Denver eats, return

Watching Deadline Whitehouse, making chicken stock and dinner — I must be home. The sky is leaden, rain imminent — I must be home.

Trip to see younger son in Colorado was a little disorienting because we had no room to furnish or apartment to find or supplies to buy. Didn’t drop several hundred dollars at Target, so we went out to eat instead!

Best meal in Denver was not either of the three-dollar-sign dinners, but rather a reasonably priced lunch at Rotary Eats, one of the stalls in a place called Avanti. Avanti : like a food court, only good!

Exterior of Avanti, above, and interior, below.

My selections were roasted chicken thighs, roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce and golden raisins, and the best homemade potato chips I’ve ever had.

Our first special dinner was at The Black Cat in Boulder. The place gets great reviews and takes seriously the farm to table model of dining, but I didn’t like all the pickled vegetables or the flavor of the sauce served with my artisanal pork, so I was a little disappointed. I’m prepared to admit that the fault lay with my palette and not the food preparation. Salad was outstanding — greens picked that morning! — as was the service.

Brunch at “duo” in Denver proved disappointing, too, probably because I’ve had southern biscuits and the biscuits in my breakfast were grainy and muffin-like. K loved his meal, shown next to mine below.

(Biscuits and gravy with two eggs).

Sharing the meal with Denver friends we see about once a year, Marc and Kim, was great though. Marc and I went to law school together.

The other restaurant in the “duo” is located in Vermont.

We had another special dinner in Denver at a place called Vesta. I had braised lamb shank on a hot pepper infused polenta. Delicious! The meat fell off the bone, as it should! Those yellow chips are deep fried garlic slivers — insanely good.

The place is known for its sauces, so we started with a selection. The most popular was the hot pepper, horseradish a strong second.

I’ll leave you with “crack bacon.” I misread the menu at the breakfast joint “Syrup” and thought the dish was “cracked bacon” (as in crispy). Oh no. The strips were sautéed in brown sugar. Caramelized. They meant “crack” as in instantly addictive!

The phone is ringing and it’s not my sister. If you’re tired of her and my relationship, consider this post done!

My sister got very anxious whenever I left town — amped up worry informed mostly by abandonment issues and imagined travel mishaps. She never could keep straight the dates, so for weeks ahead of time, I would have to keep reiterating the plan. It got annoying. It didn’t help to write it on her calendar because usually her calendars went missing.

My sister magnanimously deemed my time away as vacation from her, partly because she knew I needed a little separation and partly because she kept forgetting about cell phones. Even so, to her utter amazement and gratitude, I’d generally check in at least once while away.

Obviously, this trip there was none of that. And no quick call immediately upon arrival home to quell her anxious misery. I missed that a little because her intense relief at my being back was a form of welcome.

On the other hand, there’s the relief: no need to scramble and rush up to the North Shore for a visit during the very same days when I need to settle back into being home. The car engine smelled like burning rubber or oil today while out for groceries. Instead of irritation I felt only gratitude — it wasn’t happening en route to Salem! I wasn’t gonna have to juggle car repair and a trip to Salem! I was headed home, where I would stay for the rest of the day!

It’s been two months and a week since she died — a fact I find amazing.

14 thoughts on “Denver eats, return

  1. snicklefritzin43

    What great fun to explore a variety of menus as you
    traveled around Denver and Boulder. Sometimes the
    misreading of anything can bring the best surprises.
    The memories of so many pieces of your life connections with your sister, all variety of memories, will surely be your companion for, perhaps, forever.

  2. Michael

    What an aerial view. It’s curious how rarely the $$$ dinner turns out to be the best, and how easily memories can come rushing back.

    1. deemallon

      Those dollar signs can create burdensome expectation! As for
      grief — it comes and goes according to its own rhythms, as we all know. It doesn’t make it less surprising tho when it pokes up seemingly out of nowhere.

    1. deemallon

      K’s brother was there in the 80’s. And our son went for a couple of years. Boulder’s great. If prices there hadnt gone through the roof, it’s a place I could see retiring to.

  3. Fiona

    So much about food is expectation, making the right call and price! I love that Avanti gave you all three in spades; the others managing one or two. I can imagine the strange combination of relief and missing when you returned – little rituals that are embedded deeply return like reflex especially around place. Go gently.

    1. deemallon

      Did you get my comment yesterday? About books. It looked like it took, but then maybe not.

      Place is a powerful reminder, you are so right. It bears the impress of years of habit. Conversations had. Plans made. Fights ever renewed.

  4. Liz A

    your pictures … your words … the food … all wonderful

    but also the letting go … the time needed to absorb loss … thank you for voicing that journey here

  5. Nancy

    Boy, you guys Eat!! What a food adventure and that bacon sounds…sounds like something to try! haha As for your sister and you…well she’s been gone 2+ months, but she’ll always be a part of you (for all that that implies). Friends don’t tire of friends need to talk-process…do as you need, Besides your need becomes a conversation, touching and also helping others along the way. I will be here to travel with you. xo

  6. Jen

    I remember that relief. And I clearly recall the guilt that arose every time I recognized that my burden had been lifted, and I had some newfound freedom that I’d been robbed of for way too long. Slowly, I’ve embraced the relief and set aside the guilt. It’s a process, that’s for sure.

    1. deemallon

      Thanks, Jen. I am right now doing something not characteristic of me (being of the school that to get through something you have to feel it) and that is to shunt aside memories of the last two months of her life. That’s where most of my guilt resides. I push those thoughts aside (for now). Gone. For weeks I wrung my hands. I don’t want to anymore. Spontaneous reframing has helped here and there, too. Just this weekend it occurred to me to congratulate myself for having had a life apart from my sister — her need was so consuming and took up so much of my energy that I mostly felt powerless in the face of her need — unable to make rules for arguing that made sense, forced to concede to her rhythm of phone calls (once a week would’ve suited me), etc. But what if I view my boundaries as more intact than previously believed? I put my kids first when necessary, traveled for college for them (quite a bit), kept writing. I don’t know which framing is more true but considering other ways of holding things is what interests me.


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