A Food Tour of Denver

I do a lot of travel (if the blog didn’t give thhatt away).  I have been to a lot of cities both in the country and out of the country.  Denver, in all it’s wonderfulness, has now made the top of my lists.  From the start of my trip to finish, it was just an amazing place to be.  If you read my last blog post, I was down in Denver to spend a long weekend with my sister and celebrate our birthdays.  Also, one of her residency interviews was here buutttt I mean sister’s birthday weekend is definitely the most important thing here haha!
From the moment I arrived in Denver, I felt at home.  The place is filled with art, food, photographic landscapes, and all around pretty wonderful people.  It has a bit of that Southern Charm but with that crunchy granola, ‘we care about what we put in out bodies’ vibe, plus, it’s a super friendly dog city. These were my people!  And this was my foodie mecca!
Kate and I crammed as much as we could in the four days we were there.  I’m sharing mostly our favorite adventures and highlights but there was so much more we enjoyed that I’m not sharing. If you can go there, do!  You won’t be disappointed.  Especially if you’re a foodie.  Or a hiker.  Or a photographer.  Or you really enjoy delicious fresh mountain spring water.  There’s a little something for everyone here!
After a little debate, coming in at the top of our Denver adventure was a food walking tour with Taste of Denver.  This is a fun, locally owned business, run by sisters Lindsay and Chemae.  Not only were we lucky enough to get Chemae, as our wonderful guide, but we also were the only two on the tour that day.  Seriously, that never happens!  It was a one on one experience and Chemae and all the restaurants we visited made it truly a wonderful experience.
We started our day by arriving in Downtown Denver and meeting Chamae at Milk and Honey.  It’s an upscale restaurant, hidden between two shops.  You walk through their entrance and it opens up into a beautiful courtyard (which I’d love to visit in Spring and Summer).  The inside is stunning and the food was delicious! We got to sample Blistered Shishito Peppers, Balsamic Glazed Ribs, and House Cut Fries.  The balsamic glaze was so good I was licking my fingers!  The bar was also nice enough to let me shoot some of the drinks they were making which were just stunning.

Looks good right? I could have stayed here all afternoon and sipped on cocktails but we had places to be and more food to sample!  The nice thing about the tour is there is A LOT of food you get to try.  Everything is small bites, not like full blown dinners, but it’s filling.  I promise.  Plus, after each restaurant, you get to walk to the next place, as your guide talks about the history and city around you.  You’re getting to learn, burn off some calories, and eat all at the same time.  It’s pretty fantastical.

 

Our next stop was Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen. The building itself is rich with history.  As Chamae told us all about the building we got to sample their house made Beef Short Rib Kielbasa as well as their house-made mustards and kraut.  True story, all the meat from here comes from Colorado animals.  They make and cure almost all their meat. They also have a wonderful drink selection.  We got a coupon for a free drink and we used it!  We came back and sampled some more food and drinks later that evening and it was worth it.

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We left Euclid Hall to be greeted by Christmas carolers dressed to the nines in 1920s garb and makeup/hair.  The city really goes all out during the holidays and everywhere was decorated beautifully.  Chamae continued to tell us about the history of many of the buildings and city as we made our way to our next stop, Little Owl Coffee, a cute little coffee shop with baristas who know their stuff and do some killer coffee art. The hot beverage on a chilly day, was a perfect break before we started in on some more food. I had a macchiato, while Kate opted for a hot chocolate, and Chamae had a latte.

After warming up we headed to our favorite stop.  And no, it’s not what you would think.  And trust me, everything we had was awesome, so this was a hard decision buutttt after much discussion we both agreed EVOO Marketplace was our favorite stop.  Not your usual food tour stop either, which was why it was so memorable.  It’s a family run shop and the brainchild of a husband and wife team, Mick and Carolyn Major.  The whole store is based on the concept of ‘taste before you buy.’  And taste we did.  All their olive oil and balsamic oils are the highest quality you can buy.  From pressed and infused oils to a HUGE variety of white and balsamic vinegars.  It was so much fun and Carolyn gave us a wonderful lesson before tasting about the processes of their different products.  Then the sampling began, you take a little cup and pour yourself a little oil or vinegar and taste away. So many flavors all in one place, we couldn’t get enough! We loved it so much I got a whole case of different varieties for Christmas gifts.

