Coolest Hot Springs Ever

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About a month ago now, I had my first experience with back packing. I never imagined that carrying one night’s worth of stuff would be hard but I was wrong. Luckily on the way back I had lost some weight in wine, cheese, sausage, pumpkin bars, etc. Clearly I might not be an official backpacker considering I “had” to bring all of those items but even now looking back I would have carried them again.  Tthe pumpkin bars though, that is kind of a funny story, let me explain. I thought, how perfect would a pumpkin bar be while camping? Amazing! So the night before I left I was running behind and started baking at 10 pm when I was getting up at 3 am to leave. I was rushing through the recipe and then popped then in the oven to bake. I took them out 30 minutes later and they look amazing. I let them cool and packed them up. I decided, though I don’t normally, I should try one now. Thank goodness I did. I took my first bite and immediately felt a burn on the back my throat and thought, well I bought new cloves maybe that is it? But the burn intensified and in about 30 seconds my entire mouth was on fire. What the heck?! Then I looked at my spice jars…I had accidently grabbed the cayenne pepper jar instead of the cinnamon jar. Worst baking fail ever. I was in such denial I actually still planned on packing them. I realized that when you are camping water is scarce because you have to filter it so the idea of feeding people cayenne pepper bars I decided was cruel. I sadly left them in my fridge thinking I really hope my roommate doesn’t try them.

For this hike I had the hook up; it might be my commitment issues or maybe just that I am cheap but I didn’t want to buy anything for the hike because I thought maybe this will be a one time think. My friend Alyssa had my back: clothes, sleeping bag, sleeping pillow, sleeping pad, back pack, head lamp…like I said the hook up. She even made me a survival kit that had bandaids, paper you can write on even if its wet, coffee, and of course vodka.

I guess I should finally tell you which hike it was, the conundrum hike to the hot springs, which was 8.5 miles each way. I knew it would be tough but man the last mile was rough. When we got to the camp site it was like seeing heaven.  We set up our tents and then headed to the hot springs; the entire reason for doing this hike. This is when the sausage, cheese, and wine came into play. There was a rock that we used as a table and we called it “appetizer island.” Everyone in the springs gave us some interesting looks but once we offered them a taste they understood why appetizer island must become a “thing” at the springs from now on. I could not imagine sitting in the one of the worlds highest natural hot springs without munster cheese washed down with malbec…could you?

I ended up with bruised hips from the backpack and blisters on my feet but it was all worth it for the view of the sky at night so far from city lights. I have never seen anything like it.


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Denver Eater: Interview with Shannon Jones from Linger

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Photo credit: Adam Larkey

Sannon Jones, the general manager of Linger, wants every diner to have expectations before dining —high expectations. She aims to give diners what they deserve. Jones found her way into the Edible Beats family, the group that owns Linger, when she applied to be a server atRoot Down. From her impressive resume,  owner Justin Cucci knew her skills would better benefit his management team. Jones brought her corporate hospitality skills to Linger to handle the large staff in 2011. You can find her on the floor many nights out of the week, on the rooftop patio in the summer, or sharing her positive attitude with her staff. Eater talked to Shannon about her past, reviews that Linger has received, and her team.

The rest of the interview

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Cinnamon Rolls Worth the Fuss

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I have been posting a lot lately about travel and events I have been to but not so much about baking. While looking through summer photos I realized I forgot to post my peach cinnamon rolls I made back in July. Yes peaches are basically out of season but these were so tasty I have to post! I have found when you say, “homemade” cinnamon rolls people normally wince. The idea of making the dough normally keeps lots away but I was able to make this the night before and bake them when I woke up so they were good to go for that morning; no more 5 am wake up calls. There are a few steps but nothing too difficult. Don’t let a little yeast and rising time scare you. Be brave; face the dough!

