Saturday, January 16, 2010

Culinary Treats in Old Colorado City

In and amongst family visits, we got to make a quick trip to the quaint and historic Old Colorado City. Wandering the main drag, we happened upon two wonderful little shops: Bernideen’s Tea Shop and Barbeque Mercantile.

I do love my tea, my teapot collection, and hosting tea parties of all kinds (for children and adults alike). Both Brilliant Daughter and I drink tea all day long, so we are always on the prowl for something new. I am partial to decaffeinated or herbal teas (although really fruity varieties like mango peach or blackberry don’t pass my lips).

Wandering through this store gave me pause, as Bernideen has put together a beautiful collection of tea cups and tea pots, as well as delicate linens, tea accessories and actual teas. Given that we had only 3 carry-on suitcases between 4 of us, and they were already full, we really didn’t have room for much, but I did manage to find a loose-leaf decaf Earl Gray. (I’m trying to switch to more loose leaf tea, as it eliminates extra packages for individual teabags and feels a bit more environmentally friendly.) I also treated my sister-in-law to a jar of clotted cream for her next tea party. Sorry to say I didn’t have room for the cute little children’s tea sets for my little Cora. Maybe next time. Check out Bernideen’s tea blog to get ideas for table settings, learn about teas, get recipes for tea cakes, and more.

The other find, Barbeque Mercantile, was a treat for Butcher Son and me. We have been thinking about investing in a smoker to make our own charcuterie products, like pancetta. We’ve heard varying reasons for gas vs. electric smokers, so we put tradesman Ed Bousquet to the test. He provided us with some great information, explained the differences in use, temperature control, byproducts, reliability, and showed us the variety he had in the store (all of which have been used at one time or another). He even turned us on to a reasonably priced electric smoker (Old Smokey).

We also wandered around the store looking at the marinades, sauces, rubs, grilling equipment, different varieties of wood chips, aprons, and everything else you can imagine. This shop really does “make barbeque seriously…fun!” Since room was limited, I only purchased one item: Hi Mountain’s Western Legends Buckboard Bacon Cure. I was intrigued by the recipe, which uses Boston Butt pork roast. But a funny thing happened on the way to the airport…or at the airport actually.

The intriguing bacon cure sent red flags to the TSA employees. Our suitcase was swabbed for trace explosives, various items (including said bacon cure) were run through the scanner twice, and then the bacon cure box was deconstructed by the TSA employee and each separate item swabbed again. Ultimately we were allowed to repack and keep the cure. Not sure what caused the commotion, but TSA is being extra vigilant. We had a similar encounter on the way out to Colorado. I had packed all the dry ingredients, plus the butter, to make chocolate chip scones in one of our suitcases. It got flagged by TSA at SFO, run through the machine twice and also deconstructed. Ultimately the TSA employee returned it and told us to keep it in our bag and hidden at all times. Nothing like a suburban family of four setting of red flags at the airport, huh!?! Cooks beware.

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