20090130

Restaurant review: Outlook Hotel's Blues & Greens puts a healthy spin on pub grub

By Meg Tilton
Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cook Rene Zarate holds a polenta dish and a plate of Greek salad at Blues & Greens Restaurant at the Boulder Outlook Hotel:


Photo by Paul Aiken

Food 2.5 stars
Service 3 stars
Ambience 2.5 stars
$$

800 28th St., Boulder 720-974-7775. Roadhouse fare with vegan and vegetarian dishes. Live music on many nights; see www.bouldershomeoftheblues.com.

Hours 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Reservations accepted. Kid friendly (no formal kids' menu, but will prepare half portions of most dishes). All major credit cards. Wheelchair accessible. Vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Noise level Loud during live music performances, quiet-medium otherwise.

Recommended dishes Mushrooms and cheese appetizer, spinach salad, vegetarian Philly "steak" sandwich.

Boulder was one of the forerunners of the local and organic foods movement, with restaurants like the Kitchen and Sunflower putting the city on the culinary map. So when a National Restaurant Association survey declared local and organic foods a "hot trend" for restaurants in 2009, Boulderites might be forgiven for raising their eyebrows. Eating local and organic is great idea, sure. But cutting edge?

Now, Boulder restaurants may once again be ahead of the pack. In the past two years, a new breed of restaurant has sprung up in town, as the local and organic movement has spread to burger lovers and the non-foodie proletariat. Forget that grass-fed filet mignon with truffled mashed potatoes. These places serve pub grub. First on the scene was V.G. Burgers, which serves six different kinds of vegan, organic burgers and chicken-free chicken sandwiches. Then came the Scotch Corner Pub, which offers vegetarian haggis and vegan bangers and mash. And now there's Blues & Greens, a new restaurant in Boulder's Outlook Hotel that offers roadhouse fare with many vegan dishes and locally grown ingredients.

The restaurant's name reflects both the "green" cuisine and the live blues acts that frequently perform at the place. (The "blues" also brings to mind the nearby hotel pool, which occasionally wafts chlorinated air into the restaurant, but let's skip that.) The restaurant's combination of beer, live music and creatively healthy food makes an endearing if somewhat odd mix. Meat-lovers can dine on all-natural barbecued ribs, while vegetarians can sink their teeth into a Philly "steak" made with wheat gluten. And thanks to the blues-joint ambience, the place has character. Paintings of musicians decorate the wall, and the blues-loving patrons aren't your normal hotel restaurant crowd.

Whether or not you're vegetarian, the mushroom and cheese appetizer ($6.75) makes a good way to start your meal. The dish features several varieties of mushrooms from Hazel Dell, a Fort Collins-based farm, which are sautéed to perfect juiciness and then topped by melted, pungent Parmesan.

Salads are a main feature of the Blues & Greens menu, and you can order the spinach salad ($7.50) with real bacon or a meat-free substitute. The fake stuff doesn't infuse the salad with flavor the way real bacon would, but the other ingredients -- fresh spinach, red onions, red peppers and egg -- are tasty. And in any case, it's nice the restaurant offers alternatives for meat-eaters and vegetarians.

As for the veggie chef's salad ($6.50), I'd recommend this variety only for those who like their greens accompanied by clumps of sprouts and big florets of raw broccoli and cauliflower. With blue-cheese dressing or the restaurant's yummy agave-mustard mix, the salad becomes more palatable, but it's difficult not to yearn for some walnuts or pears.

The restaurant's vegetarian sandwiches are better. The portabella mushroom sandwich is a standard but juicy affair of mushroom, veggie garnishes and a Rudi's whole wheat bun. The aforementioned Philly "steak" ($6.95) is more adventurous and equally rewarding. It features seitan (wheat gluten), which the restaurant makes itself. Truth be told, the seitan does not taste like beef, and it's springier and more uniform in texture than meat. But its slightly smoky, mushroom-like flavor goes well with the rest of the sandwich, which has melted cheese and sautéed onions and peppers. I'd order this one again for both taste and price.

Blues & Greens offers many specials, such as a recent one featuring all-natural pork spare ribs ($10.95) from local farmer John Long. The meat, seasoned with a dry rub and accompanied by hickory barbecue sauce, was tender and flavorful. The dish's cornbread and rice and beans, however, were disappointments. The lackluster cornbread needed more salt and a pat of butter, while the rice and beans were mixed together in a gelatinous scoop. Fortunately, the coleslaw was crunchy and fresh. And the entree as whole was still worth ordering, thanks to the generous serving of ribs.

The restaurant's staff work hard to satisfy their customers. On my first visit, our server comped a round of our drinks after two different kegs failed to tap properly. On our second visit, a different server offered to take back an extra salad we'd ordered because we hadn't realized our entrée included one.

All in all, Blues & Greens makes a fine addition to the list of Boulder restaurants serving healthy pub fare. The place is affordable, appealing and quirky. So if you like vegetarian food or blues music, make your way to the Outlook Hotel. Who knows? You may be getting in on the hot restaurant trend of 2012.

Contact Camera Dining Critic Meg Tilton at boulderdining@gmail.com.

Original Article at: Daily Camera

20090127

D'Souza v. Hitchens

Last night I went to this debate. I tried to get tickets about a week and a half ago, but they were already sold out. BUT, a guy in the overflow room had a ticket that he wasn't using because none of his friends had tickets so he gave it to me!

The debate was everything I expected it to be. Hitchens was a big jerk and and D'Souza was much more respectful.

