Alotta Burrata

One weekend.

Two sisters.

Eleven restaurants.

Eighteen dishes.

(so many dollars spent, I can not even…)

They thought it could not be done. Hell, even we knew it was grossly ambitious. Or maybe just gross. IMG_8625.jpg

There are a few things you need to know about my sister and it will all make sense at the end.

1. She loves food just as much as I do. I am not sure if it is nature versus nurture, but it runs in the family. So naturally, when little sister (me) comes into town, big sister (her) has to show what Denver is made of.

2. She is a planner. I am talking about color-coding, laminating, by-the-minute itinerary.IMG_8627.jpg With this in mind, I present to you the ridiculous, out-to-lunch (literally) whirlwind trip that took place this weekend. I know coming to the Mile High city was a big deal, considering she has lived here for over ten years and this is the first time in my grown-up life that I have visited her. The food scene here is happening and there were so many places to be that we could not possibly do them all in three days. I was wrong.

We did it. I am so unbelievably shocked, frendshäm* and impressed that we were able to pull it off. Logistics, time and money (wallet is in tears) did not stand in the way of the Condell girls.

*Frendshäm is a term we coined (based loosely) on a German word to describe second-hand humiliation. As in the, “Oh Sweetie”-kind of embarrassment. Consider it the next thing to go viral, I promise you that.

On Friday morning, my sister presented me the itinerary of what would shape our time together. Please note that there are no sightseeing locals, no shopping, nothing. All of our touristy things revolved around ensuring that it did not interfere with our food schedule. A, sort of – what silly Denver ‘must do’ should we slog through to tick down minutes in between meals? January isn’t the best time to come to Denver because a lot of things are closed for the off-season. However, we surely did not let that get in the way of our fun.

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What made this so great was that it was literally my sister’s favorite dish at each place. I wish I had a window into her genius brain when she was compiling this list.. classic You Are What You Eat.

Swiftly after a Thursday night pick-up at the airport, we arrived at Pinche Taco’s for what might be the best tacos outside of California. Even remotely thinking this means that they were out-of-this-world delicious. I dubbed these as sexy street tacos, with ingredients such as Queso a la Plancha (mmm…burnt cheese), pan roasted scallops and carnitas that Zeus himself kissed before making its way onto our plate.

(Horrible lighting, as it usually happens when food is that good). pinche.png After hearing that my sister never finished the last half-season of Breaking Bad, we hopped on that quickly and watched an episode before getting into bed.

FRIDAY

Upon waking up, we were a little nervous for what we had in store and decided to play it by ear. We ended up at The Source, which is a local food market that can be compared to a mini Chelsea Market. Lunch was consumed at Acorn and we shared the kale & apple salad (candied almonds, parmesan, togarashi) and tomato braised meatballs (anson mills stone ground grits, burrata, basil).

We high-fived after a successful start and walked around to check out the collective of food artisans and retailers that offer everything from freshly baked bread to craft cocktails. I was impressed with the place and loved the vibe; it reminded me of a less-touristy and more modern Ferry Market building.acorn.png

Our one (1) sightseeing adventure of the whole trip came after lunch, we drove to Red Rocks Amphitheater where the most legendary concert hall is. They had a pretty badass view of the city.

Of course the one picture I did take did not highlight this gorgeous view I am talking about. IMG_8619.jpg

I do not know if it is the altitude or that I am just severely out of shape, but those pesky stairs really got to me and I was embarrassingly winded after the whole thing. IMG_8620.jpg

Another episode of Breaking Bad and a cup of Café Bustelo later, we found ourselves in downtown Denver and ready to roll up our sleeves to get this food coma party started.

With itinerary in hand, our first stop was Panzano for their Crespelle ai Funghi (Hazel Dell mushroom stuffed crepes, fonduta sauce and white truffle oil) and a glass of bubbly. At this point, we realized that our trusty friend was crusty bread. Crusty Bread would make a cameo at literally every single meal. No joke. No complaints. NOT a gluten free weekend.

We walked over to Osteria for their burrata (creamy sweet center, firm edge). Bartender overheard our tactic for the night and asked to see the coveted list. To say he was thoroughly impressed was an understatement; it was at this point in time that we began to think that our crazy idea was actually straight genius. dtdenver.png

Next stop at Bistro Vendome, a quaint French bistro that uses local and seasonal ingredients. We broke our one-plate-per-restaurant rule here and ordered the mussels (garlic, herb, white wine, grilled sourdough baguette) and steak tartare (tenderloin w/ aioli, Dijon, capers, red onion). As a non-seafood kind of girl, the mussels were hand-on-knee amazing and I do not even want to count how many pieces of sourdough I went through. bistrovendon.png

Our last stop of the night was at ChoLon, a fusion restaurant with a menu that is inspired by traditional dishes found across the Asian continent. We enjoyed the soup dumplings (sweet onion, gruyere) and Brussels sprouts (ground pork & mint). We also had the pleasure of chewing the proverbial fat with the Chef Lon (Denver Cheflebrity) and shut down the restaurant as we listened to the fantastical tales of this renown all-over-the-world-and-back chef. cholon.png

