Idiazabal

In a previous post I mentioned The Fox & The Crow in Fort Collins. They not only have great food, but also quite the extensive cheese selection. That means they also have non-cow cheese!

Went in these to see what I could find to have as just a fun appetizer for a dinner. After some discussion, I was offered a sample of the Idiazabal, a sheep’s milk cheese from Spain. It was amazing! Just semi-hard and had a unique smokiness to it. Far too good. Had to be careful not to buy too much of it. Would also be perfect paired with some Pinotage!

Had to do some quick research on it, as well. Did not know there is a cheese.com site… it confirmed my taste of smoke and gave me more info. Great stuff. Can’t wait to grab more.

 

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The Fox & The Crow, Fort Collins

Since I shop at Sprouts a lot, I see all the other stores in the Scotch Pines Shopping Center at Drake and Lemay. I had already checked out Elevation 5003 Distillery but then saw a ‘new’ place next to them. Well it turns out that it was just a restaurant/deli that moved from the other side of the shopping center so they could expand. This place is The Fox & Crow.

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Went for lunch on a nice afternoon. Walked in and grabbed a menu. Overwhelmed! So many choices. After many minutes, I finally went with the Figgy Piggy — Prosciutto di Parma and whipped chevre with mixed greens and fig spread ($9). I also opted for the salad instead of the chips for $2.

This was delicious! The sweetness of the figs paired perfectly with the slight saltiness of the prosciutto. Then the chevre was spread along the bread like mustard. Heaven.

They also have wine on tap there(!!), that rotates (we also offer 5 taps of great rotating local beer, one tap of cider AND 4 taps of premium wine). I went with the Pinot Noir, which was fairly light. Enjoyed all this while sitting outside on a sunny day. Can’t wait to return and try so more stuff on the menu, like one of their meat and cheese boards.

 

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Yum Yum(‘s, Fort Collins, CO)

I love Mediterranean food and since moving to Fort Collins I’ve had a hard time finding it. Recently, however, I was introduced to a great place that I never would have stumbled across on my own — Yum Yum’s. It’s family owned and operated, multiple award winning Mediterranean restaurant established in 1991.

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It’s so easy going and laid back in there. Casual atmosphere, also do carry-out and you truly know it’s family owned when they deliver your food to your table.

The menu is a very traditional Lebanese/Mediterranean one, which can be tough at some times because it’s hard to decide what to get. Usually when I go to these types of places I could eat just apps and salads.

I was sold right away when I found out their Baba Ghanouj had no yogurt in it — Roasted eggplant, sesame tahini, fresh garlic, lemon juice and special spices. Served with pita bread. Some places add yogurt, some don’t. Love it when it’s the latter.

I decided to go with that and some Fatouch Salad — Cucumber, parsley, green pepper, tomato and lemon juice.

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Both were absolutely perfect, and big serving sizes.

Others at the table went with Gyros and Shawarma plates. They have several beers on tap here, as well. We were talking with the owner while eating and the story is so true to a family restaurant about how it’s been taken over from a couple generations and they aim to keep in that form. The service was amazing, the food was delicious and the prices were very reasonable (especially considering the large serving sizes). If you like this type of food, give it a try!

Show Me Those (Dim Sum) Buns

And another fun adventure in Trader Joe’s. I’m a kid in a candy store there. Two Fearless Flyers ago there was mention of some goodies that made you feel like you were having Dim Sum. Had to go find those. Well, come to find out I grabbed the wrong thing (after reading the flyer again when I got home). The flyer item was Steamed Chicken Soup Dumplings. But, these are one of my favorite items at Dim Sum — Cha Siu Boa, a Chinese Style Pork Bun.

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You just pop these things in the microwave for about 45 seconds, let them cool and they’re ready to enjoy. I learned that you really do need to let them cool — yikes! The bread part is so soft, and the pork just has a nice sweetness. They also come on that paper that makes you feel like you’re at a restaurant, truly enjoying dim sum. Simple pleasures.

