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happy finds

I spent a good part of my day making and baking an ass ton of cookies. Some of them are already making their way out of the state (or sitting in the back of the Boulder post office waiting to skidaddle).

our quality control inspector looks on

When I began my treatment two months ago, I heard several dire warnings about having a weakened immune system. Don’t touch people. Steer clear of small children and anyone remotely sick. Don’t eat raw foods that can’t be peeled. Wash your hands all the time. Don’t drink anything with ice in public restaurants. Bring your own silverware. Disinfect everything. And for the love of God, don’t lick doorknobs or rental DVDs! Seriously, I got a lot of excellent advice [as well as some hilariously wacky advice from my well-intentioned parents], because a minor infection to anyone else could land me in the ER. Which leads me to wonder why the hell the waiting area for Oncology is right next to the waiting area for Infectious Diseases at my medical center. WTF?

But I’ve figured out over the past three cycles what I can and can’t stomach – and more importantly – when I can and can’t stomach the what. It’s at the end of the cycle, when my taste is nearly normal and my blood counts are on the rebound, that I can squeeze in some dining out before getting hit with the next round of poisons (to kill the cancer, but if I didn’t know better, I’d have a sneaking suspicion that they were trying to kill me).

Our little mountain town has a handful of dining establishments. I’m pretty much meh or blegh on most of them. I suppose if you don’t actually know how to cook good food, then you might think better of them. Fortunately, I do know how to cook. There is a smokehouse that I’ve wanted to try, but the few times we went, they were packed and we ditched. That’s a good sign. I hear they serve up Tennessee style bbq. I can dig that. Our neighbors and good friends told us they tried a new place in town over the weekend and they really liked it. So we gave it a go.

the last ray of sunlight

It’s a small joint and it’s chilly, as Tom had warned us. I don’t have any pictures because 33% of the light fixtures were out and there weren’t a lot to begin with in the very dimly lit space. However, the menu was quite impressive for being in the sticks. Tom said his pasta puttanesca was excellent except for the pasta part – and he knows, he’s Italian. We split a bowl of lobster bisque (very good – ten times better than the sorry excuse for lobster bisque I bought from Whole Foods) and Jeremy ordered a burger and I had the Philly cheese steak sandwich. Their sweet potato fries are drizzled with a sweet vinegar reduction: fabulous. Jeremy enjoyed his burger and I rate my sandwich a solid B. They have pricier items on the menu – up to a $29 beef tenderloin, but I wanted simple that night. Overall, it’s currently my favorite place in town. The portions are generous (we could only eat half of our dinners) and the service friendly and competent in that mountain woman “I can bench twelve cases of beer” way.

I know there are a handful of Boulder readers, so if you guys happen by this funky, lovable, yet slightly dysfunctional town – this is the place to dine.

Bears Brothers Bistro
1 West 1st St.
Nederland, CO 80466

Another place our neighbors have recommended to us is Proto’s Pizza in Boulder (with several other CO locations and a Boise store too). I met the co-owner of Proto’s during my stint at the Culinary School of the Rockies last year. Curiosity piqued and stomachs empty – we opted for Proto’s this evening after I sent the crocheted eggs on their next journey. And now I don’t think I can eat pizza anywhere else because their pizza is *perfect*. The place was packed on a Monday night. I had a 1.5 hour workout for lunch instead of actual lunch, so I was primed for dinner: a salad and half a medium pizza. Oh honey, I could have shoved Jeremy out of his chair and eaten the whole pizza myself if I didn’t like the guy so much.

sign of good things

tuscan salad

traditional with pepperoni and mushrooms

Great service. The place was hoppin’ and you could feel the music vibrating in your chair (or was that the pizza rocking my world?!). Really freaking good (RFG) – and that’s my official word on it.

16 nibbles at “happy finds”

  1. manggy says:

    Jen! OMG, don’t skip lunch!! (more advice? hahahaha :)
    That pizza looks scrumptious.
    I love your choice of words– “ass ton” of cookies! Are we getting subliminal today? :p If our postal service here was any good I think I would enjoy sending cookies too– unfortunately they’ll probably get moldy by the time they reach their destination because of our post office, yecch!

  2. peabody says:

    Well, we have already had this conversation. Just try to remember that they are giving the advice out of concern and love…annoying as hell, but out of love. :)

  3. Bridget says:

    Finding a good pizza place is so important! My husband lived in a tiny farm town in upstate NY for a while, and we found a fantastic pizza joint there. (I know you lived in upstate NY, but you probably never made it out to Canastota.) But when he lived in the middle of urban NJ, we tried multiple places, and they were all terrible. Here in Philadelphia, there’s probably ten pizza restaurants within a few miles of us, but the one we’ve tried wasn’t good at all, and I don’t want more bad pizza! I just make my own, which is as tasty, but doesn’t fulfill the same craving.

    Hey, how far through the treatments are you?

  4. fanny says:

    Jen, you’re the coolest girl out there and those weird ass cells won’t do you any harm. As for the cookies, I’m hoping ;)

    All my love xxxxxxxxx

  5. Erin says:

    Ahhh … I miss Protos. Even though I live in Italy where the pizza is always excellent, I miss Protos. Their caprese salad is my favorite.

