Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An outstanding meal at Six89

Saturday night, I made the 160 mile trek from my front door in beautiful downtown Denver to devastatingly charming Glenwood Springs on Saturday night. Reservations were made, nice clothes cleaned and pressed, personal grooming attended to, drive made.

Six89 ( seems to be a restaurant that most people agree is worth the trek to Carbondale from Glenwood Springs, or further south, Aspen. I'm a fan of crowdsourcing - and the people on Yelp give this place a full five star rating. Mission accomplished.

So Sara (yep, Sara of EatFace fame) and I sit down to eat, and the waiter brings us a couple of Six89's version of fried pickles - except these are pickle chips which have magically somehow remained cool on the inside as a pickle should be, and crispy fried on the outside. They're good. Damn good, especially for what is generally considered bar food.

I have a scotch. She has a glass of Pinot Noir. We exchange pleasantries about the pickles. She smiles. About halfway through her glass of wine, we order dinner. "You may have to drive back," she informs me. I discuss scotch, and she very graciously nods her way through that portion of the conversation, even though my material is about as interesting as watching Guy Fieri sample the food of some ethnic minority. (WOW, THAT'S REALLY GOOD.)

We didn't wait long for our food to come out, and that was after the waiter had informed us that they were really busy.

An aside about our waiter: if you enjoy eating something that one of us has ordered, do tell. We can discuss. But don't say that it's your favorite thing on the menu. Because that means that the thing the other person has ordered is not as good, in your eyes. And nobody wants that. Other than that, our waiter was a stand-up guy, was extremely knowledgeable and just the right amount of attentive.

We both had decided on the hamachi for starters - and we were not disappointed. A lot of times, fish this far inland is hit or miss - but it was fresh, and topped with a really light jalapeno sauce and homemade thin crunchy tortilla strips that gave it some much needed texture. I ate mine quickly, and she, being a lady, took her time with it. So I stared longingly at her plate. Don't think she caught me.

Main courses came quickly thereafter, and that's a definite positive. Hers: Grit and rabbit cakes, braised in milk, in a tomato-based sauce. Mine: BBQ Pork in a pear and melted cabbage sauce with pieces of pear. Both dishes were meticulously crafted, you could tell. Presentation was great, and flavor was - well - outstanding.

Outstanding is not a phrase that I use a lot on this blog. Outstanding is not a phrase I use on ANY blog. But the food at Six89 is outstanding.

Her food was delicious and had an interesting texture because of the grits ("I love it when they call grits, grits," Sara said.).

My pork was tender, flavorful and the pear, which I thought would not go well with pork, actually was what pulled the entire plate together.

Delicious, local, and the host wears a bow tie, which Sara was particularly impressed with.

I'm particularly impressed with a lot of things about Six89. It's in an older style house, and the ambiance reflects that. Huge wine selection, a varied menu that has something for everyone and it's not particularly crowded at all, which you can bet is not going to be the case forever.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

That'll do, pig. That'll do.

Tonight I made a new best friend.

His name is barbacoa.

Let me explain. I've lived in this valley off and on for 21 years of my life. I was here before Carbondale was trendy. Before we had a Target. Before you couldn't find a one-bedroom apartment for less than $1500.

But before all of that, and before me, there was probably a carniceria.

What a shame that it took me such a long time to figure out where one was: 15 minutes away, in Carbondale, by the liquor store and the Family Dollar and by a place that, I guess, installs woodburning stoves. In between all those things is a little bit of perfect. There are three bowls on the plastic picnic tables: onions, limes, cilantro. There are three bottles of salsa (chipotle, green-hot and really hot). There are sodas in glass bottles. There are chicharrones and menudo in glass cases. You can buy a pig head for $20. This is a real butcher shop that happens to have a menu, and happens to make the best tacos I've ever had in my life.

Fresh meat is good meat. I'm a firm believer in that. I don't know how much of it is local, but all of it is hand-cut. And if it looks that good in the case, it's roughly 12473 times better cooked. I got two barbacoa tacos with fresh avocado. My dad got a carne asada burrito.

Both came on fresh tortillas (me: corn. him: flour). I love pork so much I am considering going all Top-Chef-Kevin and getting a pig tattooed on me, and this pork did not disappoint. Slightly sweet/spicy barbecue...amazing. And only $1.60 per taco. Suck it, Chipotle.

Dad's burrito: I think it weighed maybe 6 lbs. And 5 lbs. of that was steak. The remaining pound of burrito was homemade refried beans, onions, avocado, cilantro, salsa verde and queso fresco. Note that not one of those ingredients is rice. And then note that the burrito costs $6.50. Suck it, Qdoba.

So, basically, my plan is to go back until I've tried everything. Except maybe the menudo. You can choose from upward of seven meats, combined into magical creations including tacos, burritos and quesadillas. I'm going to try all of them. Except maybe the tripe. You can also get about eight different kinds of tortas and a lot of things I couldn't read because I don't read Spanish (taking French in high school finally reveals its downfall).

And extra plus: there's a tortillaria next door, so you can pick up some delicious souvenirs. And who doesn't love eating under a collection of giant pinatas?

A short postscript about Cheetos: Here at Eatface, we have determined through extensive research that crunchy Cheetos are texturally a meal unto themselves, while puffy Cheetos are best enjoyed with a robust sandwich. This, of course, is a matter of personal preference. Not a matter of personal preference: Cheetos are the best snack food ever, and I'm not ashamed to say that. Own your love of artificially-orange food. Your life will be better for it.