Appetite for Altitude
Best known as a ski town with an affluent edge, the emergence of an enviable epicurean culture puts Aspen on the map in delicious new ways.
Written byDarren Elms
On my short drive from the Aspen airport to the St. Regis, my driver offered me a bright and tasty apple to snack on. He noted the scarcity of locally grown fresh produce during the snowy winter season, something this farmers market-minded Californian clearly took for granted. But that’s what makes Aspen’s thriving culinary scene all the more magical.
Three hours from Denver and covering only 3.5 square miles at nearly 8,000 feet, this isolated ski haven not only attracts top chef talent from around the globe but also now hosts one of the most anticipated food events in the country. Silver mining may have built this city some 125 years ago, but fine dining may be its golden destiny.
Where to Stay
The St. Regis Aspen excels not only in style and service but also as home to some of the most exciting eating in town. It’s no wonder Food & Wine magazine chose the property to host their flagship Chef’s Club restaurant. A small selection from their coveted list of best new chefs consult and curate new menu items, in collaboration with the resort’s culinary team, to create a divine dining experience.
Additional venue options include the brand new Trecento Quindici Decano, a flavorful blend of Italian and American cuisine, and Shadow Mountain Lounge for après-ski adventures by a roaring fireplace.
Naturally, when you’re not on the slopes or indulging in amazing dishes and drinks, you’ll find time to pamper yourself in the recently remodeled Reméde Spa or take an afternoon nap in your plush guest suite. 315 E. Dean Street, 970-920-3300, stregisaspen.com
What to Do
Food & Wine’s most anticipated event, the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, only happens once a year in June, but your tastebuds will tell you it’s well worth the wait. With celebrity chefs like Mario Batali, Giada De Laurentiis and Tom Colicchio—to name a few, the Grand Corchon pork feast, and plenty of after-hours wining and dining, it’s no wonder this incredible event sells out year after year. foodandwine.com/classic
The Aspen Historical Society, situated in a magnificent, Queen Anne-style Victorian home built by one of the town’s original founders, is your hub for Aspen’s rugged and rich legacy. Get all the info you need on local tours and historical haunts, from the Holden/Marolt Mining & Ranching Museum to the Ashcroft Ghost Town just outside the city. 620 W. Bleeker Street, 970-925-3721, aspenhistory.org
If Aspen wasn’t culturally rich enough, the city also thrives on the arts, like the repertory season at Theatre Aspen at the Hurst Theatre and the standout modern architecture of The Aspen Institute. By the fall season, the new Aspen Art Museum will re-open in an incredible contemporary structure created by cutting-edge architect Shigeru Ban, offering 12,500 square feet of eco-friendly gallery space. 590 N. Mill Street, 970-925-8050, aspenartmuseum.org
Shoppers will delight at specialty stores lining Aspen’s downtown. Standouts include Magasin, a boutique curated with unique jewelry and accessories, and the J.Crew at-the-Mountain special edition (just for women).
If you manage to find room in your well for one more fantastic dining experience, take a horse sleigh ride (you can also snowshoe) to the Pine Creek Cookhouse in the heart of the Elk Mountains. The food is exceptional; the transportation is equally memorable. Our sleigh driver offered us an impromptu serenade of John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High.” Natch. 970-925-1044, pinecreekcookhouse.com