  6. Jesse says:

    What are you doing skipping lunch, young lady! (I am younger than you are and have tons of respect for you, and yet I find myself wagging my finger and raising one eyebrow at my computer screen…)

    That pizza looks like LOVE. I wouldn’t think twice about shoving my boyfriend off his chair and diving into my dinner facefirst if it was gleaming with melted cheese and golden shrooms too. Fortunately for him (and our relationship) my dinner doesn’t look nearly as perfect as that pizza of yours… =(

  7. zoe / puku says:

    your quality control inspector looks like she’s very thorough! and cute. glad to read you’re getting some windows for eating out, all the best xxx

  8. michelle @ the smackdown says:

    my two hellhounds are jealous of your inspector’s proximity to those blondies.

  9. Christine says:

    Jen – I long to be that mountain woman who can bench a keg or two. And, who NEVER shave her legs. Sexy redefined :)

    I’m so glad to see you’ve had some nice food in between rounds of treatment. I love being able to find random places in the middle of the sticks that make kick-ass food. It’s like, Thank you for pursuing your passion here in no man’s land.

  10. Laura @ HungryAndFrozen says:

    Found your site when I clicked a link entitled “use real butter” – someone after my own heart, I thought. One glimpse of your quality control inspector – I’m hooked :) gorgeous photos. All the best.

  11. Woolly says:

    An ass ton of cookies? that is a great way to describe it… I’m just not sure how much an ass ton is. I’m guessing alot? I gave fondue a shot on the weekend and it was great, now my problem is I want to cover everything I eat in cheese!
    I can agree with you on how hard it is to find good places to eat in “The Sticks” my only suggestion is that even if a place looks a little seedy from the outside don’t be scared, just go in and you might get suprised!

  12. KatieC says:

    OH! You live in NED!


    What about that Indian restaurant? The one that used to be there 10 years ago? Maybe it’s gone. Maybe it’s not good. I wouldn’t know, because I only ever ate there after bike rides or ski tours, so I would have eaten tar.

    Love the puppy picture. What a sweetheart.

  13. Susan says:

    My East Coast boy will only eat Proto’s (okay, that’s all he’ll eat willingly and it’s much better if he doesn’t bitch about it). It’s sad that I have them in my cell phone (two locations).

  14. jenyu says:

    Mark – I know :( I don’t usually skip meals during my chemo because I get really weak if I don’t eat regularly (4-5 small snacks a day instead of real meals), but when I start to feel good again, I sometimes get so busy that I actually forget. Hmmm, if your postal service was reliable, I might send YOU some cookies!

    Peabody – the good thing is that a lot of that annoying advice is also good for many laughs :)

    Bridget – since we can’t be driving down to Boulder willy nilly when we have pizza cravings, we too make our own (which I think is pretty good!), but for those lazy days when you just don’t feel like cooking, it is awesome to have a Proto’s! I’m 50% done and tomorrow is my 4th treatment of 6.

    Fanny – ahhh sweetie, I was too scared to ship cookies to you in case they took too long and went bad. But I think you might enjoy what I *did* send to you instead :) xxoo

    Erin – okay dear, you can’t write in about some Yankee pizza shop that you miss when you live in ITALY?!?! ;) Hurt me, woman!

    Jesse – okay okay ;) Read my reply to Mark! And at least I ate breakfast which is my least favorite meal of the day (lunch is my favorite, so you get an idea of how busy I was), but I do recognize that brekkie is the most important meal of the day. ah ha ha ha! I hope your beau doesn’t read your comment ;)

    Zoe – thanks for the sweet wishes! the dog is thorough and cute, but she’s also a lab which means she’s eat the entire plate, get sick on the carpet, and then get excited about eating that up again.

    Michelle – just tell your pups that i immediately moved the plate to the center of the table after the shot ;)

    Christine – okay, now you guys have to visit us so we can give you a proper tour of the sticks and the wackjobs who live here (including us!). It’s especially nice to get out and eat when there are decent places to eat! :)

    Laura – thanks so much!

    Woolly – you got it, ass ton = boat load ;) Yeah, that fondue is deadly and addictive, like drugs. And I’m totally for seedy dives that serve AMAZING food. Some of my favorite restaurants were hole-in-the-wall drive-by shooting joints in East LA!

    Katie – Yessireebob, I live in Ned – home of Grandpa (aka Frozen Dead Guy). The Nepalese restaurant is still here and the owners are one of our neighbors! It’s a GREAT restaurant for Ned, but as Nepalese food goes (compared to places in Boston, LA, SF, etc.) it’s okay, ya know? But I *love* to hit the buffet after skiing if I’m too wiped to cook – no doubt about it.

    Susan – wow! A CO convert you have there who is so devoted to Proto’s, eh? I think it’s awesome that you have two locations in your cell :)

  15. White On Rice Couple says:

    Oh Kaweah, you’re such a good girl!! You can get that close to food and sit still. Dante can’t, he’s a monster with food. You can come stay with us anytime. We’ll just send Dante over to you Mamma!

  16. jenyu says:

    WoRC – I’ll take Dante!! I *love* Dante!!!

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