Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Prelude to Aspen

June 13

I've just realilzed that I eat differently depending on who I'm trying to impress. That's kind of pathetic, I know, but it's food for thought as I prepare to head up to Aspen for the Food & Wine Classic there.
I'll be driving up there tomorrow; at the moment I'm in Denver for family time.
I arrived last Saturday and have been mostly hanging out with family -- Mom, Dad, brother, sister, sister-in-law, nieces and nephew, aunts, uncle, cousins. I also reconnected with Pam Paulien, a friend from back in fourth grade, who is moving into one of my family's apartment buildings (sort of; they're actually turning it into a co-housing development, a dream of my sometime-socialist mother). And I did my usual obligatory walk down East Colfax, where I stopped in tHERe bar & lounge and had iced coffee with a truck driver named Sonya.
And of course I've checked out some restaurants. I went with my sister-in-law Helen Thorn, her son Harrison and my niece Tahirah Thorn to Amazing Jake's -- one of those places where you can eat and play video games and ride bumper cars and play laser tag.
The price of admission included an all-you-can-eat buffet, and I stuck exclusively to the salad bar, loading up on greens and drizzling it with a little basil oil and balsamic vinegar.
Now, had I been on my own, I might very well have loaded up on Mac & Cheese and pizza, but it seemed reasonable to model for the kids.
Had I been in a restaurant where the chef might know me, I would have ordered whatever was most obscure or "cool" in the eyes of a chef -- sweetbreads or something with cockscombs. Had I been trying to assess whether the restaurant was any good, I would have ordered signature dishes or anything else the restaurant seemed to be hanging its hat on.
Later in the week I took my brother, Todd (Thorn, obviously), his wife Helen, and their kids Harrison and Alia (a tender 11 months and just the sweetest thing, unless she's tired or hungry or otherwise out of sorts) to Rioja, where I did a combination of eating what I wanted, modeling and trying to find a wine my relatively teatotaling brother and sister-in-law would enjoy. So I picked a Suttcliffe Vineyards Gewurtztraminer to drink. It's a Colorado wine, and I'd interviewed the winemaker for an article I'd written on the Four Corners region, so I wanted to try it, and I thought it would appeal to Todd and Helen's sweet teeth, but Helen found it too light and Todd didn't comment, so I guees I should raise the ante next time and get a German Riesling.
I ordered some braised pork belly (called "fresh bacon" on the menu, which was cute), to show Harrison the desirability of being adventurous (he seemed more interested in his Game Boy, which is reasonable, but you never know exactly what kids pick up), and then in the interest of moderation, to model the value of moderation, and because I wanted to try it, I ordered the vegetarian main course, which was a tasting of four different vegetable preparations.
It was a lot of thought for a simple dinner, but a good time was had by all.
And now it's time for me to go. We're dining at Texas de Brazil this evening. It's a churrascaria, so I shall be eating large quantities of meat. I might even skip the salad bar.

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