We have three family ski trips planned this winter/spring season, the first of which was to Telluride, Colorado. Telluride is one of my favorite ski resorts in North America for its natural beauty, the charm of the old mining town with its rows of Victorian homes, and, most importantly, the on-mountain dining. I fell hard for Telluride after Alpino Vino opened in 2009, and have recently fallen in love all over again after having tried the new French restaurant Bon Vivant.
Situated at nearly 12,000 feet just below the top of the Gold Hill lift, Alpino Vino has the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever eaten. It is made with ColoRouge, a soft and creamy brie-like cheese from Colorado.
The sandwich is served with an equally delicious tomato soup. Wash it down with some Italian red wine, and you have the end of a perfect ski day. I say end, because at 12,000 feet, the wine hits you pretty quickly and you still have 3,000 vertical feet to ski down.
That is the 14,017 foot Wilson Peak in the background, also known as the peak seen on the Coors beer label. Hubby climbed it summer before last. I prefer to admire the view from here, perhaps with a full belly of cheese and a grappa in hand. Someone in our party remarked, “I have never had grappa during the day before, but it’s really nice!” Indeed.
Eating at Bon Vivant, located at about 10,000 feet at the top of the Polar Queen Express, is the next best thing to eating in the French Alps. The umbrella, opened usually when snowing, is 39 feet in diameter and was made in Austria and brought to the US by boat.
The menu features many wonderful French delicacies, and over the course of 2 days I tried as many as I could. Where to start? Oh, the fois gras for sure. Seared and served with duck rillette (fancy word for shredded duck leg in duck fat), it is a heart stopper. But you will enjoy every greasy bite. If you need to fit into your ski pants, don’t get the fois gras. If you want to be a true bon vivant, order it with champagne.
We also had the cheese and charcuterie platter, which included a St. Pete’s blue cheese, another Colorado cheese called a Haystack Goat cheese, herb goat cheese stuffed sweet peppers, and blue cheese stuffed olives, to name a few stand-outs. They have a selection of 3 crepes, and we tried them all: cinnamon and sugar with chantilly cream, nutella and fresh berries with chantilly cream, and a savory crepe du jour (gruyere and mushroom that day). The crepes are prepared at the bar.
As we wrapped ourselves in faux fur throws they lent us (and ordered more wine and champagne), we had to make the serious decision of what to order for lunch. We tried the french onion soup, the elk sausage cassoulet with (more) duck leg confit, and the lamb and chimay ale stew with pommes dutchess. But my favorite was the croque madame with quail eggs and black truffles. It was an unbelievable mix of ham, gruyere cheese, bechamel sauce, fried quail eggs and black truffle shavings. And a little salad, to add some color, I believe. Even if you don’t ski, you need to run to this place to try it. Yes, I lived in Paris, and yes, I have tried many a croque monsieur and madame in my life, but nothing like this.
The last dish we tried was the lobster gnocchi. Very creamy, very lobstery, very good. If you had given me a mint, I would have popped, just like John Cleese in that wonderful Monty Python skit.
I had to get my cholesterol tested at Mayo AZ 2 days later and blew past 210. Yes, I believe it was worth it!
The champagne we ordered was chilled table-side in the shells from the 150 mm howizer guns that are used to blast for avalanche control.
After having written this, I suppose we didn’t really do that much skiing, but we had a ball! We are off to Aspen on Valentine’s Day. Hasta pronto.