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March 23, 2011

Aspen: The food of BB's Kitchen

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The interesting part of my annual sojourns to Aspen has been tracking down the new restaurants and bars that pop up over the years. This year, I discovered BB's Kitchen, which had only been open for a couple weeks when I got there.

I had a few great meals there and just missed the opportunity to photograph their meat operation for my butchery project. I spoke to the chef, Mark Buley about the restaurant and their plans to bring whole animal cooking to Aspen. If I'd written this post two months ago, I'd probably have a lot more details, but it's all faded a bit, so I'll let the food talk for itself after the jump.

Continue reading "Aspen: The food of BB's Kitchen" »

February 24, 2011

...And back again

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Tammi and I got back from Barcelona this afternoon. It was a great trip and I've got loads to write about. I hope to spend the next day or two catching up on my posts about this trip, San Francisco, Aspen and Hong Kong.

January 31, 2011

Aspen: Homeward...hopefully

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After nearly a week without snow, the skies over Aspen have opened up and let loose. It's not unspeakable, but along with the eastward storms in the Midwest, there are probably going to be a couple obstacles between here and home. Here's hoping it all works out.

January 28, 2011

Quick Bite: Steak & Egg at Lulu Wilson in Aspen

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Last year in Aspen, I had Lulu Wilson's Bacon and Egg dish, which I lit with my iPhone.

The other night, I made a return visit and found that the dish had grown into this Steak and Egg entree. This time, I used my iPad for a broader light over the whole dish.

January 20, 2011

Aspen-Bound for the Last Time

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This weekend, I head to Aspen for the final time in the service of my current company. There's plenty more to report about why, but for now, let's stick with the usual trip preparations. Tammi's joining me for a couple days to assist me in set up (having a geek wife has its benefits) and to allegedly take on some of the local activities that I've thus far avoided every year going out there.

My list of restaurants I want to visit for my last time around is long. Ajax Tavern, Ellina, or maybe Brexi

April 6, 2010

Self-Promotion: Off The Chain

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Excuse the delayed bit of self-promotion: Last year, this photo from Winter X Games was used in the book Off The Chain. The book is a history of snowboarding written by Ross Rebagliati, the first Olympic gold medalist in the sport.

February 17, 2010

Aspen: Ajax Tavern

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I read about Ajax Tavern in some of my research before I headed out to Aspen and it looked good. I just hadn't figured out where it was and was too lazy to look for it. Then I found it when I was heading to the gondola up to the Monster Party. The next night I headed over for a dinner of appetizers.

The multi-app meal has become my defacto arrangement in the restaurants in Aspen. The entrees at most of the good places run higher than my per diem is ever going to allow, so I've been grazing the smaller portions. The upside is that I get to try out more dishes. The downside is that I end up leaving wanting for more.
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After this meal, I wanted to make my way through the rest of the menu. I started with another take on bacon and eggs, this time with grits. More savory than some of the others, this one had braised pork belly and a fried yolky egg amidst a pool of polenta.

Parpadelle Lamb Bolognese at Ajax Tavern, Aspen. Photo by Clay Williams

Next up was the Parpadelle Lamb Bolognese. The meat was rich, salty and sweet and lovely on the firm pasta ribbons. Topped with a cooling dollop of sour cream, it was wonderful.

Sadly, I had to stop there. I saw many other eye-catching menu items that I would have loved to have spent the entire night exploring. Beef marrow topped the list, but there was plenty more.

Ajax Tavern at the Little Nell
685 East Durant Avenue, Aspen, CO‎ - 970.920.6334‎

February 15, 2010

Travel Observations: Mountains

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Growing up in New York, my idea of mountains has always been giant triangles sticking out of the ground. Even spending 4 years living in a valley didn't really properly convey the concept of what a mountain was in my head. It wasn't until going out to Aspen and actually being in the mountains that I really began to comprehend the size and shape of real mountains.

To this day, I'm still a little shocked looking at them. Flying over them, they're shapes are weird, almost violent.

February 9, 2010

Photography: Egg Tower

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I didn't actually eat any of these eggs on the bar at Wild Fig in Aspen, but they caught my eye.

Looking back at some recent posts, I realize that eggs have been a recurring meme. Both visually and as a food choice, it's been coming up more and more.

