Tag Archives: denver

Sweet potato hash, buttery salmon benedict, and messy donuts bites at Jelly Cafe in Denver, CO

There are few things that will happily lure me out of bed at 7:00 in the morning – snagging a table at Jelly Café early enough to avoid waiting in an epic queue of hungry hipsters is one of those things.

I was first introduced to the edible bliss of Jelly Café through my then-housemate, McGoo. He’s the ultimate source for the best eats around, and his recommendations are the kind I always follow. Any time he gets excited about taking me somewhere to eat, I can pretty much guarantee that I’m in for a treat.

Walk up to this breakfast haven sitting on the corner of Pearl Street and 13th Avenue any time after 9:30 AM, and you’re guaranteed to be in for a wait. I waited almost two hours once – and I would so do it again in exchange for what I’ll dub the best breakfast diner in Colorado, possibly the entire country.

Before you even attempt to survey the menu, request an order of their famous donut bites – and make sure you get a mix of all the tantalizing varieties. Each fresh puff of crispy dough represents one of four creamy concoctions: crème anglaise, homemade jelly, chocolate anglaise, or cinnamon sugar. Taking the first bite into any given beignet guarantees a dripping mess all over your chin – just let it happen.

Another pre-breakfast treat I love is the selection of funky adult beverages to make your day a bit more pleasant. I’m partial to the Parnold Almer with sweet tea infused vodka and lemonade, but you really can’t go wrong with options like hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, bloody marys topped with shrimp and celery, or the “S’mores,” a Bailey’s brew with fluffed marshmallow vodka, Ghiradeli hot chocolate, and whipped cream.

During one visit to Jelly, I was meeting up with two Floridian friends who were considering moving up to Denver (check out her post on Jelly Cafe about What Tasty Food). My buddy ordered one of the specials, a fizzy libation that listed a Bing energy drink as one of the ingredients. As it happened, the kitchen had just run out of Bing – but fear not, Jelly sent someone sprinting across the street to a convenience store to grab him another. Now that’s service, folks.

The clear stars of this morning extravaganza are the heaping plates of breakfast delight that make it nearly impossible to settle on just one platter. There are temptress dishes like french toast stuffed with bananas and cream cheese, mini sliders stacked thick with pepper pesto sausage frittatas, and bacon pancakes – but I’m loyal to a trio of this restaurant’s finest meals.

The sweet potato hash was the first thing I ever sampled at Jelly Café. The overflowing plate presented to me was loaded with crumbly Mexican chorizo, onions, celery, roasted poblano pepper, cubed sweet potatoes, and red skinned potatoes – all topped with two eggs, toast, and fruity jelly. It’s spicy, it’s sweet, and it’s absolutely amazing.

My second favorite dish is the roasted turkey hash piled high with shredded lean turkey, tender chopped apple, onion, red potatoes, and a sprinkling of tarragon. It’s like a Thanksgiving feast in breakfast form. The third best plate was a more recent discovery, the salmon benedict with peasant potatoes. I had never tried poached eggs before, but Jelly Café converted me into a fan. They serve two poached eggs draped over a perfectly pink filet of seared salmon balanced on artisan sourdough. The entire creation is slathered in their signature dill cream cheese hollandaise – perfection.

Their corned beef hash also deserves an honorable mention for its perfect balance of savory meat and sweet caramelized onion. Really, anything you can fork into your mouth will treat you well.

I hear there’s also a lunch menu – but I’ve never quite made it past the breakfast. 

Need more Jelly? You can connect with them through Facebook,
follow them on Twitter, and check out other satisfied diners’ rave reviews on Yelp!

Taking a bite out of healthy, convenient fare from Fresh Fit Meals in Denver

Through a stroke of good luck, I recently won a $25 gift certificate to try Fresh Fit Meals, a Denver-based healthy food facility that cooks up convenient and wholesome meals for the on-the-go eater. Since I love to promote great local businesses, I figured I’d share my experience sampling Fresh Fit Meals.
Bon appetite! 

I’ll be the first one to admit that these pre-packaged, microwave-friendly meals don’t exactly look like a divine edible intervention – until you take a bite. Don’t let the fuss-free appearance of these meals fool you; every bite is jam-packed with flavor and spice. A bit peppery, spicy enough to require a refill on my water, and every once in a while I get a nice hint of celery.

