In defense of cheese plates

I get migraines.

I don’t get debilitating migraines, but when I get them, I experience an aura (aka scintillating scotoma, which I can best describe as a colorful, pulsating hole in one’s vision), I generally can’t drive for 27 minutes (yes – 27), and I’m treated to a 36-hour dull headache. My experience is so much milder than most people’s migraines, I hesitate to even mention it. Also, this is a food and brewery blog, so why bring it up at all?

The author of this site is not a doctor.

I am completely unqualified to administer medical advice of any kind.

To answer that, I’ll say this:

I am not a doctor.

I am not a doctor. I’m not a dentist, I’m not a therapist, I’m not a scientist, I’m not an engineer, and I’m not a trillion other things. Do not ever take medical, dental, or engineering advice from me. In fact, you should consult a doctor before reading the balance of this post.

One thing I do know a bit about is cheese plates. I know they get a bad rap from time to time. They’re often viewed as yuppie-riffic, elitist, highfalutin, condescending platters full of overpri¢ed chunks of old milk, tiny, wrinkled fruit, and spicy/pricey tree nuts.

photo of arrogant cheese on plate

Typical pompous, snooty-ass cheese plate at Mateo in Boulder

 

So… why should this matter to people who like to eat or folks who suffer from migraines? The answer is:

Electrolytes.

If you’re unfamiliar with electrolytes, here’s a concise Wikipedia explanation of why electrolytes are useful:

“Electrolyte replacement is needed when a patient has prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, and as a response to strenuous athletic activity.” 

Common electrolytes, to my surprise, include words I’m familiar with, such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Also, just another quick reminder that:

I am not a doctor, nor am I a physician.

Also, the above is hopefully my final mention of vomiting or diarrhea on this blog.

My migraines are sports induced, meaning: the only time I experience them is after playing sports. A friend who experiences serious migraines advised me to drink sports drinks to replenish my electrolytes before, during, and after soccer games, racquet sports, etc. I’m a bit leery of the chemical and sugar content associated with popular sports drinks, so I began brainstorming alternative ways to load up on electrolytes before sports.

Which brings us to the much-maligned cheese plate.

On a standard cheese plate, one might find:

  • cheese (duh)
  • fruit (figs, grapes, dates, raisins, apple slices, jam, berries)
  • cured meats
  • nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts)
  • seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
  • pickled vegetables
  • olives
  • bread or crackers
  • dark chocolate

You can probably see where I’m going with this: a cheese plate is a veritable gold mine of electrolytes. Break down the platter, and you get:

  • calcium (cheese)
  • potassium (dried fruits, dark chocolate)
  • sodium (cheese, meats, nuts, bread, crackers, olives)
  • phosphorus (cheese, nuts, meats, seeds)
  • magnesium (nuts, dark chocolate, seeds)

I started eating a combination of almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, dark chocolate, raisins, and cheese before my games, and I haven’t had a migraine since. I think of it as a healthy, yuppie trail mix packed with stuff that may help you continue to see straight after bending it (like Beckham).

I hope you never get migraines, but if you do, I empathize. Maybe eating a sensibly sized cheese plate before you tear it up on the field, court, or rink will work for you, but maybe it won’t. Consult your damn physician, and go enjoy a cheese plate with a friend either way.

Blackbelly Boulder cheese plate

Giant pile of electrolytes on a Blackbelly cheese plate in Boulder

All content © Unchained Eatery, LLC 2010-2015.

Deep Fat Fry those Suckers, Mom!

In honor of Fat Tuesday… Deep Fried Oreos®.

Deep Fried Oreos

My Red-Blooded American 8-year-old nephew instructed my sister… “Deep Fat Fry those Suckers, Mom!”

