Archive for the ‘Denver’ Tag

Latina Connections   Leave a comment

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The collection of short stories comprising Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine are lush in their details. The related narratives focus on Latina characters set mostly in Colorado, largely in Denver. Family traditions, gentrification, addiction, abuse and hope figure in most of the stories.

The author creates a vibrant, albeit struggling, community. It comes as no surprise that a character’s name surfaces more than once. An aunt casually mentioned in one story is the focus of another.

The title is one of 11 tales and among the most poignant. Sabrina and Corina are cousins who were close as children but, as they got older, grew apart. On the surface there are easy answers such as Sabrina’s beauty, an absent father or access to drugs. Yet, it’s more complicated as Corina reflects on the relationship with her cousin through the years and the choices each made – or was made for them.

“Julian Plaza” is another stand-out. A mother diagnosed with cancer is sent to live in a private home while her two young daughters and their father attempt to continue their usual routines. The father is a custodian at a senior care center, Julian Plaza. Cora, the older sister, knows her father sells goods stolen from people who die at the center to pay for their mother’s care. What’s most striking about this story is the optimism that builds like a roller coaster when their girls attempt to bring their mom home. Of course, there’s always a downside to those rides.

Sabrina & Corina
Four Bookmarks
One World. 2019
212 pages

Wholly, Holey, Holy Treats   1 comment

 

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Mariana, our son Tim’s girlfriend, is wonderful for many reasons. Her most recent way into our hearts, and stomachs, was to walk into our house with a box of Voodoo Donuts. We don’t live in Denver, so these are treats I have only read about. Most of what I’ve read includes the lengthy lines involved in snagging a sugary dozen.

She explained that she didn’t have to wait long. In fact, she said, shortly after she got to the counter the line started to build, so she felt lucky. We did, too.

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She ordered a Voodoo dozen, which meant that the choices were selected for her. That’s an interesting approach, but we all agreed we were pleased with the variety.

These are eye-catching, sweet-smelling goodies that are surprisingly light and airy. The toppings are uber-creative. Consider the Bubble gum-pink frosted raised donut that not only wafted images of big sticky bubbles, but included a piece of gum. This was too saccharine for me, but I did appreciate the ingenuity. Ditto on the Cocoa Puffs; this was never one of favorite cereals as a kid.

Since there were four of us sharing the donuts we democratically cut most into quarters so we had a couple bites of each one. Chocolate frosted raised donuts have always been one of my favorites and even though there is little to no originality involved, I loved it. Nonetheless, the buttermilk glazed donut was perhaps my favorite; I liked the double-chocolate a lot. I may need another dozen just to make sure.

 

Upscale in Uptown Denver   2 comments

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Although most of the lyrics eluded us, my friends and I sang what we remembered of Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl en route to Humboldt because it’s located in Uptown Denver. That set the mood for a thoroughly enjoyable meal.

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Humboldt Farm Fish Wine is uptown in more ways than just its geographic location. It’s contemporary, bright and offers a diverse menu while putting new spins on time-honored familiars. It also helped that our server was exceptionally well-versed in the restaurant’s offerings.

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Steak Salad usually doesn’t catch my attention, but when the ingredients include harissa, bleu cheese and chimichurri, it’s hard to resist. I’m glad I didn’t. The tender pieces of flank steak and harissa, a Middle Eastern condiment of chile, garlic, cumin and other spices, would have been satisfying on their own. The inclusion of bleu cheese, roasted red peppers, cipollini onions and peppery arugula dressed with chimichurri in vinaigratte form resulted in an exquisite combination of flavors typically not associated with one another.

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Our server recommended the Rueben which was served on artistically-marbled rye bread. Each element was perfectly balanced: corned beef, cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island Dressing. However, it was nearly overshadowed by the side of roasted cauliflower.

All I sampled from the Albacore Tuna Salad was a beet because goat cheese, of which I’m not a fan, was a main ingredient. Still, I was intrigued by the pomegranate vanilla dressing, but not enough to taste more than the red vegie.

For a little while, we were living in an “uptown world.”

Humboldt Farm Fish Wine
Nearly Five Plates
1700 Humboldt St.,
Denver, CO

The Kitchen Zink   Leave a comment

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Zink Kitchen+Bar is a well-kept secret. After all, who’d think to look in a Doubletree Hotel for an eclectic restaurant with a bold menu, good service and quality food? Half a dozen small plates are offered, any combination of which would make a complete meal. Our group opted for All Things Bacon as a starter. It was more than bacon, but somehow All Things Pork or even All Things Porcine doesn’t have the same ring. This indulgent plate successfully combined pork belly, maple bacon, pancetta and polenta in a mustard and dried fruit sauce.

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Our server recommended the entrée items from the Wood Stone Oven: BBQ Pork Mac ‘n Cheese, Smoked Chicken Enchiladas, Vietnamese Chicken Clay Pot and Artisan Flatbread Pizza topped with sausage and red pepper. It was a culinary version of the U.N.

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The Mac ‘n Cheese was thick, rich and creamy. The tangy barbecue-sauced ribs provided much needed balance. The enchiladas featured a white sauce augmented with Hatch green chile. It had a trace of a kick which allowed the chicken filling to take center stage. The sweet corn relish was a nice addition, but the side salad was superfluous. My Vietnamese Chicken wasn’t really in a clay pot. Still, it was quite good: an Asian version of chicken soup thick with Shitake mushrooms, bok choy, crispy pieces of chicken and Jasmine rice.

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Zink taught me a lesson about good restaurants hiding near hotel lobbies. I won’t be so dismissive of them in the future.

Zink Kitchen+Bar                                                                                                                                                                           Four Plates
Doubletree Denver Tech
7801 E. Orchard Rd.
Greenwood Village, Colo.

Strip Mall Tacos   5 comments

I almost hate to admit it, but strip malls hide some pretty good places to eat. Small and unassuming, Yolanda’s Tacos is a good example. With little to attract attention from the surrounding, hectic commercial scene of Arapahoe Road in south Denver, Yolanda’s appears to be the kind of place that thrives on word-of-mouth disclosures; the colorful, order-at-the-counter eatery was packed.

True to its name, Yolanda’s offers a large variety of tacos, as well as daily specials that include enchiladas, chile rellenos or taco salad. If it were called Yolanda’s Chile Rellenos, that might have been what I ordered. Instead, I chose the Tacos Barbacoa, shredded seasoned beef concealed by mounds of shredded lettuce and cheese. Half the amount of lettuce would have still been too much. Nonetheless, the beef was worth wading through the greens. It was tender and flavorful, as if it had simmered for hours, if not days, in a vinegar-based, chile-infused marinade. The medium-spiced salsa was the perfect accompaniment. Since the fillings were wrapped in soft corn tortillas, it was superfluous to have tortilla chips on the plate. The upside was that the chips were great for using up all of the salsa.

Among the types of tacos available are the pedestrian ground beef and chicken. The more intriguing offerings include Mahi Mahi, Blue Crab, Shrimp, Carnitas, shredded pork, steak and vegetarian. Burritos, nachos, taco salads and tostadas round out the regular menu items.

Yolanda’s Tacos has two other locations; it bodes well that they’re also in strip malls.

Yolanda’s Tacos
Three-and-a-half Plates
9612 E. Arapahoe Rd.
Greenwood Village, Colo.