Monthly Archives: February 2013

Slopeside & Healthy at Breckenridge

Recently I found myself in a strange but wonderful situation… between jobs with six weeks off.  I haven’t had that kind of a break in so many years that I didn’t really know what to do with myself at first.  The feeling lasted all of 5 minutes after which I had already begun a laundry list of items that I had been meaning to tackle and never gotten to.  And tackle them I did – from organizing files that had been sitting there for years to photographs that had been forgotten.  In between I found time to have some fun with friends too.  Of course I was not responsibility free since I still had a ten year old to take care of at home.  So I decided that I would take a vacation for a week and since I love to ski I chose to go to Breckenridge Colorado and hit the slopes.
I love skiing as much as I love food and wine.  Combine the three together and I consider myself in heaven.  It is not always the best thing for the waistline however since downhill skiing doesn’t burn off as many calories as you’d think.  But I tend to eat poorly when I ski and use the day of exercise to justify the consumption of burgers, fries and other high fat foods served in the typical ski lodge.  Since I am still attempting to lose some of my weight gain from the holidays I made it my mission to make this vacation a healthy one.
View of lift from my balcony
I was able to rent a slope side condo with a small kitchenette at Beaver Run resort at the base of Peak 9, and although the bed was uncomfortable and the pillows worse, I couldn’t have asked for more convenient accommodations.  It took me exactly 2 minutes to get from my room and onto the slope and down to the lift.  This is my kind of skiing!  On the shuttle from Denver to Breck I made my grocery list.  With me I carried a few necessities – trail mix, Kashi granola bars, teas and most important of all – a pint of dark rum.  Once I was settled into my room and unpacked I took the resort shuttle to City Market and picked up some quick and easy to make food.  I had decided that I would eat out two of the nights but stay in for the other three.  With the room so convenient to the slopes, coming in for lunch each day was no hassle.  I bought tuna, bananas, apples, cheese, smoked salmon, bread, butter, eggs, celery, green beans and lime & diet coke for my rum to make Cuba libres for après ski.
Breakfast each morning consisted of eggs (scrambled or over easy) on sandwich flats, a banana, and cup of tea.  Lunch was either a tuna salad sandwich on the flats or a granola bar (if I didn’t feel like getting back to the condo) and an apple.  After returning from the slopes I treated myself to a Cuba libre (dark rum, diet coke & lime) with some trail mix.  This is a habit I got into on annual trips to Canada with some friends who helped me realize how amazing this drink is after a hard day on the slopes.  After a shower & a walk into town my three meals indoors consisted of a mix of cheeses, bread, steamed green beans & smoked salmon with lots of water.  At that altitude drinking plenty of water is the key to avoiding altitude sickness and I went through 3 gallons in 5 days.  If I felt like speaking to people, I simply went to the bar at the base and had a beer which is always fun because you end up meeting many interesting folks from all over the world.
Since I was so healthy for most of the trip and also had burned off a significant amount of calories, I did treat myself to a couple of wonderful dinners and a final day brunch.  If you’re ever in Breckenridge I highly recommend each of these restaurants as a must visit.  Each of these was suggested to me by people I met on the lifts.  I opted for the ones that got the most votes.
On my second day I walked into town and decided to try Relish at 137 S. Main St.  I was greeted by Diane Deedy the manager.  I had stopped by earlier and asked if I needed reservations and was told that I did not, and yet when I arrived the restaurant was full and Diane informed me that it is always best to make reservations.  After I explained she apologized and found a way to accommodate me with a table.  Most times when I travel alone, I prefer to eat at the bar but in this case I was looking for little conversation and a proper sit down meal.  I ordered the Wild Mushroom Bisque and a Sunflower & Chili Crusted Ruby Red Trout.  The bisque was a bowl of earthy, buttery and creamy goodness and I learned from the chef it was thickened with wild rice.  The trout was served with a side of spaghetti squash sautéed in garlic and over a black bean & citrus salsa.  The fish was cooked perfectly and although I wasn’t wild about the salsa, I loved my meal.  I chose a German Riesling to accompany my food.  The service at Relish was terrific and my server Rick was on the ball at all times with anything I needed.  Even Diane stopped by a couple of times to check on me – overall a wonderful experience with terrific food.