As soon as I arrived home from Emerald City Smoothie with my aromatic package, I couldn’t resist digging into one of the containers. My first victim was the “NOLA Dirty Rice.” Looking back at it, I think this was my favorite dish. The turkey was piled generously on top of a bed of savory rice, sprinkled with peas and carrots. I could seriously nosh on this meal every single day.

The “Get Yo Mac On” dish immediately caught my eye, but I was skeptical about the brown grain macaroni; try as I might, I just can’t seem to get on good terms with non-white pastas. Fresh Fit Meals knocked the ball out of the park with this mac. The pasta was perfectly done, and didn’t have that unpleasant grainy taste most “healthy” pastas have. Once again, the ground turkey was the star of the dish, perfectly seasoned with a great kick of flavor.

Could I have added a handful of cheese to my mac? Of course. Am I also a shameless glutton? Yes. I reasoned with myself that it would be a travesty to ruin such a healthy meal with heaps of cheese, so I sliced up some fresh avocado and tossed it into the mix – a perfect idea.

The next day, I dug into the “Sweet Potato Bird” as a late afternoon meal. The thickly sliced turkey looked a bit dry out of the fridge, but as soon as I was done heating it up, the meat was dripping with juice. This dish didn’t quite have the spicy kick of the other two samplings, but it offered a perfect balance of tender turkey meat, earthy rice, and creamy sweet potatoes. Another thumbs up, though this meal wasn’t quite as dazzling as the first two.

My final samplings were the turkey and eggs breakfast tacos. I had a moment of dread when I realized that the tortillas were of the corn variety (I’m a flour snob), but after heating up my meal I was delighted to find that these were some of the best corn tortillas I’ve ever had. Once again, the turkey was perfectly seasoned and kept me coming back for more, but I was a little iffy about the eggs. I’m very fussy about my meat products, so it was a bad move on my part to wait four days to eat the eggs – oops. The tacos also came with a small side of salsa that added a great little burst of flavor to each bite.

I would highly recommend grabbing a few of these pre-made meals to keep you going throughout the week without having to worry about cooking lunch. It was great to be able to pick a dish, pop it in the microwave, and have a healthy, tasty meal at my disposal without having to fuss around in the kitchen. They were ideal for post-climbing dinners when I returned from the rock gym burnt out, famished, and lacking the energy to get down in the kitchen.

The best part?
Our friends at Fresh Fit Meals are extending an offer to the readers of The Morning Fresh:

Get 10% off your order by using the code “themorningfresh10”
now through February 28th!

Be sure to check out Fresh Fit Meals online. Survey their sweeping menu of savory selections, give them a ‘like’ on their Facebook page, and connect with them via Twitter! Trust me, all it takes is one bite, and you’ll be hooked. Finally, an eating addiction that’s actually good for me!

Confessing my climbing love affair at Thrillseekers in Denver, Colorado

I must start this post with a declaration of my undying, unwavering love for Tally Rock Gym. My marriage to this smelly, sweaty, dirty climbing facility cannot be touched, and nothing can ever come between the bond that I share with Tallahassee’s finest (and only) rock gym.

But this whole long-distance relationship thing is getting to be too much.

I’ve spent too many nights pining for my dearly beloved rock gym, and it’s come at the cost of my climbing abilities, and my now way-too-soft finger callouses. I went on a few first dates with the climbing walls here in Denver, but was turned off by their too-clean facilities and hoards of patrons who just used this place as an alternative to traditional gyms. I need a rock gym that’s as dirty as an outdoor crag, as smelly as my boyfriend after a week living in a tent, and as creatively set as my darling Tally Rock Gym.

And then I found Thrillseekers. It was love at first sight.

This phenomenal climbing facility knocked my socks off from the moment I pulled into the parking lot. Housed in an old theater, this joint reeks with evidence of the building’s past life. The stage was converted into a raised climbing area, the balcony transformed into a sweet bouldering section that you can actually climb up to from the ground level, and you can even spot the original ceiling molding peeking out from the hold-filled walls.

