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Side Dish



From alligator to schnitzel

As if Sassafras and Blues (3869 Astrozon Blvd., 391-1228) wasn't interesting enough by name alone, the five-month-old restaurant offers carry-out of three different cuisines: Cajun, European and American.

"Our clientele is diverse, which is why our menu is so different," says German-born owner Anita Lancaster.

Sassafras is Lancaster's first restaurant endeavor, though she says she ran a hot dog cart downtown last summer and has always cooked. Lancaster also says all her dishes are prepared from scratch with no microwaves. Items include traditional German plates as well as frog legs, catfish and daily-made fresh gumbo. She encourages call-aheads (that is, once you've been to grab a menu) and says if business keeps up, she may move soon to a nearby space with dine-in capabilities.

Fish farm

So you grow your own veggies and try to shop local. Maybe you have fruit trees and even keep bees. You're pretty green, no doubt.

But do you raise your own fish? Yeah — didn't think so.

Sounds like you need an introduction to the odd, innovative world of aquaponics. Visit Atlanta, Ga.-based and check out their Farm in a Box products. Marketed as "sustainable permaculture ecosystems," the kits pair fish like bass, catfish and tilapia with edibles like strawberries, basil and onions. The plants, located above a water tank with a recirculating pump, clean ammonia from the fish water while the fish provide organic plant nitrogen. It's a perfect closed-loop cycle.

Harvest the fruits and veggies throughout the growing season and when your fish get big, eat them, too. Brag to fellow greenies. Repeat.

Take note

• Shawn Saunders of Shawn's Bakery and Dave Brackett of Pizzeria Rustica will present a free "Wood-Fired Bread and Pizza Class" at 11 a.m., June 6 at Ranch Foods Direct (2901 N. El Paso St., 473-2306).

• The seventh annual Manitou Springs Colorado Wine Festival will take place from noon to 6 p.m., June 6 at Memorial Park (502 Manitou Ave., 685-5089); $30 tickets include a souvenir glass and samples from 26 Colorado wineries.

Front Range Barbeque (two locations, recently released the Top of the Range cookbook, featuring classic Southern and barbecue recipes compiled by restaurant owner Brian Fortinberry and his mother, Mary Boname. Copies are $22.95.

• The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey recently netted 11 medals at the Michigan-based Tasters Guild International competition, including a double gold medal (its most prestigious award to date) for its 2007 Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.

— Compiled by Matthew Schniper

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