Tag Archives: Local Love

Local Love – Valentine’s Day

Ahhhhh Valentine’s Day.

Cards and Conversation Hearts; chocolates and flowers; strawberries and champagne….

(Or a big middle finger to the greeting card companies and a desire to turn Cupid’s bow and arrow right back at his diaper-clad little self.  To each their own, eh?)

Having been in the floral design industry for a good part of my 20’s, I confess I am somewhere in between. I lean toward cussing the whole thing and assaulting the cherub, but I do love any excuse to eat an amazing meal.  (Unless you bring me flowers – in which case I will shove them up your nose and stomp on your foot as I turn to walk away.  I have floral industry Valentine’s Day induced flower trauma.)

So, where do you go if you want to show your honey some Local Love this Valentine’s Day?

A few suggestions:

I would rather get the tar-and-feather treatment with a vat of molten chocolate fondue and the stuffing from a red-and-pink teddy bear than go out to a restaurant on or around February 14th.  The only day that is a bigger nightmare for dinner out is New Year’s Eve, FFS.  Skip the crowds and pre-set menus and drop in to your local butcher for the perfect steak (or chop, or a selection of charcuterie, or something else special and delicious,) to make a meal that is sure to show your other just how significant he or she is to you.  If the idea seems a bit intimidating to you, stop by Wally’s Quality Meats . The staff is approachable and quick to offer suggestions both for selection and preparation,  they will lead you to the perfect pick (and preparation,) to wow your Valentine.

Sweets for your sweetie!  You have to have a little something sweet on Valentine’s Day, right?  Of course.  Two of my favorites from around the area:

Sweet Cow – The original store in Louisville sees a lot of action from this family. So good. So. Dang. Good.

Indulge Bakery –  Red velvet cupcakes, people.  Come on now.  (Or Salted Carmel.  Or Butterscotch pie.  Oooo, or Cookies!!)

Wine. CLEARLY you are going to need wine to compliment the fabulous meal you are about to whip up, (or to cover up for not listening to Keri about Wallys’s and serving Chipotle by candle light instead. ) Even if you have your everyday favorites, a special bottle of something grape can be THE thing that marks an occasion and sets it apart.  For this reason a visit to  The Wine Cellar (attached to Wine and Cheese,) at the Orchard Town Center is in order. Tell them what you are preparing, tell them what you like (or don’t,) and they will assist you in selecting a bottle (or two.. ahem.. why not?) This is a boutique approach to wine, so every bottle is a stand out, and (fair warning,) stopping in for something new here can be a bit addictive.  You’ll be back.

Maybe you need a little gifty to bestow upon your beloved? Now if you are me, nothing says loving (to be given OR received by Keri,) like a growler or two from Big Choice Brewing. But if beer doesn’t = romance to you then I have just three words for you:  Curating The Cool. A fun and funky and, in keeping with its name, very well curated selection of vintage, along with handmade items.  Hint, the perfect change-his-life gift for your guy is a selection of Mod Cabin shaving and grooming products, which CtC carries.  You are welcome.

But Keri, ONLY flowers will do.  She/he/whatever EXPECTS the flowers.  I can’t skip the flowers.

Then call  Lafayette Florist. Or better yet, stop by and talk to the designers.  Skip the internet flowers-wedged-in-shipping-box situation and have a conversation with these folks to get something special that shows you didn’t just “get flowers.”  You got an arrangement that will appeal to the recipient.   The great designers at Lafayette did my wedding flowers and they were beautiful, elegant, perfection.  (It is not easy to please a floral designer on her wedding day, believe me. They did.)

Hint – if flowers are your goal, shop now. Like, maybe don’t finish reading this, just get on the blower or in the car and shop NOW.  Except do finish reading this first, because hello – Keri worked hard on it and that’s just rude.  Seriously though, if you want Valentine’s Day delivery, or even a nice arrangement to pick up and hand deliver yourself, get that squared away today, because calling on the day (or the day before,) is going to make for an extreme uphill battle.

