Gunning for second place

It’s that time of year again, where we shamelessly ask for your vote on The Independent’s annual Best of Colorado Springs survey.

Last year, we tied for third with then-Business Journal writer John Hazlehurst and decided that he must be destroyed. He has since moved to the Indy, which means that while he still pens a regular column, we have not seen any Hazlehurst-specific “blog.” Consider yourself destroyed, Mr. Hazlehurst.

The first-place winner was a coupon thing, so whatever with that. Who can compete with bargains? The second-place winner is a member of Big Media, and who can trust Big Media?

It’s time for Oinkety to be the Springs’ No. 2 blog.

You have to vote for at least 15 things for your ballot to count. Here’s a sampling of what we voted for:

  1. Best Wait Staff: Detz Cafe.
  2. Best Restaurant for Tourists: Paris Crepe.
  3. Best French Restaurant: La Baguette. The one on Chestnut.
  4. Best Patio Dining: Shuga’s.
  5. Best Middle Eastern Restaurant: Taste of Jerusalem.
  6. Best Food Truck: Phat Hattie’s.
  7. Best Burger: Drifter’s.
  8. Best Place for Ice Cream: Dogtooth Cafe.
  9. Best Local Beer for Winter: Bristol’s Venetucci Pumpkin Ale, of course good luck getting any.
  10. Best Breakfast: Smiley’s.
  11. Best Caterer: Blue Sage Catering.
  12. Best Place for an Over-the-Top Gift: Pink Kitty Studios.
  13. Best Photographer: Pink Kitty Studios.
  14. Best Naughty Business: Pink Kitty Studios.
  15. Best Local Twitterer: @barelyescape.
  16. Best Local Blogger: Oinkety!

Adrienne and I agreed on a few of the categories. But we disagreed on a bunch, too:

  1. Best Neighborhood Restaurant – West: Adrienne enjoys La Baguette, but I like Cucuru.
  2. Best Neighborhood Restaurant – Central: Adrienne went with Shuga’s, while I went with Detz.
  3. Best Restaurant for Dining Alone: Adrienne would rather go to Shuga’s alone, and I prefer Poor Richard’s.

In fact, for just about every category, Adrienne picked Shuga’s. Best Happy Hour; Best Patio; Best Place for a Wedding Reception; Best Appetizers; Best Soup; Best Bartender (Kevin); Best Place for a Fancy-Pants Cocktail. Someone has a Shuga’s addiction.

Vote for Oinkety or this cat will cry

We sometimes write about cats. That alone is worth your vote.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our continuing mission: Cheeseburgers

Here’s the thing about cheeseburgers: There’s no perfect one. Trying to find The Best is futile, and the right thing to do is to simply try them all. Then try them again.

I like thick, drippy sit-down-restaurant burgers, flimsy drive-in burgers, burgers with a beer. Or a shake. I like chipotle burgers, barbecue burgers, jalapeno burgers. Bison? Sure. I even like the iconic McDonald’s cheeseburger.

We had, at some point, thought we should put together a comprehensive collection of the Springs-area’s cheeseburgers, along with our thoughts on each. But it was too much for us. The cheeseburger landscape here is simply too vast, too overwhelming for this humble blog, though we do address the cheeseburger frequently.

But Bryce Crawford over at the Indy took on the task in this week’s issue. (It’s important to note that Mr. Crawford has the backing of the mainstream media, with a budget of probably thousands and thousands of dollars, so we really can’t compete on that level.)

A few things: One, he didn’t mention Drifter’s, which was a huge mistake. I’m surprised his car wasn’t vandalized. Thankfully, readers pointed out his error. Two, the Indy put this up online as a PDF, virtually guaranteeing that fewer people will read it. Weird. Three: In the entire review, I didn’t see the word unctuous. How can a professional writer talk about cheeseburgers without using unctuous?

All of the puzzling quirks aside, the package shows that the Springs-area cheeseburger is a voyage, an exploration. A shifting and evolving conversation over drinks.

We might not find any answers on this trip; we might not find The Best. But it’s a journey we need to take.

Drifter's cheeseburger

I am never not in the mood for a Drifter's cheeseburger.

Home Cookin’- salads, bruschetta, pastas, and of course, pizzas

Last time I was in L.A. I had this great salad at Amici Trattoria at The Americana At Brand. Mom asked me to recreate it at her house, so I did. It’s just arugula, shredded hearts of palm, sliced artichoke hearts, and thinly sliced parmesan. I also added garbanzo beans for my own little twist. It’s topped off with a lemon vinaigrette. Mom had some lemon olive oil so I used that with some white balsamic vinegar. At my house, I don’t have the lemon olive oil so I just make the dressing with regular olive oil, some lemon, and the white balsamic. It’s tasty!
Amici Salad

Amici Salad

I made some sauteed chicken, some really good pan-roasted potatoes, and a green salad for Mike to take to work the other day. He likes to keep all his food separate but I like mine all mixed up. So I turned it all into a salad and added some avocado and a mustardy vinaigrette.