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Shaved Fennel Salad with Croutons and Walnuts

More cooking magazine flipping for recipes. This one from a few months ago in the April issue of Bon Appetit. Just sounded too good. Love fennel, love bread, throw in some nuts and cheese. Bring it on! This is another one where I find ways to make substitutes if I can enjoy the majority of the ingredients. So I used Manchego for the parm. The sharp taste was perfect!

Ingredients

2 cups coarsely torn sourdough bread
½ cup walnuts
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt
3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely grated
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 fennel bulbs with fronds
¾ cup torn mint leaves
½ lemon
2 oz. Parmesan, shaved (used Manchego)

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Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400°. Place bread on one side of a rimmed baking sheet and walnuts on the other side (they cook at different rates). Drizzle bread with 3 Tbsp. oil; season with salt. Toss, squeezing bread with your hands to help it absorb as much oil as possible, until evenly coated. Bake until walnuts are golden brown and croutons are deeply browned and very crisp, 8–10 minutes for walnuts, 12–15 minutes for croutons. Let cool, then coarsely chop walnuts. **I usually just toast my walnuts (or any nut) on the stove in a pan, CAREFULLY watching them, tossing them occasionally. Because they go from not done, not done, close to done, BURNT if you’re not paying attention.**

 

  • Meanwhile, combine vinegar, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Let sit 10 minutes to let garlic mellow and flavor the vinegar.
  • Whisk 3 Tbsp. oil into vinegar mixture, then add croutons and chopped walnuts. Season crouton mixture with some salt and toss to coat and let croutons soften slightly; set aside.
  • Remove stalks and fronds from fennel bulbs. Remove fronds from stalks and coarsely chop; thinly slice stalks. Place in a large bowl. Cut fennel bulbs in half and thinly slice on a mandoline (if you have one; if not, practice your knife skills). Add to same bowl along with mint. Zest lemon half over salad, then squeeze in juice. Season with salt and toss to combine.
  • Divide reserved crouton mixture among plates and top with half of the Parmesan. Arrange fennel salad over; top with remaining Parmesan and drizzle with oil.

I tossed all of it together as a salad; I didn’t get fancy with the presentation as it mentions. This salad was delicious. With the fennel and lemon, you get so much tang. Then the crunch from the fennel and walnuts. And with the cheese that extra tang. This one is staying high on my list.

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Climb Hard Cider

Colorado has plenty of breweries, but luckily I am finding cideries, too. A local one Wilbur’s (ahhh…) told me about was Climb Hard Cider. They are just down the street in Loveland, which means I need to go check them out in person soon.

Picked up a 6-pack of their ‘Apple’ cider. I say that because they have quite a few options available, one being vanilla, which sounds quite interesting. Now, based on their website they have both a dry and semi-dry apple cider. No where on the can does it say which one this is and nobody at Wilbur’s was sure.

Based on the taste, I’m guessing it’s the semi. Regardless, it was 6.1% ABV, 100% real fruit and tasted great. Crisp, refreshing and was too easy to drink.

Check it out if you can grab it at your liquor store. If you’re in the area and want to visit the cidery, let me know.

Cheers!

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Big B’s

Awhile back when I was in Steamboat (Springs), CO, I checked out one of the local liquor stores and came across a hard cider I had never seen or heard of before — Big B’s. They are located in Hotchkiss, CO and have a variety of apple-related products.

The cider I found is the Harvest Apple from their Orchard Series. This one is “created by using a perfect blend of fresh pressed apples. This is a semi-sweet hard cider and has a bold and refreshing apple taste.”

It was great because it hit semi-sweet perfectly. Nice and crisp, giving a bit of dryness, but not too much based on its category, and also no overkill on sugar. Comes in convenient cans, too.

I’ve only found it in one place in the Ft. Collins area, so far, which is Supermarket Liquors, so glad that’s easy accessible.

