26 June 2015

The Ultimate Guide to Festival Camping

 Lawson Hill Campgrounds, Telluride
This past weekend I attended my first real music festival - i.e., multi-day camping and coin showers. As a festival rookie, I had a difficult time making a packing list. I wanted to make sure I had all the necessities, being careful not to cross the high-maintenance threshold. You see, this was the first trip I had taken with my boyfriend and I didn't want to be, "that girl" - the Cher amongst the hippies -"as if..." I packed my sleeping bag, sunscreen, water and the other basics, making calculated efforts to abbreviate our list.

Once we arrived in Telluride, we hauled our minimal belongings to the camping area and scouted out the perfect spot to set up camp. Having arrived on Thursday, before most other festival goers, we had our choice of prime property plots. Naturally, we decided on a grassy area next door to a cannabis entrepreneur and his wife who happened to have the largest, most defined tent in the camp. I thought of their tent as a landmark, our North Star that would lead us back to our tent at night. Our two-person tent practically set itself up, so with little time and effort our camp was done and dusted.

We headed off to the concert for the rest of the day only to return to a highly urbanized city. Our campground had gone from rural village to sprawling metropolitan in a matter of hours. Five-person tents equip with luxurious foyers had built themselves into one another. Having had a beer or six at the concert, we struggled to find our one bed, one bath studio apartment amidst the high-rises that had popped up all around us.  We stumbled through alleys, tripping over random tent stakes and eventually stumbled upon our very humble abode with the help of our neighbor's flashing lights.

The next morning, we took a stroll around the campground, looking at all the new developments. I quickly learned that festival camping and true mountain camping are two very different things. Mountain camping requires the abbreviated list I had prepared with, while festival camping and glamping are easily synonymous. These festivarians took camping to a whole new level. They brought air mattresses, meal-prep tables, lounge chairs, decorative lights, and most importantly, shade tents.

Needless to say, this trip taught me a lesson or two about the art of packing... and what is a lesson learned if not shared with others? So here is my ultimate guide to festival camping. Enjoy!

Telluride Blue Grass Festival 2015

The Ultimate Festival Camping Packing List:

  • Tent - Preferably one with standing room. No need to so shimmy into fresh undies each morning.
  • Sleeping Bag 
  • Sleeping Pad or Air Mattress - It's not about practicality, its about luxury and comfort.
  • Lantern or Head Lamps - Great for finding your way back home at night.
  • Camp Chairs
  • Sun Tent - Especially important as our campground had not trees, thus no shade. Place over tent or use as a lobby that feeds into your chic camp residence. Perfect for relaxing, cooking and pre-gaming.
  • Cooler - If you are one of the lucky few who are able to spend $300+ on a cooler, invest in a Yeti. We packed our old Colman with ice and ice packs, but it had no chance against our sun tent-less camp and the 90 degree weather. Our food went bad after the first day. You can only imagine how that smelled...
  • Trash Bags
  • Water Bottle 
  • Paper Towels
  • Wet Wipes - We opted against showering in general as I'm a firm believer in the foulness of community showers. Wet wipes come in handy for multiple reasons if your catching my stanky drift...
  • Batteries - Back up for all electronics. Remember festival camping isn't about roughing it. All real-world accessories are welcome.
  • Portable Phone Charger
  • Utensils
  • Pots & Pans
  • First Aid Kit - You never know...
  • Lighter
  • Plates
  • Stove - I'd recommend getting your hands on a Jetboil
  • Music Player
  • Table - Great for food prep; a huge necessity if you choose to get fancier than a bag of Ramen. 
  • Hand Sanitizer 
  • Biodegradable Soap
  • Ice - and a lot of it
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Bug Spray
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Facial Wipes
  • Chapstick
  • Swim Suite
  • Tickets to the Concert
  • Beer & Liquor
  • Fanny Pack/Bag
  • ID 
  • Cash/Card
  • Blanket - Preferably a Tarpestry
  • Games
  • Hat
Feel free to add to the list in the comments section...

19 February 2015

A Visitor's Guide To Denver

Having just returned from a girls trip in Chicago, I've decided to pull together a Denver visitor's guide that highlights the best things to do, drink and eat in Denver. While planning my trip to the windy city, I searched high and low for a list similar to this - one that highlights a city's attractions from a 20-something perspective. Here is how I would eat, drink and play in the Mile High City...


