High Plains Drifters

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buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/15/11 8:27 AM
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CTD-
Yes, it was cherry cordial.  You would have loved it!
 
ScreamingChicken-
Don't worry, the upset stomach doesn't last too long.  He has full appetite back by the time we return to Denver.
 
rumaki-
Too bad that Fenders is closed, it sounds like a really interesting place.  And thanks for mentioning saskatoon berries.  I had never heard of them before, will now seek them out.
 
wj-
Yeah, I was disappointed that we didn't see (and eat) more huckleberry foods.  I was under the assumption that it was popular throughout Montana.  At least we got a fine huckleberry shake at Stella's. 
 
Paul-
As always, thanks for the kind words! 
<message edited by buffetbuster on Fri, 07/15/11 8:28 AM>

Nancypalooza
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/15/11 10:02 AM
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I was struck by how inexpensive both of those places were, and the food looked absolutely amazing.

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/15/11 12:14 PM
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Friday June 17, 2011
 
We got another early start out of Scottsbluff, headed south back towards Denver.  The GPS had us jump on I-80W into Wyoming, then I-25S into Colorado.  When I realized we would be passing right past the lovely town of Fort Collins, we made a quick detour to the Colorado State University bookstore for a couple more t-shirts. 
 
Arriving in Denver, our first destination was M & D's Cafe

This restaurant last appeared in a Jane & Michael Stern book in the 1999 Eat Your Way Across the U.S.A.  On my last visit to Denver in 2004, the place had closed down and I also noted that the neighborhood around it wasn't the best.  They have since reopened and the area around it seemed fine.  Either the neighborhood improved or my definition of a bad area has changed in the last seven years.  Most likely a combination of the two.
 
We were one of the first people in the door after they opened at 11:00AM and we must of stood there for a good five minutes until someone came out of the kitchen to seat us.  That made us think that the service would most likely be poor throughout our meal, but we ended up having terrific service.
 
Back when the Sterns reviewed the place, it was known as M & D's Barbecue and Fish Palace, which is a much more entertaining name than M & D's Cafe.  Wanting to try both of the restaurant's specialties, Johnny went for what the menu calls Combo Half & Half, where you get to choose one fish and one bbq item.  His choices were fried catfish and bbq tips. 

There were two long, thin catfish filets, ultra-crispy, with a luscious cornmeal coating.  These were fantastic!  Johnny thought the rib tips were good, but the bbq sauce made them.  Speaking of the sauce, you get your choice between mild, medium or hot.  We both went with the medium, which was slightly sweet and still provided a tingly heat.  Neither one of us could get enough of the sauce and I wish I could have brought a bottle of it home.
 
Your meals come with two sides and we were both crestfallen to find out no macaroni and cheese on this day.  Johnny got the potato salad, loaded with plenty of mustard and egg and the mixed greens. 

We assumed the mixed greens meant that it was both collard greens and turnip greens.  This slightly bitter dish also met with our approval.
 
My lunch was strickly barbecue and is known as Half a Combo "Q" and I went with the ribs and the hot links. 

The ribs were big, with lots of meat that provided a nice chew.  The homemade hot links were fatty in a good way, with lots of porcine flavor.  Bathed in that wonderful bbq sauce, I loved this dish!  My two sides were the baked beans

(with a small amount of pork and plenty of the bbq sauce) and the yams,

both of which we enjoyed.
 
There was more than enough food on my plate, so I never touched the crumbly cornbread that came with the meals. 

Johnny was more than happy to step in and as a tribute to ChiTownDiner, even eating some of it with the baked beans on it.

To drink, we both ordered the lemonade and for an extra .99 cents, you can add a shot of fruit to it.  Johnny had the mango, while I drank the watermelon. 

Both came in big glasses and were super strong and sweet.
 
Even though we had eaten way too much food already, we both suspected this is the type of place with great desserts.  And it was.  Johnny's peach cobbler

wasn't a big portion size, but still had lots of fresh tasting peaches.  While we were dining, another table near us asked about the banana pudding and we heard the waitress say it was still being made, but should be done soon.  It was ready by the time I ordered it and it was one of the best versions I have ever had.  It comes in a tulip-shaped sundae glass and this was a really big portion size. 


Loaded with slices of bananas, still crunchy whole and small vanilla wafer bits, plus smooth and creamy banana filling, this is what every banana pudding aspires to be.
 
Another thing that made dining here such a pleasurable experience was the live music.  Very simple, just one man on the saxophone. 

He was so good, I got up while eating just to tip him.
 
After paying, Johnny hit the men's room, while I walked outside to take some photos of the building.  There were two African-American guys sitting in a car, waiting for their friend inside, picking up the carry out food.  The driver called out to me and asked how I liked my food and I told him we loved it.  He told me that not many people know how great the food is and a lot of people from Denver won't come here because of the bad neighborhood.  In all seriousness, I asked him, "Is this supposed to be a bad neighborhood?"  He said, "Yeah, this is the east side of Denver.  Hey, tell all your friends to come down and check this place out."  So that is exactly what I am doing!
 
Johnny liked the food at M & D Cafe so much, he said at this point, this was the best meal of the trip.
 
