When I started planning my solo trip to the US last year, I hadn’t thought about going to Colorado at all. But my old friend from school Bec lives in Denver with her hubby and two kids, and when she heard I would be ‘next door’ in Wyoming, she invited me to stay with them.
My family came to Perth, Western Australia in the summer of 1986 and I started Year 6 in primary school. During that difficult year, Bec became one of my first real friends. We were always in the same classes and stayed friends in high school, even though by then we hung around with different people. We went to different universities and only reconnected through Facebook a couple of years ago when another classmate organised our 20-year high school reunion (neither of us went).
And so I flew United Airlines from Cody, Wyoming and arrived in Denver, Colorado at 7pm (around 1.5 hours). Bec picked me up at the airport. I was still spun out from getting off the plane, catching the train to the baggage claim and discovering that my bag had beaten me to the carousel.
She knew I’d be hungry and drove us straight to dinner at Mizuna. We’d chatted via Facebook Messenger about the details of my trip but hadn’t seen each other for years, so it was wonderful to catch up (even better, over great food). As a starter, we shared the signature dish of macaroni and cheese with poached Maine lobster and mascarpone enriched elbow pasta (US$21) – I’ve had truffled mac and cheese, but the tender lobster flesh made this rich, creamy mac and cheese truly decadent. For main course, Bec ordered shrimp and grits (US$37) and I had roasted duck breast (US$39). We shared a tangy dessert of Meyer lemon pie (US$10) with Meyer lemon curd, key lime macaron, coconut sorbet, citrus chutney and compressed pineapple. Our waiter was excellent and had impeccable timing, efficiently doing her job without disrupting our conversation.
I must admit it had crossed my mind that after all these years apart, we might find that we didn’t like each other any more. That would’ve been awkward. But as Bec and I talked, I realised I needn’t have worried at all.
25 East 7th Avenue
Denver, Colorado USA
Cherry Creek North Food and Wine
Once I decided to add a Denver leg to my trip, I researched things to do (and eat) and found Cherry Creek North Food and Wine. It’s a one-night-only event showcasing over 20 of Cherry Creek North’s food and beverage establishments. Bec bought our VIP tickets ahead of time which got us early entry at 5pm, an hour before the regular ticker-holders got in. Our tickets included all food and drinks – so we just worked our way through the stalls, grabbing a taste of whatever we wanted. We thought the VIP tickets were well worth it, as it got pretty crowded once the regular ticket-holders were allowed in. Bec’s sister and her partner were in Denver at the same time visiting from Perth and joined in the fun too.
We grazed on tasty bites that included:
- braised beef short ribs with roasted vegetables and creamy white polenta from North Italia
- heirloom tomato and watermelon salad, plus seared albacore tataki with red chilli ponzu from True Food Kitchen
- milk and dark chocolate truffles and almond toffee petites from Enstrom Candies – the almond toffee petites are a must-try taste of Colorado!
- 24-hour smoked brisket, pickles, slaw, bread rolls and mini key lime pies from Second Home Kitchen + Bar. These guys also gave away take-home jars of their chipotle BBQ sauce.
- butter chicken, rice and potato vada with tamarind chutney from Bombay Clay Oven
- barbecued ribs from Cherry Creek Grill
- Palisade peach gazpacho with almond custard, black garlic meringue and micro basil, plus celery root and potato tots with prosciutto and chili aioli from Harman’s Eat & Drink
- chocolate brownies and lavender ice tea lemonade from Dazbog Coffee
- Hawaiian-style poke tuna on crisp tostada shells from Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar – I absolutely loved this and shamelessly went back for thirds.
There was a lot more that I didn’t take notes on/haven’t pictured below. All that grazing added up and we were full by the time we left. A pretty good way to spend Saturday night.
We attended Annual Cherry Creek North Food & Wine on Saturday 9 August 2014.
The ticket price included all food and beverages (soft drinks, coffee, beer, wine, spirits) from over 20 of Cherry Creek North’s food and beverage establishments, and live music.
7th Cherry Creek North Food & Wine (2015)
- This year’s event is on Saturday 8 August 2015 from 6pm to 9pm at Fillmore Plaza (Fillmore Street and 2nd Avenue), Denver
- VIP tickets US$80 – early entry from 5pm
- General admission tickets $60 – entry from 6pm
- 2015 participating restaurants
- Buy 2015 tickets
- More on Cherry Creek North.