Generally, they've been fried and the bright yellow yolks have drawn me into them, whether spilling out of the b.e.l.t. at Swift Half, on top of the Croque Madame at Rouge or in the Bacon and Eggs appetizer at Lulu Wilson that I lit up with my iPhone.

But these eggs, still in their shell brought me back to my High School Photography class. One of our first assignments to photograph eggs, composed in whatever way we'd like. I don't remember what I came up with and I doubt I really 'got' the potential compositions that can be done with the shapes and curves aesthetically.

Every now and then I think about going back to some of those old assignments (that I can remember) as exercises or practice. I make no promises, but if I do, I'll be sure to post them.

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February 7, 2010

Aspen: Ellina

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D19 was one of the most exciting restaurants I found in Aspen. There's plenty of good food in this town, but not so much that's original. Sushi, Bistros, New American, even the dives all seem to have indistinct menus full of food that's good, but similar to the rest. For the last two years, it was my go to spot for food that was actually interesting to me. It was a place for Italian food that wasn't just like everything else.

So, I was disappointed to hear that D19 had closed, but relieved to find that the chef, Dena Marino had a new place, Ellina, just around the corner.

Continue reading "Aspen: Ellina" »

Flying Food: Delta's Asian Shrimp Salad

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No one has great things to say about airplane food. It's rarely good. I know this. But, when I saw "Todd English Selection" on the menu, I figured I ought to give the Olive's chef a second chance after the abysmal hot dog I had at his Bonfire at JFK.

I'm not a salad eater, but the collection of shrimp, noodles and an Asian dressing seemed like it could be worth it.

What I found was completely subjective.

I'm sure many people would have enjoyed this salad. I know Tammi would have. The shrimp was cooked properly, as were the noodles. Both could be messed up pretty easily, but they weren't. It was also topped with crisp slices of bell peppers and red onion which were fresh and crunchy.

Yet, I didn't enjoy it at all. First, it was cold. Outside of ice cream, I'm not so into cold foods. It's a personal quirk, I suppose, but whether it's a sandwich or a salad, I want my food warmed up or at least at room temperature. But this came straight out of the fridge and each crunch of veggies or slurping of noodles reminded me of that fact.

Along the same lines, I like bell peppers and red onions, I just think they'd be much better sauteed and maybe added to a stir fry of those noodles and shrimp. Instead, I was left with the sharp onion flavor for the rest of the trip.

So, if cold salads are your thing, this is definitely one of your better airplane options. But for me, I think I might have preferred some of the microwaved dinner options you used to get in flight. Not very good, but at least it was warm.

February 4, 2010

Analog: Developing film while traveling

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A challenge of my exploration into shooting analog is that outside of the New York area, I have no idea where to go to get film developed by real professionals. So, I have to go to the few one hour photo spots left in whatever town I'm in.

The upside is that invariably they are cheaper than the $13-15 I spend per roll for developing and scanning my film. The downside is that the people doing this are almost invariably incompetent.

In Seattle, the guy at the Ritz knew what he was doing for the most part, but the hi-res scans aren't nearly the quality of my typical scans, meaning that I'll have to go back and rescan if I want to use the images for anything in the future.

In Hawai'i, the staff rotated nearly every time I showed up, meaning that I had to re-explain what I wanted every time to a worker who basically had no idea what to do with film.

Most recently, in Aspen, I got little bit of everything at the Wolf Camera, a part of the Ritz Camer chain. Everyone there gave me something different. No one was familiar enough with film to know what their standard procedure was supposed to be. I got charged different rates (all pretty low), scans at different resolutions and worse, one of my negatives got so beat up that I got scans like the image above.

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And on another set of rolls, the scans were all cropped to 4x5 cutting out the edges of the frame.

Oddly, based on resolution, they also split up the images from a roll into as many as 5 discs. Something about the software they use decides that a CD should only be up to 20% full and after that, the data has to go on to another disc. And another. And another. Better yet, they charge you for each disc. Sometimes.

It's a bad scene all around. But, if you've got no other choice, you do what you have to do. Just keep in mind that who handles your photos can be very important.

Aspen: Brexi

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In the intervening year since my last trip to Aspen, Brexi opened up a block away from my hotel. It's a shiny new brasserie with a nicely put together menu of classics including a seafood plate a la "The Balthazar"

I stuck to more reasonable fare and had a burger there on my first visit there. The guys down the bar raved about what they considered the best burger in town. I should probably have learned from the local advice I got last year that 'best' is wildly subjective.

