Hurry, hurry, there’s still time to send something off to “your favorite moms.” Whether that includes your mother, your mother-in-law, your wife or even yourself, if you order today, all kinds of goods may still be delivered via surface mail in time for this special holiday on Sunday, May 12. (Tomorrow even works for some—depending where you live.) Here’s a round up of lovely online boutiques that will make your shopping experience more enjoyable.
Art & Culture Food & Wine French Life Paris Shopping Travel Writing & Books: Art & Culture Food & Wine French Life Paris Shopping Travel Travel Writing Writing & Books
With ski season behind me, I suddenly have a voracious appetite for reading. I always want to read and to me, it’s one of the most relaxing and enjoyable activities in the world. But during ski season I’m exhausted in the evenings and tend to just zone out in front of the TV and then head to bed before there’s time for a leisurely read. (Also, I often stay up late when engrossed in a good book and that certainly doesn’t gel with a ski instructor’s need for a long, fat sleep.)
Being the Francophile that I am, I love reading books set in France. Whether it’s Paris or the provinces, if the writing is rich, I relish being instantly transported to my beloved land. So you can only imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered Jaqui Brown’s charming website/blog, French Village Diaries. There you may delve into an abundance of book reviews on books relating to France and then shop in her online bookstore which features titles she has reviewed and more. Jacqui, a Brit that moved to France in 2004 with her British husband, scours the internet for the most interesting reads on her adopted country. That’s how she found my book, A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, and then wrote it up at French Village Diaries.
Beauty Mountain Living Shopping: Beauty Mountain Living Shopping
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It snowed again this week in Colorado, a not-so-surprising weather occurence that barely disturbed most Coloradans. We need the moisture and here in the Rockies, that typically comes in the form of snow. Even in May.
Hydration. That’s the buzz word out here. Whether we’re talking about what we put into our bodies or what we slather onto our skin, preventing ourselves from being “dried out” is key. Low humidity, bright sun and temperatures that range from frigid cold to blistering heat—often coupled with fierce wind and dust—is how weather in the Rockies may best be described. None of this makes for a particularly hospitable environment for our skin. And to make matters worse (at least for our skin), we love to play outdoors here in the West. I mean really playing hard as in long days of skiing, hiking and for many, even dirt bike riding!
I’m grateful for the many wonderful products that help me affront this often challenging climate year-round. My bathroom boasts glorious creams and oils that allow me to appear radiant throughout the driest of times. Most of these have been sourced through trial and error. Ever put a cream on your skin and then ten minutes later your skin feels taught and barren? Well, those don’t pass muster in my house. No, I need to feel juicy.
Aspen Beaver Creek Colorado Restaurants Shopping Telluride The Rockies Vail: Aspen Beaver Creek Colorado Restaurants Shopping Telluride Vail
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Ski season might be winding down, although there’s little letting up on the wining and dining scene in Colorado’s top mountain destinations. To the contrary—with the window of prime skiing narrowed down during most spring days—it seems like visitors and locals alike allot even more time for socializing off the slopes during this fair weather season.
If you’re anywhere near Summit County, be sure to put Bagalis in Frisco at the top of your list. I love the warm, inviting decor of this chef-owned and operated restaurant. Chef Michal Ulehala and his wife, Joyce, opened this fine Italian restaurant two years ago and the accolades have been growing ever since. Copper-topped tables, subdued lighting, wood beams and lots of style-y touches such as rectangular white plates come together to create a look that feels like old mining town meets Euro lounge. A large communal table serves as center stage for diners looking to mix and mingle, however, you might want to tuck yourself into one of the more quiet corners of this handsome restaurant. Plan to while away a good amount of time here over beautifully prepared antipasti such as an olive and meat plate comprised of the finest products sourced with care. Indeed, Chef Michal and his team are proponents of the Slow Food Movement and here everything they serve—from shrimp polenta to artisan pizzas to housemade desserts—is made from the finest ingredients, many of which come from local purveyors. Expect an excellent price/quality relationship on all, including their wines by the glass and the bottle—all of which have been selected with great expertise. Bagalis also opens for lunch, offering the perfect time to enjoy their outdoor patio beneath sunny Colorado skies.
