Colorado New Year's trip eats

We had a great trip to Colorado, and ate well after snowshoeing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and wandering around metro Denver.

Our first stop on the food/drink trip was Ft. Collins, CO, home of New Belgium brewing. They set you up with a free tasting of 4 of their many beers, so I had Mothership Wit (their organic wheat beer), Lips of Faith (Ben's Saison, whatever that means in French .. it wasn't my favorite), Abbey Grand Cru (Belgian Style Ale that was, mmm, okay) and 2 Below (winter seasonal ale, my FAVORITE! Super hoppy, almost IPA-ish (India Pale Ale).

By afternoon, we were driving down I-25, then I-70, then Colo. 24 to Leadville, CO (elv. 10,200' .. gasp). We generally imbibed much alcohol, with breaks for snowshoeing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing. Our last day, we ate at The Golden Burro Cafe, a great old place complete with The Brass Ass Saloon. After cup of beef vegetable soup that was very nice after cross-country skiing in the falling snow.

After a drive down to Denver (still at 5,280', 1 mile up!), we drove toward our hotel on Colfax Ave. (Denver's main east-west street) and saw several Greek places. We ate at Pete's Greektown Cafe, and barring a long-day, we settled for a standard gyro and combo plate, all very good.

The next morning, we ambled down to Tom's Diner, a building of true 1950s Americana style. Erin had a breakfast burrito the size of a Cadillac and I had huevos rancheros, smothered in pork green chile (a Colorado/New Mexico signature meal accompanyment).

Later that night, we drove just south of downtown (although we could have taken the light-rail, as there's a station right in front of the restaurant) to The Buckhorn Exchange (founded 1893), Denver's oldest restaurant. I had a buffalo steak, along with a "Buffalo Bill" (bourbon and a splash or two of apple juice; the strongest $5.75 cocktail I've ever had, good value!) Erin got a steak and as steakhouses go, our wallets were robbed, but the food and setting were worth it, namely knowing that the restaurant was a favorite hangout of Teddy Roosevelt. NOTE: If you're a vegetarian or squeamish about taxidermy, this isn't your place. If you like dead animals with festive holiday decorations on them (several buffalo heads had Santa hat on), this is place is great! : )

On Tuesday, our last day in town, we went to Three Sons Italian Restaurant, at 44th Ave. & Federal Blvd., on Denver's northwest side. My aunt's cousin's husband recommended it the night before and we're glad we listened. I got a simple spaghetti and meatball (not meatballs, one BIG homemade meatball) and Erin had a small pizza with Italian sausage and roasted red pepper. Both were warm, flavorful contrasts to the cold Prairie wind blowing outside.

Overall, it was a great trip, with some great food and drink. (God bless New Belgium for expanding their beers to the Nashville market!)