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.
I’m happy to be connected with Jacqui, a woman who’s passionate about everything French and life in France in general. Sure, there are many ladies like her (and me), however, with Jacqui and her writings I feel a special kinship. Perhaps it’s the combination of books and France that resonates so much with me.
I also delight in many of Jacqui’s blog posts and recipes. Saturday she posted a Provençal Style Yoghurt Cake with Olive Oil and Quince. I wrote about the first olive oil cake I ever tasted in A Tour of the Heart, one of the most memorable culinary experiences of my travels. Enfin, I found a recipe that seems to correspond with the memory I’ve preserved of that incredibly moist and flavorful treat.
Now, I can’t wait to make that olive oil cake. And then sit down and savor it with tea and a good book, one that takes place in France, bien entendu.
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.
Art & Culture Colorado Telluride Telluride Festivals: Art & Culture Colorado Telluride Telluride Festivals
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Art & Culture Colorado Four Corners Hotels Restaurants The Southwest Utah: Art & Culture Colorado Four Corners Hotels Restaurants The Southwest Utah
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I’m feeling a little sentimental these days. Lately this golden season has flooded me with memories of two significant trips I took in the West at this time of year. The first occurred eleven years ago when I discovered the penetrating red rock landscapes of Moab, Utah during a road trip with the goal of where to settle in the West. The second happened in Monument Valley when I accompanied my parents on a trip-of-a-lifetime through southern Utah and then down to the Grand Canyon. (Visiting the Canyon had always been a dream of father’s—little did he know he’d end up marveling at the awe-inspiring monuments of Monument Valley just as much.)
At each of these high desert destinations, I felt and continue to feel humbled by the panoramic vistas seemingly painted in every shade of red throughout this arid land. Here buttes, spires and pinnacles tower over you as though nature’s standing guard in what sometimes looks like one of America’s last great frontiers. It’s no wonder some of the most iconic images of our country may be found in Moab and Monument Valley, Utah. The greatest westerns ever made were filmed here, specifically at two lodges that continue to pay tribute to the rich history of movie-making that occurred around their properties: Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab and Goulding’s Lodge in Monument Valley. The landscapes at and surrounding these ranches have, in fact, been so well preserved that movies, TV shows and commercials continue to be filmed here today. (Johnnie Depp was just at Goulding’s last spring filming the new version of “The Lone Ranger.”)
Art & Culture Colorado Food & Wine Mountain Living Music & Dance Telluride Telluride Festivals Writing & Books: Art & Culture Colorado Food & Wine Mountain Living Music & Dance Telluride Telluride Festivals Writing & Books
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Within the span of the last week, you can really feel that summer is winding down here in Telluride. The aspens are beginning to change and within two weeks, we should be nearing peak leaf-peeping season. With the arrival of this golden autumnal season comes the promise that ski season isn’t far off, two not-so negligible happenings that make summer’s end much easier to accept in this part of the country.
In T-ride, as in many mountain towns in Colorado, the end of summer marks the close of a terrific festival season. This weekend, September 14, 15 & 16, you can enjoy one of the best festivals of the West at Telluride Blues & Brews Festival in beautiful Telluride Town Park, one of the world’s most spectacular settings. Tickets have been selling super fast this year due to an exceptionally stellar lineup. The good news is that there are still day passes available for Friday and Sunday. Plus, at this writing, some seats remain at the glorious Sheridan Opera House for Bal de Maison, the Cajun house party that kicks off Blues & Brews festivities this Thursday night. For more on my take of this year’s festival closer in T-ride, read Telluride Blues & Brews Promises More Fun Than Ever This Year. Let’s just call it the last big party of the summer and even better, the forecast is gorgeous for this weekend.
Art & Culture Cycling Food & Wine French Life French Provinces Girl Talk Hotels Paris Restaurants Romance & Relationships Travel Writing & Books: Art & Culture Cycling Food & Wine French Life French Provinces Girl Talk Hotels Paris Restaurants Romance & Relationships Travel Writing & Books
Last year around this time, I celebrated a milestone birthday. I was grateful that I was feeling healthy and well, the most fit I’d been in ages and ten pounds thinner (a rarity for me since my weight never fluctuates). Here I am a year later having perhaps gained back five of those pounds—I don’t really know since I stopped weighing myself (a good sign of maturity). And now I’m two days away from another b-day with something far more significant to celebrate—a new book!
