Celebrating Thanksgiving in Estes Park, Colorado this year to help good friend Barb Schurke (center) celebrate one of those even 10 numbered birthdays that we don't always say out loud! Barb's been telling me for at least 2 years that she wanted to celebrate this birthday at the Stanley Hotel and had been telling family for even longer that this is where she wanted to be when she turned that certain numbered birthday.
We're heeeeeeeeeere! And it's gorgeous! This is the front of the Stanley Hotel a registered Historic Hotel built at the turn of the last century by the man who invented the Stanley Steamer. It's probably more famous for it's association to Stephen King who wrote The Shining while staying in a room here and built the novel around his impressions of this hotel, supposedly the most haunted hotel in America. So not only is it one of the most beautifully built places we've ever stayed, it has that fun, grin-worthy quirkiness that lends an extra couple of fingers of fun.
View from the front veranda of the hotel.
And now, since this is a food blog, a little tour via food:
Our first room service meal was Ceasar salads complete with not only anchovies in the dressing but with anchovy filets on top. I confess I've never actually eaten an anchovy before so I was pleasantly surprised. They were buttery and a little salty, would be perfect on crackers alone or with a little coarse ground mustard or chimichurri sauce.
Appetizer for our first lunch almost all together: Barb, John, Roseanne, Dianne, Gene, and me. Smoked trout dip with sesame crisps and grilled lemon garnish. I could have made a meal out of this.
Roseanne's roasted red and gold beet sald with arugala and goat cheese--didn't get a bite but I almost ordered it--I heard lots of moans from that side of that table so I'm sure it would have been a good choice.
Loved this--Gene and I both giggled when we saw this on the menu and then he ordered it--It's a Croque Monsieur! Remember when I blogged about Julia Child's recipe for this french bistro sandwich--a grilled ham and cheese? This is the version with the mornay sauce on top and it was very good. The extra cheese sauce made a knife-and-fork creamy treat out of our traditionally hand-held sandwich. Served with arugula salad, Gene ate every bite
John and I both chose the Smoked Pheasant chowder after being assured by the waittress that it was a hearty meal unto itself. It was absolutely divine, so maybe that's why we both could have eaten twice as much to be satisfied and were a little disappointed that it didn't come served with bread or oyster crackers but we survived...probably to order it again!
Snow! Can't remember the last time I saw snow on the ground for Thanksgiving but we are, after all, in the mountains in Colorado so I would have been disappointed to not have seen it.
Our first dinner all together, with Barb's sister Carol, who drove in to celebrate the occasion as well.
You can see the lager label better in the burger pic but I left the bigger one. Our bartender told us the story behind this beer: the local micro-brewery several years ago would throw their leftover yeast and beer out the back door and a concerned little old lady in the neighborhood called them up and chastised them over it after seeing the local elk "partaking" of the waste. After all, she didn't want any drunken elk roaming the fine neighborhood. So the brewery took her seriously...and created their local favorite "Staggering Elk Lager" which pairs well with the GrubSteak's buffalo burger.
They all gave me a hard time about filming the salad: "Everybody's seen LETTUCE, Glenna!" Yes, very true but then again, how often do you have that lettuce served with a home-made mango/pineapple/jalapeno dressing? I rest my case.
My choice for the evening: Buffalo ravioli with mushroom sauce. OMG, yes!
Barb's pre-birthday (she had four hours to go to be official) official birthday cake: red velvet layers alternated with white chocolate cream cheese and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Oh yeah, Baby!
The perfect perfect perfect crowning moment to the evening. Carol took Gene and I on a mini tour around Estes Park and look who we saw lounging in front of the town library? He sat so still that Gene said "Is he real or a statue?" "Real!" Carol said and Gene flipped a U-ie so we could come back and see him again. Beautiful animal!
And his partner in crime grazing a little closer to the building, almost looking like a Christmas decoration.
Good times in Estes Park...with more to come at the 1pm hotel Thanksgiving buffet and 5pm Ghost Tour.