No, I am not writing about Syria again! We have all heard plenty this weekand it won’t stop anytime soon. I’ll wait a few more weeks before I get indignant about it again. Instead, I am going to tell you about a wonderful area I discovered for the first time recently – Aspen and Snowmass in Colorado. I had never been to Colorado in warm weather before. I always thought of it as a winter retreat. It is equally wonderful in the summer – unless one is in the area of Boulder this week with the flooding. I was in the state before the huge rains hit.
First of all, the mountains are beautiful. From the top of Ajax Mountain in Aspen you feel as if you are on the top of the world. It was 15 degrees cooler at the top than at the bottom so even in August a sweater was needed. We didn’t get to stay there very long though because a storm was rolling in and the gondola was closing down. No one wants to be caught swinging in mid-air over a mountain when high winds and pouring rain descends to earth!
Aspen itself is a charming town with wonderful stores and late 19th century buildings. Hotel Jerome on Main Street has a fantastic bar as well as a photo gallery documenting the history of Aspen, its miners, and the town. It is a must see for anyone on their first trip to the city. In addition, the restaurants are great. Go to the hotel, The Little Nell (named after a mine) for lunch outside around the garden and pool. It’s an eclectic menu with interesting combinations – fennel and chopped peekytoe crab with pasta as an example – but also if you want a great traditional Cobb salad, they have that as well.
One of my favorite places in Aspen though is the Chef’s Club, which is not a club at all but an amazing restaurant that features visiting chefs and their specialties. The Executive Chef, Didier Elena, is a wonderful personality and everything was perfect. We sat at the Chef’s table, which is a long bar that looks into the kitchen so we not only got to enjoy our food but also got to watch everything being prepared. We sampled 6 dishes and all were perfect – the chilled pea soup was amazing and clean to the taste buds, the king crab appetizer (I could have eaten at least 10 orders), the prime beef cap was divine, and the lamb porterhouse was unique and excellent. We let the chef select the dessert to taste – his favorite was a pavlova which is named after the Russian ballet dancer and is ice cream and fruit and meringue and is absolutely to die for!
Snowmass is a modern resort and much smaller in size than Aspen but it also now has new restaurants and a new hotel for the town. The Viceroy is absolutely beautiful and has a wonderful spa where I had the best massage of my life with Tammy. The lunch restaurant in the hotel called The Nest has a wonderful menu and a fantastic bartender. Again, sit at the bar and learn about Snowmass and its fun while you eat. (Make certain one of your dishes is the spicy crab roll.) Our bartender had me try a local vodka named Woody Creek (there is also a great tavern by that name where Hunter S. Thompson used to hang out). It was very good, and I felt a little more like a local while drinking it.
Go to Colorado – avoid the floods – but you’ll have a wonderful time even in warmer months.