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Christmas Morning on the Incline: an adventure in snow hiking.

Before we delved into the presents, food and general laziness of Christmas morning, my brother and I headed up to the Incline for a quick early morning workout. The Incline is generally full of icy patches and packed snow from late November until April, and hiking it becomes almost more about foot placement than conditioning. Thankfully, and pretty late to the game, we have discovered Yaktrax which make hiking this thing much more manageable. Starting the day by hiking 2000 feet while the sun is rising is a great start to Christmas mornings. Check out our gallery below for a glimpse into how the Incline will look for the next few months.

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Tour de Manger: Denver

Last week the Girl came out for a long weekend. We haven’t explored a lot of Denver so her trip was a good excuse to spend a couple of days in town, check out the neighborhoods and explore some of the various food and drink joints that I’ve been hearing about. Below are the places we checked out and our impressions.

Lohi Steak Bar: in need of a late night meal we were pointed towards Lohi Steak Bar (3200 Tejon Street ) in Highlands Park, northwest of downtown Denver. The meat centric menu was surprisingly diverse with open faced steak sandwiches to portabello mushroom burgers. Our shrimp po’ boy and steak sandwhich were good. Not huge portions for the price, but a good late night meal. The best part about Lohi is the atmosphere; great bar setup, lots of attractive people and a fun setting. Lohi also plays host to one of the most attractive waitresses I’ve ever seen. Wow.

Café Calienté: we hit up this place in need of a quick lunch and a cup of coffee. Located in Highland Park’s 32nd Street (think lots of restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops and bars), Café Calienté (3701 W. 32nd Ave.) has a lot of good sandwich and quiche options and the coffee is decent too. The owner is excited about every person that comes in, making you feel like her most valued customer before you’ve even made it to the counter.

Crema: I had heard about this new coffee joint located on Larimer, north of Downtown (2862 Larimer) through some Denver restaurant magazines. As someone addicted to the Bean I was intent on checking this place out. When we pulled up my high hopes climbed a little bit higher; funky industrial type facade, wood centric interior with a minimalistic design. Very hipster, very cool. And the coffee?…not as good. In fact, you could say it burst my little bubble. We ordered Americanos which were slightly watery, not very strong and definitely not what I was hoping for. They were still good, but no where near Portland’s Stumptown offering. However, they do French press the coffee, a good indication of a shop serious about coffee. The most glaring issue at Crema is the service, which was incredibly weird; the guy behind the counter was trying to do eight things at once while the other barista was hanging out and talking. It was almost like they were unprepared for more than two people ordering at a time. Hopefully they get it together, Crema would be a great addition to the Colorado coffee scene.

Bitters Bar (at Happy Noodle House): For happy hour on Friday we ventured up to Boulder to check out Happy Noodle and the Bitters Bar (835 Walnut Street). This is my new favorite happy hour place in Boulder. Fun and innovative drinks, great happy hour food at minimal prices and a really cool and cozy bar setting. Wood paneling, a subdued Asian motif and necktie and vest rocking bartenders make this place feel like a Prohibition style speakeasy, classy-Japanese style.

Hi*Rise: for our last breakfast in Denver we were told to check out Snooze (2262 Larimer Street, and 2 other locations), a local Denver breakfast spot that is highly touted as an indication of Denver’s improving dining scene. Unfortunately, it’s so touted that there was a line out the door. A good sign, but not a good strategic move when trying to quench the girlfriend’s need for food. So instead we hit up Hi*Rise (2162 Larimer Street), an artisan bakery with a variety of breakfast and lunch options. My egg and cheese sandwich with chorizo on a jalepeno bagel was good, albeit not nearly spicy enough (why can’t restaurants stop dulling flavors to appeal to Americans who are used to the blandness of crappy manufactured food?). The Girl’s breakfast sandwich on a croissant was also good, but again kind of benign. However, it tasted like everything was extremely fresh. And that is the appeal of Hi*Rise; nothing innovative or too out of the box but everything is fresh and simple. Not somewhere I would take out of town guests, but a good stop for a lighter meal.

Pho 95: our last stop in Denver on our way out of town, Pho 95 (1002 South Federal) is a hole in the wall restaurant strategically located in a rundown strip mall in a rundown part of Denver. It also served up the best meal of the trip. Giant bowls of noodles, veggies and meat accompanied by a giant plate of fresh bean sprouts (mung beans), basil and limes. My veggie bowl and the Girl’s seafood bowl where both amazing and incredibly fresh tasting. We also tried out one of the best coffee drinks I’ve ever had: espresso dripped into a cup of condensed milk. Heart attack in a cup, and I loved every drop. Pho 95 was incredibly packed but the service was incredibly quick and efficient. You know a pho place is good when you are the only doofy white person in there.  Definitely one of my new favorite restaurants in Colorado.

