My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CO: The Food! The Beer! Part 1!

Welcome to post #3 in a series featuring some of the sights and sounds from a recent vacation in Fort Collins and Boulder, CO!

I don't know about you, but all that strolling and biking and gawking and photographing has worked up a hearty appetite (and a pretty good thirst, too!), so I think it's time for some nosh! Fortunately, delicious vegan eats and treats abound in Fort Collins (and Boulder, too). So much so that this is just the first of two food-and beer-posts! :-)

Let's start at our favorite eatery...

The only downsides to Tasty Harmony are that it's very difficult to choose from their creative and extensive menu, and they're too far from home! Everything is delicious, the wait staff is wonderful, and we love dining al fresco on their patio. We arrived in Fort Collins at about 5pm, and after checking into The Armstrong our first priority was dinner at Tasty Harmony!

You may recognize this entree from our dinner there last summer after returning from Maine, when it was what I ordered. This time BW got to enjoy it (I've swiped the entree descriptions from their online menu. Try not to drool on your keyboard!)...

"Heart of Provence"
Cornmeal, almond and lavender crusted tempeh triangles
over garlicky grilled polenta cakes
and smothered in a Provence inspired tomato sauce.

I decided to try something new: Jackfruit Tacos! I'd never had jackfruit before, and really enjoyed these...

"Jackfruit Tacos"
Two taco shells filled with jackfruit & tempeh
cooked in Mexican spices, topped with guacamole,
salsa fresca, vegan sour cream & shredded lettuce

Here's a recipe for jackfruit tacos I found in case you'd like to try making your own.

Of course, when in Fort Collins (home to so many craft brewers, microbreweries and brewpubs that it's known as "The Napa Valley of Craft Beer"), especially on a hot day, one simply must imbibe some local suds...

BW's choice du jour: New Belgium's Abbey Grand Cru

And then there's Tasty Harmony's vegan desserts. Mmmmm! Some you can always count on being on the menu, others are special and only last while they last. On this evening, we shared a slice of that day's "special cake," and AdventureJo, I sure thought of you while we enjoyed it with eyes closed and contented "nom-nom-nom" noises! For that day's special cake was Earl Grey Cake, a spice cake with coarsely ground Earl Grey tea in both the cake batter and its delicious vegan "cream cheese" frosting...

Earl Grey Cake

Now I don't know about any of you, but it's never occurred to me to put loose leaf tea in a cake, other than maybe lavender. But according to our waiter, their dessert chef decided she wanted to make cake with tea in it, spied the Earl Grey and went for it. With heavenly results!

Unlike the many offerings for vegan lunches, dinners and desserts, we found Fort Collins to be sparse when it comes to places that serve vegan breakfasts. So we ate at the mostly vegetarian Rainbow which offers a few vegan options, and ate it out on their pretty patio, enjoying the gorgeous morning. BW had their Tempeh Sauté with Earl Grey tea (maybe he thought it would taste like last night's cake! lol), and I had their "Broccofu," a nicely seasoned broccoli and tofu scramble, with peppermint tea. I forgot to take photos, perhaps feeling rather uninspired by our comparatively blasé breakfasts in a non-veg establishment after the wonders of Tasty Harmony the night before. But I took a photo of the front of the restaurant instead, since it's in a cute old house...

It was a hot day and by lunchtime we weren't very hungry, so we opted for some delicious beer at Coopersmith's Pub & Brewing instead...

BW's Bourbon Barrel Stout & my Wayfarer Copper Ale.
BW wants all you beer aficionados to know that
Bourbon Barrel Stout is Coopersmith's Horsetooth Stout
aged in freshly emptied bourbon casks.
And so now you do. :-)

Since we'd spent most of the day walking around Old Town, by dinner we were hungry and definitely ready for some Tasty Harmony indulgence again! BW ordered their Nachos this time, which were delicious (I snagged some, of course!) as well as photogenic. In fact, I uploaded this photo to Happy Cow's Tasty Harmony listing, and they used it on their "Top 6 Places to Take Dad for Father's Day" blog post...

"Nachos de Ynez"
Layers of our homemade cashew cheese, black beans,
guacamole, vegan sour cream & salsa piled on corn chips.

I wasn't able to snag too many of BW's nachos, since I had my hands full with my burrito. Another repeat meal from last summer that BW had ordered and I got to sample, I'd been looking forward to having their exquisite Sabrosa Burrito all to myself ever since! Oh, yummmm...

"La Sabrosa Burrito"
Black beans, Spanish Rice, cashew cheese,
grilled onion & peppers, roasted corn, guacamole,
romaine lettuce and salsa fresca,
wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla and topped with
Ranchero sauce and vegan sour “cream.”

The hot day and our spicy meals just cried out for a cold and creamy dessert. So we headed over to Gelazzi, where we'd already scoped out their vegan chocolate gelato and fruity sorbettos earlier in the day...

