Bacon, Lamb, and Free Beer, oh my!

Friends and family have posited for many years that my list of food dislikes is odd, to put it mildly; some have ventured to call it sacrilegious or just downright wrong. I have hated the taste of chocolate for as long as I can remember; I stopped eating pork almost a decade ago; and I quit lamb after a very unfortunate run-in with “smiley” during a work trip to South Africa. Since we started dating a year ago, Jason has made it his mission to whittle that dislikes list down a bit. He has not made (nor will he ever make) progress on the chocolate bit, but a delightful anniversary dinner on Sunday at Rioja (apparently the “best restaurant in Denver”) made me reconsider pork and lamb. 

We began with the bacon appetizer. Had it been actual bacon, I probably would have continued to snub pork, but instead this was a tender, cardamom spiced pork belly served over a delicious Madras curry garbanzo bean purée. (I am such a sucker for cardamom and Madras curry flavors.) Though I have been trying to avoid bread at my trainer’s insistence, I found myself using crumbs to scoop out every morsel of the purée. For our entrees, Jason chose a delicious, melt-off-your-fork braised Wagyu boneless short rib accompanied by a martini, and once again romanced by the description on the menu, I decided that it was time to try lamb again. After all, the likelihood that I could wind up eating an old sheep brain twice is pretty slim. And, oh my, lamb, how I’ve missed you. Both the grilled lamb and the lamb sausage more than made up for the three year hiatus, and the tomato coulis, carmelized fennel, and local blackberry whiskey sour enhanced the entire lamb experience. If I were at all religious, I imagine this is what the first day after Lent is over must feel like…multiplied by 30.

Dinner at the Best Restaurant in Denver was followed by a long day of Drupal Theming Training. For fear of embarrassing myself before I spend more time practicing/for fear of boring you, I’m going to skimp on the details of learning to write .info and tpl files. DrupalCon furnished 600 of us with beer glasses to take along to Wynkoop Brewing Company to try their brews for free. Great idea in theory, but no one from our group was particularly impressed with either the food or the brews.

During lunch today, we tracked down the first restaurant from our Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives list: Sam’s No. 3. Jason best described our experience there in a comment on the last post:

We found this diner just blocks from our hotel and stopped in for plates loaded with food so good, Taco Bells within a 3 mile radius spontaneously burst into flames. Their premier dish is actually a sauce… a green chile pork salsa. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. The surprise bonus dish: a chile relleno. For the uninitiated, that’s a roasted pepper stuffed with cheese and covered with even more cheese. So good!

In short, should you find yourself in Denver, splurge on Rioja, skip the brewery, and make sure get a heaping bowl of green pork chili. (Yes, that’s right, I said pork.)