M & D's Cafe
2000 E. 28th Avenue
Denver, CO
303-296-1760
 
Much more to come.....

wanderingjew
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/15/11 1:12 PM
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The lone Sax Player brings back horrific traumatizing nightmares from my San Francisco trip in 2007, where a lone Asian Sax Player standing on the street corner across from my hotel near the Chinatown gate playing the theme from Sanford and Son  over and over and over again....

MiamiDon
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/15/11 1:41 PM
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Maybe it was like the strolling musicians in some restaurants.  You have to pay him to make him go away.

ChiTownDiner
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/15/11 1:47 PM
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WOW...2 favs, corn bread and beans and the BEST banana pudding ever...if only...nice pick!

eruby
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/15/11 2:06 PM
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buffetbuster, your reports always make me feel like I have been to the places you've seen, but this report is on a new level.  Kudos to you for your excellent writing and photos, and kudos to you both for truly remarkable appetites without ever seeming over-the-top or over indulgent.

mikeam
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/15/11 3:29 PM
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Great trip report!

Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/15/11 10:55 PM
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Cliff, we visited M&D a couple of years ago.  We just never got around to writing about it, but we enjoyed it very much, especially the hot links with hot sauce, which were fiery.  The neighborhood at the time didn't strike me as bad.  Very Roadfood-worthy!

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/15/11 11:31 PM
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Bruce, thanks for chiming in.  M & D Cafe is one of those places that even though the Sterns have written about it, seems completely off the radar.  I don't know if I have ever seen them mentioned in the forums before.
 
I agree that it is definitely Roadfood worthy.  If you think the photos are good enough (I don't like the hot links photo at all), then I will get a review written and send it in.

Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/15/11 11:55 PM
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Cliff, definitely, go ahead and write up a review.  I went back to look at my photos and, check this out.  My picture is almost identical to yours!  Years apart.
 


mr chips
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sat, 07/16/11 12:00 AM
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I can't believe I had not seen this. The combination of food and scenery makes it one of your best reports ever. When I saw Crazy Horse in 1975, there was not a head visible so some progress has been made in 40 years. I was surprised at Mt. Rushmore because i found it so moving despite having seen it in photos my whole life.
 
<message edited by mr chips on Sat, 07/16/11 12:02 AM>

mr chips
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sat, 07/16/11 12:08 AM
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Cliff, you seem to have fun on trips any which way you can.

TFitz
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sun, 07/17/11 10:21 AM
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Great report, one of the best I've read. We were out in that area two years ago and I have to agree with some earlier posts that I could go back again and again. There is something magical about the open plains of the West. I just read "Undaunted Courage" about the Lewis and Clark expedition and I would love to go to the LoLo Trail where they crossed over the Rocky Mountains. Thanks again for the report and I think the pictures look great.

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Mon, 07/18/11 8:33 AM
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Bruce-
That is amazing how similar those photos are.  Thanks for posting it.  I will get a review written up and sent in after I finish this monstrosity!
 
Thanks again to everyone for the nice comments!

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Mon, 07/18/11 1:18 PM
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Friday June 17. 2011 cont.
 
Before we checked into the hotel, we made a quick detour to Enstrom's

They do sell all kinds of candy and even ice cream, but this place is best known for their toffee.  I have never been in one of their stores before, but have mail ordered it to my house, so I was very aware of this extraordanarily delicious toffee.
 
Since this is located in Cherry Creek, an upscale neighborhood with lots of upscale shops, it came as no surprise that the inside is nicer than the typical candy store. 

We could have spent a lot of time (and a lot of money) here, because everything looked so good.  But thanks to a limited amount of room in the suitcase, I bought just one box of the milk chocoate almond toffee and one of the dark chocolate.  Johnny did the same, along with a couple extra boxes of the milk chocolate, to give as gifts when he returned home.  And thanks to samples they had sitting out, he tasted some of the toffee popcorn and bought a bag for us to snack on as we drove around.  Sorry, it doesn't look like I took any photos of the candy itself and, at least mine, is long gone!
 
What seperates this toffee from others we have had is just how incredibly buttery it is.  It is a much too used cliche, but it really does just melt in your mouth, after that initial crunch.  All the toffee for sale is being stored in a refrigerated case.  We did ask and they said it would be fine for up to around a week without refrigeration.  Since we were so close to flying home, that wasn't going to be an issue. 
 
Interestingly, Bruce and Sue write in their review about how poor the service was in their visits to the store.  Our experience was the exact opposite as the two ladies (who were around our age) assisting us were both very friendly and accomodating.  But, I have noticed over the years, how often you do get people with bad attitudes at places that sell sweets and desserts.  Milwaukee has some of the nicest people you could ever meet, but I have never been to Leon's when the person taking my order wasn't cranky.  Why is this?
 
Enstrom's Candies
201 University Boulevard
Denver, CO
303-322-1005 
 
We checked into our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech and took another nap.  Hey, we're on vacation!  We woke up in time for an early dinner and drove south to the tiny town of Sedalia to eat at a place called Bud's Bar

The inside is small

and all the booths and tables were occupied, so we sat at the end of the bar.  This turned out to be an ideal location, since I had a nice view into the kitchen to watch the burgers being made on the griddle.   Even though I have seen this sign

behind the bar before (G & R Tavern in Ohio definitely has it), it still amuses me.  Both of us were surprised to see several families dining here with kids.
 
