I’m in Denver this week drawing air into my soul by eating creative food and talking with fellow chefs about their craft. Creative inspiration is akin to being physically inspired. No breath means no life. We can submerge ourselves only for so long without coming up for air.

It would seem a luxury to take four days away for the sole purpose of eating and thinking about food. I didn’t really start to relax until this morning, when I realized that I better settle down or I will have wasted a prime opportunity. So as an introvert should, I spend several hours today clearing my head with silence and reflection.

I visited the good folk at Savory Spice Shop, the place I usually order spices from over the Internet. The pictures and descriptions on their site are well put, but there is no substitute for the aroma of a mixture of dozens of different herbs, spices and seasonings to prompt an idea for a dish or entrée. Expect to see a Lemongrass Curry Sausage on the menu soon. The freeze dried sweet corn kernels should work with Chicken Liver Pate, Sage and Maple Syrup on Crostini. I’ve yet to decide what to do with Grains of Paradise, but the profile was so unique, I could not walk out without taking some home.

Chef Nelson Perkins at Colt and Gray have created a beautiful setting for some very sound, classically inspired food. If I told you the humble Frisse Salad with Poached Egg would be one of the most memorable of the evening, it is not an indictment on the quality of the other dishes. There is a reason it has been on the menu since their beginning fourteen months ago. Chef Nelson understands the impact of making a drastic career change, and I could not help filter my experience at his restaurant through those lenses. And it’s nice to know that they also wish for more seating and a larger refrigerator.

Euclid Hall is about as smart a concept as I can imagine. Extremely well thought through, all the way down to their use of the story of the 1883 building in which the restaurant is located. If anyone ever asks me what a gastropub is, I should just hand them their menu and let it speak for itself. Their motto, Crafted, Not Cranked Out, can be tasted on the plate. I love meeting people who are dedicated to handmaking everything, even feeling the need for four different types of mustard. On leaving, I told the chefs they were doing the Lord’s work. I think they got what I meant.

Inspiration = the drawing in of air, as in breathing