Peach Cobbler Cinnamon Rolls

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The Post About Phil; Oh and Barcelona

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Barcelona was the final stop in Europe this summer. Phil and I gathered all our strength we had to get on that early morning flight from Madrid. Behind my tired and lets be honest hungover face I really did have a lot of excitement. Most of the people I had ever talked to about Spain had said Barcelona was their favorite place ,Phil included, so I was excited to see what the hype was about. Our Barcelona trip started out funny. I can say it was funny because of how it ended…let me explain. Phil is one of the best travelers I know; smart, likes to eat, packs well, easy going, the list goes on and on. But what Phil did on the flight to Barcelona was a rookie mistake. We took our seats; me at the window, Phil in the middle and and Dutch girl sat in the isle seat. I saw this hour and 20 minute flight as the only time I had to sleep. I needed to get a nap in, no a good nap, if I was going to make it through the day. We only have a day and a half in Barcelona so we have to hit the ground running. I put my sunglasses on immediately and closed my eyes. Phil instead decides to make friends with the girl next to him who talks so loud the pilot could hear. When we got off the place we went to the bathroom and when I came out he was rummaging through his backpack and then looks up in a pure panic and says, “I don’t have my passport.” Our worst fear. Earlier that morning I was asking Phil what would make him cry, you know typical travel conversation, and he said only if he lost his passport. Awesome.

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He goes running back to the gate we think is ours and starts talking the gate agent. They aren’t helpful but do call down to the plane. She says its not in the seat pocket and Phil begins to sweat. He searches his bag again and mine and then walks away. I decide to just let him have his moment and I will just sit here. What else could I do? He then comes running back and tells me to grab our things because we are at the wrong gate. We had flown Vueling and there were about 10 gates with flights all leaving within the next hour so each were busy and easy to mistake for the one we had walked off of. Phil once again attempts to tell them about the lost passport and explain the situation. This gate agent is ever less helpful than the last. She says she can’t get on the plane and that they already called down and its not there. Phil is seriously panicking and pacing. He is even offering to buy a ticket at this point to Germany, where the plane is headed, just to get on the plane. The gate agent is not having it and suggest customer service. I decide I should go talk to the lady and maybe Phil’s aggressiveness, completely warranted, was putting her off and I could work my customer service magic. I simply ask if she herself can go down to the plane and take a look. She says no, like before, but then goes on to explain that since you have to take a bus to the plane she for sure can’t and directs me to customer service. This immediately raise a red flag. I told her “We didn’t take a bus we used the jet bridge is this the plane from Madrid?” We had been showing our boarding pass the entire time but now was when she tells us, “Oh its the next one.” Patience was starting to be lost. Phil jumps into action again. But once again the gate agent tells us its not there and that she can’t get on the plane. I decide again to take a step back and let Phil do his thing. He comes back over with a complete look of loss on his face. He is positive it is in his back seat pocket 12E. I decide maybe he should ask one of the people boarding because it sounds like the gate agents aren’t even trying. He goes up to a 40 something looking Spaniard and she is petrefied. At this point Phil basically looks like a terrorist. He is sweating through his shirt and shaking. I can’t believe he didn’t get arrested when he started talking to passengers. The lady was too scared to help but a German couple behind us was not. They had been sitting there waiting to get on the plane and over heard the situation. They said, “That is silly a passport is important, don’t worry if it is in 12E we will bring it up!” We watched them go down the jet bridge with our final straw of hope. Two minutes later the gate agent was walking up the ramp with the passport.

All of the above happened in about 30 minutes; I’m hoping that makes you feel a little more of the intensity that we were feeling. Phil also said later that he was more scared that his passport was gone than when he was robbed at gunpoint in college. Like I said it was intense.

There are three morals of this store: 1) there are still good people out there that will help 2) don’t fly Veuling 3) Don’t put your passport in the seat back pocket.

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Our Barcelona day began an hour and half later than planned but with a pretty darn good story.