The menu is about as small as they get.  If fact, this

is it.  Not even french fries are available.  Johnny chose the double hamburger, while I ordered the double cheeseburger.  When asked how we wanted them made, we both said medium.  The burgers


here really are beauties.  Johnny remarked several times how juicy they were and I had to agree.  Interestingly, the cheese on the cheeseburger wasn't gooey and mostly stayed in place.  You can't get lettuce or tomato, but each burger comes with a small bowl holding onion and pickle. 

And despite us both getting doubles, these burgers are still manageable in size

and neither one of us had any trouble downing them.
 
Bud's Bar
5453 Manhart Street
Sedalia, CO
303-688-9967
 
We drove back to the hotel and relaxed for a few hours before it was time for our late night dinner.
 
Much more to come.....  
<message edited by buffetbuster on Mon, 07/18/11 1:28 PM>

ScreamingChicken
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Tue, 07/19/11 9:02 AM
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Those are some good-looking burgers and Bud's looks like my kind of place!
 
I've noticed that if I go into a candy store (which usually means Kathy needs me to pay for something) there's definitely something in the air that gets to me rather quickly and I can't stay too long or I'll get a headache.  Years ago Kathy worked in a fudge shop and she's told me that when she first started she would actually be physically sick to her stomach by the end of a shift.
 
Brad

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Tue, 07/19/11 3:18 PM
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Brad, that is interesting that you get headaches in candy stores and that Kathy would get sick at her old job.  I wonder if that could at least partially explain the cranky employees.
 
Even though the burgers don't have that much in common, if you liked the Plaza Tavern, then you would like Bud's Bar!

Nancypalooza
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Tue, 07/19/11 3:45 PM
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Oh, that burger made my tummy flip.  Might be time for some beef.  You did seem to hit some marvelous sights and meals on this trip!

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Wed, 07/20/11 3:22 PM
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Friday June 17, 2011 cont.
 
Our dinner reservations were for Buckhorn Exchange

at 9:00PM.  Since we got there a few minutes early, it gave me an opportunity to take some outside photos.  Both of the exterior side walls have faded signs and murals,




which I really liked and enforces just how old this restaurant is.
 
The restaurant goes all the way back to 1893.  In fact, behind the beautiful upstairs bar,

they display Colorado liquor license #1! 

Once inside, we had to wait a few minutes in the bar area until our table was ready.  This gave me a chance to see the upstairs dining room,

which has an outdoor garden feel.  This is in sharp contrast to the downstairs main dining room, which is dark and has practically every square inch covered with an animal head. 

This is the view

from my table, looking straight up.
 
The menu comes in the form of an old newspaper. 

Even though this place is well known for Rocky Mountain Oysters, Johnny showed no interest in ordering this.  And having had it before in Oklahoma, I felt no overwhelming need, either.  Both of us started our meals with soup and they were two very similar soups.  Johnny got the split pea and ham,

which had lots of small cubes of meat in it.  Unlike most navy bean and ham soups,

mine wasn't overly salty, but still lacked much in the way of flavor.  It did come in a very large portion size, so much so, that I gave up halfway through.
 
For entrees, Johnny had the lambchops,

which were some of the biggest and thickest lampchops we had ever seen.  He enjoyed these, with his only minor complaint being that it came out more medium rare and he asked for it medium.  I ordered one of the specials which was a 4 oz. elk steak

and a 4 oz. buffalo steak.   The elk came with a peppercorn rub and with a medeira wine sauce on the side.  This was my first experience with elk and I found it to be very lean and flavorful.  The buffao steak was a more simple preparation, with just garlic and butter and was also quite good.  Unfortunately, the sides were awful.  Both the potatoes and the vegetables were hard, as if they had been sitting around all day.  And neither one of us liked the iced tea, which was weak beyond belief.  Not that we could ever get a refill, since our waiter never checked on us again after delivering our food, until it was time to bring the check.  At the prices we were paying, we expected better service.
 
As you can see, our experience on this night was a mixed bag.  We both liked our entrees, but disliked just about everything else.  On my first visit here, I found the atmosphere to be amazing and unique.  On this night, we both found it tired and creepy.  Maybe we were both just suffering from fatigue, but Buckhorn Exchange has been removed from my "must hit" list when in Denver.
 
Buckhorn Exchange
1000 Osage
Denver, CO
303-534-9505

It was back to the hotel for the night.
 
Much more to come....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Wed, 07/20/11 3:39 PM>

wanderingjew
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Wed, 07/20/11 3:44 PM
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Buffetbuster
 
I had better luck with the homemade potato chips and baked beans as my sides during both visits in 2008 and 2009 at the Buckhorn Exchange
 
No pie?
 

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Wed, 07/20/11 3:47 PM
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WJ-
It was getting late and with the service we had, my patience wouldn't have allowed it.
<message edited by buffetbuster on Wed, 07/20/11 3:52 PM>

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Thu, 07/21/11 1:24 PM
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Finally starting to see the finish line.....
 
