You know I love a good restaurant with a creative menu to get my culinary juices flowing. Fresh Bistro, located in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, is just the spot. What a creative menu. It is a fusion of New Mexico, French and Italian cuisine. Love it!
This past weekend The Accidental Cowboy (my better half) and I made a day trip to Madrid, New Mexico. It was their annual CrawDaddy Blues Fest. Having lived in Houston for many years, we do miss good crawfish now and again so we jumped at the chance to try some. The food and live music was well worth the drive but for me, the best part was discovering the best chocolate in New Mexico. Really, some of the best chocolate I have had here in the states, at Shurgarman’s Little Chocolate Shop. It’s just off Highway 14, the main street that runs through Madrid.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of traveling with my sweet mum to her hometown of Buena Vista, Colorado. I had never been there before and it was such a delight to see it with the historical perspective that she could provide. Mom was a small girl during the Great Depression, she remembers the troop trains passing through the middle of town during World War II. Remembers when the locomotives passing through town transitioned from steam to diesel. There are so many more stories that get told in the place where they happened. This trip is one I will always cherish. Mom left in 1952 to move to the big city of Denver. Although Buena Vista has grown from a “sleepy little town” to an outdoor recreation destination it is still very quaint. East Main Street is still the heart of town and the vast majority of buildings date back to the late 1800’s.
“Buenie” as she calls it, is located on the headwaters of the Arkansas river. Nestled in the valley bordered on the west by the towering Collegiate Peaks. The area sports some of the best river rafting in the nation. From class I to IV rapids. Multiple companies offer trips down different stretches of the river and include guided 1/2 day, 1 day or multiple day trips. There are outfitters that give lessons and professional training in kayaking, rafting and stand up paddle boarding. Rafting season runs from mid-May though early September.
This area also offers loads of hiking, biking and ATV trails. In the fall it is a hunting destination for elk, deer and big horn sheep. There are several fish hatcheries near by so the fishing is quite good in the area lakes and streams. In the winter, there is snowmobiling and Alpine skiing nearby.
We were so fortunate when we went. The Colorado fall colors were at their peak. The aspens were brilliant yellow contrasted by the small patches of deep copper and reds that I believe were oaks. We saw loads of big mule deer. A lot of them right in the middle of town. It is not unheard of to have bears mosey through but we did not see any.
Now of course for me, the food was as important as the scenery and history. We had a wonderful meal at Simple Eatery. I was absolutely charmed by the innovative menu and delightful staff. Housed in the old Highway Department building on East Main Street, where my mom remembered the giant snow plow trucks being housed. The high ceilings, large front windows and original brick interior walls make the atmosphere both airy and yet cozy.
They bake their own bread and pretzels daily and sell it by the loaf. The same bread is used in their diverse menu ranging from their Chicken and Brie Panini on sour dough to the Elk Burger served on a pretzel bread bun to pasta dishes. They also serve a signature Rainbow Trout which I must try next time.
Mom had the Elk Burger. Cooked to perfection, tender and juicy. I have had a lot of elk that was rather dry. This was not. Just a bit stronger taste than beef. And the bun – so good. Crisp, crunchy crust and then a soft yet toothsome center. For the side, rather than fries mom chose the combo option of Heirloom Tomato Bisque. Very sweet but substantial tomato taste. Just enough cream to give it a velvety mouth feel.
I had the Bison Ravioli. The ravioli was very al dente. The robust flavor of the meat was balanced by a subtly sweet cream-sage sauce made with a whisper of orange and even less lemon. The plate is dotted with a bit of peppery arugula and a few sweet heirloom tomatoes, giving the whole dish a really nice juxtaposition of flavors.
Of course I got to talking food with the staff and they were kind enough to bring me several soup samples, all of which were amazing. Especially so for the carrot coconut soup. I have to try to make that one! Sweet carrots, vegetable broth a hint of warm ginger and creamy coconut milk.
During peak season this place is hopping, but you can order online and specify a time for pickup. Don’t make a trip to or through Buena Vista without giving this place a try.
We spent the weekend in Missouri visiting my husband’s cousins. It was a really nice getaway. So lovely with its green rolling hills, corn fields and fat happy cattle.
Whenever we visit we make a point to have dinner at a locally owned eatery, Luigi’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar. The food is some of the most authentic Italian I have had here in the states. There is a reason. Chef Ari Dreshaj was born in Sicily and makes the dishes he grew up with. The menu is varied from pizza to spaghetti to Florentine and Alfredo dishes. The service is spot on and the atmosphere is friendly and warm. The restaurant is located on the historical square of downtown Liberty, Missouri, a destination in its own right. The square and surrounding area has unique boutiques, eateries and a couple of small museums.