La Buena Vida, Ft Collins, CO

Another Mexican place I have checked out in Fort Collins is La Buena Vida. Have driven by it a lot and heard great reviews so needed to try it first hand.

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As normal at this type of restaurant, one must order guacamole to begin, as well as some margaritas. Both were great! The guac was just chunky enough and the drinks were just perfect. Went so well with the chips & salsa we’d already received.

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For the rest of the meal, I opted for the Ensalada de Pollo – Grilled chicken, lettuce, onion, cucumber, tomato, sauteed apple and pumkin seeds. Served with Lime dressing.

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The other person at the table went with Enchiladas. And at lunch you can choose how many enchiladas you’d like, so they went with one chicken enchilada, which comes served with rice and black beans, topped with red sauce.

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The salad was amazing! The apples were so unique…nothing I’d had in a salad at a Mexican restaurant before, then the pumpkin seeds, too? And the chicken could not have been more perfectly grilled. Loved the whole thing.

The enchilada was apparently quite good. Nice sauce and perfect lunch size.

Great place, will also have to check it out (again) for Happy Hour. Salud!

Romano Beans with Mustard Vinaigrette and Walnuts

Another new recipe! This one came from Bon Appetit’s May Issue. The first one I have tried (several others on the list) is the Romano Beans with Mustard Vinaigrette and Walnuts. One thing I’m glad I noticed before getting started is that the recipe serves 8. I cut it in half because I was making it for 2.

Ingredients

1 cup walnuts
3 lb. Romano beans or green beans, trimmed — used a bag of the frozen green beans from Trader Joe’s
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely grated
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ lemon
¾ cup very coarsely chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

Recipe Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop. — I always just do this in a small frying pan on the stove, so much faster

Cook Romano beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright green and tender, 8–10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Drain and pat dry.

Meanwhile, mix vinegar, mustard, garlic, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl to combine. Let sit 10 minutes for flavors to come together.

Add walnuts and Romano beans to dressing. Finely zest lemon over beans and add parsley. Season with salt and lots of pepper and toss to coat. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with more oil.

What I loved about this recipe is that pretty much all of it can be prepped. Then you can toss everything together 5 minutes before it’s ready to be served. I cooked my beans in the afternoon and toasted my walnuts while that was happening. I mixed the ‘dressing’ in a jar and just let that sit. Then I served everything as a salad vs on a platter.

It needed a bit more lemon ‘zest’ than what the recipe calls for, so I added some juice to the leftovers. This was served with the Turmeric and Coriander Chicken. Another great summer recipe.

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Turmeric and Coriander Roast Chicken

The May 2018 issue of Food & Wine featured Restaurants of the Year and provided some of their recipes. One of them that I recently checked out/made was Maydan’s Turmeric and Coriander Roast Chicken.

Ingredients

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I just used 1 cup of olive, didn’t feel like buying the grapeseed)
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup garlic cloves (about 10 cloves)
1/4 cup coriander seeds (used already ground)
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
1 (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

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Directions

Step 1

Place extra-virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, garlic, coriander seeds, and turmeric in a blender. Process on high speed until smooth, about 35 seconds. — hello orange turmeric!

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Step 2

Place chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. Using poultry shears, cut along both sides of backbone; discard backbone. Turn chicken breast side up, and press down on breastbone to flatten chicken. Season both sides with salt. Place chicken in a large roasting pan, and rub all over with marinade. Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours or overnight. — I ended up doing mine overnight.

 
Step 3

Preheat a gas grill to medium-high (about 450°F) on one side, or push hot coals to one side of a charcoal grill. Gently blot chicken with paper towels to remove excess marinade. Place chicken, breast side up, on oiled grates over unlit side of grill. Grill, covered, over indirect heat until chicken is well browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 160°F, about 20 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a carving board, and let rest 15 minutes before carving.

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While cooking I ended up putting this closer to direct vs indirect heat because it was taking quite awhile to cook. The meat was nice and tender and the flavor was great. The overnight marinating definitely helped with that. When ‘carving’ I sort of tore it apart, make it into chunks, pulled chicken-like pieces, and more. I prefer using my hands when possible. It was so tender that it was simple to do it that way. So a nice easy dish with lots of flavor. Great for the summer!

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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