Feasting on Fondue and Raclette in Telluride

A Bubbling Pot of Fondue at Alpinist and the Goat

A Bubbling Pot of Fondue at Alpinist and the Goat

Providing a Heartwarming Welcome

Providing a Heartwarming Welcome

Serving Up the Bubbles

Serving Up the Bubbles

Brrrr. Baby it’s been cold outside, at least here in the Rocky Mountains. Tis the season to eat lots of warm, hearty foods–calorie-rich meals that refuel you after charging down the slopes all day at Telluride Ski Resort.

And baby do I have a recommendation for you. Book your table at Alpinist and the Goat where you can delight in melted cheese in its most delectable forms: fondue and raclette. Both specialties from the Alps, here these convivial dishes are served with salad, seasoned bread and apples. For the fondue, you can choose from seven different options such as traditional, truffle and Cortina, a twist on the classic recipe blended with creamy gorgonzola. More adventuresome gastronomes will want to try the Basquel, a spicy fondue made with traditional Emmenthaler, Manchego and chorizo or Cajun Fondeaux, a rich blend of cheese finished with crawfish tails and Cajun seasonings. Yum. Leave it to Americans to innovate a centuries-old classic from the Alps.

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Holiday Online Shopping Recommendations 2015

Swiss Dog Collars and Leashes for Your Precious Pups from Alpen Schatz

Swiss Dog Collars and Leashes for Your Precious Pups from Alpen Schatz

Terrace Holiday-Pretty Plates from Quel Objet

Terafeu Holiday-Pretty Plates from Quel Objet

A Superlative Blanc de Blanc from Henri's Reserve

A Superlative Blanc de Blancs from Henri’s Reserve

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to think about shopping. Oh wait, you’ve probably been thinking about it–and even doing some of it–the past week. Good on you if that’s the case. Others (like me) haven’t even begun to tackle their holiday shopping despite a deluge of offers that have flooded our inboxes.

I recommend keeping it simple and shopping online for those on your list that live a distance from you. Have that something special sent directly to their door, so that you don’t have to put up with all the wrapping, packaging and waiting in line at your local post office or shipper. And while you’re at it, pick up something for yourself because that’s just what we do when holiday shopping.

I showcase a curated list of favorite purveyors at my Online Shopping Page, most of whom offer discounts between 8 and 10% to Bonjour Colorado readers. Go directly there if you want my more lengthy descriptions. Otherwise, check out my highlights and some other add-ons below.

Ruth’s Toffee

Ruth's Toffee

Ruth’s Toffee

Homespun Confections from Ruth

Homespun Confections from Ruth

Carmelize sugar and butter, add some nuts and chocolate and you have an extraordinary holiday treat. Ruth does it with love and I promise this housemade toffee is the best I’ve ever tasted. Other sweet and savory confections include truffles, turtles, clusters, fudge as well as roasted almonds. Type in the code Bonjour to receive a 10% discount.

Alpen Shatz

The Alpen Schatz Team

Owner Mary Dawn DeBriae with her Alpen Schatz Team

Peruse this quaint online boutique for alpine treasures of the finest quality for men, women, children, the home and dogs! From handmade Swiss dog collars worthy of the pups at Westminster to Italian silk scarves, alpine hats and belts, centuries-old sleigh bells and more, you can shop for an array of heartwarming gift ideas with just a few clicks of the mouse at Alpen Schatz. Type in the code Bonjour to receive a 10% discount.

Henri’s Reserve

Privileged Offerings from Henri's Reserve

Privileged Offerings for Members of Henri’s Reserve Champagne Club

Grab yourself a glass of bubbly and let yourself be transported to the realm of Family Estate Champagnes at Henri’s Reserve. You can select one exquisite bottle to send off to someone special or enroll your beloved in one of Henri’s Reserve Champagne Clubs, so that he or she may receive choice offerings throughout the year. Family Estate Champagne Houses represent most of the finest champagnes artisanally produced in France, many of which are touted on esteemed wine lists in the finest restaurants of the world. Type in Bonjour at checkout to receive your 10% discount.