My next venture out for dinner was my last evening at Breck.  Thanks to 10 inches of fresh powder overnight, I skied for nearly 7 hours that day and was famished by 6pm.  I had decided I would go to Ember for dinner based on information received on the lifts, but I had a couple of other things I wanted to do before dinner.  My first stop after walking into town was the Breckenridge Distillery tasting room to try some of their bourbon and vodka.  I loved both.  The bourbon is smooth and very nice; the vodka has hints of coconut as they distill it with toasted coconut shells and it is a much smoother vodka that any I’ve tasted.  Luckily both are available in NJ and if you’re ever at my house in the future, do ask me for a taste.  After the tasting room I went to see the annual snow sculpture contest.  It is an international competition and the sculptures were very impressive.  My favorite was one called the “Seven Deadly Sins”.
Snow Sculpture Display
Seven Deadly Sins

Sea Shell

I arrived at Ember at nearly 8pm.  This night I opted to sit at the bar which seemed much friendlier than at Relish plus it was its own separate room.  Todd, the bartender was immediately friendly and we began to talk about the ski day as I perused their menu and specials.  He warned me that the entrée portions were quite large and so I opted to order the soup special – Spiced Pumpkin Bisque with a Conch Fritter & Crème Fraiche and an appetizer – Lamb Lollipops with garlic yellow lentils (chana dal), peanut butter spinach & berbere spiced tomato coulis.  To drink I chose the Petite Petite Syrah from Lodi, CA.  If I tell you I could have licked the plates clean I would not be exaggerating.  Everything was fantastic.  I was a bit skeptical of the spinach but OMG (apologies for the text talk) was it good!!  The soup was amazing and the conch fritter cooked perfectly.  The lamb was beautifully presented and was super tender and flavorful.  Several other people had come into the bar while I ate and by the time my meal was finished Todd and I had nearly the entire bar involved in conversation.  We all collectively decided to treat ourselves to dessert and the one suggested for me was a Chai Sticky Pudding with Coole Swan Mousse & Espresso Toffee Sauce.  I had no idea what Coole Swan was and so Todd offered me a taste of this liqueur he said was “like Bailey’s but better”.  And it was delicious.  The dessert was yummy and a wonderful treat for my last evening’s reward for some hard core skiing through all that powder.  Thoroughly pleased with my choice for food, I called for my shuttle and headed back to my condo.  I was glad I had not eaten at Ember the first night because if I had, I likely would not  have stayed on my healthy track the remainder of the week.

Chai Sticky Pudding
Papadum served at the bar with yogurt dip

On my final day I had an entire morning to kill at Breck and while I would have loved to ski some more, the complications of it all made me decide to just walk in town and shop instead.  After walking around for a couple of hours in and out of stores and dreaming about which pair of skis I might like to buy, I realized I was quite hungry.  Knowing that the rest of my day would not bring food of any quality – two hour ride to the airport, five hour flight and home at nearly midnight – I decided to have a good brunch.  I asked at one of the stores and was directed toward Columbine Café which is tucked away at the back of an enclave of stores in a square of sorts.  The place is not fancy, but the staff is friendly and seems to be having fun.  Besides any place that stocks their tables with four different kind of hot sauces must be awesome in my book.  I ordered their special Corned Beef Hash with eggs and toast.  I opted for the home fries but later regretted my decision to not go with the grits.  The Bloody Mary’s looked good too but I chose to stick to coffee, and decaf at that – I wanted to sleep on the flight if possible.  The plate of food was huge and delicious.  I couldn’t quite finish it all but loved every bite of what I ate.  Satisfied with what was likely my last meal of that day, I walked back to the resort, collected my luggage and waited for the shuttle to the airport to start my journey home. 
What I love about Breckenridge is that it’s a town with something for everyone.  Even if you don’t ski, there is plenty to do.  I met so many locals on this trip since I visited during no school breaks, that I got quite a lot of information and learned a great deal.  I am told it’s a wonderful place to visit in the summertime to.  I may just have to try that the next time.
I love snow!!!

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