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Author Archive | Edible Aspen

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ON-MOUNTAIN DINING, SKICO-STYLE

Photograph: Aspen Snowmass

Story by Laurel Miller

On-mountain eateries aren’t generally known for their stellar food, prices or sourcing. Lucky us, then, because for over 10 years, Aspen Skiing Company (Skico) has worked to develop relationships with local and regional growers and Colorado food and drink producers. It’s an ethos largely started by former Little Nell chef Ryan Hardy, now co-owner/executive chef of Manhattan’s Charlie Bird. It’s gained traction under his former chef de cuisine, Andrew Helsley (current executive chef of Skico’s Mountain Division) and Skico culinary director Jim Butchart (he’s also the general manager at Lynn Britt Cabin at Snowmass).

Lynn Britt Cabin, set up for a Snowcat Dinner. Photograph: Aspen Snowmass

Butchart and Helsley make a progressive, powerful team when it comes to sourcing from the Western Slope foodshed. They rely upon Farm Runners, a Paonia-based distributor that direct sources from family farms to obtain seasonal produce, cheese and meat from Avalanche Cheese Company, Crystal River Meats, Rock Bottom Ranch, Raincrow Farm, Thistle Whistle Farm, Delicious Orchards, as well as bread and pastry from Louis’ Swiss Bakery, honey from Colby Farms and hybrid striped bass that’s sustainably farmed in Alamosa. Even this time of yearRead More

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Viceroy Snowmass executive chef Will Nolan. Photograph: Real Aspen

VICEROY SNOWMASS LAUNCHES RANGE & VINE DINNERS

Viceroy Snowmass Executive Chef Will Nolan. Photograph: Real Aspen

Story by Laurel Miller

Farm dinners are all the rage nationwide, but what’s a high-altitude region to do in winter? The Viceroy Snowmass and its executive chef Will Nolan have come up with the ideal solution: Range & Vine Dinners. The series debuted January 13 with a Canard Vineyard (Napa Valley) and Colorado bison dinner, featuring multiple courses and pairings selected by Nolan. Each dinner features the host winemakers or their brand ambassadors, Viceroy wine director Rick D. Lang, and sommeliers Ben Chesna and Adam Etchegoyen, as well as sustainably-sourced Colorado proteins including pork, lamb, and duck (and sometimes, the people who raise them).

While I love the concept of the Range & Vine Dinners, I also need to ‘fess up that I’m a big fan of Nolan’s. He’s a chef’s chef—talented, diverse, and able to execute amazing food whether he’s behind the stoves at the Viceroy’s signature fine-dining venue, Eight K (where the dinners are held, in a private room), helming the line at  brasserie Ricard, or cooking at local ranches and farms like Sustainable Settings.

Churro sheep. Photograph: All Smiles Sheep

I attended the February 3 Range & … Read More

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 Photograph: D'Artagnan

IN PRAISE OF BRAISING

Photograph: D’Artagnan

Story by Laurel Miller

Tender, fall-off-the-bone meat is always welcome in my book, especially when we’re mid-Snowpacalypse. Happily, the Roaring Fork Valley has a handful of acclaimed producers of humanely-raised livestock (many of which are heritage breeds), so high-quality pork, beef, lamb, rabbit, and poultry are plentiful and available through ranch stores and meat shares (where the consumer purchased a portion of, or the whole animal).

Lean or tough “working” muscle cuts like shoulder, chuck, brisket, and shank are ideal for low, slow cooking methods like braising. The same is true of grassfed beef, which has less marbling than animals finished on grain. Braising is a combination cooking method that uses both moist and dry heat. The meat must first be seasoned and seared, which seals in juices and adds flavor; the pot is then deglazed, and the meat and aromatics and other ingredients including liquid (which acts as a tenderizing agent and breaks down the tough protein strands) are added. This second step can be done on the stovetop or in the oven.

Searing meat adds flavor. Photograph: Once Upon a Chef

I love braises for their simplicity—they’re best made a day ahead and Read More

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Bellying up to the bar in 19th century Colorado. Photograph: The Summit Daily

A BUZZY TOUR OF ASPEN’S HISTORIC SALOONS

Bellying up to the bar in 19th century Colorado. Photograph: The Summit Daily

By Laurel Miller

“Here’s to educational drinking,” says Mike Monroney, clinking his glass against mine. Monroney, a longtime local, is a history coach and community trainer for the Aspen Historical Society, is the leader of the Society’s popular weekly Historic Pub Tours.