Friday’s Round-Up:

Restaurants: 5

Dishes: 9

Stomachs a calorie away from exploding: 2

Saturday

Somehow, someway, we woke up not feeling like death. The only thing on our mind was a cappuccino, which worked perfectly with the next step being butternut squash pizza (walnut, smoked mozzarella, sweet onion & arugula) at True Food Kitchen. The one thing I was uneasy about on the list ended up being delightful, especially with a fried egg on top. butternutsquashpiz.png

I would like to tell you exactly what we did after; however, everything seems hazy as I am typing this post. Almost as blurry as this picture taken by my beauty of a sister. IMG_8672.jpg

Although Saturday was not as ambitious the night before, I think my favorite thing that happened was at Z Cuisine. The last time I ate a cheese plate was less than a week ago at Maialino in New York (I found the restaurant name, yay!).

This cheese plate was something else. Something where my pathetic little words would only dull how outstanding this was. My sister and I had to stop for a second and make sure what was going on was real. Whoever chose the assortment deserves a round of applause, from the apple and cheddar combo to the contrast of creamy cheese and nutty texture . We wanted to go back the next day to eat more.

As mouthwatering as the cheese plate was, the star of the whole weekend was the cassoulet. Slap-your-mom delicious and worth every penny. Although this is only January, my intuition tells me that this is going to end up on my top-ten of the year list. 100% sure. The dish, prepared for three days, included duck leg confit and a pork belly & shoulder house sausage (andouille style) baked slowly together in a heirloom white beans and bacon ragout, served with wilted chard and kale. Z Cuisine, you hit it straight out the ballpark and need to open a location in San Francisco like yesterday.

And this is where our list took a left because we hit a wall. Fried chicken wraps were next, but we just could not do anymore. We had a drink at Old Major and ended up just talking for hours. Toward the end, an order of duck-fat fries made its way in front of us and we obliged. saturday.png

Saturday’s Round-Up:

Restaurants: 3

Dishes: 4

# of times frendshäm was used: too many

SUNDAY

Three words. Pork shoulder tostada. IMG_8686.jpg

Served with charred tomatillos, sunny eggs and queso panela from Beast and Bottle for a quick brunch before heading to the airport.

There were many times during the trip where my sister and I were unbelievably disgusted with ourselves for having moments of hunger after all this food, but overall I like to think that we killed it. Game, set, match to whoever (aka nobody) doubted our motives.

I apologize for this incredibly long-winded post, I know it is a lot to consume and digest (ha). The reason I did not split this into two posts is because I did not want to drag anything on and because I think I am going to a restaurant I have been dying to try on Monday and that deserves a posts of it’s own.

1. Thank you sister for everything. You are the best you there is.

2. Do not forget to enter the GIVEAWAY that ends on Friday! I am giving away a $50 Gift Card to a grocery store/restaurant of your choice!

PS: If this was a Word document, it would have been five pages. Run and tell that to the next person who says you need to read more. You are welcome.

Have you been to Denver? If so, what was your favorite restaurant?

Who are you rooting for in the Superbowl?

Merci

I think I created a sensory overload in the last picture, so I will keep it short and sweet today.

I did not end up getting home until 12:30am on Sunday night and all the lights in the house were off. Fair enough, it is understandable that all my roommates were getting shut-eye in preparation for the first working day of the week. As I was walking upstairs, I realized something was fishy. I heard little noises that my ears were not use to.

Surprise! Everyone stayed up to sing me happy birthday! I was so tired from the long drive but the love from all my roommates woke me right up.

Thank you Taylor, for baking this delicious yellow cake with chocolate frosting!

(Jacq & Bailey, there was no white on white at the Lisbon household. Thank god).

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The next day, I saw a cute picture downstairs on our thought board. Damn right I am going to blog about it! I love you guys.

PS: We are running the Cosmic Run in two weeks. I am so excited, has anyone else heard about it?

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Taylor wanted to take me out to lunch after my O-Chem test and I obliged. We had a few places in mind and I am just starting to realize how little places are open during lunch. San Francisco, get your shit together.

After debating, we ended up at Chez Maman in Potrero Hill. I do not eat French cooking very often, so it sounded like a good idea.

Chez Maman is a skinny cozy spot with lovely vintage posters hanging on the wall.

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Our waiter was the most stereotypical Frenchman ever and I wanted to take him home with me. Not in that way, get your mind out the gutter. 😉

Tay and I decided to share everything and started off with a baked camembert with roasted garlic and toast points.

If you are a rookie food lover like me, you have to google camembert quickly and quietly on your iPhone to find out it is a soft, creamy, surface-ripened cow’s milk cheese.

The roasted garlic bulbs popped right out of the bulbs. It was a delightful appetizer.