Artery-bustin’ recipe:

Ingredients

2 quarts vegetable oil (suitable for frying)
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (not for frying)
1 cup pancake mix
1 package of sandwich cookies

Cooking steps

1. Heat oil in deep fryer to 375° F (aka 190° C).

2. Hand-mix egg, milk, and two teaspoons of vegetable oil in one bowl until smooth.

3. Stir in pancake mix until dry lumps are gone.

4. Dip cookies into batter one at a time, and carefully place into hot fryer oil. Extremely carefully!

5. Fry 4 cookies at a time to maintain adequate cooking room in the deep fryer.

6. Cook until cookies have turned golden brown, which should take about two minutes.

7. Drain on a pan or cookie sheet lined with paper towels.

8. Serve and enjoy! My nephew reported that they taste a lot like chocolate-chip pancakes.

“Young man, you’re not having pancakes for breakfast… you’re having *fried* cake with *syrup* for breakfast!”
(Jim Gaffigan)

100 Percent Mexicano – CLOSED

Boulder's best enchiladas @ 100% Mexicano

Best chicken enchiladas in Boulder at 100% Mexicano – $9. Oh yes.

UPDATE: Sadly, 100% Mexicano has closed… they’ll certainly be missed.

Without a doubt: This is the best Mexican food in Boulder. For all of you who’ve been patiently waiting for a replacement for our beloved Juanita’s, the search is over. In honor of this search finally concluding, I feel it necessary to enlist Survivor to really drive this point home:

What a tender offering. Thank you, Survivor.

So… several items to note about 100 Percent Mexicano:

– This is the best Mexican food I’ve ever had.

They even have an item made from pork throat on the menu. And I think we can all agree: it doesn’t get much more authentic than pork throat.

100 Percent Mexicano is perfect for your next night out in Boulder.

Allow me to plan your night for you:

  1. Between 5-6 p.m., drive to the strip mall where the DMV is in Boulder. Yes, that one. Yes, it’s in a strip mall at 28th & Iris.
  2. Are you still with me? Good. Park your car in the FREE parking lot (extremely rare in Boulder).
  3. Head toward the DMV, then happily stroll past their doors into 100 Percent Mexicano.
  4. Order a margarita or one of their authentic sippers, such as the Jamaican Flower Juice.
  5. Place your food order – my favorite is the chicken enchiladas with green sauce.
  6. Remove your jaw from the floor when you get the bill because it’s so cheap.
  7. Eat the free chips and awesome salsa they serve you.
  8. Prepare to eat the best meal you’ve had in ages.
  9. Savor your meal, then head to downtown Boulder after 7 p.m. By this point, you’re already fed, you’re not spending way too much money or standing in line for mediocre Rio food, you just had the best Mexican food in Boulder, AND parking is free because it’s after 7:00. Go do whatever you want now.

To be clear, 100 Percent Mexicano is several orders of magnitude better than Juanita’s. True, it doesn’t have the world’s most perfect atmosphere (read: strip mall), but it more than makes up for dim lighting and cheesy, sweaty drunk college kids with excellent food, smiling staff, free parking, a quaint outdoor patio, and a heap of value for the money. This place is a no-brainer, so enjoy!

Also, a note about 100%’s happy hour… check out Wednesday. This is some low-maintenance activity to get discounted quesadillas.

100% Mexicano Boulder - Loco Face happy hour

Make a crazy face for a cheap quesadilla? Sí!

 

Click here for:

menu

map

My Brother’s Bar

My Brother’s Bar helps you avoid expensive and uncomfortable Denver parking-latrine garage scenarios thanks to their free parking lot…

My parents hate this place.

I happen to love it.

About every five years, my mom and step-dad come to visit me. They showed up in 2001, 2005, and 2010. I’m guessing I’ll see them with a Rocky Mountain background again in 2015 or so.

The first time they visited, we drove to Colorado Springs, Golden, Estes Park, Denver, Boulder, and a few other places I’m forgetting.

The second time they showed up, we went to fewer cities, but more restaurants. Notably, we went to The Med in Boulder and ordered 21 appetizers, which you can read about here.

Most recently (3rd visit), we went to Oskar Blues (Lyons), Radda, The Med, Le Peep, Mead Street, and… My Brother’s Bar (MBB).