Red Rocks - Photos via bassnectar.net
Denver Art Museum
Address: 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, Denver, Colorado 80204
Hours: Monday Closed, Tuesday - Thursday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm, Friday 10:00 am - 8:00 pm, Saturday - Sunday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Price: General Admission for non-Colorado natives - $13.00 

Clyfford Still Museum
Clyfford Still is a famous pioneer Abstract Expressionist, who experimented with bold brush strokes and large scale.
Address: 1250 Bannock Street, Denver, Colorado 80204
Hours: Monday Close, Tuesday - Thursday  10:00 am - 5:00 pm, Friday 10:00 am - 8:00 pm, Saturday - Sunday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Price: General Admission - $10.00

Rockies Game
We all know the Rockies are far from the best MLB team but Coors Stadium is still worth a visit, especially now that the new roof top deck is open.
Address: 2001 Blake Street, Denver, 80205
Price: The roof top deck is $14.00 with $6.00 towards drinks/concessions.

Red Rocks Amphitheater
Red Rocks Concerts, Film on the Rocks, Yoga on the Rocks, and the Red Rocks Fitness Challenge are among the many things the Red Rocks Amphitheater has to offer.
Address: 18300 West Alameda Parkway, Morrison, Colorado 80401

Denver Botanic Gardens
Grab a bottle of wine and head to the gardens for a picnic or one of the famous garden concerts. With rotating exhibitions and beautiful views, the Botanic Gardens are a great place to spend a relaxing afternoon.
Address: 1007 York Street, Denver, Colorado 80206
Hours: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Price: Adults - $12.00, Children - $9.00 (Children under 2 years of age - free)

Union Station
Denver's railway station was recently renovated to host the city's top restaurants, bars and shops.
Address: 1701 Wynkoop Street, Denver, Colorado 80202
Hours: Open 24 hours a day


The Cruise Room - Photo via Westword

Punch Bowl Social
Located among the favorite South Broadway bars, the Punch Bowl is a hot destination for bowling, food, drink and games.
Address: 65 Broadway, Denver, Colorado 80203
Hours: Monday - Friday 11:00 am - 2:00 am, Saturday - Sunday 8:00 am - 2:00 am
Price: $

Forest Room 5
This hip, artsy bar with a rustic indoor and outdoor atmosphere is great for artisan drinks and draft brews.
Address: 2532 15th Street, Denver, Colorado 80205
Hours: Monday - Friday 4:00 pm - 2:00 am, Happy Hour 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Price: $ - $$

The Cruise Room
Located downtown, in the Oxford Hotel, The Cruise Room is a post-prohibition Art Deco style bar with hand crafted cocktails.
Address: 1600 17th Street, Denver, Colorado 80202
Hours: Sunday - Thursday 4:30 pm - 11:45 pm, Friday - Saturday 4:30 - 12:45
Price: $$

This ping-pong hall serves up Asian dishes and a fun night life.
Address: 501 East 17th Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80203
Hours: Monday - Friday 11:00 am - 12:00 am, Saturday - Sunday 2:00 pm - 12:00 am
Price: $

Denver Breweries
With over 200 breweries, Colorado is one of the most brewery-heavy states in America. With such diversity, it's hard to choose a select few. Some favorites in the Denver-Metro area are as follows:

Denver Beer Co.
Great Divide
Epic Brewery
Infinite Monkey Theorem
Stem Ciders
Our Mutual Friend
Strange Craft Beer


Linger - Photo via thegoodlifedenver.com

This 28 foot tall, vintage cream can dishes up the best ice cream in town. The lines tend to be long but a scoop of the salted Oreo is well worth the wait.
Address: 2620 16th Street, Denver, Colorado 80211
Hours: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm daily
Price: $

Rosenburg's Bagels & Delicatessen
Located in Denver's up and coming RiNo district, Rosenburg's serves up Denver's best New York style bagels. Having transformed Denver water to match that of New York City, Rosenburg's bagels rival the texture and flavor of your favorite NYC spot.
Address: 725 East 26th Avenue
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 6:00 am - 3:00 pm 
Price: $

