Aspen. Known for its glitz, glamour and being the destination for the fancy people, otherwise known as celebrities. Can you blame them? In addition to that dry, fluffy snow that caps rooftops, making the town look adorably like Santa’s Village for six months out of the year, it is also the ultimate destination for prime shopping (mostly window) and some of the best food around. After going to Aspen for the X Games every year for the last eight years, I have yet to have a bad food experience. This made it tough to select what I loved best and where I was going to eat first. Good thing I doubled up on my workouts and ate extra healthy the week before so I could eat as much good food as possible!
First things first: when entering into any elevation above where you’re from (for me, it was from sea level), it is crucial to drink a lot of water before even landing, then making a conscious effort to keep it up throughout the stay to acclimate. Trust me! Do it right or you might miss out on these delicious adventures because you’re in bed battling a headache!
First stop always, Ink! Coffee. With unique latte blends like the Nutcase latte, Almond Joy, Powder Day or your standard cup o’ Joe, the presentation and aroma of the roast is unparalleled. I recommend getting the Nutcase latte with almond milk to keep it light and to ask for half syrup to make the drink less sweet and just a little healthier.
If you can handle the mediocre service and ‘tude behind the counter, I guarantee that your patience will make you forget that you ever said “Are you kidding me?” to the service as soon as you take the first sip of your drink and the first bite of a breakfast sandwich. I get the egg and cheese, add tomato on a seven-grain bagel. If you think Noah’s bagel sandwiches have the fluffiest egg on their Egg Mitts, I challenge you to stop into Ink! for theirs. Yum yum!
Later that day for a late lunch/early dinner, I hit up Takah Sushi. Knowing that I would be pining for the house-made pasta at L’Hosteria later, I kept this meal as light as I could without sacrificing the goodness of what Takah had to offer. So you think, Japanese is Japanese, right? Wrong. The tapas at Takah were some of the best I’ve ever had.
After one order of wasabi mashed potato egg rolls with teriyaki sauce, my friend and I begged our server for more. For someone who doesn’t like spicy or horseradish effects, I wasn’t sure what to expect but, hello! Round two, please! Crispy on the outside, mashed potatoes with a hint of wasabi and what tasted like very subtle cheese on the inside that was perfectly al dente and not overly mashed for a potato—how do they do that?!
Next came the Japanese eggplant that was scalloped and lightly al dente on the rims and tender on the inside, accompanied by amazing miso soy sauce. Usually, Japanese eggplant is mushy (really delicious though!), but these were a game changer and very special to the taste buds.
A few hours after Japanese and you’re set for a heavier Italian meal to help battle any affects you might get from just a couple sips of wine on your first day in town—thanks to that aforementioned 8,000-foot elevation of Aspen. L’Hosteria is, hands down, my favorite fancier Italian restaurant. The servers and sommelier are actually some of the nicest people in town and are helpful and seem to genuinely love good food and wine. To start, my friend and I ordered a delicious arugula salad with non-offensive goat cheese (normally I’m not a fan) on a cracker to the side and sunflower seeds.
We also split a veggie-friendly minestrone soup that was fresh and out of this world.
For our main courses, we split the handmade Spinach raviolis with light smoked ricotta and a butter sage sauce…
And the tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes, smoked mozzarella, basil and olive oil—simple, light but delicious. Gotta love the chewiness of the pasta when it’s fresh! The bread is fluffy yet quite filling, the olive oil is of the finest quality and the ambience—romantic and relaxing. To go with dinner, we broke in the altitude with a bottle of the finest Prosecco in the house.
By then, we were stuffed and happy, so we walked to the next activity of the night with music at the Belly Up, which is also a must-do when going to Aspen. Mmm…good times.
Have you been to Aspen? Where are your favorite places to go? Check back in tomorrow as I share more of my adventures! There was just too much deliciousness for one post… — Crystal