Saturday June 18, 2011

Our breakfast destination for this morning was a place called Cherokee Dining on 12th.  Instead of the restaurant we wanted, the GPS led us to a place called Camp Bow Wow.  As fun as that name was, it wasn't what we were looking for in a breakfast restaurant.  Just a few doors down though in this neighborhood filled with warehouses, was a restaurant called The Breakfast King, that had a full parking lot.  We briefly considered eating our breakfast here, but pressed on to Cherokee Dining.  We quickly discovered the GPS took us to South Cherokee Avenue instead of Cherokee Avenue and made the correction.
 
Cherokee Dining on 12th Avenue

is a nice looking place in a quiet, attractive neighborhood.  The only other ones out this morning were joggers and people walking their dogs.  The inside is equally attractive, 

with a big bar area

and lots of comfortable booths.  The walls were covered with drawings of patrons who had been chosen as customers of the month.

There was two ladies sitting in a booth not far from us and during our entire meal here, they were the only other customers.
 
The menu isn't particularly big and we had a bit of a hard time deciding what to order.  Johnny settled on something called the fox frittata.

This baked egg dish is on top of tomato, broccoli and cauliflower and covered with cheese, more vegetables and avacado.  I don't have much experience with frittatas, but are they usually that thin?  We were expecting something with more heft.  The potatoes in the home fries were also sliced thin and were very crispy on the outside.  My breakfast was a bowl of the apple raisin oatmeal,

which came with brown sugar and milk.  Satisfying and a more healthy than usual way for me to start my day.  We split sides of the grilled honey ham,

which was ordinary and the biscuits and honey. 

As you can see,

it says the biscuits are homemade and the honey is local Colorado honey.  Unfortunately, the biscuits were hard enough that they muct have been homemade the day before and the honey comes in little packets, which say they were made in Virginia.  Very disappointing!  Some of the items we ate here were fine, but I don't know if I would go back.  If we had it to do over again, we would have eaten at The Breakfast King. 
 
Cherokee Dining on 12th Avenue
1201 Cherokee Avenue
Denver, CO
303-623-0346
 
We took some time to explore downtown Denver.  The state capitol building

was closed since it was a Saturday.  But what what makes this capitol building unique is that they have a marker on the steps where you are one mile above sea level.

 
We also tried to visit Molly Brown's mansion, but were unable to find a parking spot anywhere near there.  We ended up driving and walking around for a while until our lunch destination was ready to open.  Even though we had two straight clunkers, the next place would definitely make for it!
 
More to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Thu, 07/21/11 1:27 PM>

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Thu, 07/21/11 3:47 PM
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Saturday June 18, 2011 cont.
 
We have been reading the glowing reviews for Biker Jim's food cart in Denver on Roadfood for years.  Two of my Roadfood friends, wanderingjew and Travelin Man,  have eaten at his cart and went out to dinner with Jim and both have told me he has excellent food and is also a great guy.  So going to Biker Jim's was a top priority on this trip.  Not too long ago, they have also opened a Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs restaurant

in Lower Downtown, just a short walk from Coors Field, so we made our way there.
 
The website says that they open at 11:00AM and we arrived a minute or two before.  Instead of the usual closed sign in the front window, their sign simply says NOPE. 

Of course, a dyslexic may look at that and think is says open!  11:00 came and went and the restaurant still hadn't opened, yet.  We waited patiently for the sign to change and at about ten after, I walked over and asked one of the guys setting up the patio and he told me it opened at 11:30.  This wouldn't have been an issue if we hadn't both needed to use the bathroom.  Okay, we can hang in there for a few more minutes.  About 25 after, the sign was switched over to YUP

and we were the first customers in the door.
 
The inside is big,

with high ceilings and a cool, industrial vibe.  The young lady who took our order was extremely friendly, helpful and patiently answered all the questions we had.  And did we have questions!  Neither one of us had ever seen a menu like this.  Johnny got us started with a Waatlander dog,


which came on an excellent pretzel roll.  This sausage is made of pork with white wine and sweet onions.  As if that wasn't enough, it is topped with dijon cream, beer battered onions and toasted sauerkraut.  Once again, if that wasn't enough, it all gets dusted with tomato bacon powder.  We thought the pork was mild, which is just fine, because everything else gives this dog a complex flavor, to say the least.  Somehow, everything pulls together and works extremely well.  We both absolutely loved it!  On the side there, we split the fried green tomatoes,

which were extra-thick cut and what we would describe as a wet breading, along with some kind of salsa on the side.  Excellent!
 
My lunch was the Alaskan reindeer sausage. 

The menu calls it juicy and smoky.  It was indeed juicy, but it was the smokiness of the meat that really shone through.  Topped with cream cheese and fried onions, this was another wonderful dog, but it almost seemed boring compared to what Johnny was eating!  The french fries on the side were hot, fresh and crispy and needed no condiments or salt.
 
To drink, a vanilla and chocolate milkshake. 

We thought there was too much whipped cream on top, but otherwise were very good shakes.
 
Johnny enjoyed his dog so much, he had to go up and try another one. This time, he chose the wild boar sausage. 

Once again, the meat was very smoky (although not as much as the reindeer) and was topped with diced apricots and cranberries, which really gave it a unique, sweet flavor.   Johnny said there was also cream cheese and fried onions on top.  He did like this very much (and had no trouble finishing it), but thought the Waatlander was better.  
 
