Monday, May 26, 2008

Denver Detours: Fort Collins

Growing up in Fort Collins, the nickname "the Choice City" seemed like a horrible joke. "Cow town" felt more appropriate.

Fort Collins has changed over the years, and my perspective has as well. True, the city still has its bovine residents. (See exhibit A, above.) But, I love that the the city is combating the growth of weeds on the Cathy Fromme Prairie by arranging for sheep to graze there. Having lived in parts of the country where green space is not a part of the development plan, I appreciate the city's commitment to bike paths and open spaces. And I think it's great that, through the Beet Street program, residents and visitors can engage in discussions with top scientists in the Science Café, or dialog with cultural commentators like Barbara Ehrenreich. (Beet Street events this summer include a jazz festival and a celebration of the Peace Corps, in addition to the on-going Science Café events.)

This weekend, I traveled up to Ft. Collins, and visited a few of my favorite places downtown: Avogadro's Number, the Cupboard, and Walrus Ice Cream.

Avogadro's Number

As your high school teacher may have explained, Avogadro's Number -- 6.023 X 1023 -- represents the number of molecules in a mole of any given substance.

Scientific principles aside, Avogadro's Number is also a veg friendly restaurant in downtown Fort Collins.

The first thing visitors will notice upon entering Avo's is the macramé wall hangings and brightly colored murals. But, upon viewing the menu at the counter, you'll also be struck by the variety of veg options, from tempeh burgers to veg chili to a variety of meatless subs.

You know a restaurant is veg friendly when their web site devotes an entire page to the benefits of tempeh.

Not being a huge fan of tempeh (in spite of its many benefits...), I ordered the Grilled Tofu Sub: a tasty blend of grilled seasoned tofu, sautéed vegetables (including onion, carrot, celery, mushrooms and black olives) and melted mozzarella cheese served, with lettuce, tomato and a creamy dressing, on a sub roll.

Avo's also makes a mean berry shake, but I didn't get one on this visit because I was planning to have ice cream later in the day.

While the indoor murals and macramé wall hangings provide plenty to look at indoors, customers may also dine on the back patio, which was recently expanded.

605 South Mason Street
Fort Collins, CO 80524

The Cupboard

How a little town on the prairie wound up with a top notch kitchenware store, I'm not sure.

The Cupboard's website describes the store's origins as such:

With no prior retail experience, a “market survey” that entailed a conversation with a gas station owner in Loveland, and $5,000 from a relative, The Cupboard was opened for business in the Fall of 1972. Pioneering customers encountered a few crocks of kitchen gadgets, some pottery, baskets, and a total staff of two (although only one manned the store at a time).

These days, the Cupboard is one of the only independent kitchenware stores around. And, by "independent," I don't just mean that the store is not part of a chain. Products are not available for order on-line, there is no mail-order catalog, and the selection of goods available is slightly different each visit. More than 30 years after its opening, it seems that the Cupboard is still marching to the beat of its own drummer - err, unique business plan.

While the selection changes each visit, it is the varied selection that makes the Cupboard so interesting. Every kitchen utensil you can think of - and some you may have yet to encounter - can be found there, along with a variety cookware, cutlery, kitchen appliances, cookbooks, dishes, glasses, pottery, and gourmet coffee, tea and groceries. While chain kitchenware stores may provide comfort in the consistency of goods available at different locations, the Cupboard offers an interesting and ever changing array of products that may not be found elsewhere.

The Cupboard
152 South College Avenue
Fort Collins, CO 80524

Walrus Ice Cream

Walrus Ice Cream is another Fort Collins institution. The ice cream is made in-house; flavors change day to day.

Swiss dark chocolate ice cream is shown on left, huckleberry on the right. (Both were nibbled on before the photo was snapped; I'm getting better at photographing food before digging in, but with ice cream, it was hard to resist...)

Watch out for the joke flavor (not posted on the website); Sunday's was the somewhat obvious "meat chip."

Walrus Ice Cream
125 West Mountain Ave
Fort Collins, CO 80524

1 comment:

Jane Boller Stroebel said...

How is it I've never heard of the Cupboard before? Everyone talks about Peppercorn in Boulder but nary a peep about the Cupboard. OK, next time I head up that way, I'm stopping in.