I am going to break down Barcelona into two categories: Sights and Food/Drink

Sights

Of course a major part of this section is going to be anything Gaudí since most of the major tourist attractions are his. Antoni Gaudí is an architect who used neo-Gothics art and oriental techniques and was part of the Modernista movement during the late 19th and 20th centuries. Below are pictures of one of his most famous pieces the Sagrada  Família that Gaudí began in 1883 and it is expected to be finished by 2026. We also visited the Park Güell which is another Gaudí spot and probably the most famous tourist pictures you have seen. We did not get to go into the area where the benches are because there wasn’t anymore available time that day so here is a tip, plan ahead if you want to go in. This is a new change that they are charging and monitoring the amount of people inside so keep that in mind. So either go and plan on coming back when you have made a reservation or get there early in the morning. We were still able to see a good amount of the architecture without actually going in.

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Gaudí Apartments

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THE BEACH!!!!!!! We only got about an hour at the beach because the weather was pretty rainy but it was a great hour!

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Castell de Montjuïc

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Exploring the Gothic Quarter

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Walking down les Rambles

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Food/Drinks

The go-to market in Barcelona is La Boqueria. La Boqueria seemed more like an actual market where you could go and buy groceries as well as get food so we walked around oohing and ahhing at the stands. One thing I found that stopped me in my tracks and I had to resist from buying multiples was a cone full of meat or as I like to call it prosciutto cotton candy. See picture below. I of course also had paella here. The pan pictured below was completely empty and was split between two—think that explains how it was.

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Happy hour was never missed; one day was at a restaurant the other was casually on the streets.

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Espit Chupitos was one of my most favorite places/things we did in Barcelona. Chupitos means shots and that is exactly what this place is. A shot bar; no tables or chairs but instead just a menu of about 200 different shots they have that are about two-three euros a piece. This is every 18 year old American girls dream—or nightmare. We started with the “Harry Potter” shot which is lit of fire and sparkles and then we also had the “Diablo” shot which they put alcohol around the shot in the shape of a cross and then lit on fire. It was so much fun. I could have stayed there and kept trying different ones all night. You have to be very careful but definitely do not miss it! Perfect for pregaming.

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Phil and I parted ways after a very authentic breakfast…at the airport McDonald’s. I will say though that I got toast with tomato pulp which was one of the things I really wanted to try before I left! McD’s always comes through. I hugged Phil goodbye and he headed to his Philly flight and me to my Minneapolis one.

Apparently Phil learned his lesson because I didn’t hear any stories about not having a passport to get through customs.

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First Time, First Night at GABF

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Last night I had oysters, octopus, sea urchin coupe, and duck breast to name a few. This great food isn’t that weird or surprising but what is surprisingly weird is that this was had at the Great American Beer Festival. Last night I had my first GABF experience and it was awesome! The food part was the Farm to Table Pavilion that was 28 craft beers paired with 28 small bites.

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When you left the back room and traded your glass cup for your GABF plastic one the vibe changed. Not that the food room wasn’t an amazing vibe but in the main area there was a different one and it was more relaxed. People are here to drink some great beer and have fun. There was even a silent disco section for people to get their boogie on. It was seriously so fun. Now that I know what I’m missing out on I might become a regular.

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High Tide on the Layover

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I found it. What you ask? Utter bliss—that is what I found. Let me explain; vacation is a word that can describe many different types of experiences. It can be relaxing on a beach, visiting family, or exploring new lands; the latter is what it has been for me for the past few years. Every vacation I take has been extraordinary, don’t get me wrong, but also exhausting. Exploring the city, eating the food, visiting the museums by day then hitting the town to experience the pubs or clubs by night. Great experiences that are not to be taken for granted but also like I said exhausting. So where is this bliss I speak of? On the Layover that is where. My dads new toy. A catamaran sailboat. Clearly my dad named the boat…pilot…get it?image

