Trying to make sure everyone enjoys themselves during family vacations can be a bit hectic and/or a complete ass whipp’n. But as family vacations go, our recent “Forced Family Fun” adventure to Colorado might be one of our most enjoyable and memorable. Sure we pissed off most the neighbors around us, but what family outing haven’t we done that? And sure my six-year-old called an old lady a “douche bag”, but that is what six-year olds do…….right? Right?
Colorado has a lot to offer, especially when you are escaping the Great Texas Heat Wave of 2011. Rafting down the San Juan River, horseback riding through the national forest, hot air balloon rides over the mountain tops, good times abound. But as fun goes, the experience that was most memorable has to be the train ride from Durango to Silverton.
As previously stated, big family vacations have a tendency to grate on one’s nerves; especially when six kids are involved. And what better way to drive you and those around you freak’n batty than a 6 hour train ride up a mountain with a bunch of unruly little bastards? Don’t get me wrong, the scenery and experience for the adults is quite impressive and beautiful. But for kids “scenery and experience” only go so far and as you can imagine, the inevitable was waiting around each turn…..“Are we there yet”; “How much longer”; “What time will we get there”; “Dad, tell so and so to stop touching me”……
Arriving in Silverton came none too soon. Like any responsible parent, our first order of business upon arrival was to get rid of the kids. $100 bucks in hand and our 6-year-old in charge, off they went to terrorize the local shop owners and further annoy our rail companions. But with kids out of our hair and two hours to waste, what to do…….
Being a functioning alcoholic, Siete possesses a “homing-like” quality similar to that of a racing pigeon: take her to an unfamiliar location, remove the choke chain from around her neck and in record time, she will find her way back home (aka “a bar”). Just a few blocks from the Silverton train station, Siete “homed-in” on a local watering hole called The Pickle Barrel.
The Pickle seemed like any other small town restaurant/bar: homey, nothing fancy; just a good place to kick back and relax. However, as with most things in life, appearances can be deceiving and The Pickle is much more than just a small town bar.
Paul and Sharon Zimmerman have owned and operated The Pickle Barrel for 17 years. Paul working the bar in the back, Sharon working the front and the kitchen. Now Paul certainly serves a good drink and his bullschit ain’t too bad, but what keeps locals and tourists coming back is Sharon’s cooking. Kobe Burger, California BLT, Mesquite Chicken Sandwich, all tasty treats. But without question, our hands down favorite has to be her Cheesy Artichoke Dip. Hot, gooey and delicious, this dip is pure goodness and has a perfect blend of artichokes, cheese and spices.
Coaxing Sharon out of her Cheesy Artichoke Dip recipe was no easy task. See, small towns are prone to copy cats and great food is what keeps customers coming back. For that, I am truly grateful to Sharon for sharing this closely guarded family secret. If any Silverton restaurateur tries to mimic her recipe, well FU. And to the extent the FU doesn’t deter them, I can assure you that the food and libations will always taste better at The Pickle Barrel and that’s because of our good friends Paul and Sharon Zimmerman.
Courtesy of Sharon Zimmerman
2 14 oz cans artichokes, diced*
2 small tomatoes, diced
½ cup Caesar dressing
½ c mayonnaise
½ c sour cream
¼ c parmesan cheese, shredded
½ c Swiss cheese, diced
1 loaf sour dough banquette, sliced and toasted
Frank’s Red Hot**
* I used canned artichokes, cause folks, let’s face it, fresh is just a pain in the $#@!
** Couple splashes of hot sauce, we use Franks Red Hot, cause we are from Buffalo and that’s is our preference but use what you like. Tabasco doesn’t work so well. I would not recommend it.
Mix all this together, put in a baking dish. Bake @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes, let sit and serve with toasted banquettes.
The Pickle Barrel Restaurant
1304 Greene Street
Silverton, CO 81433
Twisted Epilogue: Many thanks to Papa and Nanny for a great VaCa.