There you have it – your NoBurbs Valentine’s Day  survival  – nay – THRIVAL guide. (Yep.  That’s not a word. That’s what I do, people.)

Use it well, and remember:  when it comes to steak, cupcakes, and wine, sometimes NOT having a significant other is a good thing.  :::Side-eyeing The Mr.::::  Protecting your portion can be so much work.

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Local Love: Kachina Southwestern Grill

I have previously extolled the virtues of Kachina Grill over at Hungry, so my passion for the restaurant is no secret.

Frankly, I just reread that piece and lost 5 or 6 minutes to thoughts of beignets and Navajo tacos….  Mmmmmm.  Puffy tacos….

Woops, happened again.

It is true, I’d push The Mr. outside into a snowbank right now if he was trying to take the last Gaucho taco (slow braised lamb, smoked tomato aioli, brussel slaw, cowboy beans) off the plate.  I have no shame when it comes to those things.

Kachina’s cool-not-kitchy southwestern inspired décor is great for cocktails with the girls, or date-night with your sweetie (hello, Valentine’s Day – you are creeping up, aren’t you,) or even an “I’ve got the perfect restaurant for that business lunch/dinner boss,” suggestion that will make you the hero of the office.

The cocktail and happy hour snack menus are fun and funky; and people, there is an actual tamale cart that gets pushed around peddling extra deliciousness from within. (The answer is YES, you would like to try one.  Or two. Or more.)

Oh, and also, Wild West Brunch.  So yeah.  Yum.

Kachina is a good idea any time, on any normal-run-of-the-mill kind of day.

However, the real reason for my latest round of adoration for the Sage Hospitality managed restaurant is all about one really amazing, and really big, meal from the mind of Kachina Executive Chef Jeff Bolton (who previously held that title at Second Home in Cherry Creek, another of Sage’s concepts that turns Keri into a shameless foodie fangirl.)

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to attend Kachina’s  2nd annual Bison and Beer dinner at the end of January, for which the restaurant partnered with Prairie Ridge Buffalo Ranch (Limon CO,) and New Belgium Brewing.

Kachina sources whole animals from Prairie Ridge, butchering in-house.  From the bone marrow crostini (my favorite of the appetizers,) and the skirt steak tostadas (The Mr.’s fave,) right through until the dessert of carmel apple and pepita bread pudding with bison bacon gelato, it just got better and better (and better, and better… and… )

The passed appetizers were paired with a margarita made from New Belgium’s soon-to-be-released Snapshot wheat beer, and let’s just say that plans were INSTANTLY in the works for the many shameless excuses entertaining opportunities  I will find to recreate that particular beverage during the summer months.

Bison Carpaccio and greens paired with Spring Blonde Ale, was my favorite of the pairings, although all were delicious.  During the second course of short rib braised in the paired beer (a Lips of Faith collaboration with Cigar City Brewing,) accompanied by tepary beans and jalapeno cornbread I swear The Mr closed his eyes and I heard a low-but-audible “mmmmmmmmm” escape his lips.

The ranchers and brewery reps (“Beer Rangers”)  mingled throughout the dinner, and Chef Bolton offered his  insight into the dishes and beer pairings during each course.  His conscious efforts at relationship building with local resources are paying off in the dishes at Kachina, and this year’s Bison and Beer dinner was a wonderful example of that.

The Mr. did manage to pry the spoon out of my hand and roll me to the car after that bacon gelato incident – but it wasn’t without a bit of a fight.  Want. More.


Kachina Southwestern Grill

10600 Westminster Blvd
Westminster, CO 80020

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Local Love: Big Mac and Little Lu’s

Trying to enjoy seafood in our beautiful-but-VERY-landlocked state can be a bit of a fool’s errand.  The options can be sketchy, and far-from-fresh; and the preparations sadly often range from disappointing to just plain destroyed.

