Category Archives: Restaurants

Lonely Planet Adds Food-Forward Guides

With food a major part of travel, publisher debuts titles.

lonelyplanet-logoLonely Planet, now the world’s largest travel guidebook publisher (and my favorite line of titles), is launching the Lonely Planet Food imprint. Food is a key way in which we experience a place when traveling. Out on October 18 is Food Trails: Plan 52 Perfect Weekends in the World’s Tastiest Destinations ($24.99), promising “a gastronomic tour of the greatest, most memorable food experiences worth planning a trip around – from barbeque in Texas to patisserie in Paris, fine dining to cooking classes.”  Also coming this fall are Food Trails (October), From the Source: Spain, and From the Source: Japan (both September). Coming in May 2017 is Lonely Planet’s Global Beer Tour.

The new imprint is launched with impressive ambitions. Associate publisher Robin Barton says, “We will be publishing a wide range of titles, including recipe books that feature food in its place of origin, and travel companions to food and drink trails around the world. We show chefs cooking, customers eating and ingredients being bought in markets, giving readers a true sense of place. A huge part of the food experience is the surroundings, atmosphere and people – our aim is to bring the complete package to people at home who are keen to experience world food at its most authentic.”

In Lonely Planet fashion, the publisher says that its “experts scoured the globe to create a comprehensive guide to a year’s worth of weekends in food heaven. Both practical and inspirational, Food Trails features culinary experts, reviews of restaurants, cafes and markets, and maps and information on where to go when and how to get there.” And did I mention that the food and ambiance photography promises to whet travelers’ appetites?

Cross-posted to Culinary Colorado.

Three Weeks of Gustatorian Apres-Ski

KeystoneResort-logoKeystone was Colorado’s first mountain resort to really emphasize its culinary side with interesting restaurants in the valley and up on the mountain. It long ago began hiring real chefs rather than short order cooks who were frying up burgers in exchange for free skiing. and began beefing up its kitchen staffs with real chefs and culinary school apprentices. As one of the early built-from-the-ground-up full-service resorts, it developed lodging and food and beverage facilities. The high bar Keystone set for itself continues.

Keystone Resort’s distinct signature restaurants are on display during this season’s Savor the Slopes, an upcoming multi-week rotating showcase featuring food, wine, beer and spirits. Each the host restaurant organizes its tasting event with its own unique theme that promises to be both informative and delicious. Award-winning, mountaintop locations, historical buildings and two distinct village settings host a combined 17 tasting events. All events begin at 4 p.m., so they are an excellent après-ski option. I love that several feature Colorado beer, wine and spirits. Resort guests might even want to ski off a little of the Savor the Slopes calories, while cay skiers can linger and avoid some of the eastbound I-70 traffic — of course, being  very conservative adult beverages.

Each event costs $25 (a tab easily reached by ordering some beer and munchies during conventional après-ski.  Reservations for individual Savor the Slopes tasting events are required, and can be made by calling 970-496-4386.

Savor the Slopes Schedule

  • Der Fondue Chessel. A Taste of Fondue, Wednesday, January 21
  • Alpenglow Stube. Wines of Napa Valley, Thursday, January 22
  • Keystone Ranch. Farm to Table Presentation, Friday, January 23
  • Bighorn Bistro. Creation of a Menu Item, Saturday, January 24
  • The Ski Tip Lodge. Hors d’oeuvres Made Easy, Sunday, January 25
  • Der Fondue Chessel. Cabernet at its Finest, Wednesday, January 28
  • Alpenglow Stube. Wild Game, Thursday, January 29
  • Keystone Ranch. Colorado Spirits, Friday, January 30
  • Bighorn Bistro. Craft Beers, Gastropub Style Bites, Saturday, January 31
  • The Ski Tip Lodge. Trends in Wine Making, Sunday, February 1
  • Der Fondue Chessel. Beers of the World, Wednesday, February 4
  • Alpenglow Stube. Mysteries of Merlot, Thursday, February 5
  • Keystone Ranch. History of Colorado Wines, Friday, February 6
  • Bighorn Bistro. How to Create Craft Cocktails, Saturday, February 7
  • The Ski Tip Lodge. Ski Tip Infusions, Sunday, February 8
  • Der Fondue Chessel. Wines of Sonoma, Wednesday, February 11
  • 9280 Tap House. Colorado Beers, Thursday, February 12

Cross-posted to Culinary Colorado.