These aren’t your ‘everyday’ oils and vinegars.  I fell in love with their Sage and Wild Mushroom Olive Oil.  Kate leaned more towards white vinegars while I loved the darks.  All the vinegars are aged in barrels and are either infused or pressed (either aged with the product, or pressed into it in the beginning).  We loved the Cara Cara Vanilla Barrel Aged Balsamic as well as the Grilled Pineapple Balsamic.

After EVOO, we headed out again!  This time, Chamae took us into some historic buildings and bars before we headed to our next destination.  Seriously, aren’t some of these places stunning?

Where ‘pearl’ buttons were first invented for cowboy-ware was in Denver, this is their store now.

Next on the docket was Zoe Ma Ma – Super Yummy Street Food. And yummy food it was!  The owner, Ma Ma, was on hand to talk to about her food.  It’s some of the best Chinese food I’ve ever had.  And it’s all handmade with recipes from Ma Ma herself.  It’s high quality ingredients include fresh homemade organic noodles, cage-free eggs, and all-natural meats.  Not to mention the ‘sauce bar’ they have where you can mix and match different sauces to top all your food with.  We got to indulge in Za Jiang Mian.  It’s a Classic Northern noodle dish with fresh egg noodles, ground pork sauce, and julienned veggies.  Kate and I almost licked the bowls clean.  Plus, the vibe of the whole place was wonderful. It was like you were stepping into a little restaurant in China. I wish we had a few weeks in Denver because I would be back here every week just to try different dishes.

Ma Ma and our guide, Chamae.

Following happy bellies full of noodles, we headed off to Mercantile. It’s kind of like an open air market that specializes in cheeses and meats.  They also have a wide variety of sandwiches, soups, salads, and pastries. It’s one of those places you’d want to come study or read a book so you can keep going back and getting little snacks all day.  It was lovely.  I wish we had time to sample everything, because let’s be honest, cheese is quite frankly one of the greatest foods in the entire world.  We got to try Sheep’s Milk Ricotta from Fruition Farms, it came with little crackers and house-made jam.  It was super yummy.

Our last stop (sadly) was Union Station which was a plethora of different food shops.  We ended with dessert at the Milkbox Ice Creamery.  It was pretty good in the ice cream front.  It’s gmo free, 100% natural, and all sourced from local farms.  I had salted caramel pb cup while Kate had Mocha Chip.

And with that, it was the end of our food tour.  Sad day.  Chamae was nice enough to walk us back to EVOO so we could continue to taste test.  But what a great experience!  Tons of good foods and off the beaten path food stops. Literally the cat’s meow of foodie tours.  If you’re in Denver look up Taste of Denver.  They do all sorts of food tours too! So you can pick and choose what works best for you.

Following our full bellies and food coma, we headed to the Parade of Lights!  What a wonderful holiday tradition!  The city is all lit up and the whole parade is filled with lights!  They have lights on horses, dogs, even Santa!  You name it and it most likely has a glow stick or lights attached.  A fun little excursion that day and a cool thing to see in the city!  It happens every year and even if you miss the Parade, the city itself is all lit up and is lined with little shops all decked out in holiday gear so that’s a pretty photographic experience too!

Now aside from the food tour, Kate and I seriously ate like queens for honestly, really cheap. We probably didn’t spend over $50 a day for three square meals and that’s pretty freaking awesome.  We had three favorite places.  Cafe Paprika was seriously the best. It’s a little hole in the wall and as soon as you pull up you’re hit with the wonderful smells of Mediterranean food wafting in the parking lot.  Mediterranean food and me is like white on rice.  I’m still thinking about the gryo meat (house-made) and mint tea that they pour from authentic teapots wwaayy up in the air. We also tried a dish called Bastilla which is like nothing I’ve ever had (which is rare).  It’s layers of puffed pastry filled with spiced shredded chicken, nuts, savory herbs and topped with powdered sugar and more spices.  Now sounds crazy right? But honestly, it was soo good.  If you’re here in Denver and you have a love affair with Mediterranean food like I do, go here.  You certainly won’t be disappointed!

