Aspen Times Weekly: the Food & Wine Fix
AT THE CLASSIC
If liquid eye-openers are your thing, and you have a pass to the Food & Wine Classic, here are a few seminars worth checking out:
with Jordan Salcito
Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.
with Patrick Cappiello
Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.
The Little Nell 2
THE BLOODY MARY: NOT JUST FOR BRUNCH
with Anthony Bohlinger
Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m.
The Little Nell 2
Everything’s different at 7,890 feet. The air is thinner, the sun is stronger. And trust us, no matter if you’re in the best shape of your life (eating and drinking shape included), your ability to maintain your equilibrium after an indulgent day and night at the Food & Wine Classic will be challenged.
Well, consider this your wake-up call and GO EAT BREAKFAST.
No excuses, what with loads of restaurants and coffee shops and bakeries within Aspen’s 12 square blocks plating countless variations on what’s forever been touted as the most important meal of the day.
Get the picture? Here’s where to go.
WHERE: HICKORY HOUSE
When: Breakfast daily 8 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
You passed it on Main Street on your way into town. The brown log building with a shaggy bear on top and a hodgepodge of tables out front. The unmistakable aroma of smoky bbq caught your attention and you thought ‘what’s that place?’
Well ‘that place’ is the legendary Hickory House (Hick House, if you’re local). It’s where you go after a bruiser of a night for a Bloody Mary laced with owner Paul Dioguardi’s spicy bbq sauce, a pile of pork ribs, a pair of fried eggs and a plate of homemade biscuits doused with pork sausage gravy.
Dioguardi imports about 280,000 pounds of baby backs a year from Denmark and smokes as many as five hundred racks a day. Pork-phobic? Carlos’ hefty three-egg omelet, stuffed with onion, chicken sausage, tomato, Jack and secret ranchero will do the job.
Tip: Devour breakfast at the bar, where your dining companions may be anyone from old-timers in overalls to road bikers to folks in the same shape as you.
WHERE: JUSTICE SNOW’S
When: Breakfast daily 7:30-10:30 a.m, Weekend Brunch 9-3
Chances are you’ll find yourself in this craft cocktail-centric eatery at the landmark Wheeler Opera House at some point over the weekend. A return in the a.m. for breakfast or brunch should be on your radar as well.
In addition to his frittatas and flatbread faves, executive chef Jonathan Leichliter is debuting some new dishes he’s excited about: eggs paired with Milagro Ranch beef and spiced up with roasted guajillo pepper and tomato salsa; house-made four-cheese biscuits with red-eye gravy and Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham; and waffles with bananas caramelized in Montanya rum.
Tip: According to one Food & Wine Classic seminar, the Bloody Mary is not just for brunch anymore (but you knew that, yes?). JS’s Bloody Mary Bar will set you up with everything from curry to kraut to Cholula for a custom blend.
WHERE: ELEMENT 47 at The Little Nell
When: Breakfast daily 7-10:30 a.m., Brunch daily 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
It’ll be a breakfast bacchanalia at stylish e47 this weekend, when the usual Fortune 500/wheeler-dealer /jet-set tribe is over-run by the effervescent food and wine elite.
Chef de cuisine Matt Padilla took charge of the restaurant’s menus just recently and he’s rockin’ it (in understated, Little Nell style, of course). Not only are there craveable indulgences like lemon soufflé pancakes and Belgian waffles, you can order them with a flight of barrel-aged and Tahitian vanilla infused maple syrups on the side. Brunch gets a boost, too. A highlight? Soft-poached eggs Benedict with house-cured, slow cooked, seared ‘till it’s perfectly crisp pork belly.
TIP: Fashionably late? A daily summer breakfast buffet has popped up, offering a bounty of bites, including Fredy Manzano’s amazing made-to-order omelets.
WHERE: ASPEN OVER EASY
When: Daily 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Consider it salvation on Hopkins’ Restaurant Row. Spot the orange umbrellas on the street side tables, typically swarming with a crowd of young Aspen locals, and you’re there. No room? Feeling more incognito? Slip downstairs and search out a booth, or a place at the six-seater mini-bar, in the brick-walled dining room.
Either way, you’ll soon be tucking into Southern bbq pork burritos with salsa and grits; Nutella, banana and candied walnut crepes; any of a dozen or so variations on the Benedict theme; or an omelet packed with any number of tasty ingredients. Crab, quinoa, feta, sausage, hummus (uh, maybe not), jalapenos and so on. Going gluten-free? Chef Ves Tzolov will set you up.
Tip: Morning juice here is about everything from organic watermelon or pear to “Aspen Body” blendz to “Avocado Dreamboat” smoothies. Drink ‘em.
MORE BREAKFAST BITES
VICTORIA’S ESPRESSO, WINEBAR & GOURMET GRAZING – It’s “brekkie,” not breakfast, at this real-deal Aussie-centric spot just around the corner from the Belly Up.
Owners Victoria Haveland and John Beatty put the accent on down-under dishes like sausage rolls (spiced pork, beef, veal or buffalo wrapped in flaky pastry), vegemite on toast (don’t knock it …) and what they tout as the ultimate hangover cure – bacon, a free-range egg and bbq sauce-mayo on Turkish (that’s flatbread to you).
Short blacks and flat whites rule on the coffee board. Grab a scone or cream tart if you’re in a rush.
Breakfast from 7-11:30 a.m.
PEACH’S CORNER CAFÉ – The corner of Hopkins and Galena teems with festival-goers in planning mode for the day, dishing on last-night’s escapades and/or eavesdropping on local buzz.
From the line-up of dishes on the countertop display, go for anything topped with a poached organic egg. Kitchen sink” and “French toast” muffins are good quick hits. If you can’t snare an outside table (bring your dog, it helps), window high-tops inside are your next best bet for a who’s-who view.
The big news? Peach’s is now, finally, open on Sundays, so far with a semi-limited menu. Stay tuned.
Breakfast Mon-Sat, 7 a.m.–noon, Sun 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
MAIN STREET BAKERY CAFÉ – Judging from the crowd of eager-to-eaters hangin’ on the benches out front and the packed (mostly with tourists, er, visitors) side-garden tables, this is one popular spot.
Inside, order up cinnamon raisin French toast, homemade buttermilk blueberry pancakes, and classic eggs Benedict with Bakery-made English muffins.
Finagle a seat at a communal table and get an earful from long-time locals. Grab a key lime custard Long John, maple glazed donut, or cinnamon twist – and cup o’ joe to go. Did we mention it’s on Main Street?
Breakfast 7-11 a.m. weekdays, 7 a.m.-noon Sat. and Sun.
SPRING CAFÉ ORGANIC FOOD & JUICE BAR – This quiet, slightly off the beaten path setting might be just what you need to recharge after a long day in the tents, refresh after late night out, or, if you’re so inclined, fuel up for a bike ride or hike.
Wholesome, one hundred percent organic ingredients rule, be it in “Hale to the Kale” omelets with roasted sweet potatoes, cinnamon French toast made with millet flax bread, or tofu chilaquiles. Power Green shakes are invigorating.
Breakfast Mon-Fri 7-11:30 a.m., Sat-Sun until 2 p.m.
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Perhaps it’s because we are in the abbreviated days of winter and I instinctively know that the sun is shining down-under. But every January I go through a nostalgic period where Australian wine dominates my mind.