Let me first report that I’m not sure the ‘rents hated MBB so much as they hated downtown Denver in general. We walked – in the hot sun – from Uptown to MBB, which is next door to REI… probably too long of a walk to begin with to go to a place that’s something of a dive, but that’s beside the point. I’m not sure if my mom and s’dad didn’t care for the walk, the “condiment caddy”, or the burgers, but… they were less than impressed. This was slightly disheartening as I really talked up MBB, but this had to happen at some point. Statistically speaking, I suppose they had to hate at least one of my favorite places. 😦

As mentioned: I love My Brother’s Bar – for several reasons:

  1. They have an assload of imported beers on tap, AND you can order by the pitcher.
  2. Their bison burgers kick ass. To add to the ass kicking, they even named their bison burger after CU’s mascot, Ralphie the Bison. Order the Ralphie Burger! (it’s not actually made of Ralphie… as far as you know…)
  3. MBB plays only the finest classical music, which makes it an even better choice for a dive, because you don’t know what to think when you’re sitting at a dive place that plays classical music, except that what you’re doing must be awesome. I think it’s the classiest dive in Denver.
  4. They have one of the best shaded patios in Denver. It’s one of my favorite places to spend Saturday afternoon to escape the hot Colorado sun.
  5. Unlike most Denver restaurants, MBB has its own parking lot that you do not have to pay for. Swish… score. Go there next weekend.

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Khow Thai Cafe

To a certain extent, apparently, I like spicy food. I like the kind of spice that sort of kicks your ass, but doesn’t continue to kick you while you’re down. It turns out I was kicked while down at the Khow Thai Cafe, but it was completely my own damn fault.

The server saw that I was struggling to make an ordering decision, so she said, “Do you like it spicy?

I, grinning like an idiot, said, “Of course!

She went on to recommend the “Pad Kee Mow”, which, in the Thai language means “Melty Hot Uranium in Your Mouth”.*

hot lava picture

Lava is typically a hot substance — of high temperature; it is boiling, hot, and generally the opposite of chilly.

 
*This is a complete fabrication and means nothing of the sort.

Quoting Khow Thai’s online menu, here are the Pad Kee Mow ingredients: Spicy Flat Noodles with Fresh Chili, Garlic, Bell Pepper, Basil Leaves, Tomato, Onion & Chinese Broccoli. Note also that this menu item had a tiny little pepper next to it, which means “Painfully Boiling Lava Hot, But You’ll Still Love It”, which I did. I will absolutely go back to this place. The food, while cooked with Satan’s palate in mind, was excellent. Next time, I’ll take care to specify that I do NOT like it spicy, because, as their menu states: you have your “Choice of Mild, Medium, American Hot or Thai Hot”. I’m not sure if I received American or Thai Hot, but I definitely got what I deserved.

Khow Thai is perfect for lunch, and parking is free, which is nearly unheard of in downtown Boulder.

Multiple thumbs up for Khow Thai. Thanks for kicking my mouth’s ass!

Khow Thai parking lot in Boulder

Khow Thai in Boulder has ample, free parking – a Boulder rarity

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BNI Boulder – get your happy hour on!

BNI Boulder group concensus on where to gather for happy hour

BNI Boulder group consensus on where to gather for happy hour

Everyone knows Boulder loves happy hour. Here are a few tried-and-true locales to consider for your monthly after-work gatherings. I’m not a happy hour expert yet, but God knows I’m practicing! Here’s the list…

Avery Brewing Company

This is obviously an easy one… Avery has long, high-top tables, $2-ish beer tasters, great pub food in “sharing” sizes – including pizza – and a friendly staff. It’s not the largest dining/sipping area, but that just makes networking easier. And you’ve gotta hand it to them for building a patio in an office park.

Bitter Bar

Cocktail artistry and creativity is not dead! Particularly not at the Bitter Bar on Walnut.
Hint: When a place serves a drink called That Green Drink, you don’t think about it – you just order it. Their food is certainly on the rich side, and that’s generally a good thing if you’re enjoying a Bitter Original Cocktail. Did I mention they serve S’mores? Another no-brainer on the ordering front…

Rueben’s Burger Bistro

I can think of at least six reasons to go to Rueben’s for happy hour:

45+ Belgian beers and microbrews on tap
– Premium cocktails, wine, and draft beer are half off from 3-6 p.m.
– Appetizers are half off from 3-6 p.m.
– Rueben’s has a large bar area with plenty of seats and standing room.
– It’s a block from Pearl Street.
– You can order jr.-size cheeseburgers for $1.25 each.

Brasserie Ten Ten

The Brasserie doesn’t boast the largest bar area in Boulder, but it makes up for its modest size with one of the best kitchens – and a French wine selection that would influence even those most ardent supporters of “freedom fries” to order a glass or two. You can happily stuff yourself on small-plate appetizers ranging from $1-5, and beer/wine/cocktails are around $3/each. Plus, they have a 17-inch TV in the bar!* Woo hoo!