Fresh Soap Company

Fresh Soap Holiday Creations

Fresh Soap Company Holiday Creations

From grandma to teachers to the love of your life, just about everyone on your list would enjoy receiving a beautifully wrapped package of handmade soap from Fresh Soap Company. Check out their wonderful selection of soaps, soaks, scrubs, lotions and balms and be sure to type in the code Bonjour to receive your 10% discount.

Hadley Pottery

Hadley Pottery Holiday Plate

Hadley Pottery Holiday Plate

Still in search of some holiday plates to add charm to your winter feasts? Or maybe you have someone on your list that appreciates table arts of the finest quality. Either way, spend some time at M.A. Hadley Pottery Company for a look at the fun, whimsical patterns of this renowned maker of American Pottery. Type in the code Bonjour to receive an additional 8% discount here.

The Autograph Source

Rick Schultz, Owner of The Autograph Source, and B.B. King

Rick Schultz, Owner of The Autograph Source, and B.B. King

Looking for something truly unique? Perhaps for that hard-to-buy-for man on your list? Check out The Autograph source for a gallery of collectibles, memorabilia and documents from the world of sports, cinema, music, politics and more–past and present–all in varying price ranges. Type in Bonjour into the comments section to receive your 10% discount.

Purrfect Play

A Panoply of Purrfect Play Toys

A Panoply of Purrfect Play Toys

Absolutely the best toys for all your fur babies are sold at Purrfect Play. They’re made from organic, natural fibers and sure to offer hours of pleasure to your beloved pets. Type in promo code Bonjour to receive your 10% discount.

REI

Getting Outside with REI

Getting Outside with REI

You can save up to 40% on gifts through Sunday at REI, my favorite supplier of outdoor clothing and gear for men, women and children. OK, you’ll want to wear a lot of the clothes inside, too, around the fire, likely after a good bit of fun in the snow or beneath a desert sun. If you miss out on this sale, try REI Outlet for ongoing awesome deals.

Medjet Assist

Travel Safe with Medjet Assist

Travel Safe with Medjet Assist

Speaking of adventure, I can’t think of a better gift for your loved ones that travel than a membership at Medjet Assist. They offer a couple of different plans that provide comprehensive travel protection–especially in terms of medical evacuation–for all us globetrotters. Click through from here (as well as the other Medjet links in this post and on my site) to receive a 10% discount.

Quel Objet

Cheery Espadrilles from Quel Objet

Cheery Espadrilles from Quel Objet

Camille Breakfast Set from Quel Objet

Camille Breakfast Set from Quel Objet

Je suis triste. I’m so sad that my favorite purveyor of charming French goods is going out of business. The good news for you is that you can receive 50% off the remainder of Quel Objet merchandise. Type in the code AUREVOIR at checkout to receive your 50% discount. Doors close definitively December 23. At this point, there are still espadrilles, Camille breakfast sets and rich red Terafeu Terafour pottery in stock.

STOCKING STUFFERS

Actually below I highlight full-on gifts but they are small enough to stuff into a stocking or even better, a suitcase.

Linge Shoes

Stepping Pretty with Linge Shoes

Stepping Pretty with Linge Shoes

Ballet Flats for the Kiddos

Ballet Flats for the Kiddos

I love the ballet flats for women and toddlers from Linge Shoes. Choose from a Crayola-colored selection of these foldable classics, great for padding about at home or while traveling. I find them to be super comfy and adorable.

Whoosh!

Whoosh!

Whoosh!

It took me years to find just the right cleaning product for all my devices. Now I clean up my desktop, laptop and phone with Whoosh!, a safe, screen shine cleaner that I can use effortlessly and without worry. Whoosh! comes in three handy sizes, making them also a great purchase for those of us that travel so much. Yay for tech hygiene. Yay for grease-free devices.

A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France

A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France

A Tour of the Heart

The eBook version of my travel memoir, A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, will be free tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday. It has a 4.3 (out of 5) rating on amazon–people are indeed finding it to be a good read. It’s chockfull of adventure, love, romance, food and wine, French culture and more. Two of my main themes involve self empowerment through sport and personal transformation, so it’s not just chick lit! It’s, of course, also available in paperback at amazon and you can buy signed copies at Alpen Schatz. (Don’t forget the Bonjour code for your 10% discount on the latter.)