Dinesh D'Souza describes himself as Roman Catholic and Christopher Hitchens describes himself as Secular Humanist. It seems to me that D'Souza somehow had more bargaining power prior to the debate as the name of the debate was a play on the titles of his latest books. Also, D'Souza started the debate and had the final remarks as well. I took furious notes for the first half of the debate, but then realized that I wasn't really enjoying it or paying attention. The audience was surprisingly balanced (there might have even been more Christians then non-Christians--I'm guessing 60/40) At one point, early on in the debate, in the debate I clapped for a particularly good point that Hitchens made. I stopped right away because I realized that I was surrounded by Christians in the Mezzanine. It made for an interesting rest of the night because each time a good point arose I had to decide whether it was a good enough point to clap and endure the glares or if Hitchens was just being an ass again.

My favorite part of the debate was when Hitchens jokingly said that for the first 98,000 years of the existence of Homo sapiens, heaven watched with indifference and only decided to start caring 2,000 years ago. And when "the heavens" decided to start caring they only choose one species of thousands for salvation off of only one planet of billions. D'Souza's response was that for 98,000 years we wandered around making no progress until 2,000 years ago when God breathed life into humanity.

If you are interested in hearing another eval of the debate, you may check out Susie's blog, third paragraph.

And a few of my final thoughts/questions:

  • I wish that the moderator (or someone) would have pre-screened the questions. Have the audience write questions at the beginning of the debate and then have someone pick the most popular and most interesting questions for the Q/A part of the debate.
  • What is the difference between morality and ethics?
  • Did Socrates really exist? (Actually, prior to this debate, I had no idea that anyone questioned the existence of Socrates)
  • I want to read Stephen Hawking's, A Brief History of Time. Good thing I now own it--thanks to Matt.
  • I was surprised about the number of times slavery came up as an example for and against the existence of god.
  • I wish that I could take a comparative religions class at some point.


As soon as someone puts the video online, I'll post a link to it here.

20090119

MLK 2

So, that last post was a little more about me and a little less about Martin Luther King Jr. I feel the need to give MLK a little more "air" time.

Today I watched Mississippi Burning and then a little later watch the entire "I have a dream" speech. They are both so powerful and I wished that I had invited someone over to watch them with me. 

I keep wondering--If I was alive in the 60s, would I be part of the civil rights movement? I sure hope so...


MLK day and my elbow

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Another bittersweet holiday... In addition to Martin Luther King Day, today also marks the one year anniversary of my great elbow saga. Exactly a year ago, my right elbow started acting up. To Date, I have had: 1 trip to the ER, 10 Physical Therapy appointments, 13 Doctor Appointments, 8 round-trips to University of Colorado Hospital in Denver, 4 two-and-a-half hour bus rides, 2 custom-built splints, 2 slings, 2 MRIs, 5 x-rays, 7 different doctors, over $400 in co-pays and prescription meds, 1 surgery and zero answers.

My elbow is still not better. When will it end?

20090107

You are My Sunshine, My only Sunshine

beautiful story! i'm such a sucker for a sappy story
__

Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling.

They found out that the new baby was going be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sang to his sister in mommy's tummy.

He was building a bond of love with his little sister before he even met her.

The pregnancy progressed normally for Karen, an active member of the Panther Creek United Methodist Church in Morristown , Tennessee

In time, the labor pains came. Soon it was every five minutes, every three, every minute. But serious complications arose during delivery and Karen found herself in hours of labor.

Would a C-section be required? Finally, after a long struggle, Michael's little sister was born. But she was in very serious condition.

With a siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushed the infant to the neonatal
intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital, Knoxville , Tennessee. The days inched by. The little girl got worse. The pediatrician had to tell the parents there is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst.

Karen and her husband contacted a local cemetery about a burial plot. They had fixed up a special room in their house for their new baby but now they found themselves having to plan for a funeral. Michael, however, kept begging his parents to let him see his sister. I want to sing to her, he kept saying.

Week two in intensive care looked as if a funeral would come before the week was over.

Michael kept nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care. Karen decided to take Michael whether they liked it or not.

If he didn't see his sister right then, he may never see her alive. She dressed him in an oversize scrub suit and marched him into ICU. He looked like a walking laundry basket.

The head nurse recognized him as a child and bellowed, "Get that kid out of here now. No children are allowed." The mother rose up and the usually mild-mannered lady glared steel-eyed right into the head nurse's face, her lips a firm line. 'He is not leaving until he sings to his sister' she stated.

Then Karen towed Michael to his sister's bedside.

He gazed at the tiny infant losing the battle to live.

After a moment, he began to sing.

In the pure-hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sang:

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray." Instantly the baby girl seemed to respond. The pulse rate began to calm down and become steady.

"Keep on singing, Michael," encouraged Karen with tears in her eyes.

"You never know, dear, how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away." As Michael sang to his sister, the baby's ragged, strained breathing became as smooth as a kitten's purr "Keep on singing, sweetheart."

"The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms." Michael's little sister began to relax as rest, healing rest, seemed to
sweep over her.

"Keep on singing, Michael." Tears had now conquered the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glowed.

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don't take my sunshine away..."

The next day...the very next day. the little girl was well enough to go home

Woman's Day Magazine called it The Miracle of a Brother's Song.

The medical staff just called it a miracle.

Karen called it a miracle of God's love.

NEVER GIVE UP ON THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE.

LOVE IS SO INCREDIBLY POWERFUL.
_____
You Are My Sunshine
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away

The other nite, dear,
As I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms.
When I awoke, dear,
I was mistaken
And I hung my head and cried.

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

I'll always love you
And make you happy
If you will only say the same
But if you leave me
To love another
You'll regret it all some day;

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

You told me once, dear
You really loved me
And no one else could come between
But now you've left me
And love another
You have shattered all my dreams;

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.