The Broadmoor is Buying the Seven Falls

Honored resort is adding the Seven Falls to its Colorado Springs portfolio.

Broadmoor-logoThe Broadmoor, Colorado Springs’ greatly honored resort hotel, has a rare timeless quality. On the surface, it never seems to change, but beneath the sense of immutable image, it is constantly adding, upgrading and developing into an ever more wide-ranging property. In the past few years, the resort has developed or is in the process of developing two significant outliers: The Ranch at Emerald Valley (“a unique retreat offering refined luxury with the rustic charm”) reopening this summer after September flood damage. Also, Cloud Camp debuts later this summer at 9,200 feet atop Cheyenne Mountain on the historic site of Broadmoor founder Spencer Penrose’s Cheyenne Lodge, an adobe-style structure with 360-views that was demolished in the 1970s. Click here for a video with details about these developments.

Also in the works, a complete remodel of Broadmoor West, which has splendid views of historic turret-topped Broadmoor Main but in itself was not quite so lovely. In addition to all new guest rooms, Broadmoor West will get its own tower as well as upper-level penthouses. Diners will enjoy three made-over restaurant spaces (La Taverne, Le Jardin and intimate Entre Deux).

The Seven Falls, while a dramatic attraction, are in truth not very photogenic. This old postcard, with each of the individual cascades labeled, is a better depiction.
The Seven Falls, while a dramatic attraction, are in truth not very photogenic. This old postcard, with each of the individual cascades labeled, is a better depiction.

The latest news, as reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette, is that the resort has agreed to purchase the Seven Falls, long a popular local tourist attraction on 1,300 acres in South Cheyenne Canyon and adjacent the Broadmoor’s own vast spread. No closing date or sale price was revealed, but the resort is already looking at a major reclamation project. The attraction, consisting of a daisy chain of seven cascades, was devastated by the floods of 2013 and has been closed ever since.

First developed as a tourist attraction in the 1880s, the falls drop in stages 181 feet into a natural box canyon. Access to the top of the falls has been via a walkway with 224 steps or an elevator within the rock wall. The night-time illumination is a major draw for visitors. The Gazette reported that The Broadmoor will spend $1 million in repairing the flood damage starting with debris cleanup and including replacement of lighting systems, repair of the elevator, strengthening of walls, and rebuilding of parts of the access road and parking lot. If history is a guide, it will all be very well done.

Top Vancouver Hotel’s Rooftop Restaurant

Fine dining returns to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s roof .

FairmontVancouver-logoArguably the pop-up restaurant of all pop-up restaurants in Vancouver adds old-world class to a view of the city’s glittering skyline. The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s space called The Roof Restaurant + Bar will operate as a public restaurant through fall 2014 offering Vancouverites and visitors panoramic views of the coastal mountains, soaring high-rises and endless expanse of ocean.

First opened in 1939, the classic room became a nationally known for its dinner, dancing and live performances. Even though The Roof is only slated to operate as a public restaurant for a few months before being converted into private function space, this glamorous space takes guests back to the swank glamour of the past.

Classy retro drinking and dining at The Roof Restaurant + Bar.
Classy retro drinking and dining at The Roof Restaurant + Bar.

Buffet breakfast, a la carte lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are based on classic menus that match the ambiance. Expect such traditional favorites as oysters, prime rib and Yorkshire pudding at dinner and a sunken bar guaranteed-to-impress cocktails. The Roof is part of a $12-million renovation that will result in a more classic-contemporary Hotel Vancouver by late 2014. Meanwhile, enjoy this blast from the stylish past while you can.