Colorado Food & Wine Shopping Skiing & Snowboarding Telluride
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Hello all Valentines! What a great way to celebrate love, ladies and wine, three very vital components of life—wouldn’t you agree? And I say let’s celebrate all three all year round—or at least throughout the weekend.
I’ve been teaching Women’s Week here in Telluride all week, so I’m pretty hyped up on girl power and, of course, wine has been a big part of our après ski program. I wanted to take a couple of minutes to share with you, however, two of my most recent wine discovers: Big House and Juicy Details Wines.
Actually I’ve known about Big House for a while and have been a fan of these delicious and most reasonably priced wines since the beginning. It recently came to my attention, however, that the winemaker behind this Monterey County brand—just a short escape from a state correctional facility—is the lovely Georgetta Dane. Who would have guessed it? Wouldn’t you have imagined some burly guy? It’s no wonder these wines embody such a noteworthy blend of New World winemaking style and Old World finesse. Georgetta and I became friends on Facebook and I was instantly impressed to find such a lady behind such a heavy-hitting wine. (Note the recurring prison theme emblazoned on all The Big House labels.) You go, girl! And I hope next year you’ll make it out to ski with all of us unchained zinners.
Colorado Shopping Telluride: Colorado Shopping Telluride
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There’s still time to remember special people—whether it be your sweetheart, mom, dad, son, daughter, aunt or pet—with something from the heart. Distance separates many of us, so sending a little something often takes on more meaning, especially if it arrives unexpectedly.
In this post, I’m highlighting the boutiques featured in the Online Shopping page at BonjourColorado.com. Peruse their sites and you’ll find a great many gift ideas for the loves in your life. All offer 10% discounts on online shopping to Bonjour Colorado readers, so be sure to follow the instructions carefully and type in the Bonjour discount code as specified.
Chocolates, chocolates, chocolates. For extra good ones in a variety of forms—from truffles to chocolate sauce to the best chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever tasted—order a slice of Telluride from Telluride Truffle. Perhaps granny has more of a penchant for toffee. If so, I’ve found the best from Ruth’s Toffee, another excellent confectioner of the region.
In my new book, A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, there’s a scene where I feast over confit de canard, cassoulet de canard and a couple of pork-product dishes in a simple—yet elegant—homestyled restaurant above a bar/tabac in the Languedoc Roussillon region of France.
“Almost toute de suite we were served a Blanquette de Limoux, the oldest sparkling wine in France said to have served as inspiration for Dom Perignon, the most praise-worthy monk who created champagne centuries ago,” I wrote.
I never would have known this had my guide not clued me in. And what a delicious nectar I found it to be! A robust red was poured for that hearty meal, yet my palette was delightfully awakened by this sparkling wine.
Many years later, I was thrilled to discover that Blanquette de Limoux is readily available in the United States at a fraction of the price of champagne. Saint-Hilaire, one of the finest of these wines, is widely distributed at a price point of about $15. Who ever imagined that such a luxurious tasting beverage could be so affordable? I suggest you stock up on it for the New Year and all year long.
Happy 2013 everyone!
Art & Culture Colorado Denver Restaurants Shopping: Art & Culture Colorado Denver Restaurants Shopping
It’s been snowing like crazy here in Colorado for almost twenty-four hours. It looks like the ski resorts will be shaping up nicely just in time for holiday travelers. I’ll be providing those snow reports soon enough but for now, I want to clue you in on some of Denver’s highlights. Many travelers will be stopping off in Denver on their way to or from the mountains, so here are some of my recommendations for this festive season.
Denver’s performing arts scene ranks as one of the most vibrant in the country. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) is actually comprised of many theaters that provide a range of talent and performances second to Broadway. If you act fast, you still might be able to land some tickets to Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, a classic production based on the renowned film of the same name that’s playing now through Christmas Eve. Dixie’s Tupperware Party serves up a bowlful of fun through December 30 complete with funny tales, free Tupperware giveaways, audience participation and laughs for those sixteen years of age and up. As always, DCPA has announced a stellar lineup of shows for 2013 including War Horse which opens January 8.
