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archive for March 2016

crested butte: bonez

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Consider a small mountain town (population around 1,500), geographically tucked away in a nest of towering snow-capped mountains. You might assume that there wouldn’t be much in the way of good places to eat. In most cases, you’d be right. But if you were talking about Crested Butte, Colorado – you’d be oh, so wrong. Among the several wonderful dining establishments in this finest of mountain towns, Bonez is a terrific stop for top notch food in a casual, festive setting near the west end of Elk Avenue, Crested Butte’s main drag.


the entrance to bonez



A spacious interior decorated with local artworks and other fun and funky touches greets you upon entering the building. There is a nice long bar, some high tables, booths, and plenty of regular seating, and community tables to bring folks together. It’s a place where folks might go to catch a game on the big screen television at the far end of the room (actually, there are two large rooms, but I’m talking about the main room), a place where people gather over noshes and drinks, and it’s a fantastic place to indulge in some creative, delicious food.

the bar

love the chandelier of upcycled empty glass bottles

having a look at the menus



Start with a glass of nice cold water because you’re at 9000 feet above sea level. The beverages on offer include menus of tequila, mezcal, wine, beer, cocktails, and non-alcoholic drinks. Tequila flights are available as are some tasty signature margaritas. The Scorpion incorporates serrano- and habanero-infused tequila. Or if you prefer a fruity experience, The Eleven is highlighted with blood orange liquor and cranberry juice.

jeremy got the silver queen margarita (silver tequila, triple sec, fresh lime)



Happy hour is nestled between that time after the ski lifts close (or maybe you rode or hiked really hard and can’t wait another minute), but before dinner technically starts. Bonez’ happy hour is a terrific deal. Most of the appetizers and drinks on the regular menu are available during happy hour at reasonably discounted prices. Our first visit to Bonez straddled happy hour and dinner, and the kitchen was perfectly happy to oblige orders from both menus.

It’s hard to not be tempted by the nachos, because it’s the first thing you think to start with in a tequila bar. The problem with that reasoning stems from the array of other appetizers like green chilies topped with chorizo and melted Mexican cheese, short rib empanadas, a flight of fresh salsas, or fresh guacamole (of course!). We began with the chorizo sliders (you get three) which can only be summed up as bites of heaven on Earth. The sweet potato buns are buttered and grilled so they have that nice crisp face that gives way to the tender, fluffy, slightly sweet bread. Between the two halves of the roll are a spicy chorizo patty, black garlic aoili, tomato and serrano jam, and fennel slaw. We loved this combo so much that I went and blogged a recipe for it!


chorizo sliders



Despite how busy Bonez can get, their servers are always friendly and quick, covering for one another as needed. It’s a well-run operation that whips up delicious food in no time, marching one gorgeous plate out after another. Next up – street tacos served on little corn tortillas (two or three bites each). We decided to get three so we could sample an assortment of fillings. The barbacoa filling is slow-cooked tender pork with nice warm spice accents. Bonez’ carnitas have the nice crisped ends and super flavorful, falling-apart pork meat. And the third taco was the carne asada which were crunchy pieces of beef with an awesome smoky flavor. I think the carnitas taco was our favorite of the three, but they are all nicely prepared, fresh, and delightful to eat.

street tacos: barbacoa, carnitas, carne asada



We didn’t realize that the whole evening would be tacos (aside from those amazing chorizo sliders), but that is where our stomachs led us. A tray of six ahi mini tacos were set on the table just as we finished the street tacos. The shells were extra crunchy delicate fried wontons filled with fresh, gem-colored spiced ahi tuna tartare (raw). Each taco was set on a little pillow of avocado purée and finished in a sweet and spicy chili agridulce drizzle that complemented the tuna beautifully. These were far too easy to inhale in one sitting.

ahi mini tacos



**Jump for more butter**

boom!

