. Call 303-567-2138 for information.

Barrel Into Spring

Grand Valley Winery Association

 Mt. Garfield and Vineyard - A2010

Barrels are tapped and last fall’s harvest sipped and swirled during the annual “Barrel Into Spring” weekends at wineries around Grand Junction, Colorado. Eight members of the Grand Valley Winery Association host visitors two weekends each spring, April 24-25 and May 15-16 in 2010. Each winery pours current releases as well as the first tastings of the 2009 vintages – a sneak-peak into their potential.

Sampling at Plum Creek Tickets for each weekend – good for Saturday and Sunday of the same weekend – are limited so this is not an overly crowded shoulder to shoulder experience. A commemorative wine glass, passport and map awaits ticket holders at their assigned first winery. After that everyone is on own. You’ll welcome to spend as much or as little time at each venue as you choose. It would be a real rush but I’ve met people who have visited all eight in one day. Cyclists set a more leisurely pace pedaling along the rural roads between wineries.

Participating Wineries:

Food and Wine at GR Food, the perfect wine companion is not overlooked during the tastings. Each winery features dishes to showcase their wines. At one it may be an Italian deli-like spread, at another a German theme built around their Gewurztraminer. From cheese to chocolate tasters learn great pairing tips. You may even go home with a couple of new recipes.

At Carlson Vineyards, owner/winemaker Parker Carlson encourages everyone to get a plate of food before coming to the tasting table. As the different wines are poured he suggests trying it with the lamb, the duck, etc. Italian-born chef Brunella  Gualerzi of il Bistro Italiano in downtown Grand Junction works with Parker planning and preparing these perfect pairings. At the first barrel tasting Carlson Vineyards Sign several years ago a jovial Gualerzi shared a story as she offered a plate of grape kabobs drizzled with caramelized sugar. “When I was growing up Italy we always had a two week vacation at the beach. Ever morning at eleven a vendor carrying a wicker basket would come down the beach calling, ‘Cry kids, cry kids that your mommy will buy you a kabob’. I hadn’t thought about them for years but decided to make them for today.”

Depending on your interest the weekend offers a great opportunity to increase one’s wine knowledge. A presentation or tour is offered at eacBennett Price at DeBequeh location. Bennett Price of DeBeque Canyon Winery may share his years of experience demonstrating the wine-making process with carboys, tubing and airlocks. At Canyon Wind Cellars you can tour Colorado’s only underground wine cellars. Experience the difference  that varietal blending makes, or sample the flavors imparted by oak barrels from America verses France. Leave with a greater understanding of terroir and viniculture.

Spring barrel tasting weekends seem well designed for both the casual sipper and the connoisseur stocking their private collection. The participating wineries offer a 15% discount on wines purchased by event ticket holders. You’ll see those intently taking notes of each tasting while others are simply enjoying a casual weekend getaway.

Grand Junction and the Grand Valley region of Western Colorado offer numerous outstanding options for getaways. From the sandstone formations of Colorado National Monument to the Gateway Colorado Auto Museum, whitewater rafting on the Colorado River to the serenity of fly fishing on Grand Mesa, fruits direct from the orchard or fine dining you’ll want to return again and again.

Vine Weather Vane When You Go: Barrel Into Spring tickets for the May weekend are $60 if purchased before April 19th. Tickets for the April weekend are $65. The event usually sells out, don’t go without making reservations.  Lodging, dining and activity information available at the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau. The participating wineries all have tasting rooms regularly open to the public. Stop by the Grand Junction VCB at 740 Horizon Drive to pick up a free map to Colorado’s Wine Country and tour any time of year.

Mumbo Jumbo Gumbo Cook-Off

&

Carnivale Parade

The fruitcake is all cleaned up, now it’s time for another Manitou Springs day of fun. The gumbo starts cooking at 8am, February 13, 2010 in Manitou Springs. The entry form defines gumbo as, “A Cajun soup containing roux and thickened with gumbo file (dried sassafras leaves). It usually contains a variety of meats and or seafood, okra and other ingredients & seasonings and is generally served over rice.” Each contestant is required to make a minimum of 5 gallons of their specialty gumbo.

After the judges complete their tasting and ratings of the amateur and professional divisions at 10:45am the public digs in – 2 tastings for a dollar. Competition is limited to 20 entries; winners receive cash prizes & trophies. Head to Soda Springs Park for a mumbo jumbo guManitou Storefronts for Blogmbo splurge.

Carnivale Parade sets off through downtown Manitou at 1pm. I’ve never attended this event but this is the same community that brings us Coffin Races in October and the Great Fruitcake Toss in January. I’m pretty sure they know how to have a good time with gumbo and carnivale.

When You Go: Manitou Springs is encompassed by Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods.

