Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More Colorado Eating

I'm home from Denver, and now that I've had a chance to unpack and do laundry, I'll share with you some other highlights of the trip.

Sweet Action Ice Cream was a bit of a hike from downtown (you can also take the #0 bus along Broadway), but worth the trip for two scoops of vegan mint chip:

Sweet Action usually offers two coconut-based vegan flavors (on the day I visited, the other was brownie swirl), and gluten-free cones are available.

We revisited City O' City and WaterCourse Foods several times; they were near our hotel, and both restaurants offered several intriguing gluten-free options. Here is City O' City's La Osa salad, with a side of barbecued tofu:

Underneath all those tortilla strips were mixed greens, dried apricots, chickpeas, red onions, and avocado. The dressing, a jalapeƱo lime citronette, tied everything together in a tangy way. The spicy tofu was a little dry on its own, but it would be amazing on a sandwich with vegenaise and cole slaw.

Rod was on a buffalo seitan kick, so he ordered some on top of a caesar salad:

On Cinco de Mayo, we shared this gluten-free margarita cupcake:

It was cute, but it couldn't compare to the Ho-Ho. The vanilla cake was dense, and some of the protein-heavy flours left an aftertaste (I'm guessing sorghum?). The lime frosting was crunchy and fun, but nothing special. I recommend the Ho-Ho, night after night.

On another visit I tried the Scout Cookie, a gluten-free vegan version of the Samoa:

Made from shredded sweet potato, shredded coconut, walnuts, and chocolate, it's incredibly simple and insanely delicious. It tastes just like a Samoa—no hippie flavors are discernible. Scout cookies are served cold, so the edges stay firm and crispy while the center is soft and chewy. We all know my feelings regarding coconut; I'm afraid I could eat 6 of these in a sitting.

I recommend the mashed potatoes and the chocolate cake at WaterCourse, though my nighttime pictures don't do them justice. Denver has a few other vegan-friendly restaurants (The Rebellion will make any pizza or burger on their menu vegan, and Sputnik is known for divey vegan bar food), but we skipped them because they seemed gluten-heavy.

Before leaving Colorado, we rented a car and took a day trip to Boulder and Rocky Mountain National Park to the northwest. Since Boulder is full of hippies and greenies, vegan food is easy to find. On our way up to the park, we dropped in at VG Burgers, an all-vegan fast food restaurant. I'd heard mixed reviews, but I couldn't resist a menu that included vegan milkshakes and veggie burgers on gluten-free buns. Here is Rod's *ahem* bacon cheeseburger:

It was just a mess of pickles, vegenaise, ketchup, tempeh bacon, and cheeze sauce. He liked it. I ordered the standard veggie burger. It was gritty and tasted like seaweed, but it was alright as a vehicle for ketchup. I was disappointed with my coconut-based milkshake, which was slushy and thin. VG Burgers is a novelty, but I'd never take anyone there who isn't familiar with and amused by vegan food.

Dinner in Boulder, at upscale Leaf, was much better. I ordered a banana tofu curry, which was a crazy mix of soft sweet bananas, savory tofu and firm vegetables, and a rich spicy sauce. I was afraid to pull out my giant camera in such a posh restaurant, but this rather dull picture taken with my purse-sized camera conveys the dish's artsy presentation:

Rod had a bowl of spicy kimchi soup and the Asian Mizuna Salad with wakame seaweed, mizuna greens, carrots, water chestnuts, snow peas, bamboo shoots, and sesame sweet chili vinaigrette. Everything tasted fresh, healthy, and creative, down to my sweet and sour mint lemonade.

Between eating bouts in Boulder, we spent the day driving on mountain roads. It was cold at 11,000 feet (many of the peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park reach over 14,000 feet, but the roads were closed because of snow):

The best part of the trip was seeing the park's wildlife, including bighorn sheep, elk, and this fearless chipmunk, who came within six feet of our camera:

Look at his little knuckles!

I'm happy to be home, and eating light to recover from last week's dessert bender. Rod is already talking about finding some buffalo seitan around these parts, but I think he may be out of luck.

Farewell for now...

13 comments:

  1. Aww. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures. A vegan burger place with gf buns!!!! In my dreams! That wasn't there last time I was in Boulder, sounds like it has way more vegan options now...how fabulous. I miss the rocky mountains. Love your vegan foodie adventures!
    xo
    Eco Mama

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  2. Mint chocolate chip has always been my favorite ice cream flavor, so what a tantalizing start to this post! The margarita cupcake was pretty, a cute idea, and a fun thing to have on Cinco de Mayo. And Rod's buffalo seitan looks awfully good! Funny how your meal had apricots in it again! The Scout Cookie sounds really good... I've never had a Samosa.

    I'm glad you made it to Boulder and the Park! I'm sorry VG Burgers wasn't a roaring success. Do they no longer have hemp shakes? I loved their black bean burger, and really love their whole way of doing business. I just wish you'd enjoyed your burger and shake more! I liked Leaf too (pretty place, isn't it? And sweetly-sized), and am glad you had such a great meal. Good thing you came armed with your more discreet undercover camera. ;-)

    My favorite part of the whole post is your wildlife photos! That chipmunk picture is fantastic!! And I love the elk butts, but then I think most critter butts are just too cute. :-) You sure take fabulous photos!

    I'm glad you enjoyed a fun gluten-free gorging Rocky Mountain High adventure and are home safe and sound. Bet Ellie and Graeme were happy to see you! Thanks for sharing your mini-vacation with us, Mary! :-)

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  3. P.S. (Yarite, like my first comment wasn't nearly long enough?) I meant I've never had a Samoa. Never been there, either! :-)

    And the chipmunk's little knuckles are precious! :-)

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  4. The chipmunk photo kills me! I love it. And the mint chip ice cream... oh, man. Looks absolutely divine.

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  5. Thanks, Mary! Loved the photos, too. Perfect way to start this Thursday. There's a recipe for the Samoa in "Vegan Cookies..." by Isa + Terry. Have you tried a gf version of those? I am a coconut lover as well, so I think I might start experimenting with those. :)

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  6. Thank you SO much for sharing these awesome pictures. The food looks SO delicious, especially that seitan. WOW. Wait, also that gorgeous samoa! That is exactly the kind of dessert that I want to be snacking on now. Looks like you had a blast, that makes me happy!

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  7. I think I want to go to colorado right now! Awesome post.

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  8. Wow! I've gotta get my ass to Denver! That BBQ seitan looks to-die-for, and that Samoa ...oh my!

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  9. How did you know that mint chocolate chip ice cream is one of my favorites? ;) That looks like it would be worth the trip alone!

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  10. I've loved both your Colorado posts. The photos are great, and I enjoy your wry commentary. That fat little chipmunk's knuckles are indeed cute.

    By your own words, it seems that at least SOME of the gluten-free treats you sampled are worthy of being enjoyed by all. :) That Samoa looks spectacular! And Leaf looks like a restaurant I would love. Like you, I'm often too shy to pull out my camera, and am always sorry afterward.

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  11. I love the little margarita cupcake! And the Samoa looks delicious.

    But my favourite photo has to be the adorable little chipmunk!

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  12. That banana tofu curry sounds amazing! I really want to try making something like that now. The Samoa looks yummy too.

    I love the chipmunk photo!

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