Details, Telluride, Colo.
But my ears tell me the truth.
“Have you tried the new restrooms? They’re awesome. Five-star for sure,” says a diner at the next table to her companion.
Then I hear “You’re welcome,” the waiter’s automatic response when I thank him for bringing a fleecy blanket for my knees as the breeze coming down from the peak turns somewhat icy.
People don’t generally say “awesome” in Courchevel, and wait staff from Kaprun to Cortina most certainly do not — at least not voluntarily — say “you’re welcome” very often.
I’m in the United States!
Colorado, to be exact, in the picture-perfect resort of Telluride.
This is America, but not as we’ve known it. Telluride is undergoing a foodie transformation. The town at the bottom of the ski mountain has long been known for good grub, from top-notch steaks at the historic New Sheridan Hotel’s chop house to sushi, Thai or fine-dining Italian.
But the new wave of gastronomic progress is now taking place up on the mountain. And it’s quite a trip. In an audacious reach for a new crowd and a bit of buzz, Telluride is going gourmet on the hill.
Just last season, it launched an open-air French-style bistro called Bon Vivant at the top of the busiest lift and started opening the mountain-top lunch spot Alpino Vino for evening multi-course feasts, with a chef from the Turin area of northern Italy.
The food and wine at both are exquisite, imaginative and sophisticated and have instantly elevated Telluride to the status of foodie-magnet on the slopes as well as off.
Tired of tepid junk between black-diamond drops? At Bon Vivant, I burned my tongue on the first mouthful of soup that had been freshly prepared and rushed to my table; then, after a necessary pause, I appreciated its rich flavors. It was followed by a slow-cooked lamb stew in Belgian ale, with duchess potatoes.
Now, don’t think that I’m going all Euro-snob on you. The gastro-news in Telluride is as much about novelty, variety and quality as anything else. There’s almost nothing worse for a foodie than bad French fare, so if the dishes had been all style and no substance, the experiment would have been a messy, skis-and-poles-everywhere-style wipe-out.
Besides, despite its name, Bon Vivant has distinct Colorado elements that lend the French flair some useful ruggedness. Lurking within the onion soup is local short rib; the lamb in the stew grew up in the Rockies; the vegetables and even the cheeses on some dishes are grown or made as locally as possible.
And the staff and customers are mainly good down-to-earth types who are quick to smile and share advice about where the powder is still lurking of an afternoon. Even if you speak French or Italian, European resorts aren’t usually so genuinely friendly.