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Denver CO: Gaetano's

Gaetano's, in the Denver Highlands overlooking downtown, has been around for 70 years. I enjoyed both my dinner and the atmosphere. Service was very gracious and welcoming. The meal started with a warm loaf of bread, of course. Next came a Caprese salad. The aged Balsamic vinegar was a nice touch. My eggplant parmesan was thinly sliced to give a nice balance of textures. The serving of spaghetti below was just the right size. I couldn't resist these cannoli for dessert---crispy on the outside, sweet and smooth on the inside.
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Boulder CO: South Side Walnut Cafe

Rhonda and Karl caught up over a very enjoyable breakfast at South Side Walnut Cafe, located at the bottom of the hill below the National Center for Atmospheric Research. My short stack of blueberry pancakes were fluffy and tender. I tried to balance out all those carbs with scrambled eggs. A very nice scramble... ...and quiche.

Coal Creek Canyon CO: Coal Creek Coffee

I got up early to drive through the Colorado mountains. I found myself in Coal Creek Canyon on a small road with houses but few tourists. The view from WOnderview at the top of the ridge was spectacular. But that Kind bar I had eaten two hours earlier wasn't holding up. That is when I spotted Coal Creek Coffee. To be open 8:30 AM on Sunday morning was astounding. The staff was very nice, as were the patrons. One of the locals asked to be sure that they still had "hippie sugar" which turns out to be turbonado. That was a good one. My muffin didn't make the photo---too hungry. But I managed to slow down a little to enjoy some of my coffee while I surveyed the collection of board games. After a few minutes, I got back in my car to take in more mountain beauty.

Golden CO: Abejas

Golden is a small mining town at the edge of the Rockies that has become remarkably hip. Abejas sits between the Colorado School of Mines and the Coors brewery. Their food is excellent. I managed to grab the last seat at the bar and was treated with the utmost of grace. Most of the food at Abejas has a deconstructed presentation. My Bibb salad was excellent but I was compelled to ask what I should do with the dollop of dressing on the side; I was told that it was there just in case I wanted a little more dressing. The rose hips added some sweetness and a little tartness. My trout was very moist and very tender. Rose hips once again featured in the ensemble. My Swiss hazelnut cake was outstanding. It was nicely sweet but not overpowering. The deconstruction helped me to better appreciate the ingredients. I could dip the cake into the ground hazelnuts and chocolate for an accent.

SYR: Johnny Rockets

I needed lunch before I caught my flight back to Atlanta. The Syracuse airport is fairly busy and post-security provides several sit down options. I enjoyed my grilled cheese sandwich and salad at Johnny Rockets. While some of the food on their menu was a little rich for what I needed, this meal hit the spot. The staff was very friendly, too. I am grateful that they were there.

Syracuse NY: Lemon Grass

Senem and I had a chance to catch up and plan ahead over an excellent meal at Lemon Grass. The restaurant is located in a charming building in the historic section of Syracuse. Our service was very gracious. We started with these superb dumplings. The sauce perfectly balanced heat and savoriness. The noodles were silky smooth. My hot pot dinner was just what I needed on that cold day: hearty, savory, rich with vegetables. Dessert was a highlight. My slipper was edible through and through. It was both delicious and spectacular. Senem declared her dessert equally delicious and spectacular. The Parisian theme on the desserts was a nice touch.

Washington DC: Pesce

I enjoyed an excellent seafood dinner at Pesche, located in a brownstone just off Dupont Circle. The meal started with very good bread. This beet salad was a delight: bright tastes, smoothly crunchy beets, nice smoothness from the cheese. My salmon was outstanding. The top had a crust that gave an excellent textural contrast to the rest of the fish. The taste was superb, indicating the freshness of the fish.