The Weirdest Chai Ever from Egg Shell, Plus Mediocre Crepes!

So, for starters, I’m gonna apologize for the fact that I haven’t actually written about anything I’ve *cooked* in many moons. I’ve got a backlog of photos on my phone, but the glut of what I’ve got to work with on my actual computer is from restaurants, and I am apparently too much of a bum to transfer said photos from my phone to my computer. I’ve also been eating out entirely more than my wallet wants me to. Anyhow, I also noticed that most of my posts about eating in restaurants tend to fall along the lines of “OMG SO AWESOME!!” So, here’s one that’s not.

There’s this place called The Egg Shell in Cherry Creek. And, I’m not a fan.

So, I crack out over chai tea. Waitress asks if I’d like a beverage and, as crack is hard to resist, I ask if they have chai tea. (I feel so redundant saying that, since “chai” actually means “tea”. Hah!) And indeed they do have chai tea. So, I order it. And it arrives, and on first glance looks quite delightful.

Chai tea from the eggshell

And then I drink it. Is it possible to make tea from seltzer water? Cause I’ve never before had tea that seemed…carbonated. It was really weird. That, and it was lukewarm. Neither hot, nor iced, but lukewarm. I mean, I drank it all, but sort of out of boredom more than anything else. Did not approve!

For my entree, I got swedish pancakes, which were essentially crepes, which came with lingonberry sauce. There wasn’t anything necessarily *wrong* with what I got, but, I couldn’t pinpoint anything about these crepes that would make me want to order them again. Indeed, these crepes were the epitome of ‘average.’

Swedish pancakes/crepes

And, I suppose the worst part was the fact that the portion was pretty meagre, I was totally still hungry after that! As I ate them, I kept thinking about the awesome gingerbread pancakes at Racine’s, and the fact that they were like $2 cheaper, extraordinarily delicious, and eating half of them would fill me up more than that entire serving of crepes. I felt like the Egg Shell fit quite perfectly the negative “fancy restaurant” stereotype – small portions of average food that cost a little bit too much.

Piles of Mexican from El Noa Noa on Santa Fe

So, as far as I’m concerned, Mexican food is crack. I don’t care if it’s traditional, New Mexican, or straight up Americanized Mexican, it’s all good. (Not that I can necessarily tell the difference between them anyhow, but we’ll just ignore that little fact). Anyhow, one thing I like about living in Colorado is you can throw a rock in any direction and probably hit a Mexican restaurant, it’s really quite delightful.

Anyhow, there’s a place called El Noa Noa that we frequent at work fairly regularly. And, as my impulsive nature dictates that I take a photo of pretty much everything I eat, I’ve got a little backlog of photos from there, which I’ll dump into this post.

ceviche de pescado

First off, the ceviche de pescado. This was a veritable vat of goodness. Spicy but not too spicy, it filled me up quite well. The margarita helped, as margaritas generally do. Would totally get this again (and pretty sure I have gotten it again, in fact).

fish tacos

Ah, fish tacos. Totally don’t remember what kind of fish were in these suckers. Don’t really even remember if the menu mentioned the kind of fish. Whitefish of some kind, yup. Anyhow, I tried eating these babies with my hands and gave up after not too long (didn’t help that I covered them with sauces). Not that this is in any way a negative mark though – many delicious items fall apart when you pick them up. This is often the nature of delicious items, in fact. Anyhow, these were really good. I appreciated having a decent sized slab of avocado for each taco. Also, my hands totally got sticky from squeezing all those limes. I am super into the lime-squeezing scene, you see. If there is a lime near me, it must be squeezed and cause all food in the vicinity to become vaguely lime-flavored. Yum!

Combo!

And now, the combo plates. I believe this was a chile rellano, taquito, and taco. Actually, if I remember correctly, I was eating this while in the midst of a rather annoying hangover, and I distinctly recall having the thought “This cheese stuffed pepper would be so much more delightful if my stomach wasn’t curdling at the thought of dairy!” Yeah….one of those days. The taquito was decent enough, though nothing too spectacular. And the taco was pretty much as delightful as your standard hard shell beef taco can be. Anyhow, pretty good combo as combos go.

another combi!

