Colorado Smokehouse: Solid A

Once I wrote about Rudy’s barbecue, and people didn’t care much for my opinion. They hurled insults and hurt my feelings (just kidding — I don’t have feelings).

So it’s always with great trepidation that I write about barbecue because someone’s likely to disagree. Fine. Disagree. I’ve probably said this before, but arguing about barbecue is like arguing about your favorite color. You like what you like.

Anyway, we like the two-car-garage-size Colorado Smokehouse a great deal. Shame about having to be in Fountain, but it’s worth the trip. Maybe someday they’ll have a downtown location!

Colorado Smokehouse does things a little differently than other BBQ spots. Instead of focusing on one type, like Kansas City style or Memphis, Colorado Smokehouse offers a variety. Smart move. And the workers when we were there were very nice and accommodating with all our dumb questions.

Even The Gazette and The Indy agree: This is fine, fine barbecue. And when your two major papers come together like this in praise of food (“nirvana in a foam container”), well, it almost makes you think all the world’s problems can be solved if only everyone’d just sit down somewhere and have some barbecue.

Colorado Smokehouse, Fountain, Colorado

Adrienne had the chicken sandwich with the Carolina vinegar sauce. Her side was the macaroni and cheese, which has bacon in it (they might consider adding that info on the menu for the weird people like Adrienne who try to not eat bacon).

 

Colorado Smokehouse, Fountain, Colorado

I had the brisket with the sweet BBQ sauce. Next time, I think I'd like something with a little more kick, but this was delicious. The baked beans were incredible. Best I've had in Colorado, I think. We've heard good things about their desserts, too, but we were too full. Next time.

 

 

STOP! THIEF!

My greatest caper came when I was 15 and brilliantly stole a car stereo from Wal-Mart in Branson, Mo. Back then, the greeter put a green sticker on anything you brought in, so I purchased a cheap Roadmaster stereo, brought it back and clandestinely put the green sticker on a fancy Sony stereo (with auto-reverse cassette!) and walked out the front door. They stopped me in the parking lot, but I showed them the green sticker, and they let me go. Ocean’s 11, anyone? That’s right, people, I am that slick.

Since then, though, I have not done a lot of stealing. While I do have some trouble periodically with “laws,” and authority (and sometimes I drive too fast), shoplifting just isn’t my thing.

So it was with great surprise to be confronted at Sportsman’s Warehouse a while back right in the middle of the store by an employee accusing me of stealing 99-cent flies.

Here’s what happened: My friend Andrew and I were looking over the flies, and he was putting some in the plastic cups the store provides. We were discussing the merits of the black ant vs. the Woolly Bugger, dries vs. nymphs, the color chartreuse.

At some point, a Santa-Claus-looking worker steps up and says: Hey, guys, when you’re getting flies, go ahead and put them in these plastic cups and not in your pocket.

I looked over at Andrew’s cup, which had a half-dozen or so flies in it, then it occurred to me: My pocket? Wait, are you accusing me of putting flies in my pocket? Of stealing? Really?

Santa said that, yes, “someone” said they saw me put flies in my pocket, and he motioned to the observation deck surrounding the store. “Someone.” Is that someone a manager? Because it’s a crowded Saturday afternoon and this guy’s just publicly shamed me and accused me of stealing 99-cent flies. I’m going to need to talk to someone about this. I might have suggested he put his hands in my pockets to see what might be in there. I might have also told him that if I were to steal anything from this store, it would be big and expensive and I would get away with it. I might have caused a small scene.

Couple things here. You have a pretty irate customer on your hands asking to talk to a manager who’s upstairs, don’t just hand him the phone. If you’re a manager and you just called someone out wrongly, you take the time to march your ass downstairs and apologize in person.

Eventually, of course, the manager finds the time to come downstairs. He explained to me that they were using what’s called “enhanced customer service,” a loss-prevention strategy wherein a worker approaches a shoplifter and offers exaggerated service. This lets the shoplifter know he’s caught, and what will likely happen in most cases is the thief will go to another part of the store and dump the goods. Enhanced customer service would have looked something like this: Hey, guys, I see you’re considering the Blue-Wing Olive. Nice choice. You might also consider the Elk-Hair Caddis or the Parachute Adams. Can I tell you about our San Juan Worms?