As you can tell, we loved Biker Jim's.  All of the food we tasted was fresh and delicious.  Each employee we came into contact with was incredibly nice and it was obvious they enjoyed working there.  We even liked the Biker Jim's logo mural on the wall,

which reminds me of the Jim Carey movie The Mask.  The one disappointment was that I didn't get to meet Jim, himself.  When we first walked in and ordered, I asked if Jim was around.  The girl told us he had stepped out, but should be back shortly.  Johnny then told me that while we were waiting outside, he saw someone who looks like Jim, hop in a truck and drive away.  About a half hour later, Jim returned, but he was obviously very busy, so I thought I should wait for a quiet moment to introduce myself.  Next thing you know, I don't see Jim and they tell me he was going to be gone for the rest of the day.  Nuts!  Oh well, I had my chance and blew it.  There will always be a next time.  And with food this good, it will be at the top of my hit list on every trip to Denver.
 
Biker Jim's Gourmet Sausage
2148 Larimer Street
Denver, CO

We got back in the car and headed south towards Colorado Springs.
 
More to come.....
   
<message edited by buffetbuster on Fri, 07/22/11 9:03 AM>

ann peeples
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Thu, 07/21/11 5:58 PM
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I am so happy you ate at Biker Jims, and that it was everything it has been reported to be. That is one place I would really like to try.

wanderingjew
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/22/11 8:09 AM
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Buffetbuster
 
I'm glad you finally made it to Biker Jim's
I visited his cart, but never had the opportunity to visit his new restaurant.
(I'm wondering if he took my advice and put Rocky Mountain Oysters on the menu?)

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/22/11 8:41 AM
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WJ-
It is possible Rocky Mountain oysters are on the menu, but I didn't see it.  Not that I was looking for it!

The Travelin Man
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/22/11 8:52 AM
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I have two different friends in CO (that don't know one another) and I have directed them both to Biker Jim's.  If they both go, and tell Jim that I sent them there, he'll wonder what's up!

scovig
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/22/11 11:54 AM
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buffetbuster




To drink, a vanilla and chocolate milkshake.  
We thought there was too much whipped cream on top, but otherwise were very good shakes.

   

I'm really enjoying your trip report however I am unfamiliar with the concept of too much whipped cream.

MiamiDon
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/22/11 2:10 PM
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Were there other diners at Biker Jim's?
 
What is the big, tannish, sort of ovoid thing right in the center of your dog?

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/22/11 2:41 PM
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scovig-
I like the way you think!
 
MiamiDon-
If you are referring to the last sausage photo, it is an optical illusion.  That is part of the sausage itself, not covered in onions.  Here is another view:

<message edited by buffetbuster on Fri, 07/22/11 2:46 PM>

MiamiDon
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 07/22/11 2:59 PM
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Ha!  I see it now.  I guess that's a slice of onion or something making it look like an edge.

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sat, 07/23/11 8:11 AM
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Saturday June 18, 2011 cont.
 
Just north of Colorado Springs is the United States Air Force Academy.  With the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, this is one of the prettier campuses we have visited.  The first stop though, was the university bookstore, where I bought so much merchandise, Johnny would have to take some of it home in his much larger suitcase.  By the time we got done shopping and watching a movie on what life for the students was like, it had started to rain rather heavily.  As much as I wanted to walk around, it jusn't wasn't practical.  I did get one picture of the campus from an overlook nearby. 

My favorite building is the unusual triangle shaped chapel, which you can see in the photo.
 
Our lunch in Colorado Springs was at a Roadfood reviewed hamburger joint called Conway's Red Top

Strangely enough, we both ate here just eight years earlier, but neither one of us remembered much about it.  This is a small local chain, with three locations within the city.  Located in a small strip, we missed it the first time we drove by, but Johnny deftly handled the illegal u-turn so well, it would have made ChiTownDiner proud!  Even though there is a red spinning top on the sign,

it is still small and not easily spotted.  The house motto, "One's a Meal", clues you in to the size of the burgers.  I was expecting it to be an order at the counter type of fast food place, but it is all waitress service.  Other than that, the interior was nondescript.

 
The front of the menu again shows the spinning red top

and tells the history of the place, which has been in the same family since 1961, although the restaurants themselves are older.  For appetizers, we both focused in on the soups page of the menu,

with Johnny ordering the chili. 

Despite having plenty of meat and beans, he was not too happy with it and said it reminded him more of a hot dog chili that really didn't work very well on its own.  My beef stew

was a little more successful, though I was surprised it had a distinct sweet flavor.  We also split an order of frings,

which is half onion rings and half fries.  Both of these were quite good, with the crunchy crusted rings being the standouts.  I really do wish more restaurants would offer this fries/onion rings combo, for us people who can never make up their mind which one they like better.
 
The best reason to come to Conway's is for the huge burgers.  These really are monsters, at about 6 inches wide.  Luckily, they also offer half burgers on the menu, too.  Still full from that second dog at Biker Jim's, Johnny went for half of a burger called Mike's Mushroom Top. 

This is a cheeseburger topped with bacon and mushroom and what's not too like about that?  It is obvious they use quality meat here, because the burgers are delicious.  His favorite part was that they really load you up on the bacon,

which so few burger joints do.  Since I didn't eat as much at the previous meal, I was hungry enough to order a whole one and I chose the Giant Hickory Burger. 