The hotel is at 900 West Georgia Street, Vancouver British Columbia. The general phone number is 604-684-3131.

Cross-posted to www.culinary-colorado.com .

Big News from Beech Mountain

Mountaintop day lodge & longer hours for North Carolina ski resort

BeechMountain-logoYears and years ago, when I was managing editor of Ski magazine, I traveled from New York to North Carolina to research a feature on the Tar Heel State’s two biggest ski areas, Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain. This year, Beech is debuting a glass “roundhouse” on the top of the mountain that I think of it as a “pop-up day lodge” for food, drink, restrooms ant views.

The new 5,506 Skybar is named for what resort management describes as “Beech Mountain’s superlative elevation.” Since I now live at 5,400 feet myself, my perspective on elevation has changed, but I have to applaud a resort that invites guests to enjoy any mountaintop either inside or outdoors. 5,506 Skybar is a self-supported structure made by Umbrella Bars USA of Vermont, which has similar installations at other ski resorts including Beaver Creek and Copper Mountain, both in Colorado, and Sun Peaks in British Columbia.

5506 Skybar being assembled at the top of Beech Mountain.
5506 Skybar after being assembled at the top of Beech Mountain.

Beech Mountain is also upping its snowmaking capacity, always a big and welcome improvement in the East in general and especially in the mountains south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Snowmaking upgrades are expected especially benefit the popular Oz slope on the mountain’s backside. Also, another big change for the 2013-14 season is that Beech Mountain is eliminating the break between day skiing and night skiing hours and will now be open continuously from: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and holidays.

Restin’ at the Westin

Storm-stranded in Denver, but there was room at the inn

Westin-logoWhen I left for Denver on Thursday evening, the evening that Boulder was slammed by the heaviest rains of the “100 Year Flood” rainstorm, I took the bus. Weather or not, I didn’t want to miss the launch of Frances Mayes’s new collection of Italian wines under the Tuscan Sun Wines label. Of course, I fully intended to come home on the bus too, but when I arrived at Market Street Station, I found out that Boulder buses were only going as far as Broomfield.

The prospect of spending the night on a backless granite seat in the station held zero appeal, so I hightailed it a few blocks to the Westin Downtown Denver at nearby Tabor Center. There were rooms — at the special storm rate of $189 per night. Given the alternative, it was a good deal, so I checked in. I rode the elevator to the 6th floor, clutching the cellophane-wrapped toothbrush, travel-size tube of toothpaste, comb and mini-hairspray. I cleaned up, put on a soft cotton robe and watched the news reports of the 100 Year Flood on high-def TV from the luxury of Westin’s signature “Heavenly Bed” with its selection of pillows and quality linens. When friends wrote, “Be safe,” they couldn’t possibly know how safe and comfortable I was.

The buses still weren’t running to Boulder the next morning, so I went to Tom’s Urban 24 for breakfast.

Humongous oatmeal brulee, topped with fresh and dried fruit.
Humongous oatmeal brulee, topped with fresh and dried fruit.

Then I treated myself to a pedicure. Mid-day buses still weren’t going beyond Broomfield, so I rode to the Park ‘n Ride there, and my husband was able to pick me up there.  Amid all the storm’s devastation and personal and community tragedies, I feel fortunate to have ridden out the worst of the storm in such comfort.

Udi’s at Denver’s Airport

Cross-posted to Culinary Colorado.

Denver International Airport’s food scene improves with addition of Udi’s

Udis-logoUdi’s Café & Bar is the newest food-service outlet at Denver International Airport’s busy Concourse B. It is Denver-based Udi’s ninth café location, and the only Udi’s at DIA,which is committed to improving eating options.The deal was struck with Mission Yogurt, Inc. (aka, Mission Restaurant Group), which appears to be the main (only?) food service concessionaire at DIA. As far as I can tell, it develops and operates terminal locations for various restaurant brands. I don’t understand the intricacies of the arrangement, and I don’t really care. What counts is more quality cuisine at the airport that I use whenever I travel.