Next on our list was the the The Denver Biscuit Company.  Confession.  This was the only place we ate at twice.  The biscuits were that good.  They have appeared all over various tv shows, probably most notably Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  The biscuits are almost the size of your head and literally melt in your mouth.  The sausage gravy would have any Southern Grandma begging for the recipe and the jams and butters will make you want to get another biscuit just to use them.  If you looked up biscuit in the dictionary, The Denver Biscuit Company’s photo should be there.  They’re that good.

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Yes, be jealous of that biscuit.  I’m jealous and I already ate there.  Excuse me while I lick the screen.  Last, but not least, on our list was the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse.  We went here during our day trip to Boulder.  Starting off we drove Boulder Canyon, which is stunning in itself and has great hiking/biking trails as well as a number of pull offs to stop and absorb the beauty around you.  If you have a few hours to spare, take the drive up Boulder Canyon and stop off and hike a bit.

The Dashanbe Teahouse is kind of a combo food, drink, architecture and artwork visit.  The building is breathtaking.  The whole building was created by 40+ artisans from several cities of Tajikistan.  They created the decorative elements the Teahouse, including its hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns, and exterior ceramic panels.  It’s absolutely stunning.  I’d recommend going here even if you’re not hungry.  The craftsmanship of this building is so unbelievable. But we did eat there.  And drink there.  They offer unlimited chai.  YES.  YOU HEARD RIGHT.  UNLIMITED CHAI.  You empty your coffee mug and they REFILL IT.  FOR FREE.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.  We were in hog heaven.  Add that to the artistry around us and the yummy small plates we had of hummus and veggies and a little sampler plate.  People come here for tea (obviously) and the tea sandwich sit down experience.  You have to have reservations for that, so plan in advance people!

Is your mouth watering yet?  Mine is and I’m the one writing this!  But, in all fairness, I also got to eat all this deliciousness too.  Hopefully that was a good little food tour of Denver.  You can eat like kings and queens for cheap.  Plus, there is soooo much to see!  The scenery is breathtaking, the locals are wonderful, and there are more craft breweries and wineries then I could count!  But go to Denver!  Seriously.  You won’t be disappointed. Especially if you’re a crunchy granola foodie like me!  Until next time! -Alysha

Photography and Writing By:

Alysha Yoder Photography

(b) www.alyshayoderphotoblog.com (w) www.alyshayoderphoto.com

(e) alyshayoderphoto@yahoo.com (p) 610.762.7810

(i) www.instagram.com/ayoderphoto/

Mentioned Restaurant and Business Links:

A Taste of Ghent

Sooooo… this post has been a LONG time coming.  Between travel, weddings, holidays, and all around no free-time I have just not had the time to write this post.  I’m sitting in front of a large fireplace in Denver at this very moment and thinking about how blessed I am!  My sister is interviewing for different residency programs all over the US and I’m so, so, proud of her (and my brother too) and when she asked me come down to Denver during one of her interviews I jumped at the opportunity. It also helps that it coincides with both of our birthdays, so after interview’s we’re going to hit the town and celebrate (and we’re always open to great places to visit, eat, or enjoy here).

It’s crazy how quickly life happens.  4 years ago, we were celebrating our birthday’s again, this time in New Orleans, as she interviewed for medical school and now here we are.  On graduation’s door and here I am again, being able to enjoy this exciting moment in my sibling’s life and I couldn’t be more proud. I’m glad all of my siblings share my travel bug.  None of us stayed close to home while studying, much to my mother’s dismay, though we visit regularly.  We’re all always learning, traveling, and growing in our professions.  This leads me to my wonderful learning and travel experience to Ghent, NY with the lovely team of the Made in Ghent farm, and our teacher’s  Michael Piazza and Kevin Masse.

From the moment you pull up to the lovely Made in Ghent farm, you’re greeted by farm dog, Bumble, and the farm owner’s, Richard and Mimi. Warmth and homeyness emits from this place like you wouldn’t believe.  It’s like a little slice of paradise complete with wildflower fields, chickens, and Mimi’s fresh made sour dough bread (that I’m still dreaming about).  They have a wonderful set up kitchen/store that is the first building you pull up to.  Here, Mimi and team make TONS of farm fresh food, from jams and ice cream to pork rillettes and breads.  It’s also the perfect setting for classes, with cooking books lining the walls, kitchen props, tables, and chairs.  A breeze blows through the open space with a pond in the back to gaze at as you sip coffee and snack on homemade yogurt and granola. I was in foodie, photographer, traveler heaven.