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Next was a beef tartare, which is one of my favorite dishes to order at restaurants. Taylor never tried it before and did not take much convincing. I thought it was good but the dijon mustard was a little overwhelming. I will have to take her to Marlowe to get the best steak tartare on this side of the Mississippi.

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The flat iron steak was cooked great (medium-rare) with a side of green peppercorn sauce (the only steak dressing I like) and ratatouille (which I can pass on next time).

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Half way through the meal, Taylor flipped the switch on me and told me that this would not be counted as my birthday meal because no drinks were involved for a cheers. This means she is going to take me out again next week. I can not argue with her.

We split a crepe with bananas, nutella, fresh berries and creme fraiche.

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I have not had Nutella in so long and forgot how good it tastes. Can Nutella be our 6th (7th?) taste bud?

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I miss cooking but school has overwhelmed my life. The semester is wrapping up in a little over a month including a week off for Thanksgiving Break.

Fear not, I will go back to posting recipes next Wednesday. I have a delicious slow cooked meatball one coming up and another one I stole from my sister from when she lived in Spain.

Tomorrow, Abby is taking me out for a birthday dinner. I must be the luckiest girl in the world to have my birthday extended so far out. I also have not seen her in over a month, which has not happened since we became BFFs a few years ago. Where are we going to eat? Well that, my dear, will remain a mystery until a later time.

What vintage things are you into? (PS: Sister, we had a earthquake today and I was so nervous for your lamps!! I’m bringing them to your mom’s house ASAP so I am not liable for them!)

Favorite crepe combination? Mine would be nutella, strawberries and bananas. However…I did see a cinnamon and pear one today that caught my interest. Maybe next time.

I Left My Heart In San Francisco

When I dropped my (nannied) kids off at their daycare yesterday morning, the sweet aroma of home made cookies filled the air right away. It was so enticing, like the sirens singing to a group of lost sailors in Homer’s ancient epic. I tried to convince myself that chocolate cookies weren’t the most nutritious breakfast, but the force was strong.

I ended up yelp-ing the closest bakery and found myself ordering a coffee, because what’s the warm cookie without a coffee? And when there’s fresh baked banana bread, how do you say no?

Thank you, Blissful Bites, for reminding me that at the tender age of 21, I am allowed to eat whatever I want for breakfast.

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The weather in San Francisco has continued to rise, I forgot what it feels like to feel the warmth wake me up from the other side of the window. Leaving the house at 7am leaves much hesitation about wearing shorts out, but today I was not disappointed.

Sometimes I am so self absorbed that I forget to stop and smell the flowers; I can not believe I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to cross the Golden Gate Bridge several times a week. While on my way to school, I had to pull over and just take it all in. It’s the little things that really get you every now and then.

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I could go on and on and regurgitate everything I learned in class today, but since I like you guys, I will show you all the delicious food I ate. My friend Abby texted me around noon to see if I wanted to eat dinner with her, I think she already knew what the answer was. Marlowe describes itself as, “an intimate, bustling dining room that feels like you’ve dropped in on a dinner party at your best friend’s house.” I’m going to have to agree with them.

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The restaurant is located right across the street from the bustlin’ Caltrain station on 4th and Townsend. By some divine miracle, I managed to get a spot right outside; this celebration calls for a round of shots! (Juuuust kidding!)

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Abby is one of my favorite dining friends because we always agree on appetizers to share. More appetizers to share means more food in my stomach. More food in my stomach means one happy hapa.

We started with Warm Deviled Eggs: stuffed with picked jalapeño & bacon, topped with aged provolone. These were a great way to start the night, nothing like a good deviled egg.

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Our next appetizer was the delightful Steak Tartare. I don’t know how this dish ever got past me, but I never tried tartare before. I was a little skeptical to eat the raw beef at first, but everything changed after my first bite. I think this is the best thing that I have ate in 2013. This steak was mixed with poached quail egg, arugula and a side of crostini. I’m just going to put it out there again that this was one of my favorite dishes.

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Abby, who is a huge fan of scallops, ordered the Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops. These little guys were served with bacon-wrapped asparagus, wild mushroom, English peas & Sauvignon Blanc cream. I am not much of a seafood fan but these were delicious, Abby raved about the asparagus.

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Strap yourself into the chair for my entree: Grilled Niman Pork Chop on a bed of sweet potato gratin, herbed bread crumbs, sautéed spinach & oloroso sherry jus. This entree was so massive that I gave Abby one of my chops and still felt full after, this piggy was a great bang for my buck.

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We finally cleansed our palate with a Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta Affogato and lemon biscotti. The Affogato was a little strong but tasted wonderful with the biscotti.

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I very much enjoyed this restaurant and will try to convince Chi to come with me for lunch sometime. His family is coming into town this weekend, so we’re just going to take it easy.

Any plans for Cinco de Mayo? Have you tried raw beef before; if so, did you like it?