Down and Out in Denver

The Anti-Blizzard of 2010

Posted in denver, weather by Alastair on December 28, 2010

While Blake has been experiencing the Blizzard of 2010 and San Francisco has had its very own (though under recognized) Fogpocalypse of 2010, Denver has been seeing some rather unseasonably warm and sunny weather… For the time being. Now, I’m not a big fan of blizzards. In fact, I’m still haunted by memories of the Storm of the Century aka the (Great) Blizzard of 1993, a large “cyclonic storm” that occurred on March 12–13, 1993, on the East Coast. Yes, yours truly traveled north to Providence and Boston for Spring Break, unlike those who headed to warmer climes. You live. You learn.

In any case, all this talk and reminiscing of snow and blizzards has made me wish for a little winter wonderland all of my own… Something I will not be experiencing as I head off to the City by the Bay for some New Year celebrating. So whether you’re socked in snow, fog or sun, we hope you are spending this New Year’s Eve with someone you love. Wishing you all the best in 2011! 

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Blizzard of 2010

Posted in travel, weather by Blake on December 28, 2010

Impassable Driveway

View in front through wet glass

Greetings, loyal readers, from the other side of the Blizzard of 2010.  Forgive the DOD silence, but I’ve been celebrating Christmas in northern New England. Above is what we woke up to yesterday morning.  We were trapped!  But trapped surrounded by ample leftovers and endless Christmas cookies; we had more than enough food, water, and firewood to survive. And the power actually remained on, which is rare in a storm like this one.

By this morning, the plow had come through and it was possible to get out.  My almost full 8-passenger flight left on time (after the most rigorous airport screening I have ever experienced) and I’m now camped out at Logan awaiting my second, and final, flight home.  Despite all kinds of dire warnings about overcrowded airports and delayed planes, things are remarkably calm here.  And thus far, no word about my own flight being delayed.  Fingers crossed…

East Coat Adventures

Posted in bars, food, gays, outdoors, scene, travel, weather by Blake on August 3, 2010

While Alastair was soaking up the sun in Palm Springs – are you staying at a clothing-optional resort, Alastair? Enquiring minds want to know – I was having an East Coast adventure.  It all began with a work trip last weekend to Rochester, New York; continued with four days at a friend’s cabin in the Adirondacks; then a night in New York City.  I then joined some of my best gal pals from college for a road trip to West Virginia. For a gay wedding.  I kid you not.  Then back to New York, and finally back home.  Some observations about my ten days on the road:

Pandora Boxx

Gay bars in Rochester are fun!  Not only did we see Pandora Boxx, one-time star of RuPaul’s Drag Race perform live at the Tilt Nightclub and Ultralounge (more than a lounge, an ultra lounge), but we also hung out at Rochester’s Leather and Levi Bar, Bachelor Forum (a little lite on the leather and levi, it must be said, not that I’m complaining; they also have what can only be described as a gay sculpture garden out front), and the most fun was had at 140 Alex: karaoke, drag shows, great music, strong drinks.  Best of all, it was as mixed as can be: people of all shades and hues, ladies and gents, butch and femme, even straight people!  This is what seems to happen in small towns: less queer self-segregation.  DOD approves.

The Garbage Plate at Nick Tahou's in Rochester

Rochester is known for something called the “garbage plate”: macaroni, beans, red hots (apparently some sort of spicy miniature hot dog), beef, and a variety of other delicious elements.  Health.com has named the garbage plate the fattiest food in New York State.  Needless to say, I did not partake, though I did have sushi. In Rochester. At a restaurant that “specialized” in the food of at least 5 Asian nations.  And it wasn’t half bad.  The rust belt surprises every once in a while.

The Adirondacks are lovely in July.  Highs in the low 80s and overnights in the 60s.  My gal pals and I swam, we boated, we ran, we ate ice cream at a stand called Northern Lights in a quaint lakeside town sitting on a bench.  One of us (not me) prepared a delicious bourbon marinated (though he said marinaaaded) pork loin on the barbecue.  We even hiked.  In short, it was rather all-American.  And that was not actually unpleasant.