I had the privilege of sailing on the Layover for four days and three nights two weekends ago and I can’t begin to explain how amazing it was. I would wake from the sun beaming in my cabin window, or my dad banging pots trying to boil water from coffee, and get the day started. I would enjoy a leisure cup of coffee with the sea air and then get ready to set sail. Motor out of the harbor then get the sails up and let them be the power for a few hours. During this time I would alternate between reading, letting my feet hang off the back of the boat, or taking a nap in the sun. Next we would start in for the docks that would be our post for the night. After docking we would then get ready for happy hour. We would figure out what our plan was for dinner and then walk around the new spot we were at. Each night would end with a night cap joined by chats and laughs. The next day wake up and repeat. It was incredible. Pure peace.

First night we stayed in the Boston Harbor. The second night we stayed in Salem and the final night Marblehead.

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Boston was great because we were able to have some family come down from New Hampshire and good friends and dine at our absolute favorites…Regina’s Pizzeria. Oh and end the night with Mike’s Pastry.

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At Salem we walked around the eerie city and got to enjoy a huge thunderstorm on the boat. During this thunderstorm while sipping on New England IPA’s and munching on chowder and oyster’s we also learned a little more about the boat…the amount of windows we had. The next morning we had every bed pad, sheet, and towel out in the sun to dry and the guys working on the tourist boat getting ready for their day thought it was kind to ask if we needed a close line. I told them we were just learning more and more about the boat, or I guess I should have said learning where the windows are.

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Marblehead was my favorite. It might be one of the cutest New England cities I have ever been to. Each house was clearly built for the specific family and were all different. The roads are narrow and you feel like you are walking in a historic period. We also made lobster on the boat there so that could have something to do with it being my favorite too.

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Denver Eater: Interview with Bryan Dayton and Steve Redzikowski from Acorn

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(Photo credit: Adam Larkey)

Acorn celebrated its one-year anniversary in September The second restaurant at the Source, brainchild of Bryan Dayton and Steve Redzikowski, has caught a lot of people’s attention over the past year including Andrew Knowlton who nominated the restaurant for America’s Best New Restaurants in 2014 list by Bon Appetit Magazine and Amanda Faison’s who ranked it #2 among Denver’s 25 Best Restaurants. Experiencing similar praise with their first restaurant, Oak at Fourteenth, Dayton and Redzikowski are not strangers to success in the food industry.

In his open kitchen in RiNo, Redzikowski focuses on creating dishes that all diners will enjoy— whether adventurous eaters or not. Dayton curates a creative cocktail menu and directs the hospitality with an iron fist clad in a velvet glove. The two talked to Eater about the last year flying by, the press they received, and silly customer requests.

The rest of the interview…

Free in Madrid!

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Spain! I had my freedom in Spain! My freedom to do what I wanted, better yet, EAT what I wanted. What do I have to say about Madrid? I was in love. The food, the architecture, the people, the food. We rented an apartment for five of us (Yellow building below) in a great location and for three nights it was $125 per person and the place was a palace. High ceilings with exposed wood beams—it was incredible. Also on a side note after writing this post I now know why I gained 10 pounds in three weeks…

Day 1: The first day was all about the tapas. I was with my two friends who had either lived in Madrid or visited so we were all about hitting their old stomping grounds. We first went to the Mercado San Miguel. Which as I told my friends and family is literally my heaven. To simply describe it, it is a fancy market. You can stop at each stand and get a tapa for 1-3 euros and then grab a glass of wine and walk around. I had oysters, salmon, cheese, cod, and meats. This became a daily stop for us. When my friends were finally able to drag me, out because I was promised we would return, we made our way to Museo del Jamon for beer. Which literally translates to ham museum. Interesting little spot. Next stop was El Tigre for, yes, more tapas. This place is like a divey place but a must for tourist. They say the way you can tell it is a good place by the amount of garbage on the floor. This place gets an A+.We had sandwiches and paella. Once we realized we were full and our two other friends were arriving shortly and had to let them into the apartment we decided  we should go home and have more tapas and more wine. I told you the first day was about the tapas. We ended our night at a bar called Taberna Lamiak. If you visit Madrid you should check it out—chill place.