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Wait. That's not entirely fair. The burger, topped with Emmentaler cheese, caramelized shallots, applewood smoked bacon and Russian dressing would have been very good had it been served at the medium rare temperature I asked for. Instead, it was perfectly raw in the middle. Like steak tartare.

The other issue was just with the structural integrity of the burger. The dressing and the onions, not to mention the bloody burger were a bit too juicy for the buns to hold together. Instead it all came to pieces by the time I got half way through it. Not always a deal breaker on a great burger, but a bit frustrating when also trying to eat around the uncooked center.

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Let's be clear. I'm not slamming the place. actually really liked it and the service I had there was excellent. The people were friendly and the menu's other items, like the Duck Two Ways special was very good. This came with a confitted duck leg and a seared breast. In this case, the breast being very rare in the middle was totally acceptable.

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I'm writing this with one more day left in town. As I consider where to go for what may be my last meal in Aspen, Brexi definitely makes the short list.

February 3, 2010

Quick Bite: Bad Billy's Mini Tuna Tacos

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When I first started coming to Aspen, the space where Bad Billy's was Cooper Street Ale House, one of the few divey bars in town. It was always a little too fratty for me, but you take what you can get.

When I got here last year, the place looked more or less the same, but the name had changed. I popped in for wings or whatever, but didn't really see any huge difference.

What I discovered is that Bad Billy's elevated the bar food in a pretty wonderful way.

Up top are the mini tuna tacos made with seared sushi-grade tuna sourced from sister restaurant, Kenichi, one of the nicer sushi restaurants in town. Wrapped in blistered, fried corn tortillas, they make an awesome one or two bite snack.

I followed that up with more 'traditional' fish tacos with beer battered fish on flour tortillas.

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On another visit, I popped in with some co-workers and we partook in the $15 pitchers and played some music on the internet-enabled jukebox.

Bad Billy's
508 East Cooper Avenue, Aspen, CO‎
970.925.9225‎

February 2, 2010

Aspen: Grape Bar

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One of my favorite places in Aspen from the last few years has been The Wine Spot in the Hyatt Grand Aspen. I enjoyed the cushy, comfortable wine bar not just for the wine, the big leather seats and the real wood fireplace. But I also really liked the friendly owner, Seth, who always had some good conversation and recommendations for food and drink elsewhere in town.

So, I was pretty sad to find that the bar has changed ownership. It's now called Grape Bar. The space is all the same, the fireplace is still roaring and the wine selection is still good. And pretty cheap, with a bunch of wines available at $6 a glass.

Even so, part of being a barfly is enjoying the company of your bartender. When that's gone, you miss it.

Despite that, Ive been there a few times this trip and still enjoy sitting by the fire and getting away from the madness of the rest of town.

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February 1, 2010

Aspen: LuLu Wilson

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When I headed out to Aspen, one of my goals was to explore some new restaurants instead of going back to the same places I always go. I was marginally successful in that those places aren't all the same as they had been in past years. More on that in a bit.

Lulu Wilson, on the other hand was entirely new to me. I had passed there before, but never actually gone in. That night, I walked out of the hotel not quite sure where I felt like going, and sort of wandering aimlessly. I must have looked pretty lost, because some folks stopped me and asked me if I was looking for something.

Turns out they both work in restaurants in town and were more than happy to give me a recommendation.

I sat up front at the bar and had a great meal. The food is contemporary American with many of the same hearty comforting foods you find elsewhere around town.

I started with the bacon and eggs appetizer. The bacon was house-cured and sliced thick. It reminded me that I had cured some bacon before I left and am really looking forward to playing with it in the kitchen when I get home.

The yolky egg was perfect. You can't really come up with a more classic combo. What didn't quite fit for me was the salad, with it's chili aioli. The thickness of the mayo far outweighed the leaves of the salad and the spice just got in the way of the flavors of the bacon and egg.

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After having that, I was afraid the burger I ordered would be way too much food. Thankfully, the burger is perfectly mid-sized. Thicker than any slider or In n Out style burger, but not nearly the quarter- and half- pound behemoths that, though often wonderful, would have injured me on this particular night.

In case you weren't sure, this was where I came up with my iPhone lighting trick that I got so excited about the other day.

January 31, 2010

Aspen: Monster Energy Drink's X Games Party

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Last night, I got a pass to go up to the top of Aspen Mountain for the Monster Energy Drink Party. In all my years coming out to X Games Events, this was my first sponsor party. It was a good time, if not my usual scene.

