Susan's Blog - Denver Day 1

We'll start our Denver vacation as expected, at a Mexican restaurant! We took a morning flight (nonstop on Southwest) and landed in time for lunch. We stopped at a place called Tacos, Tequila, Whiskey, which I had read good reviews about. We started with their special appetizer, which was roasted corn topped with a Mexican sauce, cilantro, and cheese. Then we went for (of course) tacos! We tried 5 different tacos, each with their own sauce and toppings, which came on a pair of soft corn tortillas. All were great although my least favorite probably was the fish taco.

We decided to stay at a Historic bed and breakfast near Downtown called the Capitol Hill Mansion Bed and Breakfast. This Richardsonian Romanesque home was built in 1891 and was one of the last vintage homes built before the silver crash of 1893. Each room has a name and we decided on the Paintbrush room. For a B&B, it was actually really big! It had a king-sized bed along with 2 armchairs. The bathroom was also quite large with a huge walk-in shower. I'll give pictures of the breakfast area tomorrow!

First stop was the Molly Brown museum, which was just a block walk up the street from the B&B. The house itself was built in the 1880s incorporating several popular architectural styles, including Queen Anne style. When the original owners were forced to sell due to financial issues due to the Silver crash, it was bought by Margaret "Molly" Brown's husband in 1894. Molly Brown was a philanthropist, socialite, and activist probably best known for surviving the sinking of the Titanic (where she got her nickname, the "unsinkable" Molly Brown).

We took the tour of the interior, which has some of the original furnishings from Molly Brown's days but also some "period" furniture that they purchased to replace items that had been lost. The entry-way was quite elaborate, with wallpaper that had a specific pattern (you could feel it!) and then painted gold. The entryway was as far as many people got into the house and so it was decorated with a lot of items to show off their wealth but also their many travels around the world.

Then the main living area, with a large bear rug, a really nice fireplace, and a piano. He told a story about one of the statues on the piano. Molly was fascinated by Italian sculptures and bought this one but it 'offended' some people as it was nude, and so someone made a small shawl to wrap around it.

This is actually the original telephone. As we went up the staircase, there were these two lovely stained-glass windows.

The first room was Molly's daughter's room (2 pictures) and then the second was Molly's room (1 picture) and then Molly's husband's room (2 pictures). You can see in each is a large bed and then a smaller "tiny" bed. The guide mentioned that those "tiny" beds were basically for afternoon naps that were taken. The bathroom was pretty modern for the day, having indoor plumbing.

Then down the "servants" stairs (really narrow) into the kitchen and pantry area. In the butlers pantry, they had these really lovely tea and coffee sets sitting out. They had an old-time washing machine, and then this last item ... You can see the names of several of the rooms. Her guests were always impressed by her servants as they seemed to appear at the exact perfect moment in each of the various rooms to serve coffee, tea, or anything else. This was due to this interesting little "call-box". Within each room, there were little hidden buttons which would ring down here in the basement and show which room it came from. The servants would then "appear" magically!

Then the dining room (sorry, a bit blurry) and the library/study, with a set of books.

Next, we headed over to the Denver Botanical Gardens. I had been through the 23-acre park a few years ago and was lucky enough to catch a Chihuly exhibit. This time, it was Stories in Sculpture, where 13 sculptures from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden were on display. I won't put much commentary in these ... I tried to take a picture of both the sculpture and the plaque which details the artist and name of the sculpture. Interspersed will be a few pictures of plants/flowers that I thought were pretty, including several in the Monet lily pond, and a couple animals. The little blue frog is a Blue Poison Dart Frog.

Okay, so doesn't this one kinda look like either melted Gumby or something made from green PlayDoh??

This piece is actually a Chihuly. For those of you who are about to Google Chihuly, Dale Chihuly is an American glass sculptor who works are considered unique to the field of blown glass. Interesting trivia: he no longer actually blows the glass himself. In 1976, he was involved in a car accident that left him blind in the left eye, due to injuries from glass after flying through the windshield. Then in 1979, he dislocated a shoulder and could no longer hold the glass blowing pipe and so he hired others to actually do the work. This ended up great as he says he has a better view of how the entire piece comes together. After the Chihuly exhibit was gone, they decided it was so wonderful that they got the money together and bought one as a permanent exhibit piece.

The Japanese Garden gets a little bit of commentary :-) The Shofu-en Japanese Garden was designed by Dr. Koichi Kawana, who was born in 1930 in Hokkaido. He has designed gardens in a variety of cities, with his major works being the Seiwa-en Japanese Garden in Missouri and the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego. While born in Japan, he became a US citizen in 1971 and taught for 24 years at UCLA. Shofu-en means "Garden of Pines and Wind" in Japanese, and the garden blends Japanese plants from the East with various trees and plants from the West to reflect the merging of an Eastern aesthetic with the Western environment.

For dinner, we picked a farm-to-table restaurant called Fruition, which was about a 30 minute walk from our B&B. The restaurant opened in 2007 and the chef, Alex Seidel, wanted to create approachable, delicious food without the pretense of fine dining. In the spirit of farm-to-table, in 2009 he purchased a small farm outside of Denver, raising hogs, dairy sheep, and bees, as well as having a fruit and vegetable garden. The picture of the interior didn't come out that well, sorry.

Now I don't normally include a picture of the butter .. but this one was actually pretty unique. It came in a little ceramic "pan" complete with a handle and a wooden spreading knife.

For starters, we had a Chilled Yellow Tomato Soup: marinated heirloom tomatoes with hush puppies and Olathe corn. They brought the bowl out without the soup but the corn and other items in the middle, and then poured the chilled soup around it. I'm not normally a big fan of cold soup but this one was really good, especially with the different textures from the corn and hush puppies.

The other starter was another interesting mix: Grilled Spanish Octopus with Iberico Chorizo, fingerling potato salad, Sheepskyr, and Romesco. For those who are now starting to Google "sheepskyr" ... skyr has been part of the Icelandic diet since the ninth century, tastes slightly more sour than American yogurt and contains far less sugar. At the Fruition farm, they make Fruition Farms SheepSkyr (from the dairy sheep).

Main Course - Pan-roasted Barramundi along with caramelized potato gnocchi, lobster mushrooms, and an Olathe Corn Broth (there was an Olathe Corn theme here!)

The other main was a Boulder Natural Chicken Roulade, with a charred leek puree, oven-dried tomato and a chanterelle mushroom jus.