*Yes, a 17-inch TV. That’s not a typo.

The Med

I love recommending the Med, and I hate recommending the Med. I love it because they appear to have the best happy hour of any Boulder restaurant. I hate recommending it because everyone knows this, and they all usually get there before I do. So… if you get to the Med by 4 p.m., you’ll probably have a great experience. If you get there at 5, you’ll still have a great experience, but you may have to wait an hour or more to enjoy that great time. Regardless, the Med should be at the top of your Boulder happy hour list.

Jill’s Restaurant and Bistro (at St. Julien)

I hate to get too geeky here, but allow me to describe Jill’s special dining room (which may technically be part of the St. Julien Hotel, to which it’s attached). It’s a circular area next to the bar with low lighting and a giant, circular (of course), wrap-around booth. I’m saying I dig the ambiance. I also dig the half-price appetizers. And yes, to answer your question: they serve tater tots. The tots are on the fancy side, but they’re still tots, and they rule. Happy hour food is half price from 4:30 – 6:00, and if you’re lucky, you might catch some Latin dance on the patio outside. Maybe not in March, but you never know.

Bistro Tots at Jill’s Restaurant in Boulder

Delectable Bistro Tots at Jill’s Restaurant in Boulder with truffle aioli & reggiano cheese. Tot Heaven.

More:

If this isn’t quite enough light reading, you can find more Boulder happy hour ideas here: Happy Hour Boulder.

Beer snobbery in Boulder: Top-5 beer-friendly restaurants

beer snob

Are you a beer snob? You should be.

1. Backcountry Pizza & Tap House

50 beers on tap! 25 are static, and Backcountry frequently serves Russian River Blind Pig IPA, which is reason enough to go there nearly every day. The other 25 are rotating taps, and this is one of the few Colorado eateries that carries Pliny the Elder and, extremely rarely, Pliny the Younger. Top it off with $2 pizza slices, and this is win-win all over the place.

2. Rueben’s Burger Bistro

This place has so many Belgian beers, it created a separate Belgian beer menu just for you. Rueben’s also has the best burger in Boulder, in my opinion. Order the Abt 12 on draft at happy hour for $5 – definitely a steal.

3. West End Tavern

West End used to have one of the best rooftop views in Boulder, then some jokers erected a building just west of it and bogarted half their view. The good news is, West End now shows a variety of movies on the monstrosity of a wall constructed just to its west. Anyway, the important thing is: they have great pub food, two levels of restaurant & bar, and a staff that knows their way around hops, malt, yeast, and other buzzy beer terms. I recommend ordering anything spirit-barrel aged and starting your meal with sweet-potato chips and house-made guacamole. Yum.

4. The Med

I’ll just say that I’ve always loved The Med. Even before I moved to Colorado, I wanted to be a local at The Med. Best tapas around, consistently great food, awesome happy hour specials, $5 pizza… what more could you want? Well, apparently, I could want to buy bombers at around a dollar or two above retail store cost. I’m not sure how they do it, but The Med sells (gasp) reasonably priced bombers of very good beer: Dogfish Head, Russian River, Bear Republic, Lost Abbey, Firestone-Walker… I’m impressed. Get there early!

5. Avery Brewing Co.

Here’s all you need to know: Avery has 4-oz tasters for $2-ish each. Yeah. Sign us up. They also serve pizza, sandwiches, etc. from a gourmet catering shop across the parking lot. Get a designated driver!

Bonus round:

Lucky Pie Pizza and Tap House

For those of you Denver types who aren’t interested in driving all the way to Boulder — just go to Louisville (Colorado – not Kentucky). Lucky Pie has a couple dozen microbrews on tap, phenomenal pizza, and a little appetizer known as Joe’s Nuts that’s fun to order, particularly if you used to watch Beavis and Butthead.

Parisi Italian Market and Deli

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Parisi Denver menu

map

Southern Sun Pub & Brewery

the unchained eatery

Full review coming soon!

Click here for:

menu

map

Please note that Southern Sun is CASH ONLY, so plan accordingly. They do have a cash machine on site, but you’ll pay extra fees. Oh yes – you will.