On stage, Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys warmed the crowd up and Del The Funky Homosapien performed old and new songs from his current album all the way back to his 1990 debut. Up front a crowd of hyped up fans bounced to the sounds of Mister Dobalina and Doctor Bombay.

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It was fun to get into a crowd again and keep my music photography going after a little while away. The snowboarder kids are an interesting bunch. Their typical dress is often already pretty outlandish, so when they go all out, it's quite the spectacle. I just wish I had an excuse to post it on Examiner.

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More photos after the jump.

Continue reading "Aspen: Monster Energy Drink's X Games Party" »

Aspen: That X Games Glow

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You can see the glow coming from the Winter X Games from the middle of town, two and a half miles away.

January 30, 2010

Aspen: Winter X Games in Analog

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My recent obsession with film photography means that I've been seeing things I've shot before with new eyes. This includes the action of the X Games. I've only gone out photographing the events a bit, but not a lot. After picking up a couple rolls I took of practice earlier in the week, I'm psyched to spend more time this weekend.


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The way colors are brought out in the highly saturated films I prefer works really well with the bright outfits and equipment that the athletes wear. And the grit in the lower definition that film brings, particularly in the shadows makes for a very cool contrast to me.

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I've even been shooting with the Diana Mini around Buttermilk and in Aspen. I like the vignetting around the edges of this photo where whites seem to battle with grays and people and objects just seem to float in the void.

More after the jump.

Continue reading "Aspen: Winter X Games in Analog" »

Photography: iPhone Lighting

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Ok, so, this is pretty cool.

I'm still learning as a photographer, but I've been doing it long enough that I've picked up a couple things here and there in the process. Recently, I had a conversation with my friend Yelena (whose blog you should totally read, because it's awesome) who was asking about this whole photography thing. As I was writing out my response, I realized it would make a good post. Procrastination being what it is, I haven't posted that yet. But there's this, which I think is pretty great.

I often shoot in dark places. Bars, restaurants, clubs all tend towards mood lighting that's not so friendly to photography. And I've never been particularly fond of using a flash. My candid-heavy 'fly on the wall' approach doesn't really work so well when a blinding flash breaks up the flow of the evening.

So, I've adapted to shooting in low light - a steady hand, leaning on various items readily available at the bar, that sort of thing.

The other night I figured out a really cool new trick: lighting the subject with my iPhone. Turns out that in a pretty dark room, like this restaurant in Aspen (more on the meal in a couple days), the light from the phone is plenty to light up a subject.

I did have the ISO set to 400, somewhat high, but not so bad that the noise took over the image. Best of all, unlike a flash, you've got a million different angles you can point the light, moving the shadows wherever you want them.

January 19, 2010

Aspen Awaits

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At the end of the week, I make my fifth and potentially final trip to Aspen for the Winter X Games. While the weather isn't really my thing, I can't say I haven't managed to enjoy myself sampling the cuisines offered out there.

This week is going to be a bit hectic with packing and errands and pre-trip minutiae, so pardon a slight delay posts this week. I hope to get some Philadelphia posts up when I can manage the time.

February 24, 2009

Aspen: Piñons

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Word of mouth from locals is usually the best way to find a great meal. So I was excited when I heard the recommendations for Piñons from staff at The Wine Spot and later at Zocalito. At both places the words, 'Best in Aspen' came up. That seemed a little much to me, but with such strong reviews, I couldn't leave without trying it.

Sadly, word of mouth can also lead to unwarranted expectations. I can't say anything bad about the meal I had. It was good. I had a duck quesadilla starter and the steak main you see about.

That said, it wasn't a very interesting meal, particularly given the price. For a steak at their prices, I want something aged and buttery. And the variety of the menu reminded me of my initial impressions of Aspen, years ago: contrived, unnecessarily full of itself and overpriced. I can't speak to the decor or the ambiance, since I sat at the bar and didn't see much of the main dining area. I'm no militant locavore, but the fact that a key item on offer is New Zealand Elk steaks when there are probably elk within 5 miles from the restaurant seemed a little stupid.

Contrasted with Zocalito or The Wild Fig, where my meals weren't great, but displayed an interest in trying new things and challenging the palette, Piñons was just boring.

