This afternoon, the Predators will be in Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche.

Yesterday, the two teams made a trade: Nashville acquired Cody McLeod in exchange for Felix Girard. The Predators lead the series between the two teams 36-31-5.

The Avalanche were initially founded in 1972 as the Quebec Nordiques as one of the original teams of the World Hockey Association. The WHA agreed to merge into the NHL in 1979, and the Nordiques became an NHL team. The team was purchased and relocated to Denver prior to the 1995-96 season. They went on to win the Stanley Cup that season; they are the only team in NHL history to win a championship in the season following a relocation. They were also the first team to win a major championship in the city of Denver. They won the Stanley Cup again in the 2000-2001 season, making them the only team in the NHL to have won all of their Cup appearances. They have won nine division titles, 8 of which were won consecutively following their move to Denver.

The Avalanche play at the Pepsi Center in Denver, which is also home to the Denver Nuggets of the NBA and the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League. The Pepsi Center has the largest jumbotron in the NHL – the screen spans from blue line to blue line. Coincidentally, just before their move to Denver, the Nordiques played in the Colisée Pepsi in Quebec. Anyone thirsty?

Their mascot since 2009 is Bernie the St. Bernard. Check out his official bio page for a few chuckles. Most importantly, his rescue barrel is listed as containing “Pepsi, nachos, french fries, candy, toys, and anything really.” I’m all for someone having nachos when I’m being rescued.

Steve Moore was a member of the Avalanche when the infamous incident between him and Todd Bertuzzi took place, resulting in some of the loudest “boos” for an opposing player you’d ever hear every time he got the puck for years to come. Moore was engaged in a fight with Matt Cooke from Vancouver early in the game. Later on, Bertuzzi came into the game, punched Moore in the back of the head, knocked him unconconscious, drove his face into the ice, and intentionally landed on him with two more teammates. The attack fractured three of Moore’s neck vertebrae amongst many other injuries and sadly ended his playing career.

One odd feature of the crowds in Denver: they are almost totally silent until the Avalanche score a goal before they’ll make any noise. The Burgundy Brigade has been working to fix this by injecting some energy and passion into the crowd earlier in the game.

For today’s food feature, I’ll be focusing on an infamous Colorado delicacy: Rocky Mountain Oysters. Other aliases: prairie oysters, calf fries, cowboy caviar, and swinging beef. If you’re unfamiliar, or have heard the term but aren’t totally sure what they are, they’re fried testicles from a bull. And before you click the “X” at the top corner, don’t worry, I won’t be suggesting that you make an awkward call to your butcher. I have a tasty substitute that makes a great game day appetizer.

If you do find yourself in Denver and want to try the real thing, one of the first places to look is The Buckhorn Exchange. Opened in 1893, they’re Denver’s oldest restaurant, a National Historical Landmark, and proud of owners of Colorado Liquor License #1. You’ll want to go hungry, because they also offer prime grade steaks (including a four pound New York Strip), buffalo prime rib and burgers, elk steaks, salmon, quail, baby back pork ribs, alligator tail, ostrich, yak, and a Dutch apple pie with cinnamon rum sauce – and much more.

Another great place to stop for “oysters” would be The Fort, just southwest of Denver. Originally planned to be a hand-built adobe-style home, building costs were far higher than anticipated, so they decided to open a restaurant inside to earn back some of the money. 50 years later, they sell more buffalo steaks than any other independently owned restaurant in the country and have also landed themselves a spot on the National Historical Register.

If you decide that you really do love eating the “oysters,” check out Bruce’s Bar on an all-you-can-eat oysters night. They’ve been serving them since 1959 – but save room for the yak steaks!

If you’re flying in or out of town, you can grab them at Timberline Steaks and Grille at the Denver International Airport in Concourse C. If you happen to be in town during baseball season, you can also get some at the concession stand outside of section 144 at Coors Field during a Rockies game.

If you’re really feeling adventurous, guzzle down a Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout from the Wynkoop Brewing Company. They originally announced they’d be brewing it as an April Fool’s joke (seriously awesome video), but enough people seemed intrigued by the idea that they brewed a batch for the Great American Beer Festival. They’re sold in select stores in the Denver area as a two-pack of cans. Each batch is only 8 barrels, and included in the brewing process is 25 pounds of roasted bull testicles. It comes in at 7.5% ABV and what they call “3 BPBs – balls per barrel.” If you’re not brave enough for that, they do have a very large variety of small batch craft beers available that appeal to a wider audience.

For my recipe, we’ll be using beef tenderloin (filet mignon) tips, but you can use sirloin tips or any sort of cubed beef stew meat that you prefer.

Rocky Mountain Appetizer Bites

What you’ll need:

  • 1 pound beef tenderloin (filet) tips or cubed beef of your choice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Hot sauce (to taste)
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbl garlic powder
  • 1 Tbl paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 stick butter
  • Glass of bourbon (for yourself)

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and stir in a good size serving of hot sauce
  • In another bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, garlic, onion, paprika, salt, and pepper.
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  • Trim the beef tips into similarly sized chunks if possible – some will be different sizes, which will only impact the doneness of the beef when cooked.
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  • Dip each beef tip in the egg, and then roll in the dry mix until thickly coated. You can add another egg and more dry ingredients to your mixture if you want to double dip them.
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  • Melt a stick of butter in a skillet on medium-high heat. Make sure the butter gets good and hot – it should sizzle when you put the beef in.
  • Place the beef tips into the hot butter, cover and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Use tongs to turn the tips and cook for about 2 more minutes on that side. This will quickly sear the outside while leaving the inside very tender and juicy.
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    • This amount of time produced a medium-rare beef for the larger pieces and a medium for the smaller pieces. Adjust your cooking times depending on your preferred level of doneness.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a cookie rack. Let rest 2-3 minutes before eating.

We tossed one of the smaller bites to our dog to eat, and several minutes later she went back and licked the floor where it had been to make sure she got up all the flavor!

Enjoy!

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