Having obsessed over the Northwest food scene for the last couple of years I was truly hesitant to embrace what Denver had to offer. But as we’re quickly finding about Colorado, the food scene here is good, and getting better all of the time. I’m not ready to abandon my loyalty to Portland as my favorite food city, but Denver is starting to make a strong case for mixed allegiances.

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Casey’s photo diary of The Manitou Springs Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Parade

Editors Note: This is Casey’s first entry on TWW and we had a few problems with the pictures. After getting everything figured out we have finally thrown up the post, a couple of weeks late but whatever. Thanks to Casey for a great article and providing a constant source of humor for the entire weekend.

I apologize for the tardiness of my little contribution here. The coffin races were a couple of weekends ago, but I prefer to think of it as timely considering that it should help everyone get in a festive mood for the fall.

The weekend of October 24th was the 15th annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Parade. It’s awesome that the weirdest part of that sentence is that this town has done this 14 times before. Hopefully the research and archives staff at TWW can provide an informative explanation of how the event came about because even now I have no idea why this happens.  First of all, I realized quickly that it was no coincidence that I would experience this thing for the first time by getting woken up by a one eyed black cat licking my face.  An hour later I vomited at the top of Manitou’s famous Incline in front of a lovely couple and some high schoolers. I was wondering why I had gotten out of bed at all and this was before we had even set foot in the town. Here is what we walked into once we finally made it. Continue reading

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TWW Daily Feed for October 6th: The Beer Edition

One of the best parts of the fall season is the onslaught of seasonal beers, and one of the best part of seasonal beers is that there are so many I don’t feel like an alcoholic when I insist on drinking as many of them as I can. Yes, I know the logic doesn’t work, but it makes sense to my brain and that’s all that matters. There are so many good beers to check out that its hard to recommend any one or two, but all of this thinking about drinking (ha!) has resulted in a beer themed Daily Feed, to help you expand your drinking horizons. Because what’s the point of running, riding and recreating if you can’t enjoy a beer for all of your efforts? The Feed: Continue reading

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What the Hell is Max Searching For, Volume 2

Welcome back to another edition of What the Hell is Max Searching For?, where we provide answers to questions and inquiries inputted into our handy “search” box, questions that seem to come from Max’s food and fitness oriented brain. My favorite part of writing this is imagining Max sitting at home and thinking up this stuff. I think you’ll see why… Continue reading

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What the Hell is Max Searching For, Volume 1

As promised in the Daily Feed for today, this is the first edition of our “What the Hell is Max Searching For” feature where we are going to try and provide answers to some of the search queries that visitors to TWW have been entering into the site. Again, we dedicate this to Max because some of the searches seem to come directly from his Ski Patroller/oxygen deprived brain. Below are the search terms/questions and the best answers we could come up with. Feel free to contribute if you have better or more accurate information.

1. “Does coffee or espresso make you poop more”

Answer: Generally, coffee. Here is why: coffee is more acidic than espresso due to the process used to make coffee (as discussed in Max’s Guide to Coffee). Acid in the stomach increases bile production, and bile is a natural laxative (ie: poop time!). Additionally, you will generally get more caffeine from a cup of coffee, and caffeine’s stimulant effect also acts as a laxative. This question leads perfectly into the next:

2. “Is drip coffee or an Americano stronger”

Answer: depends on how much espresso you like in your Americano. 1 0z of espresso generally has slightly less caffeine than a 6 oz cup of coffee. This is because of the beans used for espresso and the short time the water passes through the grounds. Most Americano’s get about two shots of espresso in a 12oz cup – the equivalent 12oz cup of coffee has more caffeine. However, if you drop 4 shots of espresso in the Americano, bam! Stronger than coffee.

3.The Incline compared to Mt. Sanitas

Answer: this wasn’t really posed in the form of a question, but for the record Mt. Sanitas is longer than the Incline, running 1.4 miles uphill to the Incline’s 1 mile. However, the Incline is much steeper, gaining 2100 feet in that one mile, whereas the Sanitas hike gains about 1255 feet. Both are great workouts, and both have a high likelihood of spotting young, fit and attractive mating partners.

4. “Who is Heidi Swanson”

Answer: Hands off! The lovely Ms. Swanson is the operator of one of my favorite food blogs 101 Cookbooks. She is a cook/photographer extradonaire who has written a great cookbook that focuses on natural foods and regularly posts new recipes, pictures and travel logs on her blog. She is also coyly trying to play hard to get from me.

And there you go; our first edition of our new feature. Please let us know if you have any suggestions or better answers. Please don’t share any coffee/pooping stories. And please thank @maxtaam for providing another great idea for a post.