Which is what makes Big Mac and Little Lu’s oh so very special, indeed.

When the sun-drenched, welcoming space opened in February of 2013, I confess it was a run-don’t-walk situation for me.  It all came down to the lobster roll.  Much as I had steam-rolled Steuben’s for the same reason the week it opened when we lived in the city, I NEEDED a lobster roll.

That first day I was chatting excitedly with the bartender while waiting for my roll, and a very friendly young woman started telling me the story behind the restaurant. I was in the presence of “Big Mac,” one of the two daughters of owners Paul and Ashley Brock who lend their names to the restaurant and market.

Did you see that “and market”  part? That is an important detail, don’t just run by it.

When Paul and Ashley moved the family here from a previous living situation that included Florida and the Caribbean, the lack of fresh seafood was a such an issue for the family, that they eventually decided to remedy the situation themselves and open a seafood market.  Personal relationships with the captains and fishermen help the family assure fresh, quality product.  So you can pop in and check the mouth-watering display case and take home the freshest seafood around.   Blessedly, they decided to expand the idea from just the market, and add a restaurant in for good measure.  (And it is such very, VERY good measure.)

The preparation here is as important as the product – these folks know what they are doing, and you taste that knowledge in each bite.  The lobster bisque reminds me of Alioto’s at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco – hot and rich and silky and full lobstery goodness.  The ceviche created an “incident” that almost ended in a hand-stabbing with a fork when a friend and I both went for the last chunk (ordered another one – clearly we needed it.)   Junior is a HUGE fan of the fish bites (and mommy sneaks some when he is watching the lobster tank, shhh.)  Or pick from the list of fish flown in this morning and have the Brock’s Fish Entree – they will cook whatever you pick however you like.  Not sure?  The staff is warm, friendly, and knowledgable, so just ask and they will guide your Colorado self straight  to seafood greatness.  If you aren’t feeling the seafood – they have added some great locally raised beef to the menu as well (and because HELLO – surf and turf!)

All of that being said – get the lobster roll (don’t worry, you’ll be back and you can mix it up with each visit.)  It is INSANELY tasty and stuffed to uber-overflowing with huge, perfectly-dressed chunks of sweet, firm, perfect lobster.  Dip the fresh, crispy “whale chips” into the housemade pepper jelly that is on each table.  Trust Keri.

The Brocks have built something special out here in the north ‘burbs – as unique and genuine as the family itself is.  We are so lucky to have them here.


Big Mac and Little Lu’s

2851 W 120th Street

Westminster, CO 80234

Follow Big Mac and Little Lu’s on Facebook

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Local Love: Two Rivers Craft Coffee Company

Two Rivers Craft Coffee Company is hardly a secret.  I’m not letting any cats out of bags with this one, oh no no.

Peruse the reviews on their website to feel the love far and wide, by people and publications who know an amazing coffee program when they  see taste it.    This place is solid. (Also, say “peruse the reviews” out loud a few times.  Because fun.)

So why mention it Keri?  And why now?

Two words:  Anise Mocha.

Last week I got a tweet from fellow burbs resident and organic farmer/owner of Clear Creek Organics, Stephen (check out Field and Table , his blog about the farm, BTW,) regarding the above-mentioned Anise Mocha.  It’s an off menu, word-of-mouth/social media offering currently being created at Two Rivers, and it sounded like something that needed to be in my mouth pronto.

It was.  It is.   I can’t stop.  I have been back every day for my fix.  I hear it calling me, feel it pulling me.  “Keri… come.. sit… drink me.  Snack on the delish little cookie that comes on my saucer.  Stay a while.”  (What?  You don’t have conversations with your beverages? )

It’s hot and sweet and tasty – with a bite of spice from the anise that makes you warm inside and out.   If loving it is wrong, I could never even think about why I should be right.