We enjoyed the festive interior of Gelazzi, whose retro style and fun colors reminded us of our room at The Armstrong!

But what we REALLY enjoyed about Gelazzi was, of course, the product! We had dessert there twice, enjoying Tahitian Lime and Southern Mango sorbetto as well as the lemon flavor pictured here, but I mostly zeroed in on their robustly rich and deliciously decadent chocolate soy-based gelato. I had a serving of it all by itself on my first visit, but it also went nicely (and prettily) with the lemon sorbetto in a satisfying sweet-tart medley...

Chocolate soy-based gelato and lemon sorbetto

Now amply fortified and refreshed, we'll be ready for more exploring in the next Colorado post! :-)


  1. Wow! I'm blown away...dining al fresco here at 5pm would likely result in a trip to the ER for heatstroke. I truly am enjoying the hell out of your journey (vicariously of course). Y'all live it up! Please!

  2. Laloofah -- You do know how to find the best places to eat. Everything you feature looks absolutely delicious. -- barbara

  3. WOWZA. That polenta looks unbelievable. And my hubby loves Mexican food so much, if he sees those pictures of the nachos and burrito, he will suddenly have a need to fly 3/4 of the way across the country to get dinner :)

  4. veganelder ~ I believe that! 5pm is often our hottest part of the day, so I can't imagine how blistering it must be there. Can you at least enjoy breakfast al fresco if you get up early enough?

    I'm go glad you're enjoying accompanying us vicariously! We did live it up! Even gained a few pounds each despite all our walking and biking. But eating out - especially in a place with such delicious and abundant vegan food - is a rare treat for us so we availed ourselves of it with gusto, as you can see! :-)

    Barbara ~ It's pretty much all thanks to Happy Cow, though we originally found Tasty Harmony in the Fort Collins Yellow Pages. :-) And I assure you, everything I feature was absolutely delicious, moreso than my humble photos can convey. Wish you could reach in and sample the goodies! :-)

    Georgia ~ And dare I say, despite the travails and expense of air travel, it would be a trip well worth it! :-)

  5. Why oh why have I never been to Fort Collins? It looks like one of the finest cities around. I've enjoyed Bolder, but never went to FC. Darn. Just looking at your food pics has set my tummy growling and trying to convince me I didn't have breakfast.

    And the beer!!! I don't normally drink much beer (I have been known to imbibe a Spotted Cow or two) but your brews look especially refreshing, especially the copper ale. You two know how to party!

    Can I come visit when you move to Fort Collins? :)

  6. I think you're right about it being too far away from home! If I lived near that place, I'd be eating there all the time! The Mexican fare looks especially delicious, but I'd happily snarf all of it and then some...

    Love the beer pics too; they really capture the refreshing and tasty effervescence of beer on a hot + hot weather = great combo.

    How'd you like the jackfruit? I made a bbq jackfruit sandwich one time with some canned, unsweetened jackfruit, but I must have used too much bbq sauce, because the fruit sort of disappeared into it...I really want to give it another try.

    Good food and drink is such an essential part of a great vacation in my humble opinion. I'm looking forward to the next installment on the food and fun. I'm also craving some of those nachos...

  7. I'm hungry after reading this post! The jackfruit tacos look quite yummy, and that's so cool that we both tried it for the first time recently. :)

    So far, this is sounding like a lovely vacation. I'm jealous!

  8. Andrea ~ I don't know! Must be a pretty well-kept secret (or was, till I started blabbing about it! LOL) But I recommend you remedy this tragic omission in your travel experiences asap!

    And of course you may come visit when we live in Fort Collins, but there's no need to wait that long! :-)

    Rose ~ No kidding, so would I! I'd have to get a job there. :-) I'm glad you and Andrea enjoyed the beer as well as the food pics, the two sure went well together, and the beer was definitely refreshing on those hot days.

    You know, I really liked those tacos, but there were so many great flavors going on I couldn't single out the jackfruit! It did seem rather... delicate, for lack of a better word. Not dense and chewy like tempeh or seitan, but lighter and shredded looking. Made a great taco filler, but I could see it disappearing into a pool of BBQ sauce! I'd give it another try, I know I saw a lot of recipes for BBQ pulled jackfruit out there and I'll bet it's good! This one sounds really good (just have to sub the honey)! And here's another whose photo looks really yummy! I wonder if I can find canned jackfruit around here?

    Help yourself to the nachos, it'll be a while yet before we gorge ourselves on Colorado food and beverages again - got a couple more posts to do before then! :-)

  9. Molly ~ I know, working on it made me hungry, too! I love that we both tried jackfruit for the first time at about the same time too! :-)

    It was a great vacation, wish you could have come along!

  10. Yes, those jackfruit sandwiches are exactly what I was trying to do!!! I like the sound of the first recipe with the ginger beer...I'm definitely going to give it another try...once I get to the Asian grocery...that's the only place I could find it around here. It was on an aisle with a gazillion other cans of fruits and things and most of the labels were in other languages, so it took me ages to scan the aisle for it....let me know if you can find any in your parts.

