Page Turner.

Guys – I hope you had a lovely weekend.  Mine was great!  I hiked (more on that soon), went out with friends, and visited a neat bookstore in Denver’s West Highlands neighborhood.

Denver's West Side Books

This place (West Side Books) is exactly what a little independent bookstore should be.  The shelves were stacked with new, used, and rare books, with everything from dime store Westerns and romance novels to volumes about dinosaurs and presidential biographies.  Their kids’ section was my favorite, though: they had all the old Nancy Drew books, which were my favorite growing up.

I treated myself to a used hardcover copy of David Rakoff’s Half Empty only to realize after I got home that I already own this book on my Kindle and have, in fact, read it several times.  Oh well – somebody is getting a really great birthday present.

If you are ever in the Highlands, be sure to swing through!

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Food and Drink.

Hello friends!  I am now over five months into my Colorado adventure, which I can’t believe – I keep telling people I just moved out here, and I also keep claiming the altitude as the reason I get winded climbing steps…neither of these excuses is still valid.

I have a tendency to get so wrapped up in my new adventures that I forget about the ones that came before, so I thought I’d indulge in a bit of nostalgia and share some of my favorite NYC stories.  You might see them popping up now and again, and today, I thought I’d start with a post inspired by New York Magazine’s 21 questions feature.

Reading along, I try to answer the questions myself, but there’s one that has always stumped me: “What’s the best meal you’ve had in New York?”  How can you possibly narrow it down to just one meal?  Lucky for you, I’m not being interviewed by NY Mag, so I can give as many answers as I want.  Please join me on a culinary tour of some of my favorite spots in the city.

Filet Mignon at Del Frisco’s
While the food here is good, Del Frisco’s is a sentimental pick.  The summer of my 19th birthday, my mom and I were house-sitting in Connecticut and took the train into the city for dinner and a musical (Hairspray, original cast = awesome).  A friend had recommended Del Frisco’s, and we had their pre-theater price fixe menu – the first I’d heard of such a thing.  The manager came over to talk to us, and my mom said, “It’s my daughter’s birthday, and she’s going to live here someday.”

Three years later, I made it to New York, and every time I walked by Del Frisco’s I remembered how that meal filled me up with more than just filet mignon – it taught me to dream.

Breakfast at Tom’s Restaurant
If you ever find yourself in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn (and you should, to visit the awesome Brooklyn Museum), have brunch at Tom’s.  New York establishments aren’t typically known for friendly service, but at this little diner, they treat everybody like a regular.  The line is long, but they pass out free coffee and orange slices while you wait, and the classic eggs/potatoes/sausage breakfast is delicious.

Coffee at Black Gold Records
Black Gold Records sells coffee, records, and antiques, and their collection of antiques is at least 70% taxidermy.  It is my favorite coffee shop of all time.  Where else can you add to your vinyl collection, pick up an actual hyena, and get an excellent pour-over coffee?  Nowhere!  Plus, the lady behind the counter wears adorable vintage dresses and is very grateful when you pay with quarters.

Fried Chicken at Buttermilk Channel
This charming restaurant is just down the street from Black Gold Records – Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood is a hotbed of excellent restaurants.  There must be something in the water (hopefully not sourced from the nearby Gowanus Canal, which definitely has some things in it).

The perfect meal at this American bistro begins with their house-made pickles (they’ll bring out pop-overs, warm from the oven) and ends with fried chicken and savory waffles.  I thought I loved fried chicken before, but their golden, crunchy, buttermilk-battered version is a palate changer.

Pizza at Lucali
Do you like pizza?  OF COURSE YOU DO.  Chicago might beg to differ, but New York pizza is king, and Lucali serves the best pizza I had there.  It’s also Jay-Z’s favorite pizza, so you know it’s cool.

The owner was formerly making pizza out of his mom’s Carroll Gardens basement (seriously – hotbed of deliciousness) until he opened his tiny restaurant, and if you’re willing to brave the minimum two-hour wait, you’ll see him making pies and calzones behind the counter, accompanied by the classic Italian crooners.

New York Magazine did a fascinating profile of this guy.  He once got stabbed outside a local elementary school, and neither he nor the stabber will say why.  Did I mention Al Capone was baptized in this neighborhood?  Draw your own conclusions.  [Side note to the mob: I know nothing and have never seen anything.]  I used to see him around the neighborhood, and let me tell you, dark Italian hair and eyes, surviving a stabbing, and making kick-ass pizza…it’s an attractive combination.