And Udi’s is all about quality with a commitment to providing people with simple, healthy cuisine. Udi’s Café & Bar utilizes fresh, natural ingredients in its made-to-order salads, paninis, burgers and sandwiches. Like all Udi’s locations, only fresh artisan breads, baked daily in Colorado, are served, and vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are available as well. So are fresh fruit, yogurt and desserts. For those in a hurry, a wide array of freshly made “grab-and-go” items such as gluten-free couscous, fruit cups, salads and sandwiches are available too.

The full-service bar at Udi’s Café & Bar features beers on tap and by the bottle, many local of them or gluten-free, plus signature cocktails and 10 varieties of absinthe from around the world. The initial media information didn’t mention wines, but I am confident that they will be served too.

Rod Tafoya and Udi Bar-On cut the ribbon for the new Udi's at Denver Internatonal Airport.
Rod Tafoya and Udi Bar-On cut the ribbon for the new Udi’s at Denver Internatonal Airport.

Mission Yogurt, Inc.’s DIA operations started with the Sara Lee Sandwich Shop/Colombo Yogurt, followed by Que Bueno! Mexican Grille, developed by the company’s president Rod Tafoya. Then came the busiest Einstein Bros Bagels franchise location in the nation, and Timberline Steaks & Grille, DIA’s highest grossing restaurant measured by sales In June, Mission Yogurt is opening an outlier of Root Down, one of Denver’s most innovative and distinctive restaurants.

These new restaurant brands are a departure for Mission, whose website also includes such run-of-the-mill airport brands as Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut — the kinds of places that cause many of us to bring food to the airport of go hungry. I am optimistic that the founders of the distinctive restaurant that are somehow being licensed for DIA will keep a large measure of menu development and control — and that Mission is OK with that.

Note: After this posted, a spokeswoman clarified, “Mission is one of the biggest concessionaires at DIA (I saw in your post you weren’t sure). The menus will remain true to the brands!” Good news indeed.

 

Hotel Pastry Chef Wins Top Dessert Award

Bosphorale incorporates Turkish ingendients in chef William McCarrick’s cake

If you think baklava or halvah whenever someone mentions Turkish sweets, think again. Bosphorale created by the executive pastry chef of Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul was named the Kempinsky Dessert of the year. Granted, William McCarrick, said executive pastry chef and also a master chocolatie, is not Turkish. More importantly, he was open-minded in adpating Turksh ingredients into an international confection, also made with Bergamot-scented tea from the Black Sea sweetly paired with delicately dried Malatya apricots and Valrhona chocolate. It is going to be available at all Keminski hotels in 2013, but unfortunately, there’s not a single Kempinski hotel in North America.

Bosphorale, so named becuase the Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul is  situated on the European shores of the Bosphorus. It was once an Ottoman Palace
Bosphorale, so named becuase the Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul is situated on the European shore of the Bosphorus. It was once an Ottoman Palace.

Among the ingredients ingrained in Turkish cultural traditions and  creatively used in the cake are dried fruits, including apricots that are usually served at village festivals, weddings and other celebrations, while tea has become a culture of its own, with specific brewing techniques and drinking customs. Offering tea and drinking it together are considered a gesture of friendship and hospitality throughout Turkey.Cross-posted to Culinary Colorado.

Chinese Culinary Experience in Las Vegas

A feast inspired by the pinnacle of Chinese VIP hospitality in America’s gambling mecca

DiyouotiGuesthouse-logoA gambler can lose 500 bucks in Las Vegas in minutes, or a culturally curious foodie can spend it on an evening feasting on a spectacular Chinese banquet, the likes of which is typically reserved for royalty, heads of state and other world leaders visiting the Chinese capital. The cuisine of Diaoyutai State Guesthouse of Beijing will be showcased in celebration of Chinese New Year next month in Las Vegas.