VooDoo Doughnuts
This cash-only bakery from Portland serves up quirky doughnuts - the maple blazer blunt, the gay bar, cock-n-balls, and the old dirty bastard to name a few.
Address: 1520 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80218
Hours: Open 24 Hours
Price: $

Denver Biscuit Company
Real Southern, Real Good. The Denver Biscuit Company, also known as DBC among the locals, is a hot breakfast spot. Get your biscuit in french toast form or smothered in gravy, no matter how you take it, you are in for a buttery, flaky treat.
Address: 3237 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80206
Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 2:00 pm & Saturday 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
Price: $$

Linger, an old mortuary turned restaurant, is located in the trendy Highlands area. The unique, small plates are meant for sharing, bringing a variety of worldly flavors to your table.
Insider Recommendation: Not interested in the full dining experience? Check out the famous roof top bar for happy hour and amazing views of the city. Happy Hours: Tuesday - Friday 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm. (The reduced happy hour menu can be viewed here)
Address: 2030 West 30th Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80211
Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm & Friday - Saturday 5:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Price: $$$

A modern Mexican restaurant located in LoHi (Lower Highlands) was voted one of the Top Five Places To Drink Tequila in North America. This famous cantina serves up coin style margaritas, table-side guacamole and impressive highbrow cuisine.
Address: 1575 Boulder Street, Denver, Colorado 80211

Illegal Petes
Similar to Chipotle, Illegal Pete's is a home-grown "Mission Style" burrito restaurant with all natural, local ingredients. Inspired by burritos from San Francisco in the 60s and 70s, Illegal Pete's sets itself apart with its beer selection and potent margaritas.
Insider Recommendation: Make sure to try the popular fish tacos and breakfast burritos
Address: Multiple locations - Denver, Boulder & Fort Collins
Hours: Monday - Wednesday 7:00 am - 12:00 pm, Thursday 7:00 am - 1:30 pm, Friday 7:00 am - 2:30 am, Saturday 9:00 am - 2:30 am & Sunday 9:00 am - 12:00 am
Pice: $

Cherry Cricket
Denver's long-time favorite, The Cherry Cricket, turns out classic burgers and fries alongside hoards of green chili. An old dive bar with great vibes and even better flavors.
Address: 2641 East 2nd Avenue, Denver, Colorado
Hours: Monday - Sunday 11:00 am - 2:00 am (Daily Happy Hours: 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm - midnight)
Price: $

The Source
An 1880's foundry building turned artisan food market is home to a French bakery, taquiera, brewery, floral and produce shop, wood-fired restaurant, coffee roaster, gallery and specialty food market. Located in Denver's River North District, The Source is a community full of great flavors and Denver's top artisans.
Address: 3350 Brighton Boulevard, Denver, Colorado 80216
Hours: Monday - Sunday 8:00 am - 11:00 pm
Price: $$$

Park Burger 
Park Burger is a neighborhood hot-spot known for its prizewinning burgers, fries, shakes and beer.
Address: 1890 South Pearl Street, Denver, Colorado 80210 (there are four other locations but this is by far the best)
Hours: Sunday - Wednesday 11:00 am - 9:00 pm & Thursday - Saturday 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Price: $

New-style ramen bowls and steamed buns are this neighborhood restaurant's specialty.
Address: 2215 West 32nd Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80211
Hours: Monday - Saturday 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm & Sundays Closed 
Price: $$

Biker Jim's Gourmet Hot Dogs 
From street food vender to restaurateur, Biker Jim's turns out one of a kind wieners.  Rattle snake and pheasant to duck and vegetarian dogs.
Address: 2148 Larimer Street, Denver CO 80205
Hours: Monday - Thursday 11:00 am - 10:00 pm & Friday - Saturday 11:00 am - 3:00 am
Price: $

25 January 2015

Denver Restaurant Review: Zengo

Every few months, chef Richard Sandoval and his renown culinary team explore new flavors and techniques in their "Test Kitchen." From now through March 31st, Zengo is featuring cuisine from Mexico and Korea. Rather than fusing the two regions as he has done in the past, Sandoval and his team have created separate dishes that highlight the flavors and ingredients from each region. The result is a tasty verity of small plates and cocktails that range from Achiote Mahi Mahi Tostadas to Kimchee & Tofu Soup.
Located in lower downtown, Zengo offers a hip atmosphere alongside small plates with big flavors. The service is extremely knowledgeable and the unique cocktails never disappoint. Make sure to visit Zengo before March 31st to experience Sandoval's newest Test Kitchen items. (See full menu here.)

