Summer Tapas Dinner Menu

August 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Posted in Appetizers | 31 Comments
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In Rocky Mountain National Park

Our rock and roll loving, wine drinking, bird watching friends Nancy and Neal (California) and Thomas (Ohio) descended on Colorado last week. A couple of days spent in Denver included a lovely dinner at Ja Ja’s a great little French Bistro, and a tapas-style dinner on our back deck the next evening. Throw in a week-long trip to the high country where we stayed at a rustic cabin at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park on a sleepy little mountain lake, complete with moose, marmot, mink, otter, chipmunk, chickoree, ptarmigan, elk, deer, bats and miscellaneous riff-raff (racoon), and you’ve got a fabulous little vacation. “Paradise” as one of us coined it.

Elk Grazing on The Tundra, Rocky Mountain National Park

The 10-day extravaganza included many memorable culinary moments:

  • Foie gras at Ja Ja’s French Bistro in Littleton.
  • Elk medallions at The Rapids Lodge.
  • An evening meal on the porch at Grand Lake Lodge complete with a rainbow over the lake and spectacular views of craggy mountain peaks.
  • A grilled chicken dinner on the back deck of our cabin.
  • Huevos rancheros and a mouth-watering cinnamon roll at The Sagebrush BBQ and Grill.
  • Near fist fights over my spicy orange chocolate brownies.
  • A picnic lunch at Lake Irene on Milner Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Yogurt and granola breakfasts on the back deck while watching hummingbirds buzz around our heads.
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the pontoon boat trip on Grand Lake.

Of course it wasn’t all about food. Lots of hikes, visiting, scenic drives over cliff-hanging Trail Ridge Road, and for you birdwatchers, a hike out onto the tundra produced views of the elusive White-tailed Ptarmigan, one male and a female with three chicks. We topped the week off with a serene pontoon boat ride on Grand Lake with Nautical Neal at the helm.

With all that said, let’s take a look at my tapas meal here at the house. Our Colorado evenings have been so lovely that I opted for a casual meal on the back deck rather than stuff everyone around a dining table. I really enjoyed the mostly no-cook offerings with my new favorite discovery being a shiitake mushroom bruschetta dish that I found from a fellow food blogger. I’ll post that recipe tomorrow. Let’s take a look at the starters.

First up was platter of Amadeus cheese, fig jam, grapes and water crackers. Amadeus is a pasteurized cows’ milk cheese from Austria. It’s pale yellow, smooth, creamy, and rich in texture. It’s one of my favorites with fruit and crackers.

Tapas Dinner

An idea from Vickie over at Part Three was a large plate of assorted skewers made a colorful and filling addition to our outdoor meal. Double stuffed garlic and jalapeno olives, dry salami and sun-dried tomatoes complimented traditional caprese skewers of cherry tomatoes, basil and small fresh mozzarella pearls. You can find these small mozzarella pearls at Costco, along with the double stuffed olives. I really liked how the flavors on this plate flowed. The briney olive and salty salami were complimented with the next bites of cool creamy mozzarella, the fresh basil and sweet tomato skewers.

Stay tuned over the next couple of days for the rest of the story. A couple of great recipes coming up that you’ll want to save for your next tapas style, appetizer party and some more photos of the trip.

Tapas…It’s What’s for Dinner on the Deck.



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  1. It was a most amazing vacation complete with wonderful birds, nature, food, wine, and, most important, great friends. Thanks for everything, Lea Ann! And to anyone listening – the brownies are THE BEST!!!

    • Very well said Nancy! And yes, most important great friends. And guess what just came out of the oven? Yup…another batch of those darn brownies. 🙂

      • You know my address!! LOL – there – I said it!!! 😉

  2. The best tapas I ever ate were at a now closed restaurant called Cafe Babaloo in Chicago. The paella was to die for as well!

    • I have got to try to make some paella. Husband loves it and I’ve never made it for him. Don’t you hate when good restaurants close???

  3. What a fantastic sounding visit you had – great food, friends, and trip to the mountains and I look forward to hearing about the whole thing and your meal is off to a great start.

    • Thank you Larry! Sure wish we could be entertaining you this Sept.

  4. I love the skewers. And at the risk of being redundant you live in such a gorgeous place.

    • Don’t you live in Arkansas? Not that far. Just hop in the car and we’ll take you on a tour. 🙂

  5. I know something for sure Lea Ann: I should never read your posts when remotely hungry. I’m now starving and savoring all the wonderful activities and foods you enjoyed with your visiting friends. I will take note of a few for myself. It reminded me we never got up to the high country all summer! Shame on us. Your photos are beautiful and tantilizing.

    • Thanks so much Toni

  6. You take the best pictures with you new camera. Ah hell the Raiders v Niners was a tankj job that you would not believe. Why am I tlalking to you because I am have a problem of gambling. I jusst lost a soda and ten bucks. I need to rrecoup my losses. ‘Are you game?

  7. I love Ja Ja’s. My daughter and I like to slip away and have lunch there. Good food and good friends, nothing better. Looks like a great time.

    • We went again last night for Bob’s birthday. Love that place. Want to try the brunch one of these days.

  8. Those skewers look awesome! I’m always up for trying a new cheese, and the Amadeus sounds delicious. The briny olives, salami and sun-dried tomatoes (I’m hyperventilating), paired with the classic caprese skewers are all winners with me.

    Thanks for the great appetizer ideas! Shoot me now. Ha-ha.

    • I really like the Amadeus cheese, seems like a perfect flavor and texture for anything! 🙂

  9. Thanks for the shout out! Looks like you took it a step further – the salami skewers are gorgeous! I’m all for those double stuffed olives, too. The vacation sounds perfect and delicious – all shared with good friends. It just doesn’t get any better. Your photos are wonderful!!

    • They weren’t exactly as you suggested, but I gave Neal free reign. He was helping me and I told him just to “do it”. 🙂

  10. Beautiful country, moose and elk grazing, a French restaurant, and then top it off with tapas at your house? Your sure know how to entertain your guests in style Lea Ann.

    • Thanks Sam! I could never get a good photo of the moose! DARNIT. 🙂

  11. It’s only 7:12 am but your list of dining has me drooling already!

    • Thanks Michele. 🙂

  12. The first picture is stunning!! friends, food and views..what a fab day. thank you for sharing your wonderful time with us!!

  13. Sound like a dreamy vacation. Colorado is so darn beautiful…and paired with your yummy food it is paradise. Beautiful photos.

    • Thanks so much Yvette. 🙂

  14. Beautiful Colorado photos! Our youngest daughter spent two years at CU in Boulder and we absolutely drooled over the scenery ever time we visited. I wish we would have seeb more of the high country in warm weather. We’ve only been in the mountains during ski season.

    I love the appetizers you served and am keeping a copy of those ideas. I just made fig jam and now I will have to see if I can find some Amadeus cheese.

    • I really don’t venture to the mountains during Winter .. too crowded. It’s absolutely beautiful during Summer. As always thanks for stopping by and the comment.

  15. Love the idea of the tapas meal and everything looks great. Lovely country you have down there 🙂

    • Thanks Karen. I’ve been to your part of the country and your scenery isn’t anything to sneeze at. 🙂

  16. Green with envy. I’ve got to take a trip to the Rockies now that I’ve enjoyed the Smokies for the past 12 years.

    • Colorado is one of those “must visit” states Chris. Come on down! (or up in this case)

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