February 18, 2009

Aspen: Zocalito

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I'm not sure how long ago Zocalito opened up in Aspen, but I had never seen it before this trip. It's not unreasonable to think it may have been there for years given it's location. It's situated downstairs in a side alley off the outdoor mall on East Hyman.

I noticed it once early on and wasn't sure if I wanted to try it. The signs declare it a "Latin Bistro," which hinted of a pan latino fusion concept that seemed pretty annoying. Later, I heard a few good things about it, so I decided to give it a go.

The place was empty. The only ones there were the Bartender/server and his friend sitting at the bar. I was concerned, but figured it was worth a try. I'm glad I did. On closer inspection, the menu presented some really interesting options, that were if nothing else educational.

My main course, below, was a T-bone steak covered in a Mole sauce made from various exotic chile peppers. Apparently, this is one of the Chef's focuses in authenticity. He travels to Mexico every summer to find suppliers items that he can't get in Colorado. The first is chiles, the other is Mezcal. The waiter showed me a book of photos they took when last down there. The piles of peppers dried and fresh at various markets and the collapsed shack that distills the Mezcal make me think their chef would be a pretty awesome travel companion.

T-bone with Red Mole

To be honest, I ordered it less for the steak than the sauce and sides. The mole was thick and earthy.The steak itself didn't have a whole lot to offer, but that was for the best. Whatever a better steak might have had to offer would have been lost in this powerful sauce.

The other thing that drew me to it was the slices of cactus leaf that decorate the top. I've seen them in Mexican Markets before and really wondered how they taste, but never been willing to pick one up and cook it myself. Turns out, it's sort of like okra. Take that how you will. It's firm on the outside and sort of slimy in the middle. Like I said, it was very interesting. Also mixed in with the sides were huitlacoche, corn 'mushrooms' that added a distinctive flavor and texture.

The potatoes on the side were gratineed, crisp around the edges in just the right way.

My starter was, predictably an order of Queso Fundido, which I have raved about in the past and so will refrain now. Suffice it to say it was all I had hoped from a bowl of hot, melty cheese.

I can't say Zocalito made my favorite meal in Aspen, but it was the most challenging I had had in a while and I really appreciated that. It was great ot be able to actually try something new there. With that comes the risk of the unfamiliar. I would go back if I find myself there again next year, just so I could explore their more interesting options further.

420 E. Hyman Street
Aspen, CO
970.920.1991

February 9, 2009

Aspen: The Wine Spot

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My recent visit to Aspen was remarkable for being my least social excursion out there to date. The co-workers who usually accompany me there did not go this year and my suddenly sensitive stomach left me a little cranky and not in much of a mood for the crowds that end up in town for X Games.

The Wine Spot was my savior. If not for this place and Seth, its proprietor, I'd have found myself sitting in my room alone every night watching netflix instant or whatever crap was on TV.

Situated in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Aspen, a 'residence,' which I think is just fancy-talk for 'time-share,' this place is just off the beaten path. It's right across from Rubey Park, the main bus stop for the whole town, right down the block from the bars, clubs and restaurants in the middle of town. Yet, it's not actually in the middle of anything, so most of the people who actually show up here are those who are staying there.

It was the perfect place to go to escape the crowds. I must have stopped in there 4 or 5 times and there were never more than 10 people in, even on Saturday night when packs of teens and twentysomethings roamed the streets looking for a party.

The first night I came in, Seth greeted me and reintroduced himself, remembering me from last year. It's an interesting thing because I've unintentionally become a regular in a place where people often only come in for a week or two a year. After being reacquainted, he went on to help me find some of the wine on the menu that I'd enjoy.

I also partook in the one food item they serve, a cheese and meat plate:

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Both the food and drink were great, but what kept me coming back was the warmth and familiarity of the hearth, the leather couches and the service.

January 29, 2009

Photo of the Day: Snow Pig

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Aspen, CO. 2009.

Have I mentioned that I'm sick of winter?

January 27, 2009

Photo of the Day: Classic Snow

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Aspen. 2009.

I like the way this shot came out. It reminds me of an old film photo. I was fiddling with the shutter speed, making it faster so I could get more definition. In the end, I only ended up getting darker images but at least here it worked out.

January 26, 2009

Aspen: The Wild Fig

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I've been to The Wild Fig pretty much every year since I started coming out to Aspen. The food is generally Mediterranean with a focus on Southern France. I usually get one of the bigger entrees, like risotto or lamb shanks, which have always had me coming back for more. This time I changed it up a bit and went with the small plates.