Instead, Santa offered “hey, don’t put shit in your pockets” as his “enhanced customer service.” The manager explained that, yes, they really blew it on implementing that tactic. He explained, too, that they’ve been having a lot of trouble with people stealing flies and that they might be overly suspicious. So I got caught up in a botched-up loss-prevention maneuver because they can’t protect their inventory properly.

I wrote a letter to district manager Mike Murray out in Utah, because I had some suggestions.

A couple of ideas for what seem to be some serious problems in the Colorado Springs store:

  • If the “enhanced customer service” strategy is a proven theft deterrent, workers should be trained to use it properly. Simply accusing someone (wrongly) just creates tension.
  • If I’m a manager of a store, and this mistake had been made, I’d be on the floor before the customer even asked for me. I’d be there in person to apologize personally and in earnest. I would not have my employee hand the customer a phone. I would certainly not blame the fiasco on an overreaction because we’re unable to prevent theft.
  • If enough of your inventory is being lost to theft, it’s probably time to look at alternative display methods. Or perhaps it would be worthwhile to redistribute staffing from an area of the store that sells harder-to-steal items (boats?) to the fishing area.

A few weeks later, Mr. Murray wrote back: A tepid, one-sentence “thanks, I’ll look into it” email. “Enhanced” customer service? I’d settle for regular customer service at this point.

Everybody be cool this is a robbery, Sportsman's Warehouse, Colorado Springs

Everybody be cool, this is a robbery! I'm going to walk around with this bag, and I want you to put all your fly fishing gear in there: flies, snips, strike indicators, floatant. Don't be a hero.

Sportsman's Warehouse Colorado Springs

Sportsman's Warehouse's new fly-fishing display (proposed).

Sportsman's Warehouse, Colorado Springs

The elusive and highly prized Black Woolly Bugger.

 

Zucchini Soup Recipe

I thought I planted zucchini this year. But it turns out I didn’t. It was a zucchini-like plant. It was kind of hard like winter squash. I’m not sure if that’s how it’s supposed to be or if I let it get too big or what. Anyway, I wanted to do SOMETHING with it, but since it was hard it required a long time to cook. I love a silky zucchini soup, so that’s what I did. I made this up and you can do the same. If you start with onion and garlic sauteed in some olive oil, you can go from there with whatever you want to make your soup out of. If you want to use real zucchini, it will be tasty, too. If you like basil or some other herb better than cilantro, that’s fine. Soup is not that hard to make and the ingredient amounts are never the same, so you can start here and do your own thing.

Olive oil

A small onion

A couple cloves of garlic

Some zucchini

Chicken broth or water (chicken broth is better, and home made is best)

Cilantro

White beans

Pasta

Salt

Pepper

Some of the ingredients for zucchini soup

Some of the ingredients for zucchini soup

I sauteed the onion in the olive oil for 10 minutes or so. Then I added minced garlic for a couple more minutes. Then I added the chopped up squash. Cooked that all up till the squash was slightly softer. Then I added some chopped cilantro and some salt and pepper and cooked it for a minute or two more. Then I added the chicken broth- a good amount- covering the veggie mixture by a couple inches. I brought the whole thing to a boil, then down to a simmer and simmered it for an hour or so, until it all got soft and soupy. At that point it was a little too chunky for me so I pureed it slightly with a hand blender. Not too much, tho! Only a few seconds to get the really big pieces down a little! Then I added a can of white beans and a handful of spaghetti, broken in half. After 30 minutes or so the spaghetti was cooked and the soup was ready to eat. Yum!

Sauteeing the veggie mixture.

Sauteeing the veggie mixture.

There you have it, zucchini soup

There you have it, zucchini soup

Garden!

Well, it snowed last week and is supposed to get pretty frosty again tomorrow night. I brought in almost all my plants and covered my tomatoes with quilts and plastic. They were fine during the cold snap last week, hopefully they’ll make it another week or two!

