A Boulder Break

The boxes are still there. Despite three weeks of dogged sorting and unpacking, there are still boxes. Though my compulsive side would just keep at it every day until they are gone, my more reasonable side is happy that events took us away from the boxes for a few days.

Our primary objective in making the trip was to take niece Hannah out for dinner for her much-delayed Chanukah gift. We had intended to go to a cooking class with her, but after changing our reservation once due to weather and then realizing the new date wouldn’t work either, we abandoned that idea for now. Instead, we made a reservation at highly-regarded OAK at fourteenth in Boulder.

So Saturday morning we packed up our duffels and our dog and headed for Boulder. We found traffic to be heavier midday Saturday than it had been Tuesday and Wednesday when I went to (and returned from) Lakewood. We continue to be frustrated with the dearth of healthy road food along this route (and so many others). But we made it to Boulder without incident, dropped Rebbe at his sister’s house for a walk with Uncle Robert and some friends, and spent the afternoon running some errands.

We had an early dinner reservation, so we picked Hannah up around 6 and headed down to Pearl Street. We were lucky to find on-street parking just a couple blocks from the restaurant. Boulder charges for parking until 7, so we took care of that (two machines were required, as the first one wouldn’t take a credit card and none of us had a dollar’s worth of change) and walked over. We had chosen OAK at fourteenth on the recommendation of Eater and friends/family who have dined there. I was quite happy to be seated in the smaller back room instead of the front room that contains the bar and lots of windows.

They immediately earned both a positive and a negative mark–each menu has all the beverage options printed on the back, so there is no sharing of the drink menu required (+) but a flashlight was needed to actually read the menu in the low light of the dining area (-). We were offered complimentary sparkling water, which we accepted. I was initially prepared to order a Manhattan, but when our server explained what the Alex vs Bryan “experience” was, I paused with interest, so he left us to discuss. Maureen and I decided to split the Alex vs Bryan, which turns out to be four champagne flutes:

The glasses on the ends contain George Dickel 9 year rye from different “single barrels” selected by owner/beverage guy Bryan and sister restaurant Acorn’s bar manager Alex (here’s a link to Alex mixing a different drink, because I also assumed Alex was a guy). The glasses in the middle are Alex’s and Bryan’s take on a cocktail with their respective ryes. Bryan’s had Sherry and a quite pleasant sweetness, while Alex’s had sesame oil and more of a tang. All in all, a great experience (loved the ryes just by themselves). Niece Hannah, by the way, tried the East Aspen Heights, a delightful, fruity gin cocktail.

And on to dinner… After the excellent sourdough bread with soft, salty butter, we decided to share two starters. We chose the chicken liver pâté and the hamachi crudo. Both were excellent. The hamachi may have been my favorite dish of the night. It was a little different than on the web version of the menu–it was prepared with avocado and grapefruit, which balanced one another and the fish perfectly. We each chose a different entrée: I chose King crab risotto, Maureen had roast chicken (with Brussels sprouts), and Hannah went with the tortellini. All were reported to be excellent. Sadly, we failed to take pictures of the food. I guess we were too excited about eating it.

We have a rule about dessert. You always have to look at the dessert menu. You don’t have to order any, and many times we elect not to, but if you don’t look…you might miss that life-altering dessert. In this case, we chose to share one dessert among the three of us–a milk chocolate mousse with Valrhona chocolate cake and (amazing!) espresso ice cream. I do not recommend this if you are caffeine-sensitive (as I am), but it may well have been worth the lack of sleep.

Sunday started with a bagel run. Maureen was kind enough to get up and go to Moe’s while the rest of us were still lounging. We enjoyed bagels with cream cheese and whitefish salad (well, some us ate this, not me) and a relaxing morning of visiting. After a little walk with the dogs and a lunch of leftovers, we were on to our next social engagement. We met Maureen’s long-time friend and fellow blogger Elena at pekoe sip house in the new Steelyards development. We had a great conversation. I tried the mate chai, which tasted like regular chai to me. I think I will have to ask one of my friends of South American extraction to introduce me to authentic Yerba mate.

Our final social engagement of the trip was Sunday with good friends in Lafayette. When we proposed getting together, they offered the idea of having pizza “in” so we could hang out and the dogs wouldn’t have to be left home. We made a salad to share and when we arrived we learned that we’d be making individual pizzas. It was quite fun. The dough was actually pre-made and available at King Soopers near the deli (we haven’t yet checked its Pueblo availability). We each stretched our piece of dough, then added toppings (a great selection of fresh veggies, pepperoni, and lots of garlic) and cheese before baking for about 20 minutes. Yum! Washed down with Argentinian wine and followed with gelato from Buenos Aires pizzeria, it was an awesome meal. A great evening was had by all–and apparently it tuckered Rebbe out.

Next blog: A new experience and the other reason for our Boulder trip!

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