I started with a bowl of French Onion Soup, which I recently mentioned is a new favorite dish I picked up over the honeymoon.
Unfortunately, the soup here was surprisingly disappointing. It seemed like it should be perfect. There was a thick layer of gruyere, deeply caramelized onions laying under chunks of sodden chunks of bread. The problem was how the flavors came together or failed to. First, the cheese had the texture I love, but was saltier than I would have liked. The cheese, bread and onions were packed in so tightly that there wasn't much room at all for the actual soup. The liquid that was there was thick and intense, more like a demiglace than a proper broth and there wasn't a lot of it.

My other course was a vast improvement, Clams and Chorizo. Everything came together perfectly here. The flavors and textures perfectly complemented each other making a wonderfully complex dish. Clam juice and tomato broth are boosted by the contrasting smoke from the chorizo. Each bite was an amalgamation of textures, placing chewy clams, firm chorizo and meat cherry tomatoes, cut in half and stewed to bursting.

I've had many good meals at The Wild Fig, so the unusual miss on the Onion Soup was never going to deter me from returning, but if there had been any doubt, the Clams and Chorizo resolved it immediately.

The Wilg Fig
315 East Hyman
Aspen, CO.
970.925.5160

Photo of the Day: Hearth

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The Wine Spot, Aspen. 2009.

I will say this about Aspen, they have plenty of fireplaces available. It's one of those things I don't come by very often, but enjoy a great deal. There are few things more comforting on a cold night than sitting by a fire and drinking a glass of wine.

January 25, 2009

Photo of the Day: Snowfall

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Rubey Park, Aspen. 2009.

Aspen: D19

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About five minutes after I got to D19 in Aspen, Dena Marino, the chef passed by and asked me, "Weren't you here last year? You sat two seats over from where you are now." Clearly, a creature of habit, I had dinner at the bar last year as well. On that visit, I chatted with a great booster of the restaurant that turned out to be her father. Obviously, he had great things to say about the great Italian food Dena and her team serve at D19. I was certainly happy with it enough to put it high up on my short list of places I wanted to visit again.

In fact, I had hoped to go earlier in the week, but had no appetite for most of the week after my misadventures over the weekend. Fully recovered, I chose my meal with one foot towards the exotic and the other firmly in the world of comfort food.

I started with the exotic, Charred and Tender Octopus, Marino's signature dish. She even shares the recipe on the website, which I want to try at home at some point. It was wonderful. I loved the firm texture, even if slightly chewier than I'd prefer. But then it's octopus, it's supposed to be.

The flavors all worked very well together, blending the subtle fish flavor of the octopus, the salty char and the tangy sauce of chili flakes and cooking liquid.

After the octopus was gone, I coated the arugula and potatoes with the sauce making them irresistible. When I ran out of veggies, I turned to my bread, sopping up every last drop I could.

My entree was a big bowl of Spaghetti and Meatballs, which was everything it's supposed to be: Comforting, delicious and with meatballs the size of tennis balls.

I love sitting out at the bar. From there I see all the traffic coming from the kitchen, the waitstaff coming in for drinks and, best of all, I get to spend some quality time with the personalities behind the bar.

My service on this visit was from Joe, who spent most of the time working the crowd, greeting his regulars and hooking them up with the hot spots in the area and Dennis, who I recall from last year. Dennis helped me out quite a bit selecting my libations for the evening.

My first round was a Cesari 'mara' valpolicella 2006. Light bodied and fruity, but not overly sweet. It reminded me of chianti, but without the cloying finish that typically puts me off.

Second up was a Syrah from Paso Robles. Which worked with the Spaghetti having a fuller, bigger flavor and a thicker mouthfeel.

Dennis also gave me a taste of a Barbaresco they offer by the glass, a Moccagatta 2000.

The main event for me in the wine world was the dessert wine. I had a Torcolato, which is a lesser known Italian dessert wine, made well more or less by one winery, Maculan. I found a photo I took of it last year and was reminded that I wanted to have it again. It was Cold, sweet and thick, fruity, yet not overly sweet.

After seeing how much I enjoyed that, Dennis gave me a taste of icewine from the Canadian side of Niagara falls. Made with the Vidal grape: Wonderful. Fruity, sweet with lychee flavors.

