CARBONDALE, CO - RESTAURANT SIX89, CARBONDALE, COLORADO – Wiping the sweat from my palms, I slowly formed a fist and tapped on the door. I was meeting my boyfriend’s mom for the first time. The worst part – my boyfriend would not be there to ease the tension and help us to get to know each other. The best part – he was working at Restaurant SIX89, where he would cook us a fantastic dinner. The woman who opened the door looked reassuringly familiar from pictures. “Hi, I’m Cyndy,” she announced, holding out her hand. After introductions and a slightly tense drive, we arrived at the restaurant.
Last night, I had a dream. It was raw and never-ending, excessive and overflowing. Enter industrial charcoal chic, mood lights and a sexy soundtrack and a rock star booth complete with curtains, for that backstage pass effect. Sushi and sashimi and sake and tuna tataki ran together, in a stream of consciousness and I awoke smiling but perplexed, wondering what it all meant.
Aspen, Co - I LOVE sugar! Yup you heard me right. I love it in just about every form but must admit that I truly prefer it in the form of a deliciously decadent sweet treat!
I think my initial love was born out of the fact that my Mom loves to bake. While growing up I was lucky enough to have a kitchen filled with fresh baked brownies, cakes, crepes, cookies, etc. and though I didn't gain her baking skills I have carried my love for sweetness with me on my journey through life thus far. In addition to the baked goods I also have a love for ice cream. That love was born not in the kitchen I grew up in but rather in the local ice cream shops we would frequent on family outings. I recall two specific spots, back in Upstate New York, that I frequented fairly often while young and throughout my high school years! Dairy Frost and Udderly Delicious were my favorites and I went with family, friends, my dog and on occasion by myself!
Whether conquering the coals of a casual backyard barbeque or relaxing over a romantic four-course treat, one of life’s simple summer pleasantries is dining outdoors. Feasting on a delightful meal while lounging on a patio or deck in the warm sunshine and fresh air is nothing short of an obligatory pastime. Time seems to whisk away with sweet nonchalance into dreamy oblivion when dining outside with good-humored company. Here in Aspen, the epicurean nirvana is heightened when enjoying a tableau vivant of regional specialties like blue agave margaritas, a warm brie paired with the perfect merlot, a main entrée of fresh Colorado lamb, or a palate cleansing antipasto before dessert.
Using a little imagination, dining al fresco in Aspen’s thin Rocky Mountain air is like dining in sylvan realm of Fairyland, the fictitious setting of Shakespeare's classic romantic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream . Many bistros and cafes in this charming Victorian ski town pride themselves on well-appointed porches, patios, and decks in woodsy settings with postcard-perfect mountain panoramas and menus of artisan haute cuisine.
The Roaring Fork Valley is chock-full of spectacular culinary offerings. Nonetheless, if you are a serious foodie vacationing in downtown Aspen and find yourself short on time, there are only a handful of reasons to leave the Highway 82 Roundabout. Examples include a romantic dinner date in Snowmass, an evening sipping margaritas and munching nachos in the eccentric charm of the Woody Creek Tavern, and a late afternoon partaking in a rustic feast and scenic splendor of the Castle Creek Valley at the Pine Creek Cookhouse. Add one more to the list: The Willow Creek Bistro, just a short drive up Maroon Creek Road at the Aspen Highlands Ski Area.
For decades, travel and fashion writers have long dubbed sophisticated and stylish Buenos Aires as “The Paris of South America” for its broad avenues, au courant garment district, provocative evenings of tangoing until morning, strolls past plazas lining the Rio de la Plata, and lazy afternoon polo matches.
Geographically, the 12,500-foot Aspen Highlands ski area is tucked into the heavenly clouds of the Elk Mountain Range. With a 3,635-foot vertical drop, over a thousand ski-able acres, five lifts, and one of the most pristine powder bowls in the country, Highlands is an almost mythical Xanadu, particularly to the scores of locals who love and frequent these expert slopes on a daily basis. While whisking down Highlands, take a minute to bask in the sweeping vistas of the 14,000 foot Maroon Bells, one of the most majestic peaks in Colorado. Maroon Bells is the Western Slope’s Mont Blanc, inspiring artists and photographers around the country.
The dizzying heights, moguls, and altitude of skiing Aspen Highlands will surely leave adventurers with the appetite of an athlete. However, lunching and dining options can be somewhat limited when surrounded by snow pack at 10,740 feet.
The Slow Food movement has a robust presence in Aspen, thanks to superstar chefs with industry pull utilizing farm fresh and local ingredients. The core philosophy of Slow Food is mindfully grown produce and livestock that is raised and cultivated with as little environmental impact as possible.
I’m enthralled by Alice in Wonderland; the lessons, the morals, the colors and the utterly random way that Tim Burton spins a yarn. Face your fears, dream the impossible (at least six times before breakfast), travel by hat and be true to yourself, no matter the era or dress code. I’m not sure I could have handled it all in 3-D; too much stimulation already.
Tucked into a quaint Victorian house on Main Street, Explore Bistro and Bookstore is a popular Aspen establishment frequented by residents and out-of-towners alike. As a well-stocked independent bookstore and a popular vegetarian bistro, Explore fuses a cozy ambiance of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves of literary and nonfiction classics with a delightful bistro, coffee shop, and dining room.