Unlike the overly-sterile gyms I had previously visited in Denver, this place instantly captured my adoration with dim lighting in the front desk area, messy rubber flooring, chalky old holds, and fellow climbers who didn’t give me the “who is this girl” stare when I hopped on the wall. The route setting was creative and challenging, and I spent my afternoon acquainting myself with the taped, dirty orange walls. I was in heaven.

While Tally Rock Gym will always take the cake as my favorite climbing gym, Thrillseekers has swiftly earned itself a second place ranking. I plan on investing in a membership when I return this week, and can’t wait to start frequenting the climbing walls. Nothing will ever beat the musty warehouse, family community, and collection of memories I treasure from my sweetheart gym in Tallahassee, but I’m ready to engage in a little love affair with Thrillseekers while I’m here in the Rockies.

Shh.. Don’t tell Tally Rock Gym about my infidelity.
I wouldn’t want to break her heart – this is just a fling.

A very climber Thanksgiving feast full of Floridians in Colorado

With twenty-two years of bacon-covered, avocado-filled Cuban Thanksgivings under my belt, I experienced a strong mix of emotions while preparing for this year’s November celebration – it was my first holiday spent away from home. Thanks to miniscule budgets and newly-acquired jobs, the rest of my Colorado climber family stuck around too – and we even had a Tally Rock Gym-er fly out to join us in the mountains.

I was determined to keep some of my Cuban meal traditions alive, and my fellow cohorts embarked on similar missions of creating dishes to mimic their favorite family fare. I cooked up black beans drenched in homemade sofrito with rice, avocado salad, and green bean casserole. McGoo experienced his first (and adamantly declared only) foray into chefdom with a delicious sweet potato casserole topped with pecans, and his grandfather’s savory stuffing. Niko made a great batch of garlic mashed potatoes, and donated a Honey Baked Ham gift certificate that got us a delicious brisket.

In addition to the first round of preparations, we had multiple waves of kitchen use that produced an enormous spread of Thanksgiving grub. Steve got a huge turkey from his new job, which Douso draped with bacon before popping into the oven. Steve’s mom pitied our homesick holiday and ordered a beautiful ham for our buffet. Hannah diced up a huge selection of yams, potatoes, peppers, and pearl onions that she doused in a brown sugar and butter glaze. Douso rounded things out with made-from-scratch pumpkin and apple pies.

And of course, McGoo made sure to keep the drinks flowing all morning, afternoon, and night long.

Before long, our guests arrived bearing edible and drinkable gifts. Jerimiah and Adam arrived with arms full of fresh bread from Whole Foods, exotic cheeses and prosciutto, and a hoard of spicy olives. Our bar was soon stacked with everything from Baileys, Kahluha, and cheap tequila to Absolute vodka, Red Stag whiskey, gin and tonic makings, and a huge variety of bottled beer. We made merry while the final casseroles and pies basked for a last few minutes in the oven, then it was time for our grand noshfest to begin.

The meal began with lots of chatter and silverware clinking against glass, then gradually grew into a quiet affair with a gut-clenching crowd. We pleasantly gorged ourselves on every morsel of food we could shovel into our mouths, and I couldn’t have asked for a better family to share my first ‘grown-up’ holiday with. We had all began our adventures down in Florida, and had journeyed to this very moment, crowded around a dinner table in Denver.

Our cookware was largely purchased last minute, upon realizing that none of us vagabonds had proper supplies of kitchen utensils suited for our needs. We purchased the table the night before our meal, and our chair arrangement consisted of every seating vessel scrounged up around the house, and an upside-down tub draped with fabric. It may not have been the fanciest meal, but to a vagabond like me it felt fit for royalty.

While my heart ached to have spent Thanksgiving shouting Spanish across the table and enjoying family traditions that I grew up with, this Colorado celebration was one of the best Thanksgivings I have ever experienced. We were all forced to spend the holiday away from home (besides Niko, who very sweetly came to Colorado to spend the holiday with me), but we had a beautiful time sharing this part of our current adventures. For some, this was the first holiday spent in their new home of Colorado, others saw their last true family meal before moving on to new countries, and some came from across the country just to spend the time together. Me, I was just in it for the bacon and black beans.