And, another combo. This was, from left to right, a cheese enchilada, giant pile of rice and beans, and a mystery item I have apparently forgotten (a burrito…maybe?). So, the cheese enchilada left me a little wanting. I was sober this time around and totally ready to take on some serious dairy, but the super yellow cheese on top combined with the same super yellow cheese in the middle of the enchilada was a little too…yellow for me? Too sharp? I think I’m more of a fan of white soft cheeses as enchilada fillings, to be honest. That, and I’m a bit picky about my red sauces. I’ve yet to find a good mole that agrees with me, and the enchilada sauce had all little too much of the “weird mole” edge for me. Rice and refried beans? Standard rice and refried beans, meaning they were the regular sort of delightful. Wish I could comment on Item #3 over on the right there, but my brain has disallowed me access to that particular memory. Alas!

Happy Hour Adventures at Charlie Brown’s Bar and Grill

So, if I hadn’t mentioned it before, I recently moved to the Capitol Hill district of downtown Denver. The nice thing about living in the city again is the fact that I can walk to approximately 1 gazillion restaurants. This makes my stomach happy, but not necessarily my wallet. Meaning that I keep my eye out for cheap ways to eat at all of these delightful restaurants. The intersection of that plus my increased tendency to drink alcohol regularly means that I’ve been especially looking for happy hour specials.

Anyhow, there’s a place fairly close to me called Charlie Brown’s Bar and Grill. The interior is dark sort of old school classy, with a giant piano in one corner that seems to always have someone playing it (based on the few times I’ve been here so far, at least). There’s an expansive porch – part of it covered with TVs all over the place blasting whatever sports game is on at the time (which is kinda annoying for those of us not really into TVs everywhere). The other part of the porch is open and TVless and quite delightful on nice August afternoons. Despite the name, Charlie Brown’s has a rather sad lack of Peanuts references. It does, however, have these teeny burgers for $1 a pop during happy hour:

teeny burgers!

So, shooters? Sliders? I don’t remember the particular terminology the menu used for them, so I just refer to them all as teeny burgers. Looks like one of the pickles impulsively dove into my mouth before I got a chance to take the photo. That kind of thing generally happens when I’m ravenously hungry. Anyhow, these were pretty good for $1 each! The teeny burgers were coupled with an order of some tacos, also priced at $1 each.

tacos

Mmmmm tacos. These slid down the gullet quite well, nothing too crazy here, but again, super awesome for the price. I totally snagged the salsa that was meant for the tacos, and slathered it all over the teeny burgers. And *that* was truly awesome. Burgers + Salsa = Joy. This is a proven mathematical fact.

Anyhow, their happy hour runs from 4:00-6:30pm and 10:30pm-12:30am. There’s 2 for 1 drink specials of some sort as well. And, thanks to my recent request, at least one bartender there knows how to make a blue motorcycle, a drink that seemed pretty popular back in Richmond but no one seems to have heard of here in Denver. Yum!

My Box of Plants from Door to Door Organics – With Kale, Amongst Other Things!

So I recently got the pleasure of receiving a box of veggies from Door to Door Organics. And lets be honest, there are few things more exciting in this world than opening up a box and finding it full of plants!

Door to Door Organics box o' plants

There was a decent range of stuff in the box, including lettuce, teeny little onions, eggplants, and other nefarious vegetables. So, my adventure from that point on was to figure out how the heck to use all of these guys!

Delightful shrimp salad!

Figured I’d start with the plants most likely to go bad first, notably the cherry tomatoes and lettuce. And thus, salad time! The above salad has the aforementioned tomatoes and lettuce, plus shrimp, edamame (soybeans), walnuts, sesame seeds, and a Newman’s Own vinaigrette of some sort. I’ve only recently discovered the joys of dumping edamame on salad, and it’s freaking awesome. The only thing that would have made this salad better would have been if I’d had goldfish (yes, the crackers) to dump on as well. Trust me, it’s delicious, better than any croutons could be!

Red curry vegetables

So I’ve never cooked with bok choy before, but I was suddenly presented with the opportunity to do so as the above bok choy was rather stealthily stashed in the box. I decided that it, plus some green beans, an eggplant, and teeny onions, would be ideal for making red curry.

Red curry cooking

I have a ginormous jar of red curry paste that I may or may not finish by the end of this decade. A bit of that, plus some coconut milk, garlic, and sugar, worked quite well with the vegetables above, along with some chicken for good measure. I took a picture of the final result sitting on rice, but as I was apparently woozy from lack of red curry, the picture came out rather poorly, which is why it’s not here. But, the red curry looked about like any other red curry. So, imagine a small plate of red curry on rice in your head, and then imagine what it would look like like after taking about 6 shots of vodka and getting off of an underground rollercoaster bathed in dim florescent lighting. That’s about what that photo looked like. The real thing looked much more appetizing, thus why I could not be bothered to take a decent picture of it before eating it all.