There is hickory flavoring and onions right in the patty and it comes topped with lettuce, tomato and a hickory bbq sauce.  Outstanding!  And as big as these burgers are, the patties themselves aren't very thick at all.  I had no problem eating the whole thing.
 
To drink, Johnny settled for a soda, but I got the cherry milkshake. 

Oddly, it wasn't mixed particularly well, as half of it was white and half of it red.  But once I stirred it a bit, it was all red.  The shake was so thick, forget the straw and eat it with a spoon!
 
Conway's Red Top
1520 S. Nevada Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO
719-633-2444
 
Even though we rode the Pike's Peak Cog Railway back in 2003, we were very interested in taking it to the top of the mountain again.  Unfortunately, the schedule didn't work out with the timing of our dinner reservations, so we had to pass.  Plan B was another tourist destination about an hour away, so we got on Rte. 116 and headed south.
 
More to come..... 
<message edited by buffetbuster on Thu, 12/29/11 2:51 PM>

mamaduck43
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sat, 07/23/11 10:20 AM
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Got a bit homesick, looking at the RedTop....  Hard to believe that it has been 2+ years now that I left the Springs....  That was one of my favorite stops...   And you passed within 2 blocks from my old apartment....  Sigh....
I am really enjoying this trip report - - lots of familiar places and stops on the agenda and a fantastic collection of photos and food memories....  Keep 'em coming.....
 
Just a slight correction - - I do believe that you would be traveling south on Rte. 115..... 

Greymo
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sat, 07/23/11 10:30 AM
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My grandchildren were sorry that it rained so hard when you were at Air Force Academy.  They loved it there and took way too many pictures!

JRPfeff
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sat, 07/23/11 2:34 PM
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I think EPIC is the one-word description for this roadtrip. 
Buffetbuster - I've lost count on how many stops you made. Is this one of your usual 9-day Spring trips with Cousin Johnny?

mar52
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sat, 07/23/11 3:10 PM
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I just love your trip reports.  Gives me something to dream about!

mr chips
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sat, 07/23/11 3:15 PM
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A great report, BB. Your restaurant and tourist stops have been fascinating, the photos superb.
           My timing seems to  be off but i would like to comment on M and D's restaurant in Denver. I ate there in 1997 and had superb food. I remember talking to the owner and telling him i did  not like catfish. He told me:
" That's because you ain't tasted mine," and he offered to refund my money if i didn't like it. I loved it and it remains a fond roadfood memory.
    Curiously there was a lot of outrage at the city then for labeling the neighborhood unsafe. i visited a wonderful museum  called  the Museum of the Black Cowboy which was at the end of the light  rail line and had not received a designation by the city as part of museum tours which the museum director was sure had something to do with its location in an African-American neighborhood. And the museum really was quite good and i ate at M and D's afterwards.
<message edited by mr chips on Sat, 02/25/12 8:41 PM>

mr chips
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sat, 07/23/11 3:18 PM
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When I took my trip to Colorado(pre roadfood.com)I stopped at Conway's. The burger was excellent but i really remember most the Navy bean soup which was quite tasty.

Nancypalooza
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sun, 07/24/11 6:49 PM
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I also had Conway's pre-RF.com and have very fond memories of the burger, as well as of the Air Force Academy campus--very pretty out there.

ChiTownDiner
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sun, 07/24/11 8:36 PM
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I do not condone the execution of u-turns...they can be hazardous to your digestive system.

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Mon, 07/25/11 9:10 AM
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mamaduck43-
Thanks for the kind words!  And for the correction on what road we were on.  That's what I get for looking at the map without my glasses on!
 
JRPfeff-
Every year, Johnny and I take a week long trip together.  We have been doing this for well over a decade and I sincerely hope this is something we continure to do for the rest of our lives.  We try to pick destinations with the maximum amount of scenery and food.  Okay, it's more about the food!
 
ChiTownDiner-
Just another example of what a bad influence you are!
 
mr chips-
Glad to see another M & D Cafe fan on here.  And Johnny and I talked it over while we were at Conway's, that if we had it to do over again, we would have ordered the green chili and the navy bean soup.  How can you not like a place that gives you so many options?
 
mar52-
I've been busy all weekend, so I am still trying to catch up with your trip report.  But, it looks like you quite an adventure yourself!  I am looking forward to reading more.
 
Greymo-
If we hadn't been there before, we would have braved the rain and explored the US Air Force campus.  I was really hoping to get some shots, which would have been a fine addition to this trip report.

JRPfeff
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Mon, 07/25/11 9:42 AM
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BB - I've been watching the first season of Justified. SPOILER ALERT - In the final episode, Cousin Johnny is gut shot with a shotgun. Hopefully this is not a bad omen.

Williamsburger
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Wed, 07/27/11 12:37 PM
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RE: Buckhorn
"every square inch covered with an animal head."
in 2007 (?) Terry and I were there 2 weeks before Christmas and they were all wearing Santa hats.
Cathy
 

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Wed, 07/27/11 12:49 PM
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Williamsburger-
Well, that would make the place look more festive and a little less creepy.

