March 10, 2023 | OPINION | By Sam Treat
While I certainly enjoy my weekly forays into the Colorado Springs (not-so) fine dining scene, this week I was struck by a certain nostalgia that accompanies the tapping of a Gold Card for a platter of Bon Appétit goodness. This nostalgia, belonging to upperclassmen removed from the everyday monotony of Rastall’s, Benji’s, and The Preserve pointed my senses – my tastebuds especially – to a brand-new meal making splashes across campus: the Preserve Nachos Grande.
Typically speaking, the on-campus food options lean to the overpriced and underwhelming side of things. Look no further than roughly $18 bowls at Benji’s, about $10 smoothies at Colorado Coffee, or any number of exorbitantly priced goods at the C-store for proof. With low expectations, I waited behind large groups of unrecognizable underclassmen to get a taste of what this $15 menu item had to offer.
Upon ordering, a certain buzz murmured through the Bon Appétit staff (many of whom are students). It turned out that only one employee at the Preserve had made the nachos, and I was just the second to order them, ever. With this heavy burden bestowed upon me by some sort of all-mighty God of salty, greasy goodness, I was granted the pleasure of being walked through the entire nacho-making process.
Starting with four handfuls of crispy, strong tortilla chips on a pizza-shaped cooking board (a remnant of past Preserve themes, perhaps), the next step was the most consequential – the cheese. I watched as not one, not two, but four handfuls of the Mexican-style three cheese blend were heaped upon the chips. Next, I was given the option of shredded chicken or ground beef as my protein. Being a red-blooded American who believes in life, liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness, I made the only choice I could: beef.
On top of the beef, I chose pinto beans and then watched with childlike glee as the monstrosity was pushed down so it would fit in the oven. After it came out of the oven, with a new crisped golden-brown color, it was placed into a pizza box. The size of nachos was staggering, with an almost Goliath amount of chips, cheese, and meat confronted me, spilling out of its cardboard confines.
The final toppings were the pico de gallo, crema, and guacamole; no nacho is complete without the right toppings. While I would have enjoyed perhaps some pickled red onion or jalapenos as toppings, the guac and pico assuaged me for now. With my pizza box full of nachos refusing to close, I made the game-time decision to dine in the Preserve (when in Rome…).
The nachos were a mountain. The middle of the nachos was stacked high with toppings, while the dry, sad, lonely chips fell to the side, clamoring to be given salvation via a dollop of guacamole or a smidge of loose meat falling from the peak of this culinary creation. The abandoned chips need not worry. I was there to use them as utensils: vessels for my further enjoyment of beef and cheese.
The entire eating experience, despite its necessity to be accompanied by a bevy of napkins, paper towels, and other hand cleaning devices, was bountiful to say the least. The middle chips, so covered in meat, cheese, and beans that sometimes a fork was required to eat them, gave me the filling I needed. Meanwhile, the naked, crisped border chips provided the salty satisfaction of light snacking when I needed a rest from the heavy onslaught of fully loaded chips that my mouth was receiving.
By the time I was full, I had barely made a dent in the Nachos Grande. Not to waste food, however, I saved my pizza box (I had eaten enough to make it close, at least) in the fridge. The nachos provided me with enough food to feed myself for lunch and dinner the next day (with the help of an air fryer, truly the best way to reheat nachos).
All in all, the Preserve has done something I’ve yet to see accomplished by Colorado College food services: They have offered students a bargain. For $15 (of fake, monopoly-esque Gold Card money) students can have enough food to last them three or more meals; or could also share the nachos as a communal meal. While I am sure the shredded chicken would provide an adequate fix as well, there is something that feels truly more “Grande” about these nachos when they are adorned with ground beef.
However, if you choose to enjoy this feast, make sure you do so with reflection. Remember what it took for us, as a community, as a school, and as a society to get to this point. Humanity started with nothing but the natural elements. And, somehow, we’ve ended up here – with The Preserve’s Nachos Grande.