Saturday, July 4, 2015

Denver Doings

The weather was not cooperative on the drive to Denver. We had planned to visit Vail and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens but heavy rain and lightning began while we were in the visitor center and accompanied us until we went through the Eisenhower Tunnel. Still the drive has some nice views...especially when it wasn't raining and we had miles without rain.

View from rest stop near Glenwood Springs
Along the road in western Colorado
We arrived in Denver only to find we were staying in a church. OK. Peter and Peggi live in former church that is now made into 4 homes. A nicely done job, maintaining much of the stained glass and lights from the old church. Along with the nice home come nice neighbors.  Kim and Rob are like family to Peter & Peggi. In fact Kim provided dinner (spaghetti with sausage). Thank you Kim!

We started our touring with the  Denver Art Museum (DAM) and strolling along the 16th Street Mall, a street lined with shops and restaurants. There was a Joan Miro exhibition (we learned that we aren’t big fans).

Joan Miro and some of his works. No photos allowed in the exhibition.

Dance Mask, from Papua New Guinea,displayed near the Miro Exhibition, reminded us of Miro's work:  

There were also fine exhibits on western art including Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial work. They have a particularly impressive collection of pre-columbian pieces arranged by culture and period.  It would make a fine study for a Phd. They also have a series that documents the caste system in Mexico which was used to categorize the racial mixes of the Spanish Colonial period. Casta paintings were usually made in sets of 14 or 16 showing a mother and father of different racial origins and their children.

Casta Paintings by Francisco Clapera circa 1785
 There are also contemporary works in the collection...
Portion of an untiled work by Nick Cave
We stopped for lunch at Marlowe’s along the 16th street mall. Later we visited the Union (train) Station, now featuring many shops, restaurants and a hotel. Below are a couple shots from that wandering.

A cute fountain and water playground.
A creative planter used as a separator and garden at a restaurant.

Steve & Sarah joined us (Peter, Peggi, Kim and Rob) for dinner which began with champagnes provided by Peter (as a nod to our work-life tradition of celebrating Friday and the end of another work-week with sparkling wine.) Dinner: barbecue, salad, frittata and roasted potatoes and red wine - Rob contributed a Norton, a truly good wine from Missouri. OK, OK. We know you are thinking “Show me…"  Actually Norton is the native American grape varietal (more or less, for details see:

Sunday we headed to Boulder, about 30 minutes away to explore the shops on Pearl St. We also intended to take the Celestial Seasonings tour but got off to a late start and shopped a little too long. 

We had a fine lunch at The Med, a restaurant featuring many dishes from the Mediterranean, including Tapas, Bruselas y Queso (roasted brussel sprouts with cheese), Guisantes Picantes (“blackened” sugar snap peas), Patatas Bravas (roast potatoes with tomato sauce on the side), and Calamari Fritti. These, along with a Cremant Rose from the Alsace, made a great lunch.

Numerous street entertainers were working the crowds along the street.  We found a fabulous kitchen store, Peppercorn, and several other intriguing shops on our walk. FYI. We know that Peppercorn is a fabulous shop because even Bill, who long ago tired of seeing the same things over and over at Bed Bath & Beyond, Sur La Table, Williams Sonoma… found the huge selection here to be quite refreshing.

On our way back to Denver we decided to stop at Whole Foods in Superior (yep, that’s the name of the town) to pick up snacks, breakfast food and wine. Here we leaned that in Colorado there are not wine/liquor chain stores. In fact each store can have precisely one location that offers wine.  And we had already passed the Whole Foods single location back in Boulder.  Fortunately we also learned that the nearby Superior Wine and Liquor store had a great selection of wines. 

Sunday we were off to the Denver Botanic Garden had two unexpected exhibits,  Bronze / Wood sculptures of horses by Deborah Butterfield and another Chihuly. Naturally there was the normal flora from many environments with the occasional fountain, babbling brook, or lake. 

Butterfield's horses are first constructed out of old branches (or maybe other found objects).
They are then carefully documented, pulled apart and the pieces are cast from bronze to be reassembled
and then painted to look like the original.

A "lace-bark" pine..the bark sure is a work of art.
An unedited shot of waterlilies 
We moved from the garden to Cherry Creek for more shopping. We discovered that shopping at Cheery Creek entails a full day or choosing between the large upscale mall across the street from roughly 6 blocks of boutiques and restaurants. Lunch at North Italia consisted of Ceasar Salad, Roasted Artichoke, Arancini (risotto balls with mushrooms and a fresh tomato sauce) with a Friulano (white wine from Cividale  in northern Italy, where we had had lunch two years ago), The quandary: were the shops along the street better than those in Boulder? Pat fell in love with the Prana shop in Cherry Creek but if we had room in the car she likely would have bought more at Peppercorn in Boulder.

Sunday night Peter and Peggi joined us for dinner at the Denver Chophouse and Brewery. (Wines: Buckhorn Merlot and Two Hands Shiraz. Dinner: Calamari Fritti followed by a burger with sweet potato fries for Bill and and Bacon wrapped shrimp for Pat.). Back at the house we enjoyed a variant on Peanut Butter Cups (Dark chocolate covered PB) with a Port Like wine from we had picked up at Troon, winery in the Applegate Valley near Ashland Oregon.

We took it easy on Monday preparing for our move to South Dakota and catching up on the Blog. We visited Sprouts (a variant on Whole Foods) and Argonaut Wines for fill in preparation for the thank you dinner we had planned: Basil & Arugula Salad with bacon, parmigiana, and garlic accompanied by white wine. Peter provided Champagne, We provided Assyrtico (white wine from Greece), Torrontes (white wine from Argentina).

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