Launched in the summer of 2014, the hour-long libational outings were an immediate hit; this winter, they’ll run through mid-April before resuming in June. The tours include stops at three bars of historical significance, and include a signature drink and anecdotal commentary by Monroney. They’re a distinctive (and buzzy) way to learn about Aspen’s diverse history—mining boom town and ranching epicenter to its present incarnation as world-class ski resort. For someone like me, who finds history tough to read about but compelling when experienced first-hand, the Historical Society tours (which include local ranching and mining history, amongst others) are the ideal way to learn about Aspen.

The Roaring Fork Valley has a small but well-defined mixology and distillery scene that’s garnered national accolades, but the area’s affinity for imbibing has been around since the 1890s, when Aspen was cashing in on its … Read More

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Photograph: DRAM Apothecary

INTRODUCING Edible Aspen’s TOP 5 FAVORITE COLORADO DISTILLERY TASTING ROOMS

 

Photograph: DRAM Apothecary

Story by Laurel Miller.

Colorado now ranks second in the nation for the number of distilleries (50-plus in production and counting), but that’s not the only thing that inspired edibleASPEN to create our first-ever craft distillery guide this month. We’re exceptionally lucky to have one of the nation’s most acclaimed grain-to-glass spirit producers right here in the Roaring Fork Valley (that would be Woody Creek Distillers). There’s also Marble Distilling Co., and 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company, Peach Street Distillers, DRAM Apothecary, and Peak Spirits within a few hour’s drive.

I had the happy task of researching and curating the statewide guide (thanks, Lisa [Houston, publisher]!). You can find it online as well, in addition to a comprehensive listing of producing distilleries in the state on our website. Since there’s no time like the holidays to imbibe, I wanted to turn you on to my top five tasting rooms in Colorado. If “eat, drink, and be merry” is the unofficial slogan of the season, consider these distilleries good reason to plan a road trip. Alternatively, check our guide for Colorado’s best bar programs featuring regional spirits).

Photograph: Woody Creek Distillers

From all Read More

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Denver Union Station is the idea home base for a road-trip. Photograph: Crawford Hotel

A FOOD-CENTRIC HOLIDAY EXCURSION TO DENVER’S LoDo

Denver Union Station is the ideal destination for a road-trip. Photograph: The Crawford Hotel

Story by Laurel Miller

Love it or hate it, December is the busiest time of year for ski towns. Between visitors heading up to Aspen from the Denver area, and mountain town residents driving to the city for holiday shopping (sometimes e commerce just doesn’t cut it), I-70 can turn into the proverbial parking lot. But let’s face it: for locals, staycations are great, but sometimes a road trip to the Front Range is in order. With two public markets (Denver Union Station and The Source) and counting (the forthcoming Stanley Marketplace) and a handful of nationally celebrated chefs and mixologists, there’s never been a better time to visit Denver with food and drink in mind.

Ever since Denver Union Station (DUS) opened in July, 2014, I’ve looked for excuses to visit, given my love of public markets; I’m particularly partial to those that encompass historic renovation, for which DUS has achieved national recognition—thanks in part to development partner and legendary Colorado preservationist Dana Crawford (after whom DUS’ signature 112-room hotel is named). The restored 1881 Beaux Arts station is a green architectural Read More

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Photograph: Marble Distilling Company

EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY: 24 HOURS IN CARBONDALE

Photograph: Marble Distilling Company

Story by Laurel Miller

The term “staycation” has been in the American lexicon for more than a few years now, but how many of us actually take a holiday in our home town or environs? Despite nearly a decade of researching stories in Carbondale (even before I moved to the Roaring Fork Valley), I’d never spent the night there. Granted, until recently Carbondale didn’t have much in the way of appealing lodging options, but since downtown’s Marble Distilling Co. &  Inn opened last May, things have changed. With a tasting room/luxe lodging on Main Street, there’s no longer an excuse not to take 24 (hours) to eat and drink a wee bit excessively. ‘Tis the season, after all.

Photograph: Avalanche Ranch

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a true getaway, check out Redstone’s Avalanche Ranch. The 36-acre historic property, owned by the Ogilby-Jacober families (they also own Carbondale’s Fatbelly Burgers, which uses the Jacober family’s Crystal River Meats’ grassfed beef and lamb), is located atop a natural hot spring. Overnight guests have full use of the three tiered pools, but day-use passes are also available (note the pools are closed Wednesdays for cleaning).