Bellagio’s Tuscany Kitchen will be transformed to host a three-day culinary event featuring exclusive prix fixe dinner menus  from Thursday, February 14 through Saturday, February 16 at 7:30 p.m. nightly. The Bellagio says that the eight-course meal features “a collection of historic dishes modernized from ancient menus, will be prepared and served by the Diaoyutai culinary team, dressed in traditional Chinese attire and led by executive chef Hao Baoli, who has hosted more than 1,000 world leaders in his decades at the Guesthouse. From décor and tradition to dishes showcasing rare and exotic ingredients, the Guesthouse experience will be transported to the luxurious Bellagio.”

Chef Baoli, a celebrity chef in China to celebrated guests, has more than 30 years leading the Diaoyutai culinary team. The Bellagio continues, “Chef Baoli’s celebratory menu will feature a diverse selection of dishes showcasing rare ingredients and skillful techniques. In addition, strict nutritional requirements ensure all dishes are low in both sugar and sodium and high in protein.  The result is cuisine that is visually stunning, legendary and nutritionally holistic.”

Guests will enjoy traditional presentations, including Diaoyutai’s Dragon Bearded Noodle ritual and extraordinary fruit carvings. The Diaoyutai team scrupulously executes what it calls the “Four Beauties” in every meal: food, service, tableware and environment. Celebratory décor includes tableware shipped from Beijing to Bellagio for the event to capture the essence and spirit of the Diaoyutai Guest House.

Curious about what $500 will buy?  Click here for the menu, whose simple graphics belie the intricate cuisine and ceremonial ambiance. To To purchase tickets, call the Concierge at 866-906-7171  or 702-693-7075.

Cross-posted to www.culinary-colorado.com

Hotel Jerome Re-Opens After Mega-Makeover

Grande dame of Aspen set to shine with the glow of a major renovation

Pre-renovation photo of the Hotel Jerome’s landmark exterior.

This is a big week in Aspen as the venerable Hotel Jerome reopens (grandly, I’m sure). Word is that today is the 123-year-old hotel’s “soft opening,” with the formal ceremonial opening tomorrow, locals invited for open house viewings on the 19th and 20th, and paying guests arriving in time for Christmas. I was at the hotel’s previous re-opening following the 1985 renovation and also at the Jerome’s Centennial. I’m with the hotel in spirit this time as it re-opens as part of the Auberge Resorts group.

According to reports in the Aspen media and word-of-mouth from local friends, some things will be very different, while others remain much the same. The new look the 94 luxurious rooms reportedly combines the historic with the contemporary feel with wallpaper, window treatments and carpeting retreating from the unabashed Victorian to an updated look. Of course, there are now desks with computer connections, flat-screen TVs and connections for recharging iPhones and iPads.

The only project cost figures I’ve seen are the vague “multi-million dollar” description. What astonishes me is that everything has been accomplished since the hotel closed on August 1. Public space makeovers include the Wheeler Room expanded and configured for both private dining and banquets, the return of the the Century Room from dining  to its once-upon-a-time use as a living room-style lounge with bar and the beautiful lobby area also “de-Victorianized and refurnished in a more electic style from design periods as late a mid-20th century. I can’t quite imagine that, but I’ll have to wait to see it. Fortunately, the beloved J-Bar hs been refreshed but not repurposed. Also fortunately, a new spa is in place — a must-have for luxury hotels these days. Anhd of course, heating, cooling and such unglamorous systems have also been updated.

Like the lobby, Prospect, the new breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant, is a melding of tradition and today. The hotel’s website describes it as “a modern American bistro that honors the town’s rich mining history with hearty and diverse American dishes that are meant to be shared. Executive Chef Rob Zack reintroduces classic favorites back to menu with a flare; contemporary techniques are compliment by culinary traditions that reflect a sense of place.” Sounds good.

Staying at the Jerome is not for thrifty travelers, but under various owners and management companies, it has always provided atmospheric accommodations and excellent service for the luxury traveler. Several packages including short-stay offers are available– and come spring ‘tween seasons, there mighteven be some real money-savers. 330 East Main Street. Aspen, CO 81611;  800-331-7213.