The chicken was just sauteed in a cast-iron pan with some butter.

The potatoes were adapted (what else is new!?) from a great book that I highly recommend called Cucina Fresca. I’ve had it for years and it’s all sloppy from being used so much! I think the link above leads to a new version, the one I have is out of print.

Anyhow, the potatoes (the way I made them):

Ingredients

  • 4 medium yellow potatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 3 sage leaves, minced
  • sea salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Cut the potatoes into 1 inch pieces. Saute the garlic in the olive oil for a couple minutes. Add the potatoes to the pan and stir them to coat them in the oil. Add the sage, salt and pepper then cover the pan. Turn the heat to low and let them cook, tossing them from time to time until they’re tender. The book said 15 minutes but it took mine more like 20-25. You should start checking them after about 15 minutes. Once they’re tender, take the lid off the pan, increase the heat to high and cook them till they get a little crusty and crispy.

The salad dressing was just olive oil, white wine vinegar and mustard. Everyone likes the proportions of salad dressing different so just do it however you like it.

Toss it all together (don’t forget the avocado if you have it) and yummy!

Chicken and potato salad, no mayo

Chicken and potato salad, no mayo

I’m still getting lots of tomatoes and basil from my little garden. Check out that weird-shaped tomato down in the lower left corner!

Bruschetta ingredients

Bruschetta ingredients

To make bruschetta you just chop up tomatoes, basil, and garlic. You can add a little olive oil if you want to. Then you take some nice bread, put a little olive oil on it and put the bruschetta mixture on top. Then cook it all in the oven or broiler till it’s nice and hot and the bread is toasty. I usually use the oven instead of the broiler because the broiler scares me a little.

Bruschetta ingredients ready to put on the toasts

Bruschetta ingredients ready to put on the toasts

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

I also made a nice checca to put over pasta with my tomatoes and basil.

It’s similar to the bruschetta topping except that you cook it a little . I’ve always cooked it, but I come to find out that real checca is not cooked. Oh well, I always cook it. Basically heat some olive oil in a skillet, add some tomatoes and some garlic and cook it till it’s the consistency you want, then add some basil.

Checca

Checca

I served it on top of extra-long spaghetti and topped with parmesan!

Pasta checca

Pasta checca

I make pizza so often now I can’t even remember what this was. Looks like just olive oil, mozzarella and parmesan. One of these days I’ll make a post just about how I make pizzas.

Pizza!

Pizza!

We’ve had a couple of Italian cream sodas lately so I thought I’d try to make them at home. It’s easy. Just a little bit of flavored syrup (We use Torani), some sparkling water, then topped with half and half. It’s really good!

Cherry Italian Soda

PJ isn't sure he approves of Cherry Italian Soda.

When Mike came home from having his spine surgery, his throat was really sore from the breathing tube and all the jostling around of the vocal cords, etc., so I made him some easy-to-swallow stuff, including chocolate peanut butter milkshakes. Mmmmmm.

Chocolate peanut butter milkshake

Chocolate peanut butter milkshake. Easy to swallow (Yeah, that's why it's good)

Ok, I didn’t make this ice cream but I thought it was pretty so I took a picture of it.

Ice cream!

Ice cream!

Burger City, Colorado Springs- CLOSED

We recently went to Burger City and it was awesome. It’s way over in the Powers Corridor but it’s worth the trip, especially if you’re going to the IMAX which is right next door.  Of course if you live in the Powers Corridor, you should go there at least once a week just because you can.

Burger City, Colorado Springs
Burger City, Colorado Springs
It has a cute hamburger stand type decor.

Burger City, Colorado Springs
Burger City, Colorado Springs
The chocolate shake was really good. I don’t know if  it’s made with real ice cream but it didn’t taste “mix-y”. And notice the whipped cream. That’s how it’s done, Josh N John’s!

Chocolate shake from Burger City
Chocolate shake from Burger City

They have a few different burgers and you can have them made with chicken or veggie burgers if you don’t want the beef. They also have salads, including my fave, the iceberg wedge!

I had the mushroom swiss burger and Mike had just the regular cheeseburger. Both were delish. The fries were really good too. I’m kind of picky about fries. I mean, I’ll eat just about any fries but for me to say they were really good, they have to be REALLY GOOD. These are fresh cut which can sometimes be soggy and are for sure not my fave. But these were not soggy at all.

Burgers and fries from Burger City

Burgers and fries from Burger City

Mushroom Swiss burger from Burger City

Mushroom Swiss burger from Burger City

 Theyre open till 9:00 during the week and 10:00 on the weekends so be sure to drop by and then tell us how it was!