I can’t wait to go back for a visit!

Colorado Spring.

One big change in moving from New York to Colorado has been the weather.  New York winters are generally cold and gloomy, with that gross February snow that has turned gray from dirt and exhaust fumes, and if you want to get anywhere, you’ve gotta walk through it, showing up at your destination with salt-encrusted jeans and snow-packed boots.

Here, however, it’s sunny over 300 days a year, so even when it’s cold or icy, you get to enjoy wide blue skies.  It’s much less oppressive.  Plus, Denver residents are the first to tell you – with audible pride – that Colorado’s weather is unpredictable.  “That’s Colorado!” they say brightly, “Sunny one minute and snowing the next!”

In the past few months, I’ve seen it cycle from a few days of sparkling, pristine snow to a few days of short sleeve-worthy weather, but yesterday and today have been the most dramatic example.

Exhibit A: Yesterday

Colorado blue sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High temperature: 66 degrees

Exhibit B: Today

Colorado spring snow

High temperature: 20 degrees (yes, friends, that’s a 46 degree drop)

And by Saturday, we’re back to a high of 66!  Never a dull moment.

America’s Pastime.

Coors Field

Baseball season has arrived!  The Colorado Rockies had their season opener yesterday, so I met up with an old camp counselor buddy and her girlfriend to watch at a nearby sports bar.  On the way in, I ran into a guy I went to college with, a welcome sign that Denver is starting to feel like home.

Downtown was packed with people wearing purple and black Rockies gear, eating pizza and dancing along to competing pop songs blaring from neighboring bars.  One great result of Denver’s fantastic weather is the abundance of rooftop bars, and we toasted the Rockies win with a few cold beverages in the last hours of daylight.

Hopefully, before too long I’ll be cheering the Rockies on from the stands at Coors Field!

[Before I sign off, one quick note about Denver bars: when I mentioned my upcoming move to ladies in NYC, they all got a gleam in their eye and said, “You know it’s called Menver, right?   There are so many guys.”  I hadn’t heard this before deciding to head West, but it has been a pleasant change after six years in the dating dead zone that is New York.  As we walked around yesterday, we got high fives, hugs, a few attempted hand-holdings, and buckets of free beers.  I could get used to this.]

The Sun has Risen.

Happy Easter, friends!  I hope you all did something fun, or at the very least, ate some candy.  I did plenty of both.

I’d heard great things about the Easter Sunrise Service at Red Rocks, and even when nothing’s going on, Red Rocks is awesome, so I set my alarm for 3:45 a.m.  After only one snooze I hopped out of bed, made some coffee, packed an egg sandwich to go, and put on a million layers, because it is chilly in the foothills at 5 a.m.

When I reached the turn-off, there was a line of tail lights in the dark.  We slowly continued towards the parking lots, hundreds pulling blankets from their trunks, clutching their travel mugs of coffee, and hiking up the ramp to the amphitheater.  By the time I reached the seats, they were three-quarters full of people gathered together in the pre-dawn cold, waving friends to saved seats, tearing foil off their breakfast burritos, and commenting on the choice of hymns listed in the program.

Red Rocks Easter - pre-dawn

At 6 a.m., the service began with a call to worship followed by a hymn (someone should really let these Red Rocks people know the acoustics at their place are fabulous), and then they released a flock of doves!  It was a beautiful moment – the man next to me cried.

As the service continued, the sky slowly began to lighten.  A band of orange began to grow just above the horizon.  Jet streams became illuminated by the sun that had yet to appear.  Birds began to chirp.

Red Rocks Sunrise Service

Suddenly, people stood and began to clap – the sun had appeared!

Red Rocks sunrise

As the sun crept into the sky, its rays illuminating row by row, we were invited to sing the Doxology.  Singing “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” with the other 11,000 attendees felt incredibly appropriate.  The sermon focused on “Amazing Grace,” and how truly amazing this whole Easter business is.

Red Rocks Easter Service

Then I had brunch with my cousins, made brownies, and went to Easter dinner at my neighbors’.  I had two amazing meals that I didn’t have to prepare, and both contained ham.  WIN.  And now I think it’s time for bed before I start getting even loopier than usual.

Easter at Red Rocks

Have an amazing week!