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Max’s Guide to Coffee

Our good friend Max suggested that I put together a sort of “coffee for dummies” post so that people would understand what I’m talking about when I say that the Americano at Alterra is “dark, and smooth but toward the sweeter side.” After thinking about it for about two minutes, I decided it was a great idea; and then I realized that for all of my talk about coffee I have almost no clue about what other coffee beverages are made of.  It’s hard to speak on a subject when the Starbucks menu seems to be written in a different language. Chai skim latte? Macchiato? No clue. Frappuccino? Um, something that is frapped? So instead of writing a “Coffee for Dummies” post, which would include me, I decided to dedicate this to Max, whose simple request has turned into an exercise in coffee education.

For this guide I used a variety of internet resources, Wikipedia and a couple of personal observations. Onward…

Coffee and Espresso

Both coffee and espresso come from coffee beans, which are simply roasted seeds from a coffee plant. The difference between espresso and coffee is how the beans are prepared to make the drink: espresso is a more concentrated form of coffee, prepared by forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans (this requires a espresso machine). The result is a much thicker, more concentrated form of coffee that is used as a base for other drinks (such as lattes and americanos).

Traditional coffee is made by running hot water through ground coffee beans, resulting in a lighter and less concentrated drink than espresso. Coffee is typically more acidic than espresso because the brewing process to make coffee results in releasing more of the bitter and acidic parts of the coffee bean into the brew. This is why coffee makes you poop more than espresso. There are several ways to make coffee;

drip coffee: Drip coffee is made by dripping/running hot water over ground beans, and then catching the result in a container. This is what the household coffee maker does.

percolator: a percolator is a container with a filter that uses heat to turn the water into steam, which then condenses and drips through the coffee grounds. These are good for camping and produce about the same quality of coffee as drip machines.

French press: a french press is a cylindrical glass or plastic container with a top that includes a filter and plunger. The ground coffee beans are placed at the bottom of the press along with hot water. The plunger is then pushed through the water, resulting in the water absorbing the coffee grounds and becoming coffee. This is my favorite way to make coffee; it results in a less acidic, stronger brew than drip coffee provides, and it gives you street cred with any girl you manage to bring back to your lair.

Ounce for ounce espresso has much higher levels of caffeine; 2 to 3 times as much as coffee. Thankfully, most people don’t drink the equivalent 6 ounces of espresso as they do coffee. Feeling like you are on meth is no fun. A typical one ounce serving of espresso has about 1/2 the caffeine as a 6 ounce cup of coffee.

The Beverages

We’ve got the basics down, so now we get to decode what the coffee shop menu is trying to tell you. Personally, baristas intimidate me slightly with their tight jeans, cool tattoos and condescending approach to customer service, so hopefully knowing what I’m talking about will allow me to psychologically reduce them to the eight dollar-an-hour wage slaves they are.

coffee: usually drip prepared, served in a variety of sizes depending on how annoying your day/significant other/co-workers are.

espresso: can be served by itself as a “shot” of one ounce. A “double shot” is 2 ounces, and so on.

americano (cafe americano): is espresso diluted in hot water. A good alternative to coffee, americano’s can contain as many shots of espresso as you want and usually come in 6oz, 12oz or 16oz cups.

breve: lightly frothed half and half passed through espresso.

cappuccino: a latte on steroids, a cappuccino has more espresso and less steamed milk (about 50/50), resulting in a stronger taste. Done right, a cappuccino should have a layer of foamed milk on top and a hot Italian girl serving it to you.

cafe au lait: essentially a latte, but with coffee substituted for the espresso. The Coors Lite of lattes.

latte: espresso and steamed milk (about 1/3 espresso to 2/3 steamed milk) – also the source of the most annoying drinks overheard being ordered at Starbucks, “I would like a skim chai tea latte, extra hot, low whip.” A piece of me just died.

macchiato: a shot of espresso with a little bit of milk on top

mocha: a latte, but with a little bit of chocolate added, usually in powder form.

red eye: a cup of coffee with a shot of espresso. Legal heroin, with the added benefit of cheap refills. I love this one.

ristretto: a shot of espresso that has been brewed faster, or with less water, than a normal espresso shot, resulting in less caffeine and a taste that can be less bitter than espresso.

switchblade: four shots of espresso, chocolate

turkish coffee: coffee made by placing finely ground coffee in a pot and then boiling the water, which results in a stronger and stronger tasting coffee. Popular with the Macbook crowd.

And there you have it; our tour through the coffee shop menu board. If we’ve left anything off, or got something wrong, please let us know.  And when in doubt the next time the barista is looking at you with haughty impatience remember this: coffee is good, espresso is better, and anything from Starbucks is going to be a horrendous interpretation of both. Plan accordingly, and make sure to thank Max for your new found coffee knowledge.

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