Colorado Wine Country

 

imageI thought it was time to dedicate a post to Colorado wine country.  Especially since the 26th Annual Colorado Mountain Winfest is this weekend in Palisade, Colorado.  The Winefest is Colorado’s largest wine festival featuring unlimited sips from over 50, yes 50, Colorado wineries.  The festival is held in September, perfectly planned with the changing of the seasons.

imageGrowing up in Northern California I was well aware of wineries.  After all, when you hear Napa, the first thing that comes to mind is wine.  But, in my humble opinion, Colorado has a lot to brag about as well.  I remember the first time I discovered Colorado wine country.  We were living in Denver at the time and I had to go to the Western Slope for business.  While driving along I-70, I was passing Palisade and I did a double take.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  All of the vineyards!  It was an amazing sight.  Unfortunately, on that business trip I couldn’t partake in any vino tasting, but I made sure to tell my husband, “we must visit the Western Slope and check out the wineries!”  Well, we did!!!  We took a little mini vacation and explored the wineries.  It was an awesome experience.  Lots of very nice, hospitable folks, and of course delicious wine.  Another plus, almost every winery is dog friendly.  We were so impressed by the landscape, the wine, and of course the people, it was a great visit.

 

Mount Garfield (my favorite), the Bookcliffs, the Grand Mesa (largest flat top mountain in the world), and the Colorado River adorn the landscape, along with lavender farms, and a variety of orchards including the infamous Palisade peaches.  The Grand Valley is full of lush farmland.  A sweet combination of warm days followed by cool evenings make this valley the perfect place to grow grapes and other produce.

imageWine country in Colorado offers a wide range of wines.  If you like wine, you are covered.  White, red, rose, sweet, honey, you get the idea.  If you aren’t a wine person, no worries, there is also a brewery and distillery in Palisade as well.

imageOne item on our to do list is to cruise around the wineries on bikes.  Now is the perfect time to bike the Fruit and Wine Byway because the temperatures are starting to cool down.  Bring your own bike or rent one locally.  There are plenty of places to spend the weekend.  Including the Wine Country Inn, which can be seen off of I-70.

imageNow that we live on the Western Slope and about 15ish minutes from Colorado wine country, I want to sing its praises!  We regularly take little drives through Palisade, (that is where I took the pictures for this post) where I chase the setting sun to get dreamy pictures of that perfect light hitting the wineries.  I am always in awe of the majestic beauty out on the Western Slope.  If you haven’t made a trip out this way, I invite you to visit what I enthusiastically call home.  Raise a glass to a hidden treasure on the Western Slope, Colorado Wine Country!  Cheers!

For more information about Colorado wine country, please visit:

coloradowinefest.com

Visitgrandjunction.com

colorado.com

coloradowine.com

Visitpalisade.com

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Peach Picking in Palisade, Colorado

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Iis Palisade peach season.  Probably the best peaches I have ever sunk my teeth into.  Super juicy, fragrant, and simply delicious.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying a Palisade peach, let me give you the low down on theses delectable treasures.  The Grand Valley, where the peaches are grown, has hot days and cool nights which are a perfect combination for bringing out the natural sugars in the peaches and growing big fruit.  I grew up eating peaches in California, and no offense to California but the peaches were always very dry, mealy, and tart.  They were picked too early for transport and were not given enough time to develop enough natural sugar (thanks visitgj for this information).  So, you can imagine my amazement and pure joy when I bit into a chin-dripping Palisade peach for the first time.  Yummy!  image

There are two types of Palisade peaches, cling and freestone.  Both terms refer to the way the peach sticks to the pit.  Cling peaches stick to the pit and freestone peaches don’t.  I like both but prefer freestone peaches when cooking.  They are just easier to cut into when making cobblers or adding them to my overnight oats.

imageWe usually buy our peaches at the local Farmers Markets or we take the short drive to Palisade and buy them at the various orchards.

