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archive for March 2015

crested butte: bacchanale

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

The more time I spend in Crested Butte, the more enchanted I become with the town. I’m referring to the vibrant community, great local businesses, and a myriad of fun festivities year-round. It’s that charming mountain town vibe I keep coming back to, but each time I discover another little gem that makes me love Crested Butte even more. Last summer, Jeremy and I popped into Bacchanale to see what was what and we couldn’t wait to get back there for another dinner.


bacchanale on elk avenue



Something visitors should be aware of is that ski towns have high seasons and off or shoulder seasons. Crested Butte is hopping in summer and winter, but the pace mellows way out during mud season (spring melt) and pre-ski season (pre-snow). The off season is when some local businesses, who have been taking care of all those visitors in the high season, need a break and may close down for a few weeks so employees and families can get a well-deserved vacation. To avoid any disappointments, it helps to call ahead to make sure the places you want to go will be open when you visit.

Situated on Elk Avenue between Second and Third Streets, Bacchanale occupies a spacious building with plenty of seating at tables, the bar, or upstairs. High ceilings above the bar and half of the downstairs lend an open feeling to the interior.


inside bacchanale



Both times we’ve been to Bacchanale, we enjoyed attentive, accommodating, and genuinely friendly service. The staff know how each dish is prepared and can recommend excellent wine pairings, as well as share some great trail runs, ski routes, or even other places to eat. It’s clear that their main objective is to ensure that you have a great experience both with them and in Crested Butte.

When you sit down, the first thing you’ll likely peruse is the wine and cocktail list which has all Italian wines, beer (draft on tap, bottles, cans), cocktails, bubbles, whiskey, and dessert cordials. The wines are a good and diverse selection in varietal and price, and it appears they update the list periodically. Wines by the glass are well-matched to the dishes served on the menu – feel free to ask the staff for pairing advice. They even brought out tasting glasses to help Jeremy choose.


wine by the glass



Bacchanale’s Italian menu rotates, taking advantage of seasonal ingredients and offering a nice selection of bruschetta or flatbread boards, salads, antipasti, pastas, mains, and desserts. For the last 3 months, in addition to à la carte, the restaurant made available a prix fixe menu – appetizer, main, and dessert (your choice of each) – for $25. It is an exceptional value and I hope they continue to offer it in the future.

The restaurant serves light Italian fare, but don’t think you’re going to walk away from your dinner hungry. Simply prepared, the dishes are big on fresh, clean, seasonal flavors that are pleasing to the palate. For the great quality of the food, the portions are quite reasonable, almost generous.

We started both our meals with appetizers or salads because how could we not? So many options, all so tempting! The panzanella salad (ordered in summer) piled sweet, juicy heirloom tomatoes, fresh beans, asparagus, and grilled bread on greens that were tossed with a light dressing. The fried fresh artichokes (summer) came encased in a crisp, delicate batter with a side of tangy lemon aioli. On our most recent visit in March, we tried their tender beef carpaccio with a nice cracked-pepper crust sprinkled with sea salt, fresh dill, paper thin slices of radish and fennel, and a drizzle of mustard vinaigrette. Perfectly balanced in flavor and texture. We also ordered the eggplant pillows which had been soaked in milk then batter-fried and topped with Pomodoro sauce and basil chiffonade, with balsamic reduction and whipped chèvre on the side. Also delectable.


panzanella salad

fried artichokes with lemon aioli

beef carpaccio

eggplant pillows – melanzane fritte



**Jump for more butter**

getting after it

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

Recipe: bananas foster

Winter is coming and going, but mostly it’s going. If I can stand on the deck at sunset in short sleeves, then winter is most certainly on her way out. The R-word has entered the forecasts… Rain. When I look toward the local ski resort from our house, I can see if there is weather over the mountain. But lately, the weather up the valley has been darker with more streaks. That’s rain.


