Ski Town Eats: Telluride

Discover all the good eats this Southwest Colorado ski town has to offer.
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Photo By: Randy Barnes ©Randy Barnes Photography

©2013 Eric Moore All rights reserved

Skiers' and Eaters' Paradise

This Victorian former mining town in Southwest Colorado's San Juan Mountains is more than a place to take on the moguls: It's a dining mecca with edible offerings that rival those of most skiers' destinations. With attractions that include award-winning pizza, handmade chocolate truffles and local Rocky Mountain lamb, Telluride is worth a visit even if you're not planning to master the mountain.

 

Photo by Randy Barnes for Alpino Vino

Power Breakfast or Lunch: The Butcher & Baker Cafe

In 2009, Megan Ossola and Cinda Simons, who've called Telluride home for more than 20 years, opened The Butcher & Baker Cafe. The women hoped to create a spot where friends, family and neighbors could sit and stay awhile, and where everyone could eat mighty well. Mission accomplished. Sourcing dairy, greens, beans, mushrooms and meats from local farmers, this adorable eatery also sources all of its eggs locally (about 700 dozen a week). On the "baker" front you can expect handmade croissants, scones, cookies, cinnamon buns and English muffins. From the "butcher" there are from-scratch lunchmeats brined, roasted and sliced in-house, as well as organic fried chicken, fresh fish, oysters and anything the women say excites them "for its seasonality or uniqueness."

 

Photo courtesy of Bonni Pacheco Photography

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Coffee: The Coffee Cowboy

One thing that stands out on a visit to Telluride is the strong sense of community. And there’s no place where that love-thy-neighbor philosophy is more apparent than at The Coffee Cowboy. There, denizens bequeath cups of joe to random strangers via the coffee cart's "Pay It Forward" system. This little find is a great place to bond with the natives while sipping chai tea and espresso drinks made using freshly roasted beans from Colorado-based Telluride Coffee Roasters and Desert Sun Roasters. Be sure to try the Annie Oakley, a creamy latte with a healthy dose of caramel and cinnamon.

 

Photo by Monique Johnson

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Apres-Ski Treat: The Madeline Hotel and Residences' Black Iron Kitchen & Bar

After a long day of snowboarding, downhill or cross-country skiing, you may be ready to warm up by the fire and snack on s'mores. At The Madeline Hotel and Residences' Black Iron Kitchen & Bar guests can prepare s'mores with housemade chocolate, graham crackers and mint marshmallows by the bar's outdoor communal fire pit or with their very own roasting lantern. Adults should pair the treats with the bar's signature Rocky Mountain Old Fashioned — vanilla-infused Michter's rye, brown-sugar simple syrup, Carpano Antica, orange bitters and a Luxardo cherry.

 

Photo by Neno Zhekov

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Backcountry Adventure: Telluride Sleighs & Wagons

For five generations the Aldasoro family has ranched the land where guests enjoy the property's unparalleled scenery by wagon or sleigh en route to the feast. Diners decide on their chosen menu and are served family style at one large communal table. Because the Aldasoros' ancestry stems from the Basque region, the menu highlights the cuisine of Spain, executed with Colorado ingredients. The Txuleta, a Colorado beef sirloin with chimichurri sauce and roasted garlic, is one dish not to miss. You are welcome to BYOB, but no need to bring the hot cocoa, as it is part of the spread. All desserts are homemade, including the flan, an Aldasoro family recipe.

 

Photo courtesy of Telluride Sleighs & Wagons

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Dinner On the Town: La Marmotte

This rustic and elegant French restaurant served as the town's icehouse 125 years ago. Over the last 20 years, it's become a fine-dining destination, thanks to Executive Chef Mark Reggiannini's menu, which offers sophistication without pretense. This is Telluride, after all. A case in point is the chef's take on breakfast: Steak and Eggs, Bacon and Eggs, Ham and Eggs. It's a trio of deviled eggs topped individually — one with prosciutto, one with steak tartare, and one with pork belly. For first-timers, owner Mairen Reagan recommends ordering anything braised: lamb shank, short ribs or the coq au vin — red wine-braised chicken with bacon mashed potatoes and pearl onions.

 

Photo courtesy of La Marmotte

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Dinner at High Altitude: Alpino Vino

For a truly unbelievable view, take a ride in the Snow-Coach to the top of Gold Hill, where you will find Alpino Vino — the restaurant with the highest elevation in North America, at just under 12,000 feet. Alpino Vino is also known for its five-course tasting menu featuring cuisine of the Italian Alps, where Chef Nico Peccedi was born. Peccedi's wild mushroom ragout with creamy polenta is one standout; his signature tiramisu (his nonna’s recipe) is another. Telluride Ski Resort's wine director, Andrew Shaffner, offers a well-curated list heavy on Italian, Californian and French wines. Don't miss the heated multitiered deck (with sheepskin blankets) offering spectacular views of the Wilson Range.

 

Photo courtesy of Alpino Vino

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Award-Winning Pie: Brown Dog Pizza

To those in the pizza world, Tony Gemignani is a god. The 11-time World Pizza Champion served as mentor to Brown Dog co-owner Jeff "Smoke" Smokevitch at the International School of Pizza, the San Francisco outpost of Italy's famed Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli. Thanks to Gemignani's coaching, when Smokevitch competed in 2010, he placed sixth with his pepperoni and mushroom Detroit Square Pizza. It was in 2014 that he finally cinched the title with his Pan Pizza: mozzarella and brick cheeses, pizza sauce, creamy New York ricotta, natural-casing pepperoni, Italian sausage, chopped garlic, Sicilian oregano and Pecorino Romano cheese. Oh, and yes, those pies and more can be found on Brown Dog's menu.

 

Photo courtesy of Brown Dog Pizza

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Meat Lovers: The New Sheridan Chop House

When you're in the mood for meat, head to The New Sheridan Chop House, established when the town was just four years young. This 125-year-old institution's menu includes standouts such as Rocky Mountain elk short loin, Colorado lamb chops and bison rib eye. Did we mention the steak? Fourteen ounces of tender New York strip swim in a zesty green-peppercorn sauce served with whipped-until-creamy Idaho mashed potatoes. At brunch the popular menu items include classic eggs Benedict and a pistachio-encrusted trout salad tossed in a warm bacon-sherry-mustard vinaigrette and topped with a runny poached egg. Before or after your meal, grab a seat at the historic carved mahogany bar.

 

Photo courtesy of The New Sheridan Chop House

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For Sweet Tooths: Telluride Truffle

In addition to offering an array of beautiful molded chocolates, Telluride Truffle is the place to satisfy your hankering for hot chocolate. Blended with a variety of cacao beans (and never with cornstarch or powdered cocoa), the thick liquid chocolate is first heated and then left to rest on the stove for three to four minutes, allowing all the flavors come out. When asked if you prefer with or without whipped cream, heed owner Patty Denny's advice: The correct answer is always "with," as hers is organic and punctuated by high-quality Madagascar vanilla that is also available for purchase in the shop. If you're a serious chocoholic, also grab one of Telluride Truffle's chocolate chip cookies — this version is aptly named The Perfect Cookie.

 

Photo by Eric Moore

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