Williamsburger
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Wed, 07/27/11 2:22 PM
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buffetbuster


Williamsburger-
Well, that would make the place look more festive and a little less creepy.

Actually, it makes it *more* creepy. But still festive!
;)
C.

big666dog
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Wed, 08/24/11 9:33 PM
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We've done the west, coast, the South West, the South East, this year we're doing the Mississippi from New orleans to CHicago, , and your trip is probably next for us - some of it anyway. Like to start in Santa Fe, and head North through Utah into Montana, Yellowstone etc.

cecif
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Wed, 11/30/11 6:55 AM
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buffetbuster

I gotta tell ya, I HATE eating outside.

Who knew?!?! I am now feeling VERY privileged indeed!

Louis
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Wed, 11/30/11 10:50 AM
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I'm thinking of going to Colorado Springs next year.  So thanks for the preview of Conway's Red Top.

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Wed, 11/30/11 11:56 PM
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Oh crap, I was thinking this trip report was finished.  Just a couple of stops missing.  I will do that when I get back from my current trip.

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Wed, 12/28/11 5:11 PM
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Saturday June 18, 2011 cont.
 
Needing something to kill time before our dinner reservations at 8:00PM, we looked through the GPS and found that Royal Gorge was just a little more than an hour away.  A friend brought me a refrigerator magnet from Royal Gorge at least a decade ago and I knew very little about the place. It was time to go check it out. 
 
We were thinking that it would just be a very high gorge, but this place is a full blown tourist trap.  Still, how could you not like a place where you get to see almost 1,000 feet straight down.  Here are some shots of the gorge.

 


 
We decided to take the aerial tramway

across and then walk across the bridge coming back.  Some of the above photos were taken in the tramway and it really did offer some breathtaking views.  Once on the other side, Johnny and I seperated.  He wanted to check out the different animals, including elks

that they had,  while I wanted to see the skycoaster.  Most of you have probably seen these before, but watching people get slingshotted out over the canyon

was fun to watch.  They had a viewing platform to the side, where I plopped myself down.  Eventually, an attractive blonde woman, around my age joined me there, so she could get the best view of her three kids taking the ride.  There was a ten year old and eight year old twins. 

How she stayed so calm watching this, I will never know. 
 
I do have a fear of heights, but can never predict when and where it will bother me.  Being in the aerial tramway didn't bother me in the least, but walking across the bridge freaked me out.  I just walked right down the center of it, looking straight ahead!  I did pause at one point to take a photo of where Ken Fuller

once rappeled over the side of the bridge.  All together, we spent maybe an hour and a half at Royal Gorge.
 
On the drive back to Colorado Springs, two things caught our attention.  One was the world's largest rocking chair. 

If it wasn't for the serious fence between it and the highway, I would have tried to climb into it for a photo.  Just a short distance further up the highway, we spotted a restaurant that mentioned pie right in the sign out front. 

Johnny deftly handled the U-Turn and we parked.  Unfortunately, they were closed due to a private party booking the place for the night.  I did ask if they would sell me a slice of pie to go, but it wasn't meant to be.  Anyone ever eat at Goose Berry Patch Restaurant in Penrose?
 
Even though we were considerably early, we went straight to our dinner destination, Juniper Valley Ranch, to see if they could seat us early.
 
More to come.....

<message edited by buffetbuster on Wed, 12/28/11 5:13 PM>

ChiTownDiner
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Thu, 12/29/11 8:59 AM
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Another U-turn...be careful my friend!

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Thu, 12/29/11 2:50 PM
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Saturday June 18, 2011 cont.
 
We were thinking that our reservations at Juniper Valley Ranch were for 8:00PM.  When we arrived at 7:15PM, I asked if they could seat us early and they told us no problem.  Later that night when we got back to our hotel room, I was looking through papers and discovered that our reservations were actually for 7:00PM and instead of being way early, we were actually late.  And the restaurant never told us. 
 
Juniper Valley Ranch


is a hard to find restaurant a good distance south of Colorado Springs.  Reservations are essential, in that it is a popular place.  The building itself is an adobe home, with several small dining rooms,



all as equally dark.  We were seated at a table in the back, right next to the kitchen.
 
They have a small fix price menu here, served family style.  To start off, you get your choice of either consomme

or cherry cider. 

Johnny went with the consomme, that had a slight curry flavor, while I got the cider, that tasted strong of cherry and was surprisingly cold.
 
By this time, some of the dishes that we would be sharing started to roll out of the kitchen.  The finely chopped cole slaw

was a little bit sweet and a little bit tart.  The okra casserole

was a big hit with both of us and contained rice, celery, okra, green beans and tomatoes.  And the significant amount of black pepper in it also provided some heat.  The waitress told us that as the night went on, the okra casserole would get hotter, due to the black pepper settling in.  Note the big chip out of the bowl, which we saw repeatedly over the course of the meal.
 
The biscuits

were hot and small, as eight of them came to a pan.  They easily seperated when you pulled them apart and were delicious when covered with the homemade extra cinnamony apple butter.  Next up was the mashed potatoes.  Only, I didn't recognize it.  After we had received all the rest of the food, I asked the waitress when we were going to get the mashed potatoes and both her and Johnny pointed at what I thought was plain ol' rice.  I swear, I have never seen mashed potatoes

like this before.  Well, at least there isn't any lumps in it.  And as we stirred, it became more like typical mashed potatoes.  The gravy

was very thick, creamy and slightly peppery.  Because of my reaction, the owner, who visited our table frequently, brought the ricer out of the kitchen for us to see. 