As soon as the season is really over and everything is done I’ll do some recaps about what did well and what didn’t.

Meanwhile, here are some pics of the garden throughout the summer and early fall.

Huge basil plant in the front yard.

Huge basil plant in the front yard.

Pepper plant in the front yard.

Pepper plant in the front yard.

The basil has become out of control!

The basil has become out of control!

Sweet little sweet pea in the front yard.

Sweet little sweet pea in the front yard.

Fuschias in the front.

Fuschias in the front.

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums

The sunflower seeds I planted in the summer actually grew!

The sunflower seeds I planted in the summer actually grew!

Sunflowers!

Sunflowers!

Sunflowers!

Sunflowers!

Sunflowers!

Sunflowers!

I bought a jasmine plant in February andit was very happy outside over the summer.

I bought a jasmine plant in February andit was very happy outside over the summer.

These cosmos just showed up everywhere!

These cosmos just showed up everywhere!

Little baby tomato plants.

Little baby tomato plants.

I heard you can grow salad greens pretty far into winter, so we'll see.

I heard you can grow salad greens pretty far into winter, so we'll see.

Arugula is very easy to grow.

Arugula is very easy to grow.

I brought the herbs inside. I hope they do ok on this windowsill.

I brought the herbs inside. I hope they do ok on this windowsill.

Tomatoes, leeks, squash in the back yard.

Tomatoes, leeks, squash in the back yard.

Cucumbers in the back.

Cucumbers in the back.

Another shot of the back yard.

Another shot of the back yard.

Another shot of the back yard.

Another shot of the back yard.

Got lots of cucumbers.

Got lots of cucumbers.

Some weird squash.

Some weird squash.

We got tomatoes and salad every day for three months!

We got tomatoes and salad every day for three months!

I picked these almost ripe ones before the frost and am going to see if they ripen in the kitchen.

I picked these almost ripe ones before the frost and am going to see if they ripen in the kitchen.

 

Our favorite cafes: Rico’s, Shugas, Montagues, and Dogtooth

We love Rico’s. Sometimes we sit inside, sometimes out on the back patio, and sometimes on the sidewalk cafe area.

They have all sorts of fancy wines, and they sell them in 3 oz. as well as the usual 6 oz. glasses which is really great if you don’t want to drink too much or if you want to try a few different wines from their extensive list.

They also have a few beers and some cocktails. Happy Hour is 4-6 Sunday -Wednesday.

They have really good coffee drinks, teas, an iced tea bar, and hot chocolates. Recently I had one of their spiked espresso drinks with vanilla vodka and chocolate liquor. Yum!

Rico's Cafe and Wine Bar

Rico's Cafe and Wine Bar, Colorado Springs

As you probably know, Shuga’s is my favorite place in town.
They have a full bar including a bunch of really creative and unusual cocktails, a full espresso bar, and a great food menu. The menus all change seasonally.
They have Happy Hour from 3-6.
We usually sit inside because it’s so pretty but they do have a nice back patio as well as sidewalk seating in front.
Shuga's, Colorado Springs

Shuga's, Colorado Springs

Shuga's, Colorado Springs

Shuga's, Colorado Springs

We’ve only recently discovered Montague’s at 1019 South
Tejon Street, Colorado Springs, CO. (719) 520-0672
The decor is full on Victorian old lady, but the coffee and desserts are awesome. They have pretty good food, too.
They don’t have a website but they do stay open pretty late- you should call for their hours- they vary.
Montegue's, Colorado Springs

Montegue's, Colorado Springs

The cakes at Montegue's are really excellent. They even have some gluten free.

The cakes at Montegue's are really excellent. They even have some gluten free.

Another one of our faves is Dogtooth Coffee. You can get a yummy sandwich, or espressos, or the best gelato in town. We like to sit outside on the patio, and you can bring your dog!

Tasty cinnamon donuts at Dogtooth Coffee, Colorado Springs

Tasty cinnamon donuts at Dogtooth Coffee, Colorado Springs

Housemade gelato at Dogtooth Coffee, Colorado Springs

Housemade gelato at Dogtooth Coffee, Colorado Springs

What are your favorite cafes in town?