One thing I miss about living in our condo in downtown Denver is the coffee shops. We used to be able to walk to three coffee shops within two blocks of our house. Now the only convenient place to get java is our kitchen or the gas station at the end of the street.
Saturday morning, Matt and I decided we would set out with Tour to see if there was anywhere we could reasonably walk to get coffee. It was a family outing.
I pulled up the hood on my oversized down jacket to protect myself from the cold lingering from the first below-freezing night of the season. We first headed six blocks south to a shop with a very cute sign in front I had noticed before.
“I’m not sure,” I cautioned Matt. “It always looks closed.”
When we got there, it was, in fact, out of business. “I guess that’s why it looked closed,” I observed.
We turned around and headed back the other direction. Across the street was a small little farm stand I had seen many times as I whizzed by in my car. “Let’s check it out,” I said.
We mosied over and discovered True Roots Farm, a garden started by four mid-twenties partners who rented a vacant lot on busy 38th Avenue in Wheat Ridge. They planted a garden and were raising vegetables, which they had been selling at the stand each Saturday since May.
“This is the last of the summer crops,” one of the glowingly healthy girls told us, as she shifted from foot to foot in the cold. “The frost took out a lot of plants.”
Delighted to have found such a darling little urban garden, I picked up a giant bunch of basil (my fave!), a butternut squash and crazy burst of pink flowers.
I placed the squash in one pocket of my giant coat, the basil in another and held the flowers in my hand as Matt and I continued down the street.
Eventually, we found a place to get coffee. The woman behind the counter awkwardly struggled to get Matt his large drip coffee. “It must be her first day,” Matt suggested to me. He may have been right. We decided to reserve judgement on the shop and agreed we would return another day to see if the vibe had mellowed and we could make this “our” new coffee shop.
When I got home, I marvelled at the abundant amount of basil I had! Few things make me feel richer that bunches of fresh basil.
I promptly made up a batch of my favorite cold salad with chopped basil, tomatoes and chicken. What I love most about this meal is how intensely flavorful it is. I’m a little worried some folks may find it too intense — with raw garlic, strong olive oil and huge handfuls of fresh basil — but I wanted to share in case you might like it too. When I’m done eating a big bowl of this, I don’t think about an after meal finisher or anything. I feel satiated and happy.
Chopped Basil, Chicken and Tomato Salad
Fresh basil, 1 cup loosely packed
Almonds, ½ cup
Garlic, 2 small (or 1 big) clove
Shredded, cooked chicken, 1.5 cups (I used the last bits from a chicken I had cooked earlier in the week.)\
Tomato, 1, fresh as possible
Olive oil, 1/4 cup
Salt and pepper
- Pile basil, almonds and garlic together on a big cutting board. Using a big knife, chop, chop, chop until the three ingredients are finely minced. Then toss in mixing bowl.
- Chop the tomato and add to the bowl.
- Add the chicken, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Mix well and enjoy.