Drifter’s Hamburgers, Nosh, Squeak, Alice’s, Red Martini Colorado Springs and Deluxe Burger, Denver

Drifter’s Hamburgers in Colorado Springs. Really good. Sorta like In N Out but better fries.  For some unknown reason they don’t have their hours or their address on their website. DUH. Anyway, I think they’re open till about 9pm and they’re located at  4455 Mark Dabling Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Drifter's Hamburgers, Colorado Springs
Drifter’s Hamburgers, Colorado Springs
Drifter's Hamburgers, Colorado Springs

Drifter's Hamburgers, Colorado Springs

Drifter's Hamburgers, Colorado Springs

Drifter's Hamburgers, Colorado Springs

DM gave a bad review to Alice’s Mexican restaurant the other day. I guess my item must have been better than his because I give it an A-. Yes, it’s too bright inside and has no atmosphere whatsoever, but the tacos were deeeeeeeeeeeeeeelish!

Alice's Mexican, Colorado Springs

Alice's Mexican, Colorado Springs

You know we love Nosh!

Nosh, Colorado Springs

Nosh, Colorado Springs

Squeak Soda Shop, Colorado Springs. They’re trying to be all old fashioned but their ambience is not old fashioned at all. They have a million different sodas that they mix up special for you (with sugar or splenda, no high fructose corn syrup here), about ten ice cream flavors and a bunch of different grilled cheese sandwiches.  It was all very tasty, but the atmosphere is for sure kid-like. Which is too bad because sometimes adults want to have this kind of food. Also I guess their “plastic” cups are made of corn.

Squeak Soda Shop, Colorado Springs

Squeak Soda Shop, Colorado Springs

Last week we went to Acoustic Happy Hour at Cowboys. David Nail was playing a free show.

David Nail Acoustic Happy Hour, Cowboys, Colorado Springs

David Nail Acoustic Happy Hour, Cowboys, Colorado Springs

He has a couple of good songs so we thought we’d check it out. It was fun and he was good, but after drinking some expensive (hey, I thought it was happy Hour!) drinks we got bored and left and headed across the street to Happy Hour at the new Red Martini Piano Bar. As far as I can tell, it’s the same as the old Red Martini Lounge. There was a piano but no one was playing it. It wants to be all upscale but it’s still in that cluster fuck Rum Bay/Blondies/csnightclubs.com area, so…I dunno. Good luck. But Happy Hour was nice. The kids and soldiers weren’t out in force yet, it was mostly people from downtown businesses getting off work. The drinks were really good, not too fruity, didn’t get me drunk, and were cheap- only $4 each. We’ll probably go again, especially since the bartender was really nice.

Red Martini Piano Bar, Colorado Springs

Red Martini Piano Bar, Colorado Springs

I had a couple of Coconut Frosts.

Red Martini Piano Bar, Colorado Springs

Red Martini Piano Bar, Colorado Springs

Red Martini Piano Bar, Colorado Springs

Red Martini Piano Bar, Colorado Springs

DM had a couple whiskeys and a beer.

Red Martini Piano Bar, Colorado Springs

Red Martini Piano Bar, Colorado SpringsAnd we shared some crazy coconut crusted chicken strips which I'm pretty sure took several months off my life.Red Martini Piano Bar, Colorado Springs

The next day we went up to Denver to go to an estate sale. They had some neat things but in the end I didn’t buy anything. We went to lunch at Deluxe Burger because we were hungry, we were passing right by it, and we yelped it with the Droid phone and it got good reviews. It was only ok. It had a lot of atmosphere but the food was only OK. Also, the service was rude.
Neat light fixture and cool orange walls.
Deluxe Burger, Denver

Deluxe Burger, DenverRetro and probably original terazzo floor. Deluxe Burger, Denver

Another cup made of corn! I guess this is the new thing.
Deluxe Burger, Denver
Deluxe Burger, Denver

I had a stilton and carmelized onion burger. I had high hopes!

Deluxe Burger, Denver

Deluxe Burger, Denver

For some reason even tho it had carmelized onions on it, they still put raw onions on it, which as you know, I cannot abide! Also, the menu says to ask  for pickles. Why you have to ASK for pickles I don’t know. They should ask YOU if you want pickles. Plus when I asked for pickles when I placed the order sthe server chick said something along the lines of that they come seperately or something. So she couldn’t place them with with order? I was supposed to ask for them AGAIn when I picked up the order? WTF kind of crap is this? I didn’t ask for them. I felt I had annoyed the server enough by then.

Deluxe Burger, Denver

Deluxe Burger, Denver

See? I didn’t even finish it.

Deluxe Burger, Denver
Deluxe Burger, Denver

So, Drifter’s YES!  Alice’s Yes. Nosh Yes.  Squeak Maybe. Red Martini YES! Deluxe Burger No.