Cacciatore, Fort Collins, CO

A great small, local Italian restaurant in Fort Collins is Cacciatore at Heller’s Kitchen, located in Jessup Farm.

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Have visited a few times and never had bad food or drink. Drink-wise, what I love is their wine on tap. My favorite is the Tiamo Barbera. Their notes on the wine are 100% organically grown, full bodied, deep berry flavors, lovely finish and slightly dry. What I like about it is that though it says full bodied it’s not overly heavy, and as mentioned it’s just slightly dry. When you get a bottle of it, they bring it out in a flip-top bottle. Great stuff.

Their menu has a good mix of selections, Italian-wise. Last time I went the two of us at the table split two dishes.

As you might have read before if you browse my posts, I love Brussels Sprouts. So when I noticed them on the menu, it was time to finally try them.

Brussels Sprouts sauteed with garlic, sundried tomatoes and pancetta.

Amazing flavors with all the ingredients coming together. Happiness was…

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We also opted for a pizza, the Fig & Prosciutto Pizza, caramelized onion, goat cheese, port reduction.

When I find a non-cow cheese pizza, I’m in love. This is also one of my favorite pizza concoctions. It’s nice and light, with flavors blending together. The crust on this is very light, too.

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Great dinner. I believe they have good Happy Hour specials, too, but not sure what they are. I see coupons come out for them in the mail every so often, so tend to actually use them. Check it out.

Pîste Mountain Bistro, Jackson Hole, WY

Earlier this year when in WY, dined at a nice restaurant in/at Jackson Hole, Pîste Mountain Bistro.

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You take the gondola to the restaurant so you’re at mid-mountain. Beautiful view. The pictures are from the base area so you can see the Tetons.

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Service was a bit slow, but we eventually did get our waiter. We ordered a bottle of French wine that was absolutely fabulous. I say this because old world wine is the last kind I reach for. It was Les Champauvins, Alain Jaume & Fils, Domaine Grand Veneur, Cotes Du Rhone. Have to look for this in stores.

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Food wise, went for a couple small dishes.

Locavore Salad — Inspired by Local Farmer’s Markets.

The salad was a good size to split. Good vegetable mix included and nice and light on the dressing – the lettuce wasn’t gasping for air!

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Grilled Spanish Octopus — Broccoli verde, Romanesco, cauliflower, radish, sorrel, sea beans

I love octopus, parallels the love of Brussels Sprouts. As soon as I saw this on the menu, my decision was made. WOW, wow. Crisp, perfect texture and nice size portion (was from appetizers). This could not have been cooked more perfectly. Amazingly grilled, magical to bite into. The sauce that was on the plate had a bit of spice, with just enough kick to catch your attention, but didn’t overpower the octopus. I could eat this every night.

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A couple others at the table ordered the Beef Tartare SmØrrebrØd — Boquerones, cured egg old, onion aioli, radio, parmigiano, cress

Apparently it was delicious, and another dish that was the perfect size. There really is beef underneath all the stuff on the bread.

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Other than under par service, a nice night, from food to view, with a free gondola ride.

 

 

 

 

 

Table 79, Steamboat Springs

Last time I was in Steamboat Springs, CO was able to visit one of the local restaurants, Table 79.

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They have a nice variety of tapas/small plates on the menu, as well as some entrees. I love having lots of things to nibble on so we chose a few on the smaller options to check out.

SMOKED ELK & CHORIZO MEATBALL / 4 // sweet corn succotash, sun dried tomato aioli

You do indeed get 1 meatball, but it’s a good size. The corn was delicious, as was the main part of the dish.

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DEVILED EGG SALAD / 10 // spicy greens, cornichons, snow peas, pepita brittle, paprika champagne vinaigrette

They told us it was sort of a disassembled salad…what? They don’t just kind of mash up a hard boiled egg with a bunch of stuff. They nicely spread it out on a plate. Very unique and really good!

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TUNA POKE / 11 // toasted sesame, pineapple, fiery sticky rice, avocado

The sticky fried rice the tuna sat on was quite nice, great presentation. Good taste overall.

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CRISPY BRUSSELS SPROUTS / 7 // table spice

I love Brussels sprouts and this didn’t change that thought, just reinforced it.

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So, great experience. We also sat outside on a lovely evening. Service was wonderful, as well. Check it out if you’re in the area. Cheers.

 

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!

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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Beef and Shallot Stew

Winter months just call for a good stew. This is a recipe that I’ve had for a long time from Real Simple that I just think of every so often – Beef and Shallot Stew. I don’t/can’t eat beef, so I replace it with wild game. I’ve normally had venison but this time I found Wild Boar at Sprouts. It’s generally easier to have whole pieces of meat vs. ground, but sometimes you have to work with what you have.

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Ingredients

  • 4 pounds chuck meat, cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces, or 4 pounds pre-cut stew meat
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 1 1/2 pounds shallots, peeled
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme

Directions

1) Heat oven to 300° F. Season the beef with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add some of the beef to the pot and brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining beef.
2) Spoon off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Add the wine and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom, for 3 minutes.
3) Return the beef to the pot along with the shallots and broth. Bring to a boil. Skim any foam. Add the thyme. Cover and transfer to oven until the beef is tender, about 2 hours. Spoon into individual bowls.