Recently, I opted … Read More

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The Hanson's home on Jack Rabbit Hill. Photograph: Peak Spirits

JACK RABBIT HILL FARM GETS CRAFTY WITH NEW SMALL-BATCH HARD CIDERS

The Hanson’s home at Jack Rabbit Hill Farm. Photograph: JRHF

Story by Laurel Miller

It’s a damp, dismal, late October day in Hotchkiss, but that doesn’t alter the fact that Jack Rabbit Hill Farm—the 70-acre biodynamic (BD) vineyard and distillery owned by Lance and Anna Hanson—is stunning. Their wood-and-rock house-cum-tasting room (a new, dedicated tasting room above the distillery will open around Thanksgiving) is perched overlooking the grapevines and neighboring fruit orchards. I approach the front door, where farm dog Luna and a plump Plymouth Rock chicken stand guard, seeking shelter from the rain.

Lance shows me inside, where we discuss hard ciders made with apples and pears—the newest products from the farm. The Hanson’s have already made a national name for themselves with their CapRock Organic Eaux de Vie (brandies), Gin, and Vodka, made with wine grapes.

The gin is also made from crushed apples. Photograph: JRHF

In July, the Jack Rabbit Hill team released their first cider under the New Avalon brand name, made with Jonathan, Braeburn, and Winesap apples from nearby Ela Family Farms. I first tried the cider at Sustainable Settings’ annual Harvest Festival, and was immediately intrigued by its crisp, faintly Read More

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Oogie McGure and friend. Photograph: Desert Weyr

“MUCH ADO ABOUT MUTTON” AT DESERT WEYR

Oogie McGure and friend. Photograph: Desert Weyr

Story by Laurel Miller

“I wanted a medieval Welsh cloak,” confesses Eugenie “Oogie” McGuire, as we stroll amongst the turn-of-the-century apple orchards dotting Desert Weyr, her Paonia sheep ranch. McGuire’s pursuit of an esoteric article of clothing turned into a full-blown career raising heritage breed Black Welsh Mountain Sheep. A second-generation sheep rancher (an important—and oft-overlooked part of Colorado’s agricultural heritage), McGuire looks the part with her floppy sun hat and crook. She grew up on the property on Garvin Mesa, and after retiring from the tech industry, returned—literally—to her roots.

McGuire raised Corridale sheep as a kid in 4-H (“I inherited my mother’s flock.”), but it wasn’t until she and her husband, Ken—himself a retired hardware engineer—inherited the farm in 1998 that they returned to Paonia; prior, they’d been raising CMK Arabian horses in Southern California. Today, however, the McGuire’s are one of the nation’s preeminent breeders of Black Welsh sheep (there are less than 10,000 left worldwide; only 1,500 are in North America). Their flock currently numbers 169, with 22 rams.  “We primarily use live cover breeding but we are a research flock for the USDA in sheep reproduction … Read More

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Photograph: Ryan Bonneau

EDIBLE ASPEN’S GUIDE TO DOING TELLURIDE BLUES & BREWS

Photograph: Ryan Bonneau

Story and recipe by Laurel Miller

September 17 kicks off the 22nd annual Telluride Blues & Brews Festival. As a former resident of the place I affectionately call the little drinking town with a big ski problem, I’ve been to all of Telluride’s many festivals and Blues & Brews is my hands-down favorite. There aren’t many places where you can hear world-class artists—past line-ups have included Willy Nelson, The Black Crowes, The Flaming Lips, The Violent Femmes, and late greats B.B. King, Lou Reed, and Joe Cocker—playing in a box canyon at nearly 9,000 feet.

Combined with the blaze of fall colors on the surrounding peaks, 170 styles of beer from 56 micro- and craft breweries from the Western states, small-venue shows at the Late Night Juke Joints, Cajun flavor, and an always-great crowd, it makes for a memorable weekend.

This year, headliners ZZ Top, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and Gregg Allman will be joined by the likes of Anders Osborne, The Revivalists and Rich Robinson. There’s no bad way to do Blues & Brews, but it would be a mistake to rely only upon the festival vendors for nourishment. Telluride’s food scene Read More

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