Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Colorado Part One - Food Tour & Osteria Marco

This past weekend I got to visit Denver, Colorado for a mini vacation.  Through work I get comp nights at other hotels in the company and decided to plan a trip to Denver and use some of them.  I invited my mom and step dad, Andy, to come along with me and we had a wonderful trip!  This was my first time to Colorado and I had been looking forward to this trip since I booked it.  We were there for about four days so I have a lot to share and decided to break up the posts.

We arrived to Denver late Friday morning and after a long wait for the rental car made it into the city just in time for our walking food tour with Denver Gourmet.  This tour was pretty different from other food tours I have done.  Usually the tour guide gives you some history or information about the city, area, food, etc.  For this tour however the guide just took us around to different food trucks and restaurants and only gave us information about the food.  I missed the history aspect of the tour, but we did get to try some pretty tasty food.  
First up was the Little India food truck.  I don't really eat a lot of Indian food and was pleasantly surprised with the food we were served.  I chose the Saag Paneer to try which was like creamed spinach with chunks of cheese and Indian spices.  It came with basmati rice and piece of naan.  This was only our first stop, but it was huge serving.  It didn't photograph very well, but I really enjoyed the food.  

Next we headed over to Caveman Cafeteria which serves Paleo style food.  It was 100% grass fed meat, organic, and gluten free.  We got small little cups filled with tastes of several items from their menu.  This included sauteed kale, sausage and peppers, zucchini salad, short ribs, and a beef slider.  Everything was delicious.  I loved the zucchini salad and the short ribs best.  The two guys who run the stand also do catering in the Denver area too.  They actually started their business using Kickstarter which is pretty amazing.  

After a short stroll down 16th Street we stopped at Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs.  They don't serve your average hot dogs at this stand.  All of the dogs are served with cream cheese and onions that are sauteed with Coke.  They offer an all beef hot dog but also served Wild Boar, Alaska reindeer, Elk Jalapeno Cheddar, and Rattlesnake.  We got to try bites of all of those.  I think I tried all of them except the rattlesnake.  I just had no desire to try that.  I didn't really care for any of them.  I wouldn't mind trying an all beef dog with the cream cheese and onions, but I just couldn't get behind the other types.  

Then we made our way to Black Crow which was an outdoor taco stand.  The group grabbed seats while the owner and chef came out to tell us about the food.  Mom, Andy, and I tried the barbocoa, shrimp, and chicken tacos.  The barbocoa had a wine flavor to it that I didn't care for and the chicken was little too spicy.  The shrimp was the definitely the best one.  It was fried Gulf shrimp with pico de gallo, lettuce, and spicy chipotle cream sauce.  

Our final stop was EVOO Marketplace.  This shop was the first in Colorado to offer tastings of real olive oil and flavored vinegars.  The couple that owns and operates the shop described how the shop works and how you create your own oil and vinegar combinations to use on savory and sweet foods as marinades, dressings, or toppings.  We then got to walk around the shop creating and sampling our own combinations.  We tried raspberry, coconut and sesame, butter and lime, and a few others.  Mom and Andy ended up purchasing a few bottles to have shipped home.  I can't wait to see what they use them for!

After the tour we walked some more around the downtown area know as LoDo before making our way to the hotel to check in.  I got a free upgrade and we ended up in a lovely top floor room with a view of the city.  I also took the chance to check out the rest of the hotel including the spa and fitness center.  It's interesting to compare the hotel I work at and other hotels in the company!

Later we walked to Lamier Square and had dinner at Osteria Marco for some Italian food.  The dining area was in the basement and had brick walls and lots of dark wood.  There was a nice bar area, panini station, pizza making in the back kitchen and cheese coming from upstairs.  

Lots of things on the menu sounded good.  We ended up splitting the Chicken Parmesan Panini, Tomato Salad, and Bianco Pizza.  The restaurant makes all their cheese in house and it was so fresh and delicious!  The sandwich included focaccia, mozzarella, and fontina and was super rich and flavorful.  The pizza crust had slight crunch and had rich, buttery flavor.  It was comprised of garlic, sliced zucchini, robiola, pecornio, and ricotta.  I couldn't stop eating it!  

The tomato salad, which was their version of caprese, included mozzarella, micro basil, shaved asparagus, diced tomatoes, and a balsamic reduction, it was fabulous!   

Have you ever been on a food tour?  Is there some type of food you wouldn't try?  Do you have a favorite type of cuisine?  Ever been to an oil tasting store?