Snow laden autumn trees, icicled juniper bushes, and my first snow days in Denver, Colorado

The news of Denver’s first snow storm of the upcoming winter season rang like church bells in my ears – my first snow day! During the days leading up to the first flurry of snowflakes, I kept myself busy with daydreams of messy snowball fights, towering snowmen, ski lifts, and sipping hot tea while peering out the window.

When the pioneer flakes fell from the sky, it was a dark and rainy evening in Washington Park. Everything was wet from snow’s liquid counterpart, but I still ran outside the second the falling water had visibly become frozen fluff.

It was nearly impossible to fall asleep that night, knowing that just feet away from my cozy couch there were inches of fresh powder accumulating outside. I awoke at 7:00 the next morning to the rustlings of a housemate who was wondering out loud how I was still in bed, then quickly bolted outside with my camera. Everything was blanketed in this fleece layer of nature’s softest stuff. I stomped around the front steps, startled a few passersby with my occasional shrieks of joy, then retreated inside to warm my toes before venturing out again.

Denver became this enchanted land of ripe autumn trees bursting with color that were shyly peeking through their thick coats of winter’s evidence. Unprepared for the sudden burst of snow, many trees found their branches snapping under the heavy weight of snow combined with not yet fallen leaves – but man, did it look beautiful.

Within two days, my precious snow had all melted away, and fall was upon us again. It was a little heartbreaking to say farewell to my first batch of winter, but I knew another was quickly on its way. The next big snow storm was perfectly timed with the first evening spent in my new house. We successfully moved everything from Washington Park over to the new place in Lowry, just in time for the snow to begin.

Dirty from all the moving, I hopped into the shower just after a light drizzle of rain began outside. I admittedly took an extra long time enjoying my steamy new shower, but I was still shocked to look outside when I finally emerged – there was at least an inch of snow coating everything outside. Once again, I spent the night tossing and turning in my bed (which is actually a tent pitched in my empty room). The night was brightly illuminated by the white storm.

The steady downpour continued throughout the evening, and when we woke up our patio table looked something like this:

Oh, snow. I love you so.
And we’re getting more on Tuesday!

Record breaking snowfall, quickly headed to Denver, CO for my first snow day

While yesterday saw record highs throughout the tri-city area of Denver, Ft. Collins, and Boulder, tonight promises to bring quite the opposite. Up to 8-12 inches of snow are expected to fall in the Denver area tonight and tomorrow, an estimate that easily surpasses the typical average snowfall for the entire month of October: a mere 4.2 inches.

Let’s backtrack. Yesterday, my afternoon looked a little bit like this.

Denver saw unprecedented heat reaching a balmy 80 degrees on Monday afternoon, and I gladly spent the afternoon tanning – even got tan lines, mind you – outside under a fantastically blue sky. The trees in Denver are heavy with chameleon leaves in the midst of changing identities, and there are still clusters of lanky wildflowers lining the streets. This particular week in the Mile High City brought some of the most beautiful weather I have ever seen.

Today, Tuesday the 25th, things are changing. Newly arrived housemate Hannah and I took a walk through the neighborhood during the afternoon, and immediately noticed a swift change in the weather. The air was unpleasantly crisp, and the sun seemed to have taken a vacation from its usual post in the once cloudless sky. Quickly approaching snow day, anyone?

I’m indescribably overjoyed at the prospect of everything that tomorrow’s snow will bring. My first official snow day living in Denver, the snow delivers promises of early morning snow angels in the front yard, the construction of my inaugural snowman, catching snowflakes on my tongue, trudging through the snow for wine, and bundling up inside with hot tea and lots of writing.

The Weather.com forecast map for the next 48 hours of early season snow in Colorado has me giddy like a little kid. I can’t wait to bust out my mom’s sweet vintage mittens, my dad’s thick red flannel, my sweet new knit socks, and the slightly overpriced beanie I couldn’t resist at REI.

Weather advisories have been sending out warnings about the potential for major power outages, and I couldn’t be more excited. This feels reminiscent of the anticipation of an upcoming hurricane, except that this climatic margarita is frozen blended, while Florida’s natural disaster cocktail is served on the rocks. The eerie atmosphere and sense of impending doom remind me of the thrill that comes with an approaching hurricane in my hometown.