Celebrating Fry Bread

I well remember my first taste of fry bread. Under a shady ramada in the middle of the historic Taos Pueblo a grandmotherly woman removed the golden puffed pastry Tocabe Fry Bread from a cast iron skillet. Handing me the laden paper plate she pointed to a squeeze bottle of honey. Yum – every bite was quickly consumed, I’d found a new culinary treasure.

I soon learned fry bread also served as a base for Indian Taos, piled high with meat, beans, cheese, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and salsa. Over the decades I’ve consumed Indian Taos and fry bread dusted with powdered sugar or dripping with honey at pueblos, pow wows, festivals, and restaurants on the Navajo reservation. When I heard there was a restaurant featuring the Native American staple opening in North Denver I put Tocabe on my “Must Visit” list.

Tocabe Neon Sign Like that first fry bread every bite at Tocabe disappears quickly. The menu is simple: American Indian Tacos, Stuffed Indian Tacos, Medicine Wheel Nachos, Little Osage Pizza – made with fry bread, of course. The soup choice changes daily – green chili clam chowder on Friday. And, for dessert, fry bread with honey, cinnamon or powder sugar and dessert tacos – fry bread topped with hot apples or cherries.

Located at 44th and Lowell in the Highlands Neighborhood, Tocabe welcomes hungry patrons to a clean, crisp, contemporary space. The rough stone wall with candle cradling niches reminds me of standing amidst the remains of earlier cultures at Mesa Verde or Chaco Canyon.

Tocabe Stuffed Fry Bread A friendly staff assists with choices for our made-to-order taco. Each piece of fry bread comes directly from the kitchen steaming hot. We begin by adding meat and beans: ground beef, shredded beef, chicken, ground buffalo, extra meat or vegetarian, black beans, pintos or chili beans. Followed by yea or nay to cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and purple onions. Choose two from the hominy or white corn salsas, mild or hot, red or green chili. Top everything off with sour cream, chipotle sauce – or both. On our most recent visit Bob and I attacked our plates as if a time clock were ticking, slowing consumption only for complimentary murmurings.

Who can leave without sharing a fry bread with honey for dessert? Not us. As Tocabe approaches their 1st anniversary in business we’re convinced Denver diners are extremely fortunate to have their very own American Indian Eatery. Celebrate fry bread.

Tocabe Hands 

 

Map picture

When You Go: Tocabe, 3536 West 44th Avenue, Denver, CO, 720-524-8282, is open Monday through Saturday 11am to 9pm and Sunday noon to 8pm.

9th Annual Candy Cane Festival

Red Candy Canes Along with thousands of others we stopped by Hammonds Candy Factory for the 9th annual Candy Cane Festival today. After a week of extremely cold temps, grey skies and snow everyone was ready to bask in the pleasantly warm sunny day, visit with Santa and stock up on holiday sweets.

Families waited patiently for tours of the factory to see candymakers at work. Lines also formed for rides on ‘Lil Spike’ the motorized train and hay rides drawn by a handsome team of draft horses. Entertainment, story time, face painting and inspecting emergency vehicles kept visitors busy. Blue Face

Of course, there was a full array of Hammond candies for sale. Buckets of the hand-formed candy canes in a rainbow of colors and flavors, baskets of old-fashioned ribbon candy, giant lollipops and peppermint pillows tempted shoppers. Bags of candy coal reminded us of those who were more naughty than nice this year.

Although the 2009 Candy Cane Festival is over one can always stop by the factory for a free tour or visit the retail store Monday – Saturday.

View the slide show for more photos of the 2009 Candy Cane Festival. A sweet time was had by all.

Festive Fun – Apples, Art, Activities

Apples, Apples, Apples – Fuji, Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious – the harvest of locally grown gems produces perfect cause for annual celebration in Cedaredge, Colorado the Apples - Red and Green first weekend of October. Pioneer families planted the first orchards in 1882. Credit the altitude, soil and/or weather – crop flavor and quality have produced prize winners for more than a century.

Cedaredge sits in the Surface Creek Valley at 6, 230-feet above sea level on the southern shoulder of Grand Mesa. As fall arrives apples, pears and grapes ripen and aspen atop the mesa turn to gold. Locals and tourists turn out for AppleFest fun. Cedaredge Town Park hums with classic car and motorcycle show, 150 art and craft booths, live music, antique tractors and plenty of opportunities to purchase award winning apples and apple entrees.

Events begin October 1, 2009 with a chili supper cook-off benefitting the Cedaredge Volunteer Fire Department. Golden Gala, an evening of food, drink, music and dancing fills Friday evening, Oct. 2. The 32nd annual AppleFest events in Town Park are scheduled for 9am-6pm on Saturday, Oct. 3 and from 10am on Sunday, Oct. 4.

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