Denver Botanic Gardens
I can appreciate a beautiful garden but my interest will probably last about five minutes. I like art though, and I love sculpture, so I was pretty happy to visit Denver Botanic Gardens on Sunday to see the outdoor exhibition featuring the work of American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. The bold colours and striking shapes of the sculptures were simply dazzling and transformed the gardens into something extraordinary.
- The Chihuly exhibition was on 14 June to 30 November 2014 at the Botanic Gardens at 1007 York Street, Denver. Parking was a challenge.
- There are two other Botanic Garden locations, at Mount Goliath and Chatfield.
- I found out later that four people were charged with theft of Chihuly artwork from the exhibition!
- Find out more about the artist at his website: Chihuly
Argyll Whisky Beer
The sun was a scorcher and seemed to grow hotter as we wandered the Botanic Gardens. We were covered in sunscreen and melting fast – time to retreat and go to lunch. We cooled down and grabbed a feed at a funky but relaxed pub called Argyll Whisky Beer. I chose the lamb burger (US$13) with a crisp lettuce leaf, yoghurt cucumber relish and tomato jam, served with spindly shoestring fries. As far as burgers go, this one was a beauty – incredibly juicy and delicious. Their menu has since changed, but still features a number of British-inspired dishes including fish and chips, full English breakfast fry-up and Scotch egg. The lamb burger’s still on the menu, now US$11 without fries (add extra $3 for fries).
Argyll Whisky Beer
1035 E. 17th Ave
Denver, Colorado USA
Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs
Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs was on my Denver To Eat list – we went there for dinner on Sunday night.
Choose your sausage and topping, and your hotdog is made to order.
There’s all-beef sausage (and an option for bacon-wrapped beef sausage) but for the more adventurous, a list of more exotic meats: reindeer, elk, pheasant, wild boar, rattlesnake & pheasant, veal, duck, and buffalo. There’s a vegan sausage too, available in herby or spicy varieties.
My first choice was the rattlesnake & pheasant sausage but sadly, they’d run out of those – so I had my second choice, the smoky Alaskan reindeer sausage, topped with ‘The International’ – wasabi aioli, caramelised apples and shaved Irish cheddar. The staff apologised; they’d had a huge weekend and hadn’t fully replenished their stocks – they were also out of their deep fried pickles (horseradish habañero pickles with roasted carrot habañero sauce). And so I had fries instead, quite plain Jane with my Rudolph hotdog, but they were fresh and crispy. It was a mighty good hot dog and my first taste of reindeer. I washed it down with ice cold fountain root beer.
Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs
There are two Biker Jim’s stores:
1601 Mayberry Drive Suite 103, Highlands Ranch
2148 Larimer Street, Denver.
I had a terrific time catching up with Bec and her family. I stayed the next three days in Downtown Denver – that’s coming up in Part 2.
My solo USA trip (2014) – about this series
I travelled alone to the United States from late July to mid-August. This trip covered California, Wyoming and Colorado. The primary reason for the trip was to attend a couple of workshops, one on hot air balloon photography and the other on photographing wild horses and cowboys. I also caught up with an old school friend.
- Santa Paula, California, USA – Part 1
- Chasing Balloons, Part 1 – Citrus Classic Balloon Festival
- Chasing Balloons, Part 2
- Santa Paula, California, USA – Part 2
- San Francisco, Part 1 – Golden Gate Hotel (checking in), North Beach by Night walking tour, Sam’s (burger)
- San Francisco, Part 2 – Golden Gate Hotel (breakfast), Hop-on hop-off bus tour. Golden Gate Bridge, Haight-Ashbury, The Pork Store, Painted Ladies, Hearts in San Francisco project, Jardiniere
- San Francisco, Part 3 – breakfast in Chinatown, Ferry Building, sea lions of Pier 39, In-N-Out Burger, Fisherman’s Wharf and dinner with strangers at House of Nanking
- San Francisco, Part 4 – walking around Chinatown, Bacon Bacon truck, Mission District murals, Bi-Rite Creamery and Katana-Ya ramen.
- Wyoming cowboys and staying at K Bar Z ranch
- Wild horses and dining out in Cody, Wyoming
- My first day in Cody, Wyoming
- Denver, Colorado – Part 1 – Mizuna, Cherry Creek North Food & Wine festival, Chihuly exhibition at Denver Botanic Gardens, Argyll Whisky Beer, Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs – this post
- Denver, Colorado – Part 2 – The Curtis, Sam’s No.3, Etai’s, Bistro Vendome, Civic Center Eats, The Buckhorn Exchange, Syrup, Denver public art