Speaking of Florida, this Miami gal has a feeling I’m going to have to do some major winter gear shopping after my warm weather wardrobe gets rocked by tomorrow’s miniature blizzard.

Happy Snow Day, fellow Coloradans!

Follow me on Twitter @themorningfresh for updates on my first snow day,
and travel quotes to inspire your own adventures!

It’s official: I’m moving to DENVER for fall, baby.

Let’s play a little game – You’re going to pretend that you didn’t see the answer capitalized above, and you’re going to guess where life has decided to take me based on five clues/photos.

So, at this stage of my life, I clearly need to high-tail it out of Florida. My tan lines can’t get any deeper, I’ve nearly had my fill of Cuban food, and the mountains are calling my name with earnest. The option to move to San Francisco was looking like the best plan for a while, and then something unexpected fell onto my plate. Shall we solve the no-brainer mystery?

I’ll be shipping off to a city where the springtime brings fat bundles of delicate blossoms sitting right in front of your door step. Even the weeds that cover kitchen windows glow with the glory of living in such fresh, elevated air. Except I’ll be living here during the fall, so it’ll look a lot more like this – and I’m certainly not complaining. Celebrating my 23rd birthday in an autumn wonderland? Yes, please.

When it’s rainy outside, this city still delivers climbing. I can head to a local playground for some sweet artificial bouldering in Central Park, or I can head to the indoor rock gym(s), Rock’n & Jam’n – yes, there are even two different locations to chose from. Of course, I’ll be toting a sizable supply of Tally Rock Gym rubber in my chalk bag to keep the mojo flowin’. Oh shoot, I need some new outdoor gear – no worries, I’ll just take a little drive down to the Boulder Sports Recycler to snag some discounted swag.

Better yet, when it is sunny outside in my new city, I’ll have a buffet of options for outdoor climbing. Within an hour’s reach, I’ll be able to travel to more crags than I could ever possibly conquer. The above photo was taken in Chautauqua Park, better known to climbers as the Flat Irons. Then, there are places like Boulder Canyon and Lincoln Lake – which my future housemate keeps torturing me with photos of, like this one (that she didn’t take) – but I am now determined to find myself a goat while I’m out there. The best part is that my darling housemate is a local whiz when it comes to the best climbing spots in the area, so I won’t be a fish out of water when I move up.

After all the climbing I’ll be doing, mama’s gonna work up an appetite – and my new city is bursting with edible options. Take the kalamata olive bread I scooped during my last visit in May. Do you see that beast? These folks don’t skimp on the olives, and that is something I can stand behind. Not in the mood for baked goods? That’s alright, I can just stuff my face with green chili and mash from Bull & Bush Brewery, or perhaps I’ll cool down with a scoop of homemade frozen flavors from Sweet Action Ice Cream. In the mornings, I’ll take a stroll down the street to Cafe Europa and sip on black tea while I do my daily writing tasks.

Excuse me while I get sentimental, but one of the greatest parts of my move will be the people I’ll be fraternizing with, like my dearest, most beloved McGoo – when he’s not too busy jet-setting all over the country. Skype is simply not enough to quell my need to hang with my Colorado boys, so it looks like I’ll just have to relocate and join in on the fun. There’s McGoo, and Rob, and my new housemate Sara, and it’s going to be a glorious experience to dive into a new social scene and experiment with all sorts of new people.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m moving to Denver! Thanks to a very conveniently-timed sublease opportunity, I’ve decided to pack my Scion up with the bare essentials, and I’ll be residing near Wash Park from September through December. I plan to head out a few weeks in advance, and spend my time meandering up to colorful Colorado during the last bits of summer. The entire fall season will be spent playing in leaves, sipping on espresso, writing religiously and taking thousands of photos that will clog my hard drive with autumn hues and Denver discoveries. Then, just in time for the real winter to set in, I’ll retreat back to Florida for a few months of hibernation before my next big adventure.

Can I express again just how incredibly excited/anxious/amazed I am? Life threw me quite a curve ball, but I think I’ve come back swinging. Not to mention the fact that it takes less than one beer for me to get lifted up in those Colorado mountains – it’s going to be a good season for this spud, and I expect everyone to visit.

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