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Day 2: Allison and I got up and let the others sleep. We went and saw the the Royal Palace of Madrid and walked around that area. We stopped for breakfast and had café con leche and toast with eggs. We then quickly stopped buy the store to pick up some necessities for our visit to the park. We spent a few hours on a blanket in Parque del Retiro sipping on champagne, eating jamon, and cheese. It was a perfect July 4th in Madrid. Phil and I decided it also was a must to have a hot dog since it was the 4th and we are American. We then took a boat ride on the lake, Estanque del Retiro. I would totally suggest it. Not too expensive only about 8 euros and super fun. We made our way back home and of course stopped at Mercado San Miguel on the way and Chocolateria San Gines for some classic churros. The chocolate was rich not too sweet chocolate and the churros was buttery and warm. They paired perfectly and I really liked it because I’m not much of a sweet person so hit the spot. We showered quickly then headed back out to a bar to watch the France versus Germany soccer match. We then ate at 100 Montaditos and went back home to to get ready for our evening out. Phil, who had been dressed in obnoxious American get up all day, continued his theme of “American pride style” so Allison and I followed suite and put on bandannas. We then went out in Sol. We met some English friends, because of course we ended up at a Irish bar. Phil ended up making a trade for American sunglasses for his bandanna, his tie which was really what was wanted, was not an option. The next morning he still thought it was a good trade, which means it really must have been a good trade.

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Day 3: Once again Allison and I were the only ones who could rally and got up early for breakfast. We got calamari sandwiches, which are known for the Madrid area, cafe con leche, and a beer. Clearly the struggle was real. I swear though that calamari sandwich was to die for, ciabatta bread, mayonnaise, thick calamari rings and lemon, put it all together and you get the best calamari sandwich ever. No it was not just because I was feeling the night from before…I swear. Saturday was the big Pride parade so that was pretty much the plan for the day. After breakfast we once again stopped at the store for the necessities aka beer. We got home and ralliedthe troops. Phil took a ridiculously amount of time to get out of bed-Phil needs to work on this before our next trip. Once everyone was dressed in their pride attire we headed out. First stop? McDonald’s for a beer. Yes McDonald’s has euro beers in Madrid. Very cultural. My friend Kevin and I stopped in at the Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia on the way to the parade to see the infamous Guernica painting. It was incredible. Their was so much going on in the photo and had such an incredible story. Then we found a spot where Gran Via meets Paseo del Prado and watched the parade. We stayed for a bit then decided to head back home so we once again stopped at Mercado San Miguel. I wasn’t exaggerating when I said we went everyday. We ended up staying in, enjoying the apartment, and finishing the bottles of wine we still had. Allison’s flight was at 6 am and Phil and mine was at 10 am. Lets just say getting up and saying goodbye was hard.

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Day 4: Barcelona!

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The Final 21st

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My little sister turned 21 on September 4th. She was the final Colt girl to turn 21 meaning the final 21st birthday I will probably go to for a while. My parents are now breathing a sigh of relief. My little sister Kylie is in her final year of college at Michigan State University so we, my older sister and brother-in-law, came to her. She didn’t really have to convince us at all since Kara and I both went to State as well so we are always looking for any excuse to return to our old stomping grounds.

I of course wanted to bring the cake so I carried it on. The cake had to be a 21st birthday cake so what could be better than a cheap liquor bottle? Nothing, so a Burnett’s cake it was. My sister loves lemons so I made it lemon themed. I bake the cake in an 8 X 8 pan. That way i could make the rectangle body and have extra for the neck of the bottle. I made the fondant cap the night before I left and also the fondant label. Once in Michigan  I whipped up some butter cream frosting and put it all together.

The night ended up being one we will never forget and not just because of the cake ;) Those involved will get it…

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