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Recipe: thai firecracker shrimp

What do you know? It started snowing earlier this week! It was only a few inches at first, so we didn’t get too excited, but it made for nice conditions skinning up the mountain and skiing out. It was especially nice as it actively snowed on us when we took Neva up the mountain for the first time. While uphill skiing is permitted on designated ski routes throughout the day, dogs must be off the mountain during the hours of lift operations (9:00 am to 4:30 pm). Neva had to be on a leash because she’s still such a puppy. She wants to bound off to greet every new thing she sees: snowmobiles, other skiers, other dogs, ski resort staff, ski lifts, sticks, balls of snow, snowflakes. She’s so crazy with energy, but she did great. No one got hurt (#1 priority), Neva had a BLAST, Neva was exposed to resort skiing, and the pup was completely wiped out when we got home.


she is ready for adventure!

happy happy girl



When we are in Crested Butte, I usually bring tons of work and projects in the hopes of making headway while here. I discovered a while back that it becomes so overwhelming, I don’t manage to get much of anything finished. These days, I limit the projects that come with me and my productivity has improved considerably. This includes several baby quilts that are finally materializing under the needle of my sewing machine. With any luck, I will be sending flannel rag quilts to babies and children across the country just in time for summer – the hottest season of the year. Go me?!

my favorite stages: selecting fabrics and sewing the quilt together

the “rag” side of the quilt – the left was just cut, the right has been washed dozens of times



The snow did eventually arrive here in Crested Butte, and we enjoyed some powdery turns on runs and in stashes that the spring break crowds don’t know about. But we are on track for spring in a big way with sunshine, warm temperatures, and no snow for the next week. Don’t forget your sunblock.

jeremy rides a wave of powder

it’s best in the trees right now

ski the pow, take in the views, repeat



Last month I hosted a Thai dinner for our friends and spent some time researching appetizer recipes before I realized it was just too much for me to get done for the party. I never used to let people bring anything, as if it were some failure on my part as a host. Now, I accept that distribution of labor is not a bad thing and it allows me to enjoy my own dinner parties far more than in the past. So I asked Wendy to bring appetizers, which she did – and they were wonderful. But I still had this recipe for Thai firecracker shrimp I had bookmarked and decided to test drive it.

spring roll wrappers, pad thai sauce, thai basil, water, shrimp, peanuts, cornstarch



These are simple enough to make, but a tad messy, so have a damp towel nearby for wiping your fingertips clean. The rolling of the wrappers is probably the trickiest step that took me a few practice rolls before getting it right. You will want raw shrimp with tails on but shells off. One issue when shrimp cooks is that it curls up into a C-shape. That’s fine for some dishes, but we don’t want the shrimp to curl in this case as it might bust open the spring roll wrapper during frying. To prevent the curling, three scores across the shrimp along the inside of the “C” will do the trick. Marinating the shrimp takes all of three minutes or so. Quick.

score the shrimp

marinate all but the tails in pad thai sauce



**Jump for more butter**

sprang

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Recipe: chorizo sliders

Spring has sprung. It is sprang. It skis like spring. It feels like spring. For all intents and purposes, it is spring. Last week, we went into the backcountry on the Front Range for a little ole ski tour. The snow started out okay, but as the daytime temperatures rose above freezing, the snow began to stick to our climbing skins in giant 6 inch thick clumps. Then it turned to mashed potatoes by the time we skied out and we were like, “Let’s go to Crested Butte.”


cruising the meadow before the descent

a rosy sunrise on james peak



Well, it’s spring in Crested Butte, too! It’s snowing right now, but the sun keeps poking through sucker holes in the cloud deck and it is warm. Now is the time to embrace whatever nature throws at us, be it powder (please, throw A LOT OF POWDER) or corn snow or mashed potatoes. Jeremy and I are already discussing our plans for Neva adventures this spring and summer – by ski, by bike, or by foot. We are all about human- and doggy-powered activities.

crested butte has pretty sunrises, too

skinning uphill at crested butte mountain resort before the lifts open

neva loves the snow



It’s nice getting out on the Crested Butte food scene after a long hiatus (read: Neva). There are new and old restaurants that we’ve been interested in checking out for a while. Last month we dropped by a taqueria, Bonez, for happy hour. All of the food was excellent (I’ll write that up soon), but the thing that blew us away were the chorizo sliders. Each one was a package of spicy, tangy, sweet, creamy, crunchy, buttery. Delicious and totally doable at home! I’ve already posted recipes for two of the components: sweet potato rolls and fennel slaw. You could buy brioche buns instead of the sweet potato rolls, and I’m guessing fancier grocers or delis may carry fennel slaw. The rest is simply: chorizo patties, garlic aioli, and tomato jam. For the tomato jam, I used a shortcut based on the recipe the server gave me.

pico de gallo, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar

place it all in a saucepan

boil it down to a jam

easy tomato jam: tangy, sweet, and a little spicy



**Jump for more butter**