I'm not sure if I'll swing it, but I really hope to have another go at D19 before I go.

D19
305 South Mill Street, Aspen.

January 24, 2009

Photo of the Day: Walking the Dog

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Downtown Aspen, CO. 2009.

January 23, 2009

Photo of the Day: Art or Something Like It

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Downtown Aspen, CO. 2009.

I've mentioned that Downtown Aspen is heavily populated with Furriers and Art Galleries before. What I didn't mention was that many of these galleries draw in their customers with symbols of their rustic surroundings. More than one place is guarded by life-size statues of Grizzly Bears and other animals including this humble foal.

Perhaps this is just a limitation of my citified imagination, but I can't fathom an appropriate place in any home for statues of wildlife.

January 22, 2009

Photo of the Day: Elk Building

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Downtown Aspen, CO. 2009.

January 21, 2009

Aspen: Clearance

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There's nothing great about the economic downturn, but pardon me for a little schadenfreude seeing clearance sales at the fur shops and art galleries around Aspen.

Toasting President Obama

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Last night I celebrated the inauguration quietly with this small bottle of Champagne I had at The Wine Spot, a slightly out of the way little hotel bar that I visited last year. More on that to come. For now, cheers!

January 19, 2009

The Red Eye


IMG_7829, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

In a major case of poor timing, I got food poisoning just before my flights out to Aspen. Without going into any graphic details, this meant spending more time in airport bathrooms than Larry Craig. The visible aftermath, above, are the popped blood vessels in my eyes that leave me looking like 'The Killer' as my sister says.

The upshot is that I'll be taking it easy on the food and drink for a day or two, but will have some Aspen posts up later in the week.

December 25, 2008

Ornaments: Tubing Santa

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Purchased in Aspen, CO. January 2008.

May 9, 2008

Photo of the Day: Extreme Proselytizing


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Winter X Games, Aspen, CO. 2008.

February 1, 2008

Aspen: Montagna's Hot Rocks


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This was probably the most interesting dish I had in Aspen. I had it in the front room bar at Montagna, the restaurants at The Little Nell Hotel, the menu included many small plates for the "Aprés Ski" period. (For the record, "Aprés Ski" is one of the most pretentious terms ever, but is pretty much accepted as a part of the Aspen daily schedule.)

The shrimp and chorizo skewers were served with a heated river stone on a bed of banana leaves, cinnamon sticks and star anise. The shrimp was par-cooked and could be placed on the rock as long as you want in order to achieve the perfect amount of char.

Continue reading "Aspen: Montagna's Hot Rocks" »

January 29, 2008

Aspen: Snow Storm


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It wouldn't be a trip to Aspen without a storm screwing up everyone's travel. So far, I'm on schedule (after my flight was canceled, then uncanceled) and waiting to board my flight.

more to come...
::c::

Words of Wisdom...

"Monday's just like a Friday, except we got to work tomorrow."

-The (very drunk) Hillbillies down the bar at Little Annie's

January 28, 2008

Aspen: Where to Eat

Before I headed out here, Eric sent me a link to an article from Food & Wine by Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson on what's new(ish) to eat in Aspen. So far, I've checked out 4 of the 5 places described. Hopefully, I will have some posts about them in the next couple of days, along with some others.
::c::

January 27, 2008

Photo of the Day: Into the Void

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IMG_4509, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Big Air Competition, Winter X Games 12, Aspen, CO. 2008.
::c::

Seeing Green


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What annoys me most about the Green movement is that most businesses only seem to give a shit about the environment when it'll save them a buck.

Some say that the best way to get big business to be environmentally responsible is not through regulation but to show them how they can profit through it.

Enlightened self-interest may be at the heart of conservationist conservatism, but its logic still dictates that if polluting is cheaper, there's no reason not to do it.

::c::

Aspen Observations: Hardware is Hardeware


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Apparently in Aspen, Computer, Audio, Auto and Kitchen hardware is all the same. It's an odd thing, this one store sells everything from USB cables to drills to gardening equipment...
::c::

January 24, 2008

Irony + +


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For those paying attention, I'm quite aware that my recent hiatus of 3 weeks came directly after I resolved to post more. As promised, though, I am back in Aspen and I already have a fair number of things to post about and plenty of time on my hands.

More to come...
::c::

December 19, 2007

Ornaments: Skiing Santa


IMG_1367.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Aspen. January 2007.
::c::

May 19, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Misleader


Misleader, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Aspen, 2007.