Recently, we decided to pick our own peaches.  We randomly stopped at Mt. Lincoln Peach Co.  We went later in the day and on a weekday so it was quiet, which I love.  When we arrived we received a box for gathering the peaches, we were also given a map showing which trees were ready for peach picking, and we were on our way.  It was a fun experience.  The orchards are green and lush with tons of ripe peaches that are extremely fragrant.  While picking peaches, a perfect view of Mt. Garfield, the Bookcliffs, and the Grand Mesa can be seen in the distance.  Helpful tip:  wear closed toe shoes, preferably tennis shoes.  The orchards were a little muddy and I was wearing a pair of dressy flats, not a good idea!image

A city girl, it was really neat seeing chickens and roosters nearby making the whole experience “a little country.”  I loved it.  imageThe pick your own peaches at this location were $1.00 a pound.  We ended up buying $8.51 (to be exact) worth of peaches.  We went home and I immediately made peach cobbler.  So good!

 

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There are many orchards and “you pick” orchards in Palisade, please visit– visitpalisade.com for more information.

If you haven’t had a Palisade peach yet, don’t worry, Palisade peach season usually runs until September.  Also, you can celebrate Palisade peaches at the annual Palisade Peach Festival, August 17-20, 2017.  For more festival information please visit–palisadepeachfest.com

Check out–“Selecting the Perfect Palisade Peaches,” at visitgrandjunction.com

Please leave a comment letting me know your thoughts on Palisade peaches.

Hanging Lake

20170619_184836-01_resizedWe have been in Colorado since 2010 and we had never hiked Hanging Lake until just recently.  We decided that we should probably hike the iconic and quintessential trail sooner rather than later because recent reports of vandalism to the trail had sparked conversations about possibly closing the trail.  (FYI, today is June 21, 2017 and I have read and heard the trail will probably implement a permit system instead of closing down).

20170529_163400-01_resizedCurrently, there is no fee to hike the trail.  The exit to the rest area which will lead you to the trail head is well marked off of I-70.  Keep in mind that this is a VERY popular trail, especially in the summertime and the parking lot gets full very quickly.  Keep this in mind while planning your trip.  Please keep in mind that the park staff works very hard to make sure that the flow of traffic and the parking spots are monitored.  Please don’t get angry with park staff because of parking or traffic, plan wisely to avoid frustration.  Another tip, hike on a weekday if you can and arrive early or later in the afternoon when the crowds have cleared.

20170529_163850-01_resizedThis hike is absolutely beautiful.  The lake is stunning and majestic.  When you make it to the top and round the bend and your eyes first catch a glimpse of the infamous lake, you immediately forget the strenuous hike and realize the best views do require some hard work.  “Hanging Lake is a rare example of a lake formed by travertine deposition where the natural geologic and hydrologic processes continue to operate as they have done for thousands of years. The site is also noteworthy for its thriving hanging garden plant community.” – See more at: http://www.visitglenwood.com/things-to-do/hanging-lake#sthash.CX2kv7QD.dpuf

After hiking the trail twice, reading the multitude of signs posted around the rest area and trail, talking with visitors, and observation I decided to compile a list of helpful tips.

  1.  Unfortunately, you can’t drive to the lake.  You have to park and hike up to it.
  2. Proper footwear is a must for this hike.  This hike is steep and rocky, and the rocks can be very slick.  I do not recommend this hike in flip flops, dressy sandals, etc…
  3. In my opinion, this hike is a steep climb.  Be aware of this before you embark on the hike, if you are with someone with health issues, this may not be the hike for them.  I personally would rate the hike as strenuous.
  4. Hydrate.  Bring H2O.  Don’t let the small mileage fool you, especially in the summer and especially if you aren’t used to the elevation.
  5. Take your time going up.  In my mind, hiking is similar to yoga, everyone goes at a pace that is personally comfortable.  The hike is beautiful all the way to the top.  Stop, catch your breath, and enjoy the scenery.  (There are places to sit along the hike).
  6. Parking is very limited at the trail head/rest area.  Expect crowds, especially during the summer.  Plan ahead, start early or go a little later in the afternoon.
  7. If you show up at the trail head at 7:45 pm in the summer, keep in mind that the chances of coming back down the trail in the dark is highly likely.  Plan accordingly.
  8. Leave no trace.  Pack out what you brought in.  There are no trash cans along the trail or at the top by the lake.
  9. Please respect all of the signs and barriers.  There are signs everywhere letting visitors know what to expect and the rules of the trail.
  10. This is not a dog friendly hike.  Pups will have to stay at home for this hike.