Cheers!

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Marinated Beans with Celery and Ricotta Salata*

Recent cooking magazines have had so many great spring salad recipes in them.

Even if the title doesn’t sound like something I can totally eat or the quick glance of ingredients doesn’t seem right because of my lactose intolerance, I always see how I can alter it. So many times olive oil can be substituted for butter, or there is only a splash of cream that can be nixed.

This one sounded so good, and was so quick and easy! And in this one, for instance, it calls for Ricotta Salata. I thought of ways to change that content. I have, in less than a week, made this recipe twice. Once with no cheese, and once with goat (or Chevre) cheese. Both were awesome!

So, this recipe is Marinated Beans with Celery and Ricotta Salata from the May issue for Bon Appetit.

Note: the recipe is for 8 servings, and it’s a hefty 8

Ingredients

  • 4 15-oz. cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, navy beans, and/or black-eyed peas, rinsed
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped thyme, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 oz. ricotta salata (salted dry ricotta), crumbled (used Chevre from
    Trader Joe’s)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

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Preparation

  • Toss beans, celery, oil, vinegar, and 1 Tbsp. thyme in a large bowl to combine; season generously with salt.
  • Just before serving, transfer beans to a shallow bowl and top with ricotta salata, pepper, and more thyme.
  • Do Ahead: Bean salad (without celery and ricotta salata) can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Non-Cheese:

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Cheese:

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Definitely keeping this recipe around and will make it several times this summer. Just so delicious. I also nearly doubled the amount of celery to add more veggie content.

 

Horsetooth Bloody Mary’s

Love supporting local businesses. Also love Bloody Mary’s. A new mix for such concoctions I have stumbled upon since moving to CO is Horsetooth Hot Sauce‘s. They have two levels of it.

I aim towards the milder side of things, so go for their ‘Dog That Bit You’You woke up licking your wounds from a night of excess imbibement. Perhaps you need a little hair of the dog that bit you? That’s where our The Dog That Bit You Bloody Mary Mix comes in, with just enough of our Rubin’s Red hot sauce to help you forget the pain from the night before.

They have a hotter level, the ‘Wake Up Call‘ — The Wake-up Call balances delectable spices with our infamous Rubin’s XXX hot sauce to give you a fiery flavor that will get your engines revving.

The mix has great tastes and all you have to do is add that vodka! I picked some up at the local farmers market, but it’s also available in some retail locations.

They also have some other drink mixes, as well as BBQ and hot sauces. Check them out and support the local Ft. Collins guys.

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Mama Roni’s Pizza, Ft. Collins, CO

A benefit of moving to a new place is that you get coupons for a bunch of discounts and FREE stuff. And I’m not talking BOGO, but just plain and simple free. One of them that I recently took advantage of was the Mama Roni’s Pizza coupon. It was for a medium pizza of any kind.

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Pizza is always interesting for me since I’m the lactard (more commonly known as lactose intolerant). One of my favorite pizzas is one with BBQ sauce and chicken. And, they happened to have it on the menu!

BBQ Chicken — Hand-tossed crust with our own tangy BBQ sauce, chicken, red onions & chopped bacon

What I had to inquire about is whether it had cheese (since it’s not in the description). It did and I was also sharing this pizza with a non-lactard. So, they were awesome and made half the pizza with cheese and half without. I’m also not a huge bacon fan. I love ham, prosciutto, pork tenderloin, just not bacon. So they nixed that.

So, I had the free coupon and it was for pickup. This was not initially a problem. The problem started when I put the pizza in my car and had to drive 2+ miles homes. The smell, the smell, the smell…that was tough. I’m glad I put the box in the back of the car.

Got home, opened it up and off to the eating. Such perfect crust. Not too thick, not too thin and not greasy AT ALL! The ingredients were in perfect balance, too. The cheese side was apparently great, as well. Will have to check this place out, again.

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