The other Test Kitchen cocktail:
Watermelon Soju Margarita
Agave Reposado / Korean Charm Soju
Watermelon / Serrano pepper

Test Kitchen Soup Option:
Kimchee & Tofu Soup
Pozole / Cabbage / Guajillo Broth / Tortilla Strips


05 December 2014

New Latin Flavors: Chef Richard Sandoval's New Cookbook

Sandoval Restaurants
Looking for the perfect holiday gift for your fellow foodie? Look no further than Chef Richard Sandoval's new cookbook, New Latin Flavors Hot Dishes, Cool Drinks. With over forty restaurants around the globe,  Sandoval has pulled together a variety of seasoned dishes to create a book that offers an exciting new vision of contemporary Latin cooking.
Although his renown destinations are scattered throughout the globe, Colorado is one of Sandoval's favorite places and home to five of his famous restaurants - Tamayo, Zengo, La Biblioteca, La Sandia Canita Northfield and La Sandia Canita Park Meadows. It's no wonder he chose his Denver restaurant and tequila library, La Biblioteca, to launch his new cookbook packed with over 125 flavorful dishes. I was lucky enough to go to the launch party where I met Sandoval himself, and tried a few bites from New Latin Flavors - Watermelon Margaritas, Venezuelan Corn Pancakes, Beef and Corn Anticucho, and Ham Croquettes. Sandoval says his food is "simple," giving the traditional recipes he grew up with, a modern twist of global flavor.  His recipes are meant to be adapted to each individual taste, to be used as guidelines for your own masterpiece.

Richard Sandoval Restaurants - Ham Croquettes
Chef Richard Sandoval signing my copy of New Latin Flavors
New Latin Flavors is available for purchase online as well as any of his five Colorado locations.
Buen Provecho!   

25 November 2014

Tamayo: New Fall Menu

Richard Sandoval's modern Mexican restaurant, Tamayo, has launched it's fall menu. With earthy flavors from Mexico and contemporary tastes, Tamayo's fall menu is rich with creative and comforting foods. Chef Richard Sandoval uses his native Mexico City roots in conjunction to culinary ideas from California and Dubai.  He mixes Asian flavors and Latin heat to create a one of a kind, worldly menu this fall.

Lunch Menu Highlights:
Crispy Crab Cake Salad - with butter lettuce, green apple, grapefruit, red radish and jalapeƱo mustard dressing
Chicken Mole Enchiladas - with shredded chicken, corn tortilla, mole poblano, cream fresca and cotija cheese
Crispy Tofu Tacos - with cilantro tortillas, romaine lettuce and shiitake vinaigrette 

Dinner Menu Highlights:
Pacific Shrimp Tamal - with poblano chile green pea puree, chile pulla salsa and tomatillo salad
Salad of Yucatan Octopus - with watercress, jicama, black olive caramel, cilantro pesto and herb dressing
Huitlacoche Stuffed Chicken Breast - with Mexican style ricotta cheese, yucca puree and green chile "atole"
Pork Carnitas & Achiote Tenderloin - with achiote-bacon lentils, fingerling potatoes and radish sprouts salad

Cocktail Menu Highlights:
Simply Bliss - with Monte Alban Reposado, Luxardo Cherry Liquor, White Wine and Orange Bitters
La Fleetwood - with Evan Williams Bourbon, Cynar, Simple Syrup and Angostura Bitters
The Mellon Fresco Martini - with Grey Goose Le Melon, house Made Sour Mix, Simple Syrup, Fresh Cantaloupe and Tajin Orange Zest
The Buena Vida - Tamayo's version of the classic Negroni cocktail with Fidencio Mexcal, Campari, and Sweet Vermouth. It's been aged in American white oak for 2-3 weeks.