My time with it is short – the holiday craziness approaches,  and Stephen’s tweet hinted that the new year might mean the end of this delicious offering.

Run don’t walk  to Arvada and ask them to craft one for you too.  Ok maybe drive. Or bike. You pick, just hurry over there and try it.

Well done, Two Rivers, well done.

Thanks for the tip, Stephen.  Long live the twitter friend tip!!


Two Rivers Craft Coffee Company

7745 Wadsworth Blvd, Suite B. Arvada, CO 80003


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Local Love – Big Choice Brewing

We love craft beer.

Well, The Mr. LOVES craft beer.  I like a good beer, and I LOVE the craft beer community in Colorado.  It is an industry full of people who support and encourage their fellow craftspeople; the vast majority of whom are genuine, laid back, friendly, and wonderfully generous about sharing information and educating their consumers regarding the process and the product that they love.

Jr’s first family days out, when he was just a wee little doodle cozied down in his bucket carseat, were to Golden for brunch, a little window shopping, and some sun soaked relaxation in the Golden City Brewery beer garden.   We are very lucky in our beautiful state to have so many fantastic breweries to explore.

HOWEVER, Keri is a “where everybody knows your name” kind of gal when it comes right down to it, and we were sorely lacking a home base our first few months back in the old hometown.

Then we stumbled upon Big Choice Brewing’s booth at the annual town festival. BEER? In  BROOMFIELD?  And at Broomfield Days?  Things were looking up, yo.

Big Choice had actually opened their doors right around the time we were making our move into the burbs in spring/early summer 2012. (Divine intervention or just awesome timing?  I can’t say for sure…)

The Mr was hesitant as I instructed him through the industrial area where BC is located.  I, however, was sold instantly when I opened the door and Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies filled the space, followed by some old school Social D. It was like the place said  “slide off the tattoo-covering cardi and stay awhile, Keri – you are among your people now.”  Ahhhhhh.

For more about the back story on the awesome people who own and operate Big Choice, check out their website here, I will let them tell you their story.

Along with their affinity for the punk soundtrack of my teens and 20s, this place is also super  Jr. friendly – and not just because my kid’s wardrobe of pop punk band shirts is mad deep.  Every other Sunday they show a kid friendly movie on their big TV upstairs so kiddos can sprawl on the sofas and enjoy some popcorn and animated faves,  with trivia downstairs for the grown ups.  When we bring Jr’s booster seat and strap it to a chair and spread out the juicebox and goldfish crackers we have never felt anything less than 100% welcome.   They know their audience here.  Heck, they ARE that audience – Nathaniel and Andrea’s two bright, friendly offspring can be seen around the brewery, and sometimes even the family dog, Kenosha. (Who I want to snuggle, but won’t because nobody wants to be THAT girl.)

Here’s the thing that REALLY matters though.  The beer is good.  Like GOOOOOOOOD good.

I call the Disconnected Red my favorite liquid on the planet.  (A very big deal considering how I feel about wine.  And dirty martinis.  And Dr Pepper.)  I confess that when we go to a brewery for the first time, we leave the growler in the car, just in case we aren’t really feeling it after we sample a few.  Big Choice has consistently outstanding beers, from their regular repertoire to great seasonal beers (they are tapping a keg of Peppermint Stout every Friday in December.  Served in a glass rimmed with crushed candy canes.  Tasty stuff.)  Their motto is “Choose Wisely,” but you can’t go wrong with anything here.

These days the joint is hopping, and there are big things to come for and from this deserving team.

Disconnected Red and West Portal Colorado Common are both available in cans locally now, but with the friendly environment and great people at Big Choice, grab your growler(s) and take a field trip over to see them.

(I’m the blonde girl with the dice tattooed on her arm who is probably talking too loud while trying to cuddle Kenosha with my eyes.  Say hi.)   😉


Big Choice Brewing

7270 W 118th Pl, Broomfield, CO 80020


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