People: An evening at Ashcroft |

People: An evening at Ashcroft

May Eynon

Since 1971, Ashcroft Ski Touring has been distinguished as a world-class cross-country center. Situated 11 miles outside of Aspen, more than 35 kilometers of groomed trails coil across 600 acres in the valley surrounding the historic ghost town. “We have some of the most scenic ski routes anywhere,” affirmed Colin Taylor, Ashcroft’s head guide. “Our groomers do a great job maintaining the trails so they’re always in prime condition.”Ashcroft Ski Touring operates out of the King Cabin at the end of Castle Creek Road. At the Nordic center, classic cross-country ski equipment, skate ski gear or snowshoes are available as are individual and group lessons.Easily accessed from the King Cabin, the renowned Pine Creek Cookhouse offers the ultimate Aspen dining experience. Originally built in 1971 and destroyed by fire in April 2003, the Cookhouse was re-created as an authentic log cabin last winter. “We are thrilled with the new structure,” said David Campbell, general manager of the Cookhouse.”Having so much more space allows us to do things we couldn’t do before – we can accommodate more guests, we expanded our wine list since we are now able to buy and store more bottles, and our chef cooks more ambitiously with the enlarged open-air kitchen. It’s really a stepped-up effort on everyone’s part.”Executive Chef Kurt Boucher’s winter menu features unique dishes such as Jack Daniels Marinated Caribou, Cinnamon Scented Elk Tenderloin, Rainbow Trout and Wild King Salmon.On a snowy January night, our group of eight set out on cross-country skis for a savory dinner at the Cookhouse. A couple of other members of our party opted for the horse-drawn sleigh since one of them was ostensibly suffering from a “bad back.” As we experienced a little friendly competition on the trail with our guides, our friend Dirk Bockelmann offered pointers on proper cross-country form. Since no one had requested lessons on kicking, gliding or anything else for that matter, his tutelage fell on deaf ears.Anne Park and Matt Hopkins of Atlanta had organized the outing weeks before arriving in Aspen for a vacation. “He doesn’t plan anything ahead of time except for his trips to Aspen,” Anne explained of her husband’s itinerary.

“Well, this is one of our favorite things to do here,” Matt explained. “You really have to work for your food when you ski to the table.”Among the delectable dishes offered that night were warm appetizers – chicken with pork pate, Portebello mushrooms with grilled tomato and cheese, and artichoke and crab puffs.

Game was a dinner favorite among the boys. “Whenever surf and turf is on the menu, I’m in,” said Jeff Jones.After the memorable feast, someone proposed a round of credit card roulette to cover the bill. Fortunately, we decided against it since no one wanted to be stuck with the total. The Cookhouse will be open for lunch and dinner through early April. For information or reservations, call 925-1044.

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