I love New York City.  Sometimes I miss it like I might miss an absent limb.  I used to feel like my life continued on there even while I was physically in Denver.  I am pretty much convinced that it is the center of the universe.  That said, it is a foul disgusting humid pit of a city at the height of the summer.  The nights were actually reasonable but during the day I was a sweaty mess and found myself missing the very dry heat of Denver, which doesn’t leave a boy feeling quite so unkempt.  That said, I must have lost about three and a half pounds in water weight just walking around in one afternoon.

The Hillbrook Inn near Charles Town, WV

West Virginia is beautiful!  I was a wee bit scared that four gay boys on a road trip to WV might well have difficulty making it out of the state alive, and while we definitely got a couple strange looks at a rest stop, we also had a fantastic time.  We were staying at the Hillbrook Inn, a beautiful 1920s Tudor mansion converted to a bed and breakfast and the site was idyllic.  Manicured lawns, patios and porches, and a stream running through the property all made it the ideal spot to lounge around with good friends for a weekend.  They even provide quilts for that very lounging on the lawns. The wedding party had the whole place to itself and it turns out that the grooms’ other friends were lots of fun as well.  We also ate well and drank ourselves silly.  In short, it was all a wedding weekend should be, and this is coming from someone who objects to marriage.

Now, alas, back to work…

Parallel 17

Posted in denver, fashion, food, tv, Uncategorized, weather, wine by Blake on April 24, 2010

Where is my post evaluating the season finale of Project Runway, you might be asking yourself. Where indeed?  I had to attend an odious work function on Thursday night and so missed what I had thought was only going to be a reunion show.  I was wrong.  It was the finale.  And it’s still not on the Lifetime website.  Of course I know who the winner is and I’ve watched the brief clips of the collections, but I have yet to see the actual episode or the reunion episode that apparently aired in the MotR slot.  Dear reader, I am without a DVR.  So I await Lifetime’s decision to include the finale on mylifetime.com.

In the meantime, I can share with you the dinner that Alastair and I had last night.  We ventured out in the wind and the rain to one of our longtime faves, Parallel 17, the Vietnamese restaurant named for the line of latitude that once separated North from South Vietnam and presumably for the fact that it’s on 17th Avenue (at Franklin).  We haven’t been to P17 in a while and the menu has changed somewhat; it seems like there are more appetizers but perhaps fewer entrées.  That said, there seemed to be a number of specials we overheard servers telling their tables about; we were not informed of these ourselves (!).  No great loss, as our meal was very tasty!  We began with the calamari, which P17 serves with deep-fried slices of jalapeños, oranges, and other citrus fruits as well as a salad of watercress and a tangy dressing.  Delicious.  We followed that up with an order of the steamed pork buns, themselves served with a spicy cilantro and cabbage slaw.  These appetizers, it must be said, are not small.

Braised Short Ribs with Chinese Broccoli, Potatoes, and Onion Rings

We would have been fine splitting just one entrée but of course we had already ordered two.  And they, too, were generous.  This was the rare moment where your DOD boys were unable to clean their plates (or, in my case, cutting board).  Alastair ordered the coffee-braised short ribs, which he’d had before.  They come with a potato purée, onion rings, and Chinese broccoli that looked very green and very tasty.

Duck Four Wraps

I ordered the “Duck Four Wraps”: duck prepared four ways (rillette, mousse pâté, pan seared, and confit) and about a million other things (pickled onions, radishes, garlic; scallions, jicama, basil, and on and on).  All of this one wraps up in four pancakes.  So. Much. Food.  All of it very good indeed, particularly the confit (skin so crispy!) and the pâté, which was so rich I couldn’t finish it. Alastair and I paired our meals with two different glasses of dry Italian white chosen from P17’s good selection of wines by the glass.

P17 was awarded Westword’s Best Nouvelle Vietnamese in 2008; I wonder of course whether or not Denver actually provides much competition in this category. Regardless, the food is delicious, the service is friendly (even if only certain diners get told about the specials), and the ambiance — save the TV featuring the basketball game (why do ALL Denver restaurants have TVs for showing sports? The subject for another post) — is warm and pleasant.  Especially on an evening of gusting winds and occasional rain.

Posted in denver, weather by Alastair on April 23, 2010

Tornado warnings yesterday… and then this. I only had time to record the scene from my iPhone within the stretch of an hour and a half. I heard from folks in Evergreen and Golden that they were getting some serious snow, today… and it looks like we may be in store for more of the same tomorrow. Really, Denver?!