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Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Palisade, Colorado Peaches by Cathy Ulrich

It’s peach season here in Colorado. I hail from the Peach State, Georgia. I know, it’s sacrilege but Colorado peaches are, in my opinion, the best on Planet Earth. I’m not kidding. It don’t know what it is about growing peaches here, but I’ve never had a bad one.

Most of our peaches are grown in Palisade, Colorado in a fertile river valley just to the west of the Rocky Mountains . We Coloradans are so passionate about our peaches that we pretty much consume most of them here. That’s why anyone who lives outside the state has probably never experienced their special flavor. Imagine sweet, tart, buttery flesh of a perfect texture with a thin skin – that’s our peach.

What I didn’t know was that peaches grown right here on the eastern side of the Rockies are just as good. Last weekend our neighbor, Doug, came knocking at our door. He held a flat box of little jewels that he had grown himself – gorgeous white peaches. We’ve been eating them all week. I sliced up some of the last ones to go on a Dutch-Baby pancake this morning. You can find the recipe for the pancake here.

Doug’s gift was a harbinger of things to come. Every year, Peter and I order a box of peaches from Palisade through a local Rotary club. The club brings in several Semis loaded with peachy goodness and they use the proceeds to buy a dictionary for every third-grade child in the Fort Collins school district.

What am I going to do with all of these peaches? Well, I see a peach cobbler in Peter’s future (yes, I am psychic). As well as a few simple desserts of broiled peaches. I split them, remove the pits, sprinkle them with brown sugar and cinnamon and broil them until the brown sugar starts to bubble. Then top with lightly sweetened whipped cream. I’ll probably also make some peach salsa with mint and peppers from the garden to go on grilled chicken or steak and I’ll freeze the rest for our enjoyment later

Here’s a preserving tip: Did you know that you can freeze peaches whole? I put them, skin and all, into Ziplock Gallon freezer bags. When I’m ready to use them, I just rinse under cold water and the skin slides off. Split it, remove the pit and slice. They’re the closest thing to fresh peaches I’ve ever found with the added benefit of no additional sugar or the need for pectin to keep them from turning brown.

So if you’re not fortunate enough to live in Colorado, I’d suggest you plan a trip out here in August to try our delectable peaches – maybe even a road trip. Because I suspect you’ll want to take at least one large box back home.

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Smoked salmon/ potato cake/ onion/ creme fraiche/ fried capers at Next Door Food and Drink

This lovely restaurant is rapidly becoming my favorite spot for dinner. Specializing in Spanish tapas and small plates, Next Door offers a creative menu as well as an interesting bar selection.

Last night, Peter and I shared several small plates. We love dining at a relaxed pace and we learned how much we liked this kind of eating when we went to Barcelona a few years ago. Tapas, I think were originally offered as little snacks in bars and the classic is the “Tortilla,” which in Spain is more like a frittata or omelette than the corn or wheat flatbread to which we have become accustomed in North America. While Next Door does not offer a “Tortilla Espanola,” they do offer several items that take me right back to Barcelona and the eating style I love so well.

While Next Door’s menu offerings are not exactly “classic” in the Barcelona style, they capture the feeling of the tapas experience. Two of the more common Spanish tapas dishes show up here and I was delighted to be able to enjoy them in Loveland, Colorado! Padron peppers (called the Spanish Roulette on Next Door’s menu) are small, green, slightly spicy peppers, usually grilled or sautéed in olive oil and served with a little salt. Next Door does this, but kicks it up by adding a little dish of sesame seeds and salt as well as a piquillo (pimento) aioli. And, this dish is only $4! Peter and I love these so much that we get two orders so we don’t have to fight over them.

Patatas Bravas – which can be found on any tapas menu in Spain – sounds a little scary (Brave Potatoes?) but is, in fact a delicious and simple dish that I simply cannot pass up, when I can get it. Crispy roasted or fried potatoes with a smoky paprika and piquillo sauce, these babies disappear quickly. And, again, Next Door raises the bar with two more sauces, a Sri Ra Cha mayonnaise and a piquillo caper sauce in addition to the Bravas sauce.

For our next round, we enjoyed fried calamari with a savory tomato sauce and a lemon-basil remoulade along with a beautiful plate of burrata cheese with baby arugula greens and crispy roasted tomatoes. Finally, we decided to do a “raw surf and turf” round by finishing our savory options with smoked salmon rolls on potato cakes with onions and fried capers and a beef carpaccio plate. In keeping with their creative flair, Next Door serves thin slivers of raw beef over the most delicate schmeer of mustard mayo, then topped with manchego cheese, fava beans (just a few) and a lovely julienne of radishes.

Dessert? Yes, we had to…Apple Empanadas. Fortunately they were small, encrusted in cinnamon sugar with a tiny dollop of whipped mascarpone and a small quenelle of cinnamon ice cream. And, no we weren’t done even then. We had to try their house made blood orange cello (like Limoncello, only a lot better).

In closing, I’d like to give you a few tips to optimize your experience. The way to eat small plates, or tapas, is to order them in ones or twos, instead of all at once. You don’t want these delectable treats to get cold or to feel overwhelmed. Peter and I keep a menu on the table and choose our next round as we finish our current one. This way we can decide to order more or quit when we’re full. The only challenge here is that the menu is so interesting, it really is hard to pick. Fortunately, with small plate dining, we take advantage of the chance to sample their many offerings and leave comfortably stuffed!

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