Kale

So, the real tricky plant for me was the kale. I kept poking and prodding it, thinking, “Kale?! What on earth does one do with such a plant?!” It was indeed a conundrum. I’d never cooked with kale before. I had my doubts as to if I’d ever *eaten* kale before. So I procrastinated on doing anything with it until there were few other vegetables left. Every time I opened up the fridge, there it was, staring me down. Taunting me to use it. So I did what I usually do in such times of strike, and asked my good pal Google what to do. Google responded with suggestions aplenty. I picked the one that looked pretty simple – stir-fry the kale with garlic in sesame oil for about 5 minutes, and add some sesame seeds near the end.

Kale cooking

And you know, it actually wasn’t too bad. I mean, it was still eating a big pile of green plant and all, but it was really quite satisfying. Like, a “this is what cooked spinach *should* be like” kinda satisfying that would make Popeye proud. This stuff is seriously like a vitamin plant. And, only 5 minutes! Super easy and fast! Yeah, I might totally get some kale again.

So yeah, awesome food box! And here’s something fun: if you’re interested in getting a delightful box of vegetables for yourself, use the code “tastyniblets” when you sign up and you will get 40% off of one of the bitty boxes!

The Breakfast of Champions

Yeah, so I had some bad insomnia the other night. Woke up at 4 am, couldn’t go back to sleep. Decided at 6 am to go see who actually goes to the gym at that godawful hour. After 30 minutes on a treadmill and a refreshing shower, I found myself with another hour to kill before I had to get to work. Thanks to the aforementioned 30 minutes on a treadmill, I was far more ravenous than I normally am at that hour. To be honest, at that hour I’m not generally hungry at all, as I am usually still asleep! Anyhow, here is one of the most exciting breakfasts I’ve had in quite awhile:

Exciting mac and cheese and green beans for breakfast

(I am justifying the poor quality of the photo with the fact that this meal is being lit up by the rising sun.)

I tossed the green beans around in a wok with some sesame oil and soy sauce, then added in sesame seeds near the end. As for the mac & cheese, I’d had a rather large cup of some melty cheese leftover from a recent nachos excursion, so I boiled some shells and dumped the cheese on in, along with some bonus parmesan and feta sprinkled on. Breakfast of champions indeed!

Frozen Yogurt Madness – Golden Spoon and Yogurtland

So remember back in the 90s, frozen yogurt was all over the place? And there were people who debated if it was better or worse than ice cream? And if you were me, you were all like “soft serve is awesome, I don’t care?” Then it disappeared. And then what I think of as “the Dark Ages of soft serve” when chocolate (and, by extension, the delightful concoction known as “twist”) disappeared from fast food restaurants everywhere? Dark times indeed. But, we are in an enlightenment again. All of the sudden, there are frozen yogurt shops everywhere! And believe me, I’ve been making the rounds.

Golden Spoon

Golden Spoon has been making headway in the Denver area. We got a chocolate topped with chocolate sauce and brownie chunks, along with cheesecake topped with strawberries. Quite tasty. They had a good selection of flavors, though the store’s decor was lacking in…something. Then again, if it’s summer, or nice out at all, you’re probably not hanging out inside a yogurt shop anyhow?

That really seems to be the best thing about all these frozen yogurt places, – the large range of yogurt flavors. As one who grew up not getting much in the way of ice cream beyond “neopolitan”, it’s glorious. On a side note, as a child I confused neopolitan with Napoleon, and thought it was French ice cream. Also, did anyone *ever* eat the strawberry first? I mean, really. I dunno about you, but the chocolate and the vanilla went rather fast. Then that stupid strawberry just sat there forever and ever until it get all crystallized and someone finally threw it out. Poor strawberry.

YogurtLand

Anyhow, another super awesome place is Yogurtland. It is, in fact, my new favorite place to get rid of extra dollars.

This place was seriously cranking when we went there. Hello Kitty was plastered everywhere, so fabulous! Anyhow, while Golden Spoon is more of a “pay for the size you’re getting, plus whatever toppings” kind of place, Yogurtland is more buffet style, where you pay by weight. And, considering how awesome their setup is, I’m sort of expecting this style of yogurt shoppe to win out in the end.

According to a friend at work, Yogurtland has both taro and green tea flavors, but the night I went they were lacking both. So I went with some coconut and red velvet cake, and both were awesome. The toppings selection was extensive, and I got kiwi, mango, shredded coconut, and mochi balls. Mochi balls! Seriously? Best thing ever.

