David Troudt and his wife Julie tend to find most U.S. ciders too sweet, especially since her family hails from England, where drier styles prevail. So they became homebrewers, first making a classic dry cider, then playing with flavorings like bourbon. The experiments went well, and while Julie remains in the legal profession, David was inspired to quit working as an estimator and draftsman to open The Ice Cave Cider House (174 Washington St., Suite C, Monument, 510-1636) in September.
There, because licensing wouldn't allow the bourbon, a toasted barrel now yields the Dirty Woman Oak Aged Cider, named for a Monument park and creek. In fact, all cider labels draw names from local sites, like the Crystal Creek classic dry, Raspberry Mountain (made with real fruit) and Henry's Station dry-hopped (named for the town's original moniker, using local Twisted Bine-grown hops). The ice caves too are a local hiking destination through a creek drainage.
All of Ice Cave's fresh-pressed, unpasteurized cider hails from West Slope farms, made in small batches of either 15 or 50 gallons. Growlers are available to-go and eventually the Troudts would like to bottle and distribute. But for now, the taproom's open Thursdays through Sundays; a non-alcoholic cider's available for kids.
A young grandma
According to manager Roberto Alfaro, 2-month-old Abuelita's Mexican Bistro (3669 Star Ranch Road, abuelitasmexicanbistro.com) should surprise you with a few dishes that are atypical among local Mexican menus. Take the pollo guerrero for example, a free-range chicken in a red chile peanut sauce. Or the lesser-seen tacos al pastor, in which pineapple-and-achiote-marinated pork are served with caramelized onions and cilantro. At dessert, look for a salted caramel-apple chimichanga.
"We keep it fresh," Alfaro says. "We're a small place, so we don't make too much."
By we, he's referring to his friend and the owner, Rhiannon Flemming, whom he met and worked with during a long stint at Carlos Miguel's. Flemming acts as Abuelita's chef, and hails from the Mexican state of Guerrero, which houses Acapulco. The restaurant's named in memory of her grandmother, and open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Chicken-and-grit-infused waffles with pomegranate. That's the dish by chef Brother Luck of Brother Luck Street Eats (1005 W. Colorado Ave., chefbrotherluck.com) currently up for a vote (actually, five per day) on Food Network's website: bit.ly/1NNr8bl.
Luck earned a spot among the Top 10 finalists vying to compete with celebrity chef Robert Irvine on Chopped: Impossible Restaurant Challenge. As with all of the web-traffic-driving, big-media contest formats, that means communities must propel their respective chefs onward by developing daily voting habits. Only five days remain to help our Brother out.