Taste: Quality Italian

Taste: Quality Italian

New York’s Quality Italian has made it’s way to Cherry Creek in Denver–inside the Halcyon Hotel on Columbine Street.  We went to the hard opening last night and the interiors are just as delicious as the food.  Take a look at the photos for yourself!  It was designed by AvroKo, the internationally based design firm best known in Denver for Union Station.

According to Denver Eater, “chef partners Scott Tacinelli and Angie Rito designed a menu that uses seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, which, in Denver, will be executed by chef Franz Hueber, most recently executive chef of Boulder’s Salt Bistro.

Our experience was first rate.  I started with the tricolore margarita, which featured a large ice cube with triple sec, orange/pineapple juice, and jalapeño puree, striped like the Mexican Flag– a drink after my own heart.

We opted to eat family style and ordered the Elevation Tellicherry Salami charcuterie platter, tuna crudo and Beefsteak Tomato and Stracciatella salad to start.  The wine list is also to be noted, we shared a bottle of a light yet full paleted, italian borolo in addition to our pre-dinner cocktails.  We shared the “Old School” Chicken Parmesan which is served like a pizza with a chili honey sauce.  This was my favorite dish and the most decadent.  We also shared the Spicy Lobster Rigatoni alla Vodka, which was flambe’d table side.  For veggies, we opted for the grilled garlic mushrooms and brussel sprouts on the side. To end on a sweet note, despite being overly stuffed, we opted for the adorable cannoli cart, which prepared coffee-chocolate, birthday cake and strawberry cannoli tableside.  We ordered the coffee-chocolate and birthday cake, which were prepared and then presented to us in little tissue-paper filled boxes–a final parting gift.

The experience and the food were fun, lively and delectable.  This is a great place for large group dinners, when  you can share, celebrate and enjoy the cozy warmth and exquisite aesthetic of your surroundings, as well as a great meal, with treasured friends.   Our experience was a treat for all of the senses.

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Halo Top Ice Cream

Halo Top Ice Cream

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This is a PSA.  I have found a healthy ice cream that comes with completely guilt free snacking!  I picked up a few pints of HaloTop ice cream at Whole Foods last night and they are so good!  I have so far tried the Strawberry, Chocolate, Birthday Cake and Chocolate Mint Flavors.  Birthday Cake is my favorite so far, followed by Strawberry.  Go to your local Whole Foods and check it out.  They sell out quick, so make sure to look thoroughly in the frozen food aisle! Or use the HaloTop Flavor locater on their website!  Click HERE to learn more about their other flavors!

Happy and healthy snacking!

 

taos, new mexico

taos, new mexico

up in the sangre de cristo mountains is the quaint little pueblo of taos, new mexico.  garland and i decided to take a trip here because we had heard about it for years but had never been.  she was driving back to el paso from santa barbara, so we decided to meet in the middle and stay a few days.

the scenery when i first arrived was effulgent.  there was a light dusting of snow on the ground from the day before and having arrived late in the afternoon, the sun was beginning to set and it shined golden light on the vast, snow covered pastures and up into the mountains; illuminating taos.

garland meant to stay in taos for five days and i was only going to stay for two before returning to el paso.  however, after the two days were over, and so much left to see in the town where people complain that there is “nothing much to do,” i decided to extend for the full five.

here are my recommendations from our experience:

 


//sites//

la plaza

taos plaza is the main square and shopping district in town.  when we were there it was decked out in holiday lights and decorations, but is also filled with statues and monuments. this is a fun place to submerge yourself into the taos experience and shop for turquoise, silver and native american art.  

taos pueblo

considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the united states, as well as a UNESCO world heritage site, the taos pueblos are a must see!  the beautiful adobe structures sit at the bottom of a snow covered mountain and have a bubbling brook running through.  i’m sure its even more lovely in the spring! 

