Vacations are full of some of the best memories I have with my family. You are relaxed, you forget about deadlines and looming responsibilities and find the capacity to enjoy yourself. Or at least I know I do. This past week and a half, my parents and I traveled out to Colorado to visit my sister and brother-in-law. OH MY GOODNESS. The best weather you can imagine, the most beautiful sights I ever did see, and so much fun having the whole family together.
Here is a (not so) brief overview of some of the things we saw, did, and of course ATE!
We jumped off the plane and headed straight to dinner with my sister and brother-in-law at Rio Grande Mexican in Lone Tree, CO. Everything was absolutely delicious, and rumor has it, there used to be a two margarita limit/customer (they were just that strong). However, the policy unfortunately/fortunately has changed since then. I ordered the veggie quesadilla and the table had fresh guacamole, salsa, and queso dip. QUE BUENO!
Had my first Heineken (with a straw)! A long time family inside joke came to fruition and I actually didn’t hate the beer. Props to you, Heineken!
My sister’s 25th birthday gave us an excuse to eat the infamous Denver Duffeyroll! Started the morning with a delicious Pecanilla Crunch Roll. Their cinnamon rolls are a mix between a classic cinnamon roll and a croissant: flaky, buttery outside with a sugary, sweet inside. Did I mention they mail order their delectable rolls across the country?!? Seriously, you have to try this place if you are in Denver! We then went to worship at my sister and brother-in-law’s Anglican church plant. Such a welcoming body of Christ and wonderful preaching to boast. Then we threw my sister a true southern birthday party with hamburger sliders, cole slaw, potato salad, and PIE! Chocolate Bourbon Pecan and Pecan Pie. Seriously, I might re-consider the whole cake at birthdays tradition after serving pies this year. All her friends and co-workers loved the southern staples, and it was neat to see her community love on her so well.
Drove over to Rocky Mountain National Park and ate a charcuterie on Trail Ridge Road. We packed an assortment of meats, cheeses, veggies, and fruit and ate our lunch surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. It was also my dad’s birthday so we stopped by Spirit Hound Distillery on our way home to sample their crafted libations. A flight consisted of their house whiskey, gin, white whiskey, sambuca, coffee liquor, and rum. I only tried the coffee liquor, however it was full of rich flavor with a satisfying after taste. Maybe they will ship me some to Charleston! We also stopped at Colorado Cherry Company for some blueberry pie and coffee. Perfect pick me up after driving to over 12,000 ft! Their flaky crust had cinnamon sugar on top giving it a sweet, comforting taste. A+ for sure!
Lazy day. Made avocado toast for breakfast with my sister using my recipe (Avocado Toast), and she loved it! It was great taking the day to relax and just enjoy being in each other’s company for a bit. We even got to fit in a walk around the neighborhood. Family is the best!
Visited the Great Divide Brewing Co. located in Downtown Denver. Created in 1994, the Great Divide is fairly new on the scene compared to Coors (est. 1873). However they offer a wide range of beers including IPA, DPA, oak aged, imperial stout, rye IPA, and barley wine style ale. We did a tasting of all the beers that were available in their tap room, and it was an experience! I’m still more partial to wine, but it was fun none the less.
We then went to the Ale House at Amato’s for dinner. The restaurant boasts a spectacular view of the city and offers a wide range of pub style dishes that are fresh in taste and originality. I ordered the Chickpea Burger and side salad, and it reminded me of the falafel I ate in Israel (it was just THAT good!). Their deconstructed Chicken Pot Pie was also pretty tasty. For drinks, we ordered the Original Mule and the Bodhi, both were refreshing summer drinks that I would definitely order again.
We then stopped by Williams & Graham for after-dinner drinks. Let me just say, I’m OBSESSED with this place. SPOILER ALERT: it’s not a bookstore like the sign outside says. It’s actually a modern-day speak easy with hidden passageways, back entrances, and spectacular drink selections. I felt like I was being transported back into the age of Gatsby. Tried the Here Be Dragons (Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Ancho Reyes, grapefruit, lime, passion fruit, grenadine, Angostura bitters) and Lavandula Rosa (Woody Creek vodka, Dolin Blanc, lemon, honey, lavender, raspberries). Would definitely recommend the Lavandula Rosa again! The lavender and lemon gave it an herb garden flavor that was comforting and fresh. The atmosphere was sophisticated and quaint since only so many people can be in the bar at any given time. I will be back again, Williams & Graham!
Hiked up to St. Mary’s Glacier which is just above 10,000 feet. Beautiful scenery and rocky terrain make it worth the short hike. Afterwards, we decided to have lunch down in Idaho Springs at Tommyknocker Brewery. Monumental moment: I found a beer I liked! Their Tundrabeary Summer Ale was out of this world, made from raspberries, blueberries, and other fruit. It had a distinct flavor to it making it tart yet satisfying. I had it alongside some fish & chips and of course their monstrous fried mushrooms. Actually the size of someone’s face! Drizzled with balsamic and dipped in ranch, they made for the perfect post-hike appetizer.
JULY FOURTH! So naturally we celebrated our independence by devouring delicious doughnuts made by Voodoo Doughnuts. There are hardly enough adjectives to describe how tasty these were! We ordered an assortment of flavors including Chocolate Sprinkled, Blueberry Cake, Toasted Coconut, Cinnamon Sugar, Captain My Captain, Arnold Palmer, and Miami Vice Berry. Everything they make in house and have multiple locations across the West. Worth an early morning trip downtown Colorado for these little pieces of heaven.
We then went to the movies to see Jurassic World. LOVED IT! Especially when you get to sit in leather reclining seats and only have to pay $5 because it’s 9:15AM. Always looking for a good deal!
That night we cooked out and Luke grilled steaks, Mom made baked potatoes, and Rachel and I skewered fresh vegetables. It was a family affair! We even concocted our own signature drink inspired by the Pioneer Woman’s watermelon sangria. However since we weren’t serving 24 people, we improvised on the proportions.
You’ll need: one bottle of your favorite Rose, 2 cups of chopped watermelon, and a handful of blueberries and raspberries. Let it merry for a couple hours in the refrigerator. Stain into individual glasses and serve over ice. Perfect patriotic beverage!
Finished the night playing with sparklers and watching fireworks from the front yard. All in all a spectacular trip full of delicious food and brimming with sweet memories. I love exploring new places, but it’s always more fun with family by your side!
XO, Kitchy Living