a late evening surprise sunset



We are both wondering if we’ll be able to start lacing up our trail runners this month around here. April, sure. March? That’s a little disheartening. And even though the sun and atmosphere have conspired to kill our snowpack, we’re gonna ski until we can’t. Besides, you can always count on getting that 1-2 foot dump the day after the local ski hill closes for the season. And it always manages to snow on Mother’s Day. Plenty to look forward to. For now, we’ll make due with what we’ve got.

high sun at 5pm

great views of the surrounding high country

ready for some turns

time to ski out and get some dinner



I am adjusting with the seasons. Jeremy always puts the kettle on when we get home from skiing. He sweetly asks me what I’d like: hot cocoa, hot cider, tea? Something to warm me up from the cold. Except it hasn’t been very cold lately, so I politely decline and grab a glass of cold water – maybe drop two or three big ice cubes into it. That’s how stupidly warm it has been. Jeremy still likes a mug of hot coffee or hot tea and won’t transition to cold beverages until the dead of summer when you feel like your skin is going to go up in flames. This intermediate period is a good time for a compromise – hot and cold. Something for everyone. Like bananas foster!

vanilla, rum, amaretto, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon , salt, bananas

quarter the bananas

it goes quickly, so get your mise en place!



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rehash

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Recipe: corned beef hash

Several posts back, a reader (Jasmine) asked how I got started skiing. I wish I could say I began as a little toddler, the way these badass little Colorado munchkins do – but I didn’t. I spent my youth on the water, sailing with my dad and my sister. I didn’t begin the love affair with gliding on snow until I was 22 years old when I was visiting Jeremy’s family over the holidays and they took me to the bunny hill at their local mountain.

Jeremy is a phenomenal teacher when it comes to most things. Skiing is not one of those things. He learned to alpine ski as a kid, for crying out loud. The first thing he did was point down the hill and say, “Just head over there.” As soon as I began moving, I realized that he had neglected to tell me how to stop. I proceeded to crash into the ground while making a mental note not to listen to that guy. Despite the terrible first lesson, I really loved skiing. Living in Southern California, we managed to get 5-8 days a year if we were lucky.

Then we moved to Ithaca, New York where we picked up cross country skiing (it’s free and we were graduate students). We continued logging single digit alpine days each year whenever we visited family in New Mexico. Upon our return to Southern California, we would spend a couple of weekends each year skiing at Mammoth Mountain. This was the first time I had seen a person telemark ski. I was riding solo on the lift watching this fellow carve graceful turns down the mountain such that I missed getting off the chair and had to do the “jump off and roll out of the way” move. But it was worth it.

We learned to telemark ski (with proper instruction) during our first winter in Colorado, ten years ago, and I’ve never touched a pair of alpine skis since. Being locals, skiing is no longer limited to vacations or weekends – it’s something we do for regular exercise during our snow months… September through June if we’re lucky! We ski the resorts, the backcountry, the local trails, the nordic centers: telemark, ski touring (skins and scales), classic, and most recently skate skiing. I love skiing. It kept me sane during my chemotherapy in 2008 and it keeps me happy and healthy now. So that’s the love affair in a nutshell!


surprise powder day on the local mountain, friday afternoon

sunny weekend ski tour

the snow was sticky

great views of the indian peaks

65 degrees on the local trails – it was so warm i wore my running skirt instead of ski pants



Right, but enough about skiing (we still have a few more months to talk about skiing). If you are serving corned beef for Saint Patrick’s Day or just because they happen to be on sale EVERYWHERE, you might be fortunate enough to have some left over. I am actually far more excited about leftover corned beef than the corned beef itself. We ate a couple of slices of corned beef with roasted vegetables, but I already had plans for the leftovers which were actually 90% of the brisket. We enjoyed delicious reuben sandwiches with melty swiss cheese and loads of sauerkraut, and then I made corned beef hash – because I’m a savory breakfast kind of girl and this is filled with ALL OF THE GOOD THINGS.

parsley, potatoes, red bell pepper, onion, eggs, salt, butter, corned beef, cream, pepper

chop the corned beef into chunks

pulse them into a coarse chop

dice the potatoes



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