That looks like a well used tool!
 
For your entree, you get two choices, ham or fried chicken.  In the interest of trying everything, I got the ham, Johnny ordered chicken and then we shared.  The ham

was thick cut, lean and very good.  The skillet fried chicken,

which came as two thighs, a wing and a leg, was even better.  It had a thin, brittle coating and was tender and juicy on the inside.
 
Dessert time!  You get to choice one each between peppermint ice cream, butterscotch sundae and brownie pudding.  Unable, or more likely, unwilling, to make that choice, we paid extra and got one of each. 

The brownie pudding had a deep, rich chocolate flavor, with small bits of walnuts.  The butterscotch topping on the sundae was homemade and on the thin side.  My favorite was the peppermint ice cream, which made me feel like I was in Indiana.
 
The check arrives on a plate with some mints. 

Before we left, the waitress grabbed my camera and took a photo of us. 

With the really good food and interesting atmosphere, both Johnny and I considered this our favorite meal of the trip.
 
Juniper Valley Ranch
South Highway 115
Colorado Springs, CO
719-576-0741
 
From here, we drove straight back to the hotel in Denver for the night.
 
More to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Thu, 12/29/11 2:59 PM>

leethebard
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Thu, 12/29/11 3:46 PM
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enjoyed viewing your rtip emensely!!

BuddyRoadhouse
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Thu, 12/29/11 7:31 PM
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Cliff,
Your riced mashed potato experience reminded me of a Thanksgiving potluck dinner a few years ago where I used that same tool and had a similar reaction from the crowd.
 
I chose the ricer for two reasons:
1. I wanted a particularly lump free mashed potato.
and
2. Knowing that the mashed potatoes would need to be reheated once I arrived at our host's home, I thought the ricing would create more browning and a nice crust on the top of the casserole.
 
What ended up happening was that the family stayed away from the dish altogether.  Everyone saw the pile of white with bits of brown crustiness and thought it actually was rice.  Once I enlightened them, there was a little more activity in the mashed potatoes, but not what I usually get with that crowd pleasing item.
 
I have never riced my potatoes again without whipping them up before serving.
 
Thanks for your usual fine report.  Happy New Year to you, Mariton, and Cousin Johnny!
 
Buddy
<message edited by BuddyRoadhouse on Thu, 12/29/11 7:32 PM>

JRPfeff
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 12/30/11 12:19 AM
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Mixing threads ... when I showed Pie Diva the riced potatoes, she concluded that Bluphies used riced potatoes in making their ho-made tater tots.  She believes they took riced mashed potatoes, formed them into spheres, and tossed them into the deep fryer.  Very light texture inside, very crispy outside.

ChiTownDiner
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 12/30/11 11:28 AM
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Cliff -
Of all your posts through the ages, Juniper Valley Ranch may be my favorite! 
Can we fly in direct?
CTD
 
 

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 12/30/11 1:19 PM
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Buddy-
Thanks for the story.  Glad to know that I'm not the only one ignorant on riced mashed potatoes.  And a big Happy New Year to you and the rest of the Roadhouse family!
 
JRPfeff-
Can't say I am a fan of tater tots, but those sound really good!
 
Cliff-
Really?  I am surprised, but very flattered.  Thanks so much.  And there is no doubt, that you would love Juniper Valley Ranch.

buffetbuster
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Fri, 12/30/11 2:24 PM
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Sunday June 19, 2011
 
Last day of the trip and for breakfast, we headed to Duffyroll Cafe

This place has the feel of a coffee bar, with a very impressive bakery selection. 

But are best known for their famous cinnamon rolls. 

Here

are the flavors available on the day we stopped in.
 
After all the eating we had already done on this trip, neither one of us was really in the mood to pig out.  So, we just decided to pick two cinnamon rolls each, since they weren't that big.  Certainly, nothing like the bohemoths we dealt with earlier in the trip.
 
Clockwise from the top left,

we have English Toffee, Original, Pecanilla Crunch and Zesty Orange.  In the Roadfood review, Bruce Bilmes comments that they are very croissant-like and that is a good description.  They are flaky and thankfully, not overly sweet.  Of the four, the I preferred the original,

while Johnny liked the English Toffee

best.  With the Pecanilla Crunch

having nuts, I stayed away from it.  The zesty orange

only had a subtle hint of orange to it.
 
Duffyroll Cafe
1290 South Pearl Street Street
Denver, CO
303-753-9177

From there, it was off to the airport and home.  Grand total of miles driven during the trip: 2,638!
 
Both Johnny and I agreed that the three best meals on the vacation were some combination of Biker Jim's, M & D Cafe and Juniper Valley Ranch.
 
Thanks for reading!
<message edited by buffetbuster on Fri, 12/30/11 2:25 PM>

mr chips
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Re:High Plains Drifters - Sat, 02/25/12 8:46 PM
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As always, a pleasure to read of your adventures.

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