Enjoy your hike and visit to the Glenwood Springs area.  If you hike or have hiked to Hanging Lake, please share your comments, I would love to hear about your adventure.

For more information on Hanging Lake and visiting Glenwood Springs, please visit http://www.visitglenwood.com/things-to-do/hanging-lake

 

 

Aaron Woo featured Chef at Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management

It is spring!  That means there are new cuisines to enjoy at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management.  In previous posts I have raved about the School of Hospitality Management. Before I begin this post, if you haven’t had a chance to check out the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management…it is a Denver must!!!!!    On Wednesday, May 15, 2013 the school will be welcoming chef Aaron Woo, Sunset Magazine’s Best Chef of the West, and Chef and Owner of Natural Selection in Portland, Oregon.  This dinner appeals to me in many ways.  First, we lived in Portland, Oregon (http://ouryearinportland.wordpress.com/)for a year and I loved it.  Next, the cuisine will be vegetarian.  If I have a choice, I prefer not to eat meat.  So I am very excited about this vegetarian cuisine.  Last, the School of Hospitality Management is phenomenal.  I sing their praises as often and as much as I can.  If I could dine at the School nightly, I would.

Aaron Woo is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy who has worked in such notable San Francisco kitchens as Absinthe Brasserie, La Folie, Stars, and as sous chef of PlumpJack Cafe under Chef Keith Luce. In Telluride, Colorado Aaron worked as Executive Chef at 9545 and Chef de Cuisine at The CosmopolitanRestaurant. Upon moving to Portland he worked with Morgan Brownlow and Jason French at ClarkLewis.

The dinner will include a wine pairing and is $70.00 per person.  Cocktails start at 6:00 pm and dinner is at 7:00 pm.  The dinner will be held at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management Joy Burns Center, 2044 East Evans Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80210.  To RSVP for this amazing night please check out the website:  http://knoebelschool.ticketleap.com/aaron-woo-guest-chef-dinner/

Please check out my other posts about University of Denver’s School of Hospitality Management: 

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/tour-ditalia-dinner-at-du-with-gina-stipo/

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/fritz-knoebel-school-of-hospitality-management-and-gina-stipo/

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/university-of-denver/

We have been very honored to attend these FANTASTIC events at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management:  Beer Pairing Dinner, the Guest Chef Dinner with Gina Stipo, and the Spring Showcase (picture featured below is from the Spring Showcase).IMG_20130326_221214Of course, I can’t close this post without giving my favorite peeps at the School a shout out!!!  Chef Raymond and all of the exquisite students you are the best….talented, professional, and extraordinary!!!!  ????????????????????????????????????

Tour d’Italia Dinner at DU with Gina Stipo

The Tour d’Italia dinner at DU was fantastic.  Gina Stipo was very nice.  The setting was intimate so we got to talk with Gina as well as take pictures and discuss the menu.  DSC_0042We absolutely love dining at Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management in Daniels College.  We feel like part of the family and we ALWAYS are the last to leave.  The room was beautifully decorated as usual and the food presentation was delightful.  The students in this program are out of this world.  We absolutely love the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management.  It truly is a hidden gem tucked away in Denver.  Now onto the food!  If these pictures please your palette please check out the Daniels College website–http://daniels.du.edu/ and click on the “view calendar” icon under Daniels Events to make reservations for upcoming events.

DSC_0023This is the menu.  Beautiful and elegant.  I just love the presentation at the Fritz Knoebel School. 

Our first course was Baccala with crostino, celery, and pickled onion, paired with Le Rime.DSC_0024The next course was Roasted cauliflower soup with Rosemary, paired with Centine Rose.????????????????????????????????????Oh my favorite–Mushroom and three cheese ravioli with Sage butter, paired with Centine Rosso.  These were so good that three just simply were not enough.  They were delectable!  I could have eaten a whole bowl full of these raviolis.  Truth be told, I probably should have with all of the wonderful wine I sampled :).DSC_0033The main course was Pan fried loin of veal with black cabbage, kale, and cannellini, paired with Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino.  Believe it or not this was the first time I have ever eaten veal.  It was very tasty and very tender.DSC_0035Dessert–Pear poached in spiced Chianti with cinnamon Mascarpone and granola brittle, paired with Rosa Regale (the best dessert type wine I have ever tasted).  This was a very light and whimsical dessert.  DSC_0037An absolutely wonderful evening.  A picture of our favorite people at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality.  Thank you!!  We adore you!????????????????????????????????????