    Your pics really have inspired me, I'm planning a Mexican feast Friday...just to celebrate and satisfy my hankering for those nachos! :)

  11. {{{Hugs}}}
    I worked at the Rainbow restaurant when I lived in ft collins (went to college there). I was just a vegetarian then, and I don't remember any vegan options. 'Course, that was a 'few' years ago... '96 and '97. Good memories. :)

  12. Rose ~ Well I hope one of those recipe sites might help you with that fun little culinary project! :-) They really looked good, and I have every faith in your ability to not just replicate them, but improve upon them! There is one store in town that carries some international foods, but I have little hope of finding canned jackfruit. I'll let you know, though!

    So today is your Mexican Feast day! Fun! I do love a fiesta. :-) I hope you'll end up blogging about it!

    rift ~ Wow, small world! How cool that you used to work there. I'd forgotten (if I ever knew?) that you went to CSU, and I'm not surprised you have fun memories. I can safely say about CSU what I used to tell my friends at Boston Univ ~ I would have loved to have been a student there, but surely would have spent every dime of my very small living allowance, gained 50 pounds on all the yummy food, and flunked out due to all the fun diversions and distractions their locations had to offer! So, good thing I went to UNH and graduated with a degree I don't use. LOL

  13. Even with food in front of me, there is drool all over my keyboard!

    First of all, the beer looks so good but liquid lunches are frowned upon at work so I'll just have to enjoy BW's Stout vicariously. It looks yummy and I much appreciate the description.

    If I could only have one of your meals, the jackfruit tacos would have to be it. One of my teammates here in class has actually had some - he said it was like rutabega. Thanks for including the link - sounds like it would be great in a taco - and you know I love new things.

    Of course I get dessert too and that Earl Grey cake is just the thing - so sorry but I'm having a whole slice - no sharing! What a great idea and amazing that the baker just "winged it". Some people are so clever.

    I still get to have some ice cream at Gelazzi's - after all that's an evening snack. (Remember when I was staying with you and BW and I would beg you to have a cookie in the evening!) That sounded so good - both the lemon and the chocolate.

    Thanks for such great descriptions and photos - love it.

  14. Jo ~ Love the new spelling of your name, very exotic! LOL

    First of all, you just crack me up with your cute rules about what, "of course", you get to have! :-D Yes, of course you get to have dessert, and of course you get to have an entire piece of the Earl Grey cake all to yourself (if I were you, I'd get two!), and of course you also get to have BOTH the lemon sorbetto (or any other flavor - they did have raspberry, too!) AND the chocolate soy gelato (which you would go absolutely apeshit crazy over, just like we did!), and of course it wouldn't count as a second dessert, because it's really just "an evening snack." ROTFL!

    I'd forgotten about the evening cookies at our house, but BW reminded me that it was back when we used to buy those delicious Alternative Baking Company cookies and would share one in the evenings!

    I think you'd be pleased with your jackfruit tacos selection (but then, at Tasty Harmony you just can't go wrong!) How funny one of your teammates there has eaten jackfruit! Rutabaga, huh? Hmmm... haven't had rutabaga since my mom used to cook and puree it at Thanksgiving, so I'd never have come up with that comparison. Did he say how he ate it? Just cooked and plain? And how on earth did jackfruit come up as a topic of conversation?!

    Oh, and BW says you also chose your beer wisely. They were all awesomely good, but that Stout was just outstanding. And I know how you love a good Stout! (Especially when no Porter is at hand!) :-)

    I'm really happy you enjoyed this post, because I kinda thought you might! Wish you could have dined and drunk with us in person! :-)

  15. Thanks for your fun reply!

    I couldn't remember the name of the cookies so thanks for the reminder.

    The jackfruit came up with my teammates because they were at the table and we were all sitting here eating lunch. As is common to happen with me, I was commenting out loud when I read your post. So my "Yummmm", "wow!", "Cool" and drooling caused questions which allowed me to share several parts of your post and that's when the jackfruit came up.

    Glad you enjoyed my response - I was perpetuating the role as the whiney passenger in the back seat - or at least the demanding passenger in the back seat! :-)

    Can't wait to visit more at lunchtime.

  16. Jo ~ You're welcome, but don't thank me, it was BW who remembered it! (He can't remember half the things I ask him to do, but he can remember the cookies we ate seven years ago! LOL)

    Thank you for explaining how it is that jackfruit came up in conversation in a civil engineering class, because if I'd found out it came up because that's what they're building bridges and levees out of these days, I'd have written my members of Congress. (Who would have ignored me, as they always do). ;-) How fun that you got to share some of this post with your teammates!

    I wouldn't describe you as a whiney passenger in the back seat, but you're definitely a passenger who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to verbalize it! LOL (But hey, that's how you get an entire piece of Earl Grey cake AND chocolate soy gelato, right?) ;-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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