Nearly through 2/3 of our first year of marriage (yes!), cute Colin and I finally made it on our honeymoon to Boulder, Colorado this past August. While we took advantage of everything this spectacular area had to offer, from wildlife, beautiful scenery, breathtaking mountains, great coffee shops, local book stores and more, there is definitely something to be said for the awesome food we found there, too.
Being a vegetarian today is no doubt easier than it was maybe ten years ago. Honestly, maybe even one year ago. And I'd say it's definitely easier to be a specialized eater in a bustling city, where options are so abundant that you'd probably never have to frequent the same place twice. Still, Boulder was definitely the massive and major exception to this, as there were vegetarian options everywhere we went, as well as several fully vegetarian locations. Can you say score?
One of our favorites that we visited was Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant off of Pearl Street. The setting was intimate and beautiful, and the menu carried an array of seasonal, local options, all of which were majorly appealing.
To start, we went with the potato-beet gnocchi, which of course were a beautiful pink color due to the addition of beets. This little dish was served with orange butter (YUM), orange segments, and sautéed spinach. Amazing. We had this with a special cantaloupe salad that was paired perfectly with some peppery arugula, goat cheese and toasted pecans.
For our entrees, Colin went with the Jamaican Jerk Tempeh. Jerk flavoring is by far one of my favorites, and one I've yet to have, at least successfully, since my departure from the meat-eating world. Leaf changed that, in one artfully arranged dish. Combined with the tower of forbidden black rice, mango salsa and fried plantains, this presentation made the food almost too pretty to eat. Only almost, though, since it got polished off with every last bit of the coconut plantain sauce that came with it.
As for me, I went with the Raw Zucchini Manicotti. Since converting to vegetarianism, I have said several times that the completely vegan life will never be for me. While it's something I imagine would be a positive change for my overall health, you could never not once talk me into giving up cheese. Probably even for one day. (Okay, maybe.) It would have to take a lot of money, maybe a million dollars a year, and even then I'd probably be thinking about all the cheese I could now buy. Seriously. So because of this, I have usually not found many dishes from the raw/vegan movement all that appetizing. Salads, sure. And I have no general distaste towards raw vegetables on the whole. In fact, I normally prefer them that way. Still, despite my general hesitation, I don't know if it was the ambient lighting or the crisp mountain air, but I went for the raw manicotti. And Leaf delivered again. The cashew-pine nut "cheese" was smooth and deceptively creamy despite its cheeseless-ness and the sun-dried tomato marinara added a shot of acidic brightness. I was, to say the least, impressed. And full.
But not full enough, of course, that we'd dare pass on dessert. Oh, no. Not with vegan carrot cake, among others, and a daily selection of vegan pies to choose from. Still, what could honestly come before a vegan chocolate-peanut butter tart? There's something to be said here about vegan desserts: they are serious. There's no cream to wussy-down the flavor of the salty peanut butter and the dark chocolate. It's all there and it's INTENSE. And amazing. And on a peanut butter cookie crust to boot.
The next time we're back in Boulder (What's that, permanently, as in we're moving there? YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST.), we'll definitely be back to visit Leaf again. And we, cute Colin and I, truly hope that this lovely restaurant, as well as all the other local businesses and kind residents, are pushing through the tough time of flooding, that they feel the support and love of their friends and neighbors, and that they will pull through this devastating time stronger than they were before.
For a little more on our visit to Boulder, check out our short video of a lot of beautiful mountains and, of course, food.