Tom’s Urban 24 Winter Menu

I was invited to the winter menu tasting for Tom’s Urban 24.  It was a wonderful experience!  I felt extremely lucky to be invited to this extraordinary tasting event.  I am going to tempt you with the glorious menu options that Tom’s Urban 24 is currently offering.  I have previously posted about Tom’s Urban 24https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/toms-urban-24-in-denver-colorado/

I like this diner for two main reasons:  unique, modern food offered in a 24 hour restaurant.  I am going to let the pictures tempt you into trying Tom’s Urban.  Let the pictures marinate in your mind and hopefully cause your mouth to water!2013-02-07_11-43-45_944  This is the Truffled Lobster and Shrimp Pot Pie $24–the king of all pot pies!  Truffled lobster, shrimp, roasted vegetables, truffle gravy, topped with a puff pastry lid.  I literally ate chunks of lobster that were deliciously stored inside this wonderful pot pie.1360283620993Tuscan Kale and Romaine Chicken Caesar $13.50–chargrilled marinated breast of Red Bird chicken, peppercorn Caesar dressing, shaved Parmesan cheese, and grilled lemon.  This is an excellent way to get in your daily dose of greens.  Plus, I am really loving kale lately.  2013-02-07_11-46-53_734Thom’s Urban Super Pho $13–egg, shrimp, chicken, duck garnished with basil, cilantro, mint leaves, chile slices and sprouts.  I am a Pho fan!  This Pho doesn’t disappoint.  It is warm and comforting and very filling.2013-02-07_11-24-47_286Lobster & Shrimp Taco Platter $21–butter-poached lobster and shrimp, Baja slaw, cilantro crema, chipotle sauce on blue corn tortilla, served with seasoned Mexican rice and charro beans.  If you like seafood then you are going to love the lobster and shrimp tacos.  A generous portion of lobster and shrimp await the diner inside these decadent tacos.2013-02-07_11-34-09_830Stranahan’s Whiskey BBQ Ribs $26–chargrilled full slab of ribs.  Stranahan’s Whiskey BBQ sauce, Asian peanut vegetable slaw and sweet potato waffle fries.  My husband was terribly jealous that I got to sink my teeth into these ribs.  I have previously posted about Stranahan’shttps://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/the-tour-of-stranahans-distillery-in-denver-colorado/

If you haven’t made it to Tom’s Urban 24, please give it a try.  Some other menu items that were available during the winter menu tasting:  Tuscan White Bean Dip, Colorado Calamari, Urban Cowboy Egg Bake, NY Strip Steak and Eggs Platter, Tom’s Filet Mignon Pot Pie, Blue Corn Crab Enchiladas, Angus Open-Faced Meatloaf Platter, Fried Chickenlooper with Corn Cakes, and Fried Brussels Sprouts with Asian Vinaigrette.  For more information on these tasty treats please visit:  http://www.tomsurban24.com/menu/

Thank you to denver.eater.com for mentioning lovelivingincolorado!  http://denver.eater.com/archives/2013/02/25/the-early-word-on-toms-urban-24-in-ludo.php

Estes Park Recommendations

20140824_153730I recently asked our friend Erika to fill us in on all things Estes Park.  I looked to her for Estes Park recommendations because she grew up in Estes Park.  I therefore consider her an Estes Park authority!  She did not disappoint.  She sent me a wonderful list of Estes Park recommendations and I thought I would share the wealth (thank you Erika!).  Estes Park, Colorado is considered the “Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.”