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May 14, 2007

The World According to Clay

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Google now offers personalized maps without the geekery previously necessary to put one together. I've wanted to do one since Eric put together a Paris map for his trip there last year.

I've started populating the map with bars I've been to in my travels. At some point, I'll figure out how I want to connect it to the site, in the meantime, click on the screenshot above and take a look.
::c::

March 9, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Bombs Away


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Warplane stencil, Aspen, Colorado, 2007.

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January 31, 2007

Photo of the Day: SnowCross


IMG_2225.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

A new feature here at ultraclay.com. Everyday I'll post at least one of my photos from my ever-swelling Flickr stream.

To start off, here's a bit of lunacy from The Winter X Games in Aspen.

Continue reading "Photo of the Day: SnowCross" »

January 29, 2007

Aspen: Las Vegas in the Mountains

Because 'Goodfella's' would be too ethnic

Whenever I travel, I like to seek out the local foods. I look for food that either I can't get anywhere else or that is fresher or more authentic than anywhere else. Aspen has nothing like this. Every restaurant, high end or low, serves food that is culturally or physically imported. Fancier places offer lobster, sushi and oysters while the cheap 'dives' sell pizza and cheesesteaks, or facsimiles thereof.

Great effort has obviously been put into making the place look like the old mining town it probably was 100 years ago - a little too much effort. Aspen is up there with Vegas or Times Square in terms of pure artificiality. The historic aspects of the town are played up to the point of caricature. A walk through downtown Aspen reminds me of the town in Northern Exposure, except it's spotless and the shop windows sell art and discount furs for $5000.

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January 28, 2007

Getting there is half the pain

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It took 30 hours to get to Aspen.

The highlight was spending a couple hours in SF with guyvera eating tacos and hanging out. The rest of it wasn't so much fun. The visibility in Aspen had gone from 7 miles to under 2 miles. No landing for us. We circled the airport for an hour waiting for it to clear up using all our 'holding fuel(!)' The pilot told us we'd have to head to Denver and try again tomorrow.

The rest of the story after the jump...

Continue reading "Getting there is half the pain" »

Zane's Tavern

Zane's Tavern is the closest thing to down to earth I've found in the Aspen area. I came here last year when I spent a lot more time in snowmass.

Zane's is divey in the best way. It's not hipstery, self-conscious divey or chichi $50 pink trucker hat divey. It's neighborhood bar divey. The bartender knows the regulars - and there are regulars, because the patrons aren't just vacationing visitors - the folks who come here are as likely to be wearing name tags as snow gear.

I'm hardly the slummer who glorifies the 'simple' blue collar life as so much more 'authentic.' I think that's condescending bullshit. Given the other options in the Aspen area though, it's the most refreshing beer you're likely to have.

Continue reading "Zane's Tavern" »

Aspen, the winter home of entitlement

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Aspen is surreal. The aura of raw, unabated entitlement emanates from every corner. I've never seen anything like it. I grew up surrounded by white folks with money. But I had never experienced anything like Aspen before. Conspicuous wealth abounds and no one seems concerned.

This is my second trip here, so I knew what to expect. It's still jarring though. The sense of entitlement is pervasive. It's implicit in the full length furs hanging off of so many of the women here, it's in the expensive snow gear everyone wears and the unavoidable giant SUVs. It's there in every interaction you have with anyone who doesn't work here. Whether they aren't slowing down at the intersection for you to cross the street or they aren't getting out of the way when they're blocking the sidewalk. It's there when a bunch of teenagers are yelling at the driver to take an overcrowded bus faster down a steep icy road so they can get to their snowboarding.

I'm here for business. I don't ski or snowboard. I hate the winter, truth be told. That said, I do enjoy exploring new worlds and Aspen is definitely that. I've been here for a week now, which has been plenty of time to observe. I'll put in some more posts about my experiences and observations in the next day or two.

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January 1, 2007

2006 Travel Recap

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(This entry is backdated.)

2006 was one of my better years for travel. I saw 2 new countries and 6 new cites. I tried to get a fresh look at the places I'd been before, exploring new neighborhoods and seeing new things.

I hope to find a way to include all or most of these trips in the blog one way or the other. For now this will have to do.

After the jump, my photo rundown of the places I went last year.

Continue reading "2006 Travel Recap" »


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