Happy holiday shopping to all!

Grateful for My Friends in France and Belgium

Laughing with Marie in a Paris Café

Laughing with Marie in a Paris Café

My Petit Dejeuner in that Café

My Petit Dejeuner in that Café

Toasting Life Chez Michèle et Loic

Toasting Life Chez Michèle et Loic

Zee Sunday Brunch Spread

Zee Sunday Brunch Spread

Pain, Vin et Fromage Chez Steph et Véronqiue

Pain, Vin et Fromage Chez Steph et Véronqiue

I’m big at counting my blessings year round. As challenging as life can be, I try as much as possible to pause and feel truly grateful for all that I have in my life.

There’s so much for which to be grateful, especially when it comes to love. There’s nothing like feeling love and appreciation. There’s nothing like feeling valued. There’s nothing like feeling your heart swell with love–day after day after day.

I was blessed with an outpouring of love during my recent trip to Europe when friends in France went out of their way to meet with me for coffee, organize special dinners, include me in on Sunday lunches and chat with me at great length over leisurely breakfasts and afternoon teas. My friends in Antwerp entertained me all weekend long. And throughout every encounter, I felt a connectedness with my European friends that made it feel as though I had just seen them the week before. (It had, in fact, been many years.)

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Keurig and Company Kill My Coffee, Tea and Me

Housekeeping Trying to Get My Keurig to Work on a Recent Hotel Stay

Housekeeping Trying to Get My Keurig to Work on a Recent Hotel Stay

I’m practically on the eve of departing for a big trip to France and I’m excited about many things:  the flakey croissants that taste far superior to most sold in the U.S., the fabulous runny unpasteurized cheeses  you can’t find stateside (unless smuggled in), slightly chilled red wines such as a good Fleury, rich French stews such as a daube Provençal or a boeuf aux carottes, a savory couscous, the perfect omelet–well, you get the picture. As much as I love France for its beauty and the French for their joie de vivre, I guess I am most looking forward to their food and drink.

Coffee and tea rank tops on that list, too. I’m more of a tea drinker and the French do tea–in my humble opinion–as well as the English. By mid-morning I love a good coffee, whether it’s a creamy café au lait or an espresso ladened with lots of sugar. Yes, the French do it right at home, in restaurants, cafés and hotels. It has been a while since I was in France but last time I checked, they still hadn’t adapted the American tradition of having a coffee pot in hotel rooms. Mais non, their approach was always far more civilized and if you wanted a coffee or tea–even in small, modest hotels–they’d bring it to you. And it would be delicious, served on a little tray accompanied with cold or hot milk and often un petit pot of hot water.

For breakfast, they always gladly delivered your hot beverages to your room–with or without a basket of pâtisseries, something that is tout à fait normale, or common practice. Having breakfast in bed always has been more the norm in France than not. I’m praying that this tradition has been upheld.

If I enter a hotel room–not to mention more than one or two–and find those stupid personal coffee makers à la Keurig, I think I’ll have a fit. Who ever was so stupid to invent those devices? I had a huge experience with them on a ten-day trip this summer where they were proudly displayed at every coffee station inside and out of the rooms. I can’t tell you the aggravation I had getting them to work properly–they didn’t half the time. And if they worked, often the coffee was cold. I had a few excellent cups of coffee and tea from them but none was worth the aggravation. I even had to call housekeeping a couple of times to help out and they ended up scratching their heads.

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Summer Sipping 2014

Chloe Wines

Chloe Wines

Summer is the season for wine festivals throughout much of the United States, especially in Colorado. June is particularly big in our Rocky Mountain state since the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is taking place this weekend and the Telluride Wine Festival—under new direction—is happening next weekend. They’re both long-established events, terrific for sampling and savoring food and libations among the pros. Typically one walks away from these festivals with a go-to list of wines, spirits and restaurants to experience in the upcoming months. They also offer wonderful opportunities for socializing among fellow foodies and wine lovers in beautiful mountain settings.

