Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

I know it’s not the second coming of Christ, but considering I’m Jewish anyway, this is even better.

Whole Foods has finally arrived.

I know there are those of you who think this is just a grocery store and are probably tired of hearing about it. But the Olympics are over – hello.

Speaking of the Olympics, that closing ceremony made me want to be a Spice Girl. I could so totally be Shorty Spice and wear a short, ’60s-inspired dress with go-go boots and parade around the streets of Aspen dancing and singing atop a Bentley. Seriously, what could be better than that?

In other news, I have finally figured out that cultural events are an excuse grown-ups use to go out and party. See, now that I’m not living in Aspen anymore, my days of spontaneous benders are over. There’s no more “Hey, let’s go to the Sky for a beer and lay out” that turns into watching a game (of whatever boys watch on TV) at Zane’s to Eric’s to the Regal so Ryan can have a dance-off with the three people who are there before midnight on a weekday.

Now that I got married and bought a house in a little red valley, I’m sort of being forced to grow up simply because there is nothing I can do up here to make sure I stay regressed.

That really freaked me out for a while. I started to panic. I lay in bed at night wondering what I would do for kicks now that everything is so orderly in my life. Then I started thinking about orderlies and gurneys with squeaky wheels and white walls and heavy sedatives and couldn’t fall asleep, so I read People magazine on my iPhone instead.

Looking at photos of Kim Kardashian in this year’s peplum trend (not sure why she thinks accentuating her hips is a good idea), I found the answer: I just need to find things to do in Aspen that will keep me involved. You see, I am not popular in Basalt, not at all. No one knows me or says “hi” or knows my coffee drink before I order it or gives me free pints of beer.

The last thing someone said to me was, “Can you please take your feet off the table?” at the coffee shop. I mean, hello, it’s a coffee table, which is practically an ottoman in my book. In Aspen it would be, “Can you please take your dog off the table and put it back in your purse?”

So I began fishing for invitations the way I fish for compliments, subtlety never being my forte.

First it was to the Woody Creek Community Center to hear some opera. Yes, that’s right: o-p-e-r-a. I never pinned myself as the girl who would cry at the opera the way Julia Roberts’ character did in “Pretty Woman,” a hooker able to appreciate its sheer beauty, but that’s pretty much how it went down.

Granted, these singers were two feet away from me, close enough that I could see the sweat form on their temples, close enough that I could see their throats vibrate and tongues tremble as they pitched these sounds from somewhere deep in their souls out into the world, like a wave exploding against a rocky coastline.

Lila Palmer is a mezzosoprano. I have no idea what that means, but she had a haircut like Suri Cruise, all short bangs and a bob and dark hair and a button nose and lips that curl up and cheeks like pizza dough and wide-set eyes like a Cabbage Patch doll. She’d smile like she was in on some kind of secret and close her eyes and tilt her face up toward the sky as if to open herself up, to let the music come through her. I could almost see the energy moving through thin air if I squinted my eyes a little.

The Woody Creek Community Center has become one of my favorite places in the valley not just because it has books and hardwood floors and panini sandwiches made from whole, fresh-roasted turkeys and handmade pesto but because it hosts these tiny events with these big-time talents. It’s like sitting in someone’s living room. It’s inspiring. It makes me want to read Hunter S. Thompson books and start painting or taking black-and-white photos or writing on a typewriter or throwing pottery or learning to play the flute.

Then Alex, from Aspen Peak, invited me to the art auction at Anderson Ranch. Desperate for some quality girl time, I talked Alex’s ear off while we perused several galleries. I talked through ceramics and photographs and paintings, through furniture and jewelry and glassware. I talked as we sat on a blanket and ate kale salad and quinoa with root vegetables while we sipped our wine and drank our beer and ate a few cookies. I talked during the

shuttle-bus ride to the parking lot and then on the drive back downvalley. I talked so much that my throat hurt afterward, but at least I did it looking at art. (Thanks, Alex. I owe you the $100 I saved on seeing a shrink.)

Then it was Monday night at the Doerr-Hosier Center to see author Chad Harbach talk about his best-selling book, “The Art of Fielding,” and I even got to hang out with him afterward at the author’s salon Aspen Peak hosted at Isberian Rug Co. I wanted to ask him if he thought I needed a degree from Harvard to write a best-selling novel but then realized it would sort of be moot no matter what his answer, so we talked about fishing instead.

See, aren’t you glad I didn’t spend this whole article talking about Whole Foods?

The Princess can’t believe she is at a point in her life where a grocery store is that exciting. Email your organic love to

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