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Since I used ground meat, I didn’t need to cook the stew for nearly as long (can be a fraction of the time until the meat is cooked and onion are to the ‘softness’ you want). I serve it with some great French bread and green salad. Perfect for a cold day. Also pairs well with red wine. Cheers!

The Cache, Ft Collins, CO

With the recent opening of Ginger & Baker in Fort Collins, CO that also meant a couple new restaurants. Had to check out The Cache.

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Made a reservation a couple weeks ahead and the only times left on a Saturday were early evening or very late night. Went with the early choice. Of course the thing to start with was wine and opted for an Erath – Resplendent. It was a Pinot Noir. Had never seen that one from them and just a nice one, not too light or heavy. Also looked for it at stores the next week and didn’t see it anywhere.

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For dinner, we opted to split anappetizer – Cache House Salad, mixed greens, crispy onion, grape tomato, sourdough croutons, lemon-olive oil $8

The dressing, so amazingly emulsified, so awesome! Perfect size to split

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For the dinner, I opted for the Seared Sea Scallops, green apple-parsnip puree, quinoa, brocollini $36. Some darn big scallops. Bring it on! And I’ll say, I don’t go shopping for parsnips, but they made they taste pretty darn good!

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The other one at the table went with the Colorado lamb shank, whipped potato, haricots verts, lamb demi-glace $34. Apparently the lamb shank just sort of melted off the bone, into the potatoes, that melted in the mouth. They were devoured.

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Overall:

One thumbs down, we wanted to nibble on something before all the food came out and bread was not free but rather $11. No, that’s not a typo…eleven dollars. Really, it’s bad enough when a place charges you 5 bucks, rather than bringing it for free. But double digits? Nix that. And prices overall were a bit high for this area.

But on the thumbs up, the food was all very good, and nice presentation. The service was also excellent. A manager came out to check on us see how things were. We couldn’t have asked for more. We had one mishap with my lactose intolerance (which I told the waitress of when ordering) and it was beyond taken care of in ways I have never seen before.

So, while I will say for Fort Collins the prices are a bit high, at least everything else was great. Worth going to for a nice dinner if you’re going to splurge.

 

Seared Radicchio and Roasted Beets

Was looking for a new recipe for Christmas dinner and wanted something colorful. Came across this one when flipping through Bon Appetit magazine – Seared Radicchio and Roasted Beets.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium beets, scrubbed
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 small heads of radicchio, cut into large wedges through root end
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • Flaky sea salt (for serving)

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Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450°. Toss beets with 1 Tbsp. oil on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet; season with kosher salt. Roast, tossing once, until skins are charred and beets are tender, 40–50 minutes. Let cool.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook radicchio wedges on cut sides until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.
  • Add pomegranate juice to skillet; bring to a boil and cook until thickened and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar; season with kosher salt.
  • Tear beets open and place around radicchio; spoon dressing over. Top salad with pomegranate seeds, sprinkle with sea salt, and drizzle with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil.

 

You can roast the beets early to knock that off your list, since that takes awhile. That was helpful. I found that it took longer than 5 minutes to thicken the pomegranate juice.

Regardless, in the end, the recipe turned out great. It had the eye-catching red/bright colors for the evening and was delicious. And, had leftovers (which tasted wonderful). Definitely saving it for future use.

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Los Tarascos

Got together with some friends to celebrate a birthday (not mine) recently and got to check out another new (to me) place in Ft. Collins. This time it was Los Tarascos.

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Love Mexican food so I was quite excited about this. We were meeting at 6pm, but I was told to get there a little early to make sure to get some Happy Hour specials. Well, I got there at 5:45pm and I happened to be the only one to arrive early. I easily chose a Classic Margarita and dang, that thing was good. Since I knew there would be several more people coming, I ordered a few pitchers of the amazing drink. When the other attendees arrived, they were quite pleased.

At this place, they bring you chip baskets…of course. I surveyed the table and was wondering about salsa. Then I found out they have a salsa bar. You get to pick what you get to dip those addictive pieces of corn in. Dang, talk about trouble. Now, the only problem is, the containers they give you for the salsa are small. But, you can make do. They have many choices and I liked how I saw one person use a menu as a tray to carry several cups of salsa back to their table.

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Somebody at the table ordered some guac and I grabbed a bite — very good. Excellent consistency and nice spice.

As I looked through the menu I found what I love at this type of establishment — ceviche. This one was Ceviche a la Tequila — Shrimp cured in lime juice and tequila mixed with tomato, onion, and jalapeno. And for a few more dollars, you could add Octopus, which I totally went for.

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This stuff was good, with the different texture of the octopus. The only downside was that the jalapenos made it very spicy for me. I don’t have a huge heat tolerance. I picked as many pieces of it out as I could. But, I will totally go back and get more of this.

So, between the delicious margaritas, tons of salsa, good guac and octopus ceviche, this place is definitely one I’m checking out again.

Salud!