I don’t remember if it was chocolate or cheese that I loved first, but it was one of the two. The second soon followed. One thing led to another, and while still quite young, I realized that I loved food. There were the cheese enchiladas and refried beans at Ramona’s Country Kitchen in a small South Texas town; the fresh salsa and warm chips at Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant in Harlingen; various sugary pieces of pan dulce from Lara’s Bakery; and chocolate…especially the chocolate in my mom’s chocolate meringue pies.
I grew up, moved away, went to college, and started exploring. I soon found that good food was not limited to South Texas kitchens. Each place I visited had something to offer, and I wanted to try it all. At some point, The List started. For years I kept The List in my head, but it grew extensively and I could no longer easily recall each item. I feared I would forget portions of The List, so I started writing it down. In modern times, The List has been converted to an iPhone note. It contains details on the best slice of pie, the most delicious cookie, each mouthwatering slice of brisket, the freshest salsa, and each bite of food I’ve had that needed to be preserved in my memory forever.
Good things should be shared. It would be selfish to savor the world’s best burger and not tell anyone. So, throughout the years, I’ve communicated my findings to friends, family members, co-workers, strangers standing in line at BBQ joints, and any other person who made eye contact with me while I was thinking about food. I’m sure not everyone enjoys my willingness to share my thoughts about food, but some people do, and now it’s not unusual for me to get a phone call from a random person who says, “Hey, Krystal, I’m traveling through ______ and I was wondering if you could tell me where I should eat.” Why, yes, I can tell you where to eat. I can also tell you what to order and then where to go for dessert.
Several people have mentioned to me that I should start a blog about The List. I’m not sure if they really think I should blog about The List, or they just tell me that so I’ll stop talking to them about food, but I decided to give it a try. So….here I go…
My first offering to you…Scrap Cookies from Mouse’s Chocolates and Coffee in Ouray, Colorado.
In 2012, we took a road trip to Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. One day we ended up in Ouray, a tiny town in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. It’s north of Silverton and accessible via the scary (but scenic) Million Dollar Highway. We visited Cascade Falls and Box Canyon, swam in the hot springs pool, and then had lunch at Maggie’s Kitchen. Maggie’s serves enormous, juicy burgers. If you eat the whole burger, which I did, of course, you have a hard time walking back to your car and you tell yourself, “I’m not eating for the rest of the day…probably the next two days.” This is what I told myself while struggling to walk with the weight of the burger now inside me. But I had parked close to Mouse’s Chocolates and Coffee, and no matter how stuffed, I’ve never been able to walk away from chocolate. So instead of getting in the car and driving away, I walked straight into Mouse’s after I left Maggie’s.
Mouse’s is a beautiful place. There’s just so much chocolate. The truffles, fudge, barks, clusters, etc. are all made at the store in Ouray. They spread out their offerings daily in the shop. It smells as good as it looks. During my visit, I picked out a few truffles and then said I wanted to check out. The young woman behind the counter said, “You don’t want a Scrap Cookie?” I said, “I don’t know. Do I?” She said, “Yes, you really want one.” I said, “OK, then I’ll take one.” She said, “Just one? You’ll regret it if you buy just one.” I said, “OK, then give me two.” She did. I paid then left.
Later, when the fullness of the huge burger I had consumed subsided and I could breathe again, I took a bite of a Scrap Cookie. Immediately I regretted buying only two cookies. My husband and I fought over every bite of those two cookies.
A Scrap Cookie is just what it sounds like…a cookie made of scraps. When the people at Mouse’s are done making chocolates each day, they take all the savory scraps of chocolate, toffee, nuts, caramel, and fruit leftover from chocolate making and stir those scraps into a buttery sugar cookie dough. The result is, hands down, the best cookie I’ve ever had. My favorite bite is the edge of the cookie, where toffee or caramel has spread to the side and cooked faster than the rest of the cookie, so it ends up a little crunchy. So good.
You may never find yourself in Ouray, but I discovered that you can order the cookies online. I ordered a dozen for my husband one year for Father’s Day. He was nice and shared with me, but we didn’t want to share with the kids. We lovingly wrapped each cookie in plastic wrap and then placed them in freezer bags and froze them. We tried to make them last as long as possible. When we craved one, we waited until the kids were asleep, and then we gently unwrapped a cookie, heated it up for a few seconds in the microwave, and shared it.
Recently I checked out Mouse’s website, and they now have a “Cookie of the Month Club”. You can purchase a year’s worth of cookies and each month Mouse’s will ship cookies to you or to whomever you’ve blessed with the club membership. If you need my address because you want to purchase this for me, just let me know. Best cookie ever.