Culture, culture, culture—I can’t get enough of it when I’m in Denver and thankfully there’s plenty to take in at all times. I love hitting the Denver Art Museum (DAM) whether it’s to go to one of their spectacular shows or to check out some of their collections. (Their American Indian Art is very rich. Hey, this is the West, isn’t it?) Carve out time for both their temporary and permanent exhibitions and be sure to shop in their Museum Shop, a great resource for creative gift items for you and treasured loved ones and friends. Becoming Van Gogh is the show of the moment, a lovely exhibition I took in in November. I was saddened to learn that this great artist’s career only lasted ten years, but what a decade that was as you’ll find out at this in-depth exploration of his work. The show runs through January 20; be sure to reserve online since many of the time slots are already sold out.
I say make it a whole day at DAM and plan to have lunch or brunch at Palettes, the contemporary-styled museum restaurant right across from the Hamilton Building, owned and operated by the Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group. For over a decade and a half, Palettes has been presenting fine food to discriminating foodies in this bright and airy decor. Best of all, the staff here knows how to reply to the demands of hurried museum goers—they also gladly accommodate diners that choose to swill wine at their table for hours. I love the French flair of the whole menu, something Palettes has taken to more delightful bon vivant heights in honor of the Van Gogh show. They have, in fact, created a Becoming Van Gogh menu, a three-course prix fixe extravaganza—including French specialties such as coq au vin—that will leave you feeling like you just stepped away from a wonderful bistrot in Paris, or even better, Arles. If you want to take the Van Gogh theme even further, choose from one of the restaurant’s featured Van Gogh cocktails, enticing concoctions prepared with Van Gogh Vodka. Mais bien sur.
Reserve your evening dining for the Larimer Square area, the most happening part of Denver in the heart of LoDo (lower downtown). This place goes off from happy hour until the wee hours of the morning. I recently experienced Rioja, a busy, noisy, vibrant restaurant that’s clearly one of the most popular spots on the block. With a crowd as sophisticated as Rioja’s innovative cuisine, come here to take in Denver’s cosmopolitan scene. (Made up of young movers and shakers, many of whom are affiliated with green industries and Internet technology, it’s no wonder the mile-high city is fun for visitors and residents alike.) From the gorgeous selection of bread presented at the beginning to the poached pears I savored at the end, every part of my meal here tantalized my senses. Largely known for her handmade pastas, Chef Jen also wields a strong hand with regional specialties such as Colorado lamb and pan roasted venison. A nice, robust glass of Rioja at Rioja is a must and here they know how to recommend the best. Make that two.
For a more subdued ambiance, perhaps by the fire, go to Randolph’s, one of my favorite addresses housed within the Denver Warwick Hotel. Chef Jean Claude Cavalera consistently woos diners with his own smoked salmon—a major component of holiday feasts in France—served on house made country bread with its traditional accompaniments all year round. His filet mignon is one of the most tender and flavorful you’ll ever taste. The crowd varies from quiet and calm during most times to large and celebratory on holidays. With special Christmas Day brunch and New Year’s Eve menus at a prix fixe that represent excellent price/quality relationships, it’s no wonder Randolph’s receives such high marks. Thankfully the smoked salmon is on both menus along with an array of other fresh and delectable offerings.
By now, you’re perhaps wondering about shopping. Aside from a handful of lovely boutiques in the Larimer Square area, I think Cherry Creek offers the best shopping scene in Denver. Read Cherry Creek: One of America’s Top Spots for Chic Shopping, Lodging and Dining to find out more. Sadly, I’ve become less and less of a fan of the 16th Street Mall scene, however, you might have fun poking around there.
And how about something special for the kids? Take in Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo, every night from 5:30 to 9 p.m. through January 2. With more than 150 animated animal sculptures illuminated throughout this spectacular zoo, you’ll be oohing and ahhhing, too. Plus, it’s fun to share our love and celebrate this exciting time of the year with the animals, too.
Happy holidays to all!
Thank you DAM, DCPA, Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group, Rioja, Randolph’s, the Denver Zoological Foundation and my iPhone for the above images.