For me, however, summer sipping feels best outdoors while gazing at a gorgeous mountain vista or inside relishing a delicious dinner of grilled meats and vegetables after having done a big hike. I’ve also been known to pack a good bottle and snacks and share a near-sacred moment with someone special out in a remote place. These treasured times create memories that last the longest for me.

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Fifty Shades of Grey Wine

Fifty Shades of Grey Red Silk

Fifty Shades of Grey Red Satin

“If you spill the wine, I will punish you, Miss Steele.”  —Christian Grey

Mon dieu. Not only might you not want to be punished (or perhaps you do), but you don’t want to lose a drop of Fifty Shades of Grey Wine from acclaimed novelist E.L. James. Who doesn’t love white silk and red satin, especially when it comes in the form of wine?

Floral aromatics of lychee, honey and pear lead off Fifty Shades of Grey White Silk, a primarily Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc blend. Aged in stainless steel, it’s both delicate and rich in character.

Fifty Shades of Grey Red Satin, a decadent blend of primarily Petite Sirah and Syrah, fills your mouth with a full-bodied deliciousness of black cherry, cocoa, caramel and vanilla. Hmmm, and you thought Christian was yummy.

No date for Valentine’s? How about spending a titillating evening with yourself and the Fifty Shades of Grey book and wine in hand? Or, spice it up with your hunny and surprise him or her with a Fifty Shades of Grey excerpt, accompanied by one of these smooth wines.

The combination of love and wine has never been so bold.

Selective Sipping: Mark Spivak and His Iconic Spirits

Mark's Book:  A Delicious Holiday Gift Idea

Mark’s Book: A Delicious Holiday Gift Idea

I’ve always felt that you can appreciate something more when you know the story behind it. This is the premise behind my books The Riches of France:  A Shopping and Touring Guide to the French Provinces and The Riches of Paris:  A Shopping and Touring Guide. There’s always a lot of imbibing during the holiday season, so why not know the history behind some of the world’s most beloved elixirs?

I chatted with Mark Spivak, author of Iconic Spirits:  An Intoxicating History, during a Travel Fun interview which you can listen to below. He tells some fascinating tales behind the twelve spirits featured in his book. You can learn all about Chambord, gin and tequila, to name a few. He talks about Campari, a bitter concoction formulated by an Italian around 1860, considered to be one of the sexiest beverages on earth as well as the connection between Nascar and moonshine, a surprising association which has remained hidden from the general public over the years. “Most of the early (Nascar) drivers were all bootleggers…Then in 1947 they all got together and formed Nascar,” Mark explains.

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Sweet and Savory Holiday Baking with Holly Herrick

Holiday Baking à la Holly Herrick

Holiday Baking à la Holly Herrick

Looking to take your holiday baking up a notch? Pick up a copy of Holly Herrick‘s new book, The French Cook:  Cream Puffs & Eclairs, and whip up some sweet and savory creations that will leave you and your guests swooning. This cookbook, second in the series, showcases luscious-looking delights in glossy images that you’d never believe are so easy to make. But according to Holly, they are. And they’re also economical.

With choux as the foundation for most everything in The French Cook:  Cream Puffs & Eclairs, you learn about this fun and messy pastry dough that becomes light and airy once baked. You can make these floaty confections weeks ahead and keep them in your freezer and take them out as you need them. I see this as a wonderful holiday baking project either by yourself or say between mother and daughter. “It’s always my goal to get people really exciting about cooking. It’s important that it’s fun and delicious,” says this renowned food writer and author of six cookbooks.

“Happily (choux) is one of the easiest pastries to make:  bring a little water and butter to a simmer in a saucepan, dump in flour, beat over heat to thicken it, and whip in a few eggs. That’s all there is to it…”

—Julia Child, The Way to Cook, 1989

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    This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Maribeth Clemente. This blog sometimes accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner of this blog is sometimes compensated to provide opinion on products, services, Web sites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for certain posts or advertisements, she always gives her honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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