Twelve years. Yes, twelve years. I can’t believe it myself. It was twelve years ago that I began to plan a trip that would forever change my life. I actually took that trip in the fall of 2000. We all have transformative events and travels in our lives. I just happen to take a lot of notes on mine. “A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France” is the fruit of all that note taking and so much more.” Click here to see a preview and download excerpts. I hope you’ll enjoy the read. Books are rolling into bookstores now; be sure to ask for it if you don’t readily see it on the shelf. You can also purchase it as a paperback through amazon now or as an eBook on kindle.
Since it’s KOTO fundraising time and I love my NPR-station here in Telluride, Colorado, you can receive a free e-book with every $20. donation and a free paperback with every $30. donation. Books sell for $8. and $20. respectively. Contact me directly through this site to make your donation. Also, if you enjoy Travel Fun, my talk radio show on travel, and the podcasts of those interviews I post here on this blog, please make a pledge or donation to KOTO as well. For that also, it’s best to contact me directly. Community radio is a rare breed in the U.S. and ours is almost entirely supported by caring people like you.
I will be talking about “A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France,” on Travel Fun tomorrow, August 21, at 6 p.m. mountain time. You can also tune in on the Internet at KOTO.org at the time of the broadcast. I hope to post that interview as a podcast on this blog within the upcoming week.
One more thing: Click here to become a fan of A Tour of the Heart on Facebook.
Art & Culture Colorado Telluride Telluride Festivals: Art & Culture Colorado Telluride Telluride Festivals
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Bluegrass music and Telluride, Colorado go together like sunshine, summer and sizzling, take-me-on-a-memorable-ride events. Together these components make one heck of a happening, a kaleidoscopic celebration of music and good times, known as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, now in its thirty-ninth year.
I’m taking a break from my own festivating to let you know that you, too, can be a part of this world-renowned event. Tune in right now to KOTO, Telluride’s public radio station, to hear the festival broadcast live (that’s during regular festival hours this weekend, of course). Since typically ninety percent of festival artists allow their performances to be aired live on KOTO, you can count on listening to some of the greatest musicians in the land throughout the entire weekend. Click here to see the lineup, throw down your tarp, pour yourself a cool one as fresh and frothy as what you’d find at the KOTO Beer Booth at Bluegrass and allow yourself to be transported to one of the greatest musical gatherings on earth.
“It’s a big undertaking,” says Suzanne Cheavens, co-producer along with Stephen Barrett, of KOTO’s broadcasting of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. “KOTO is programming and radio, and we’re real proud to put it on,” she adds. “We’re real grateful to Planet Bluegrass for getting this on the air and helping us get in touch with the artists,” Suzanne continues.
Art & Culture French Life French Provinces Podcasts Travel Writing & Books: Art & Culture French Life French Provinces Podcasts Travel Writing & Books
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Peter Mayle and his books officially put Provence, one of many wonderful regions in France, on the map about two decades ago. Although Provence and other parts of the south of France have become increasingly popular with visitors from around the world, the French have appreciated these regions for their sun-drenched richness, transcending landscapes and beloved traditions for centuries. Thankfully you can still count on these prized destinations wooing you as assuredly as finding a Cavaillon melon in a Provençal market—oh, they taste so sugary sweet.
For lovers of the south of France or those just looking for a bit more information about Provence and beyond, there’s Julie Mautner and her Provence Post. Julie avidly posts bushels of fresh information and other news on her popular blog. Listen to our Travel Fun interview below to hear Julie and me talk about Provence, other parts of the south of France, the French and more. If you gaze at the beautiful images that Julie provided for this post you’ll feel transported to this redolent land filled with rosemary, lavender and thyme. And if you’re thinking about planning a trip, know that Julie can help out there as well.
Click on the play button below to hear Julie talk about The Provence Post and more.
For more on Provence read my stories Pondering Provence, Sizzling Sensations from Saint-Tropez and Elizabeth Bard Talks About Lunch in Paris, Love and Provence.