  1. Aerial Tramway (literally a red box that goes up and down Prospect Mountain).  At the top there are amazing views and hungry chipmunks (they sell peanuts at the top which you can feed them). There’s picnic tables and rock croppings to explore so it’s a great place for a snack and to take in some nature.   http://www.estestram.com/
  2. The View Restaurant at Crag’s Lodge.  It was built in 1914 and maintains its mountainous charm, and yes, the chairs are handmade from when the hotel was built.  Make a reservation for one of the balcony tables.  The views are absolutely stunning and you are basically eating in the trees.  The walnut crusted trout, brie chicken, and steaks are amazing. And who doesn’t love warm brie with berry couli as an appetizer with some wine or beer?  Also, they have live music some nights.  http://www.cragslodge.com/gallery.html
  3. Mary’s Lake Lodge.  This hotel/restaurant/venue is rustic and charming and is open late.  Which is hard to find in Estes.  They usually have live music and a popular bar/grill.  This is a wonderful late night spot with fun people in what seems like the middle of the wilderness.  Definitely worth checking out.  http://www.maryslakelodge.com/dining.htm
  4. Downtown strip (Elkhorn Ave) Now, if you want to do something fun go take an old time photo at one of the shops downtown.  It’s a blast and 100 percent worth the keepsake if you haven’t done it before.  There is a plethora of shops to wonder around and check out.  I always love getting a caramel apple at the ice cream/fudge shops. There’s also a glassblowing place that is fun to check out on the far west side of the downtown strip.  Also, check out the Stanley Hotel.  (the hotel in which Stephen King based his book “the Shining“) http://www.stanleyhotel.com/
  5. If you feel like succumbing to your inner child definitely buy a $1.00 ticket to slide down the Rainbow slides at Fun City.  Down the road a bit there is “Tiny Town Mini Golf” and it is by far the best mini golf course you will ever play.  http://www.funcityofestes.com/
  6. Definitely stop by the Estes Park Brewery and do some beer tasting. http://www.epbrewery.com/
  7. Also in town it’s worth going to the Marina and renting a boat for an hour or two. Delightful!  Or rent a few bikes and take an easy ride around Lake Estes, the entire loop will actually take you behind the dam and you can see the water being held and being released from the dam to the Big Thompson River.  The dog park is right off Lake Estes and you can let your dog go swimming and socialize with the other pups.  http://evrpd.com/marina/marina-info
  8. Other places to eat I would recommend would be “Nepal’s Cafe“, (on backside of downtown strip) they have the best lunch buffet with Naan, noodles, curry, potatoes, Masala, and Chai tea!
  9. Sweet Basilico, this is a little Italian restaurant that has an amazing dinner salad, pizza, and pasta for a very reasonable price.  Tasty! (located by Fun City and the Tramway)
  10. If BBQ is what you’re looking for Dave’s BBQ has some delicious pulled pork and burgers. (by Tiny Town Mini Golf)
  11. If it’s a steakhouse you are looking for, Hunter’s Steakhouse is right by the Marina and has great game.
  12. Also, the best breakfast place is “The Sundeck” which is near Mini Golf.  Their Chorizo, french toast, and strawberries and cream are delicious!
  13. As for the National Park you definitely want to check out, Sprague Lake, Bear Lake, Alberta Falls, and the Alluvial Fan.  All are not challenging hikes and are gorgeous.  Also, you definitely want to drive up Trail Ridge Road.  It’s an exhilarating, scenic drive with many pull offs along the way for photos and a gift shop at the top.  Bring a jacket! Even in the summer it can get chilly.  You can look these up on any RMNP map.
  14. If you want an easy hike off the beaten path check out Lily Lake and St. Malo’s Church (they are not in the same place). http://www.scenicusa.net/090210.html. Both are on the same road passing Mary’s Lake Lodge.  If you go to Lily Lake there is a wonderful picnic location.  http://www.rmnp.com/RMNP-Areas-LilyLake.HTML (on this map there is a trail on the south side of the lake that bubbles out, take this trail instead of the one that runs right along the lake and you will find a picnic table tucked in the woods that’s quiet and peaceful)
  15. There are many hotels that are dog friendly and that have private hot tubs.  Many of which are on Fall River Road.

Guess what we will be doing when the weather warms up–yes, finally taking a trip to discover, explore, and relish in the beauty of Estes Park, “Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.”  Thank you so much Erika for the AWESOME recommendations!!