Friday, July 11, 2008

Denver's Glorious Gardens

When we visited the Denver area, last fall, we spent a morning at Denver Botanic Gardens, which is ranked among the nation's top botanical gardens. If you enjoy traveling to many different places in a short period of time, and love the outdoors, this place will satisfy both cravings. During a single visit you can explore individual gardens inspired by the breathtaking beauty of a Monet painting, high desert vegetation, and Japanese tranquility amidst Ponderosa pines.

If you have children with you, they will love the Children's Secret Path with its Musical Playscape, Soil Station and Story Time features. Gardeners also may enjoy the profusion of blossoms in the Rose Garden, enormous variety of culinary and medicinal plants in the Herb Garden, or artistic grace of the Romantic Garden.

And that's only the beginning. Special exhibits as diverse as hauntingly beautiful stone sculptures crafted by Shona artists from Zimbabwe, in the Chapungu Sculpture Exhibit, and wall-spanning portraits of individual insects created by Project InSECT, provide added excitement.

Hot Stuff in Albuquerque

Albuquerque's legendary El Pinto Restaurant, a culinary institution since 1962, does everything in a big way, from its 1,020-seat restaurant with multiple adobe-wrapped patios, to the 3,000 cases of salsa it produces daily. El Pinto also has distinguished itself as the only restaurant invited to serve food at the White House. In fact, their salsa has been the official food during several Cinco de Mayo celebrations held there.

"Salsa Twins' and El Pinto owners, Jim & John Thomas, have crafted their salsa and green chile sauce on-site, since 2001, winning 30+ awards as well as mentions on ESPN Sports Center, MSNBC, and the Food Network. The sauces and salsas have become so popular that they're available in more than 30 states.

For a great souvenir from your visit to El Pinto, try a jar of their salsa at home. It's even more special when you order a case of jars that have been personalized. Within seconds after spooning this hot salsa onto your favorite tortilla chips or nachos, the nose sweats and back-of-throat burn begin. Big tomato and pepper chunks and bits of cilantro echo flavors from the restaurant. Sip a margarita to tame the heat, and you're back amidst the cottonwoods and chile ristras.