rio grande gorge bridge

on our way to the earthship (see below) we crossed the gorge bridge.  it sits 575 feet about the river and is the 7th highest bridge in the united states.  you will surely feel some vertigo, but the view is stunning! make sure to stop and snap a photo!

earthship biotecture

projects like the earthship biotecture give me hope for the future.  the compound is about 20 minutes from downtown taos and all of the structures are made out of recycled materials, solar powered and completely self sustainable. they build these structures all over the world! the entire tour will only take you about 20 minutes, so do something good for yourself and the planet and educate yourself. 

taos mesa brewery

speaking of sustainable buildings, the taos mesa brewery is also a green building–made out of recycled and repurposed materials, and using solar energy to heat the building.  it’s a great spot to apres ski, if you’re into that sort of thing, or just get a local brew and some tacos.  we were there during a fundraiser and saw lots of beautiful elderly locals waltzing and two-stepping to the bluegrass country music.  

millicent rogers museum

i loved this museum!  i loved it not for its curation, but for it’s subject.  millicent rogers was a beautiful oil heiress from the east coast who spent the later part of her life in taos.  she befriended the natives and collected their art, textiles and jewelry.  her incredible collection is on display at the museum and her life story will embolden you to live an unconventional and beautiful life.  

//sustenance//

love apple

for simple, elegant fair with a new mexican twist and a minimalist setting try love apple.  to start i ordered the squash pumpkin and poblano soup, while garland ordered the grilled endive and leeks.  we both ordered the tamale with mole entree.  remember to bring cash or check, credit cards will not be accepted.

adobe bar

located at the taos inn, adobe bar is a fun place to start off your night. there always seems to be a band playing and the margarita selection will leave nothing to desire.  

the alley cantina

the alley cantina is the night scene.  they have fantastic live music, a lively crowd and shuffle board! we ordered some late night chile rellenos that were the best we had the entire trip– and there were many rellenos! 

elevation coffee

for the morning after a night at the alley cantina, elevation coffee just makes sense.  the non-fat latte was possibly the best i’ve had, though as a tea drinker, you may want to decide for yourself. 

gutiz!

by far the best dining experience in taos.  do not miss!  it is great for breakfast and brunch offering latin-french cuisine and house blended teas.  i highly recommend ordering the creole and the green chili sausage bowl with either the mint or ginger tea.  

doc martin’s

also located at the taos inn, doc martin’s was great to catch a late (8:00pm) dinner.  i ordered the chile rellenos which with its pepita and goat cheese creme fraiche were a more gourmet rendition of the ones i had at the alley cantina.  garland ordered the stacked blue corn enchiladas.  if i were to go again i would probably order the rabbit & rattlesnake sausage just to say i have.  

lambert’s

our meal at lambert’s was much welcomed due to their “lighter fare” options.  after all of the rich chile rellenos and new mexican cuisine we wanted something with “more vegetables.”  i started with the beet salad, followed by the grilled scottish salmon over coconut basmati rice and broccoli.  garland had the salad special and an elk coq au vin.  the meal was so fantastic we decided to order dessert, ginger bread cake with ginger ice cream for me and creme brulee for garland.  we didnt share.  the scenery is lovely and the staff is great.

medley restaurant

located on the way to ski valley in el prado, medley is by far the most aesthetic venue.  the husband-wife chef/owners have created innovative new mexican inspired classics.  i had the signature smokey fried chicken and garland had the steak.  make sure to check out their wine store too!

//stay//

airbnb

we stayed in a 3 bedroom 3 bath airbnb right off of the main road.  it was perfect.  the experience was smooth and comfortable.  i cannot recommend this company enough!  you  simply must try it on your next vacation! 

 

//skip//

ojo caliente

looking for a relaxing spa experience, we made the trip to ojo caliente hot springs despite the yelp reviews which advised against it.  the experience left much to be desired and i think time would have been better spent visiting a different hot spring or perhaps visiting 10,000 waves in santa fe on the way back to el paso.    