Yeah, I kinda want some more frozen yogurt now. So delightful!

Delightful Gingerbread Pancakes from Racines

So I’ve discovered pretty much the Best Breakfast Place Ever – Racines, which is a convenient 4 blocks from where I now live. I am a sucker for pancakes and waffles with exciting innards and topped with dessert-like ingredients, and Racine’s does not disappoint. Most notably, with the gingerbread pancakes:

Gingerbread pancakes

The pancakes were super tasty, especially with the butter smeared all over them. This butter was cinnamoney and full of tiny pieces of nuts (either walnuts or pecans). Not sure if the butter is a constant thing, as I came back a second time and split a set of these delightful pancakes with a friend, only to get regular butter. They were still quite tasty with the regular butter, mind you, but that nutty butter really hit the spot.

Anyhow, just two of these things make a huge serving. I can pretty much guarantee that unless you are Michael Phelps or someone with a similar level of physical exertion on a day to day basis, that you will not be able to make it through 2/3 of this stack without feeling completely bloated! It’s a good kind of bloat, though. If you need some good caffeine with your sugar, I recommend getting the hot chai tea. It’s strongly flavored and spicy!

Next, I need to go back and try a few more of Racine’s pancake offerings, including the peanut butter and chocolate pancakes as well as the bacon pancakes!

Homemade Salmon Sushi Party

I had the opportunity, not too long ago, to take over some friends’ kitchen and make a giant pile of salmon and veggie sushi. I’ve recently discovered this awesome fresh fish market in the Highlands area of Denver, and though it cost rather more than I was willing to spend, $22/lb for really freaking good salmon is worth it when you consider how much good salmon would cost at a sushi bar.

Anyhow, this post will be light on words and heavy on photos, since I got some good ones of the delicious sushi that was made. There are few things I like more than making sushi for people that love sushi!

Here’s a closeup on some rolls topped with avocado plus fish roe, along with some salmon and avocado rolls:

Sushi pic 1

I’m not too hot at slicing fish for nigiri, but boy are they tasty:

Sushi pic 2

Here’s a nice closeup of someone’s plate of sushi, about to be eaten:

Sushi pic 3

One of my hosts made some delicious miso soup to go along with the sushi feast:

Sushi pic 4

I’m getting better at making tamago (egg omelet) but still struggle with it not holding together as strongly as I’d like:

Sushi pic 5

Another shot of the salmon sushi plate:

Sushi pic 6

Fancy outdoor sushi party!

Sushi pic 7

Super closeup of the tamago rolls plus nigiri:

Sushi pic 8

Mondo rolls are delicious!

Sushi pic 9

Am hoping to have another sushi party with friends soon, hopefully with tuna!

El Camaron Loco in Denver on Federal = Yum!

So I decided it was high time I restarted this blog. It’s been awhile, but let’s just say that having been living in a hotel for the past month+ (of the sort that does not allow cooking of any kind), I haven’t had very good fodder for posts. And circumstances (which I shall not delve into here) have not been conducive for the sort of creative mental state required to make awesome posts about delicious food.

But, it’s time to jump back into things. And I shall do so by talking about this restaurant that’s about 2 blocks from my hotel, called El Camaron Loco (The Crazy Shrimp).

Sweet Mural

First off, they have these sweet murals on the outside of the rather shack-like building. Go inside, and they have pictures of almost every dish they have (all 80some of them), and they all looked absolutely delightful (who knew there were so many Mexican seafood dishes?). My friend and I stood and stared for almost a good 10 minutes before ordering.

The woman at the cashier had a tenuous grasp of English at best, but I was able to get out my order for ceviche de camarones (shrimp ceviche). Helps that everything is numbered. I asked about beverages, she just said “coke” then waited for my answer. After agreeing to get a coke, she directed me to the fridge off to the side where I can get one, and it was only then that I saw the lovely range of Mexican soft drinks potentially at my disposal. So, be warned, grab your drink before you order if you want something fun!

Anyhow, seating is pretty basic, but the murals on the wall are pretty sweet. Prices? A little steep considering (can’t get much of anything under $10, and all the really awesome stuff seems to start at $12), but hey, you’re getting some pretty sweet seafood here.

shrimp ceviche

Yeah, this shrimp ceviche was quite satisfying. I want to go back, but there’s this Mexican seafood cart that parks in the parking lot right outside my hotel room, and many other options as well in the area. I had no idea that it was possible to find so many delightful Mexican food options in such a small area. Oh how my stomach loves you, Federal Street.