Through corporate photography day job, I had signed up for the “How to Create Magazine Quality Food Photographs’ 2-day course.  We learned photography and styling from Michael Piazza and social media and networking expert Kevin Masse.  In between lectures, Mimi and team cooked us up spectacular meals (that still make my mouth water thinking about them) and we were also free to wander the farm and take photos of all the livestock, wildlife, and meal prep.  Our group was small and filled with everything from food stylists, to lawyers, to bloggers.  It was such a great plethora of people passionate about food and photography.  These are my people!  You know the ones?! The people who get you…. when you start talking in depth about how beautiful pastries look when lighted correctly and who get excited about shooting food tablescapes.  Those people.  My people.

We started the day off with tons of delicious breakfast, meeting and greeting everyone and literally breaking bread (sourdough, yes!).  Michael led us up to the main house, i.e. natural light photographer’s dream.  Seen in photos above, I swear half of it was windows, with a stunning open kitchen (with a blue-tiled back splash I was obsessed with), HUGE farm table, beautiful prep and sitting area, and a garage loaded with food props for us. We started with basics, natural lighting, and learned Michael’s favorite food photography techniques.

Isn’t that backsplash dreamy?

Experimenting with different light setups.

Another bomb-diggity meal done by Mimi and crew.

Wandering the farm post-lecture.

After a day of lecturing.  We took a break.  We wandered the farm, conversed with each other and waited for the feast that Mimi and her team were making.  Everything was sourced from less then 10 miles away from the farm.  How awesome and local is that?!  Here we got to shoot tablescapes, from prep to sit down.  The best part?  We got to eat it after we photographed it all.  Probably my favorite photographic part of the whole workshop.  I mean, this was the food spread and location of dreams.

Mimi cutting all the yummy chicken straight from their backyard!

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Dreamy right?  And ohhh sooo delicious! We all left full of inspiration and satisfied bellies!  Day two was just as exciting!  If you wanted, you could come early and get photos of some of the farm-hands helping out on the farm as well as take a walk with Richard into the produce and wildflower fields (which then are sold as bouquets in the shop)!  Of course I was there bright and early!  It was such a perfect day for it too!  With tons of photo ops!

Jen, our ‘chicken whisper’ and catcher for photos (thanks Jen!)

Richard, leading the tour and posing for us in the long grass.

Bumble in all her glory, exploring with us!

The group experimenting with reflectors in the woods.

Robyn, Michael’s trusty assistant who helped with EVERYTHING throughout the day.

Cornish Meg, who regularly helped with all the food prep, arranging the flowers picked from our walk.

After the walk and breakfast, we headed back up to the house.  Michael focused more on helping with styling and telling a story for this lesson.  We photographed galettes from start to finish while learning how to show the story of food being made.

Following Michael’s lesson, Kevin Masse arrived to give us his lecture on social media.  How to use it successfully, what you can do to improve yours photos, and how to get more followers.  All very interesting and I learned a TON!  Especially with Instagram, I was a bit clueless when it came to all things hashtag and @.  Kevin helps tons of brands with their social media presences and it was so great learning from someone with some much experience in this.  It’s what I seriously lack in.

We followed Kevin’s lesson up with a photo session for ourselves to use what we had learned an implement it.  Shooting galettes in different lightings and environments.  Also, the spread that Mimi had left out for us.

With sadness, we all had to say goodbye to each other.  But we left with lifelong friends, great experiences, and tons of food photography knowledge!  I couldn’t have asked for a more creative retreat!  I can’t wait to visit Ghent again and stop by Richard and Mimi’s shop, of course to get some of that sour dough and I would highly recommend anyone in the area do the same!

**Special thanks to the wonderful team that put this together and made the experience so great!  To find out more info about the teachers or Made in Ghent Farm I’ve listed their links below!

Made in Ghent

Michael Piazza

Kevin Masse

Photography and writing by:

Alysha Yoder Photography

(b) www.alyshayoderphotoblog.com (w) www.alyshayoderphoto.com

(e) alyshayoderphoto@yahoo.com (p) 610.762.7810

(i) www.instagram.com/ayoderphoto/

 

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