Hunters and Gatherers: Foraging for Nourishment in the Wild World of Old Town

By Rebecca Spafford

On January 14, the publisher of Scene and I set out to “forage” for our dinner in Old Town Fort Collins. Our Mission: Not so “Impossible” and readily accepted; to savor culinary delights and to move beyond the usual “sit down” dinner for a new dining experience. Inspired by the Spanish tradition of the “tapas crawl,” we set out to fill our bellies with small portions of diverse foods in several Old Town restaurants.

Place: Fish
Time: 6pm
150 West Oak Street

To begin our journey, we sampled two of Fish’s signature appetizers paired with house suggested wines. We chose the “Five Spice Scallops” and the “Ahi Eggs Rolls.” Our accommodating server paired our selections with two Sauvignon Blancs; both stainless steel-aged but with delightfully different results.

Wary of rubbery, salty-tasting mollusks, I was pleased to learn that the scallops were “dry-packed,” which resulted in a buttery, sweet tasting cloud of perfectly cooked seafood. The dusting of five spices evoked a pan-cultural market of deep flavors. The coating was complex to the tongue with an equally intense pairing of sauces.

The incomparable Ahi Tuna Roll was a blend of smooth sushi-grade tuna and crunchy veggies flash fried in a wonton wrapper and perfectly accentuated by artful daubs of more delicious sauce.

The accompanying wines were expertly chosen. The Yealands, a traditional New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, paired perfectly with the Ahi roll’s crisp, spicy flavors. The Morgan, an unexpectedly deep and lightly sweet California Sauvignon Blanc, balanced the intensity of the Five Spice Scallops. With our palate piqued, we took the short walk across Oak Street to our next assignment, Jay’s Bistro.

Mishawaka

Place: Jay’s Bistro
Time: 7pm
135 West Oak Street

We ensconced ourselves in one of Jay’s signature half-round booths; Our mission was to have a delicate white meat experience, so we chose the Chicken Piccata (pictured to the right). Jay’s replaced the traditional scaloppini with a roasted half-chicken flavored with herbes de provence, served with crisp green beans and tender Yukon gold potatoes.

The bird is roasted in a convection oven, resulting in crisply browned skin and juicy meat that is fluffily light. The piccata sauce did not overpower the delicacy of the herbes de provence or succumb to the saltiness of the capers. The lingering lavender in the green beans delighted my host, while I could barely keep my fork out of our side dish of velvety sautéed spinach.

We opted for white wine again and were not disappointed by the choices: the refreshing and lively Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc and the ever complex and rich Conundrum Table Wine, both from California.

A short drive across Old Town brought us to our final task, Rodizio Grill.

Place: Rodizio Grill
Time: 8pm
200 Jefferson Street

As soon as we sat down, our attentive server was at our tableside to explain the unique Rodizio experience and to suggest an amazing wine. After consuming the craveable gluten free cheese bread, we turned our attention to the salad bar, where each vegetable and salad was crisp and picture perfect.

Upon returning to the table, we were treated to a multitude of meaty treats delivered by deftly carving “gauchos.” Standouts included a top-notch sirloin; a lightly browned and yet buttery tenderloin; the absolutely sock-knocking Brazilian pot roast; and the can’t-miss “Maminha” beef tip surrounded by slightly crispy marbling. These were followed with delicate bacon-wrapped turkey and luscious grilled pineapple. Every item is prepared in-house and with special attention to allergy and dietary concerns if neccessary.

The richly satisfying meal was bolstered by the Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon suggested by our wine expert. Deep, dark and complex with intense hints of berry, this treat of a wine soundly rounded our dining experience.

Satiated by our unique culinary tour of The Fort, we intrepid hunter/gatherers raised our glasses to Spanish tradition and considered our mission accomplished.

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