 

mom’s cranberry-apple sauce

mom’s cranberry-apple sauce

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i wanted my first recipe on the blog to be something dear to my heart and delicious.  this cranberry apple sauce is it.

it brings back memories of my grandmother coming over for family dinners and holidays: laughter, delicious food and rummikube.

this cranberry-apple sauce trumps all other sauces.  it lacks the sugary sweetness of the typical mott’s apple sauce and adds a tangy punch to whatever you choose to pair it with.  try it on its own, or as a sauce for your holiday turkeys or latkes.  to be honest, it will probably make anything 100% better.

 


 

16 apples peeled and cored

1 large orange (juiced)

1 ½ cup apple cider

½ cup sugar (or to taste)

½ cup water

pinch of kosher salt

2 cups cranberries

 

  1. combine all ingredients in large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. reduce until the apples are tender and easy to mash- about 25 minutes
  3. once it is reduced, take off the heat and use a hand blender to puree into a sauce
  4. put in a glass bowl and bring to room temperature
  5. then place in the refrigerator to chill
  6. serve in bowls garnished with mint
  7. or use as a sauce for your potato latkes

 

 

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bon appetit!

the pink store | puerto palomas

the pink store | puerto palomas

an hour and a half drive west from el paso is columbus, new mexico.  and across the street from the parking lot of the duty free shop is puerto palomas, mexico.

walk a short distance down the road and on the left you will find the pink store.

Pink Store sign

kassi, mila and i decided to make a trip to the store for some shopping and lunch.  we hadn’t been there together since our friend peter’s graduation party back in 2007.  this trip was just as fun, but with much less tequila.

the charming rose tinted store is magical on the inside.

butterfly wall

flowers in potlizard wall

 

when you walk in you will be greeted by a a host and taken to a brightly patterned table to order some delicious mexican food and listen to mariachis.  i would have taken a picture of the chile rojo that i ordered, but i inhaled it before i could remember.  it was fantastic.  i did manage to take a photo of my margarita.  they use fresh squeezed limes and they are not too sweet, not too sour– an absolute must when visiting.

margarita

after eating, it was shopping time.  and that is one thing that mila and kassi do best!

mila and kassi blanket

the owner of the store, mr. romero, travels all around mexico to meet with locals and buy their art and goods to sell in the store.  these imported mexican treasures are difficult to find, and mr. romero is their curator.

huge paper mache dolls

he taught me about en calavera.

en calavera is the mexican paper mache art, usually inspired by dia de los muertos, and made famous by the linares family in mexico city. the photo above shows two large calavera sculptures made by david linares, who has carried on the family’s legacy.

mr. romero passionately told me about david linares and how his great grandfather would make art for frida kahlo and diego rivera.

the store also has beautiful ceramic renditions of these iconic statues.

dia de los muertos

after perusing the store and packing up kassi and mila’s many gifts and goods we headed back to the border.

kassi shopping

we went through customs, got in the car and drove home.

tippi teas

tippi teas

when in need of a change of scenery, move!  alex and i needed to get out of the office today, so we switched our location to tippi teas in kern place for the afternoon.

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it was the perfect refresh to inspire for the work ahead.

having grown up as more of a tea than coffee drinker, this place was right up my alley.  Just look at all of the tea options!

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the barista was more than happy to let me smell almost every tea option they had.  I was stuck between “smarty pants” and “jazzy pearls,” but ended up going with the latter.

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the baristas make sure that you steep your tea the perfect amount of time before pouring.  however, if tea isn’t your thing, i’m also a huge fan of the juices.  IMG_0996

they also have wheat grass and other wellness shots available and some vegan breads and granolas to snack on.  perfect before a light snack after work and before that yoga class.

…or grab a tea, check out the holistic little shop in the back, and get some work done while sitting on this adorable blue couch.

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with two locations in el paso, you really have no excuse not to check it out.

namaste.

tippi teas
2501 n. stanton
el paso, tx