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Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado

Vail has grown on me over the years and I enjoy it now more than ever, so without further ado, here are five reasons to love Vail, Colorado.

1. It’s a BIG Mountain

You may stand in lift lines at the base of Vail ski area but once you are on the mountain it’s easy to get away from the crowds. The size of Vail ski area is what makes it tops with my husband, a lifelong Colorado skier. He loves getting into the back bowls where he’s far away from any slope traffic. Here’s a great Insider Guide to Vail Back Bowls on Snow.com.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado_Vail_BackBowls__Photo by Jack_Affleck

Vail Back Bowls, Photo by Jack Affleck (Vail Resorts)

The only problem with the sheer amount of acreage here is that you might be late to lunch with your wife because you underestimated how long it was going to take to ski back to Vail Village — so plan accordingly!

2. Truffle Fries

While my husband’s a lifelong fan of skiing, I’m a lifelong fan of truffle fries. There’s nothing better in this world than when they are done right and the truffle fries at Expert Burger in Vail’s Lionshead neighborhood are to die for. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado, Truffle fries from Expert Burger. HeidiTown.com

Take it from me, they make the perfect afternoon snack on your condo patio paired with a nice wine or a local craft beer.

3. It’s Adorable

Let’s face it, Vail Village is just plain adorable. I recently took my mom to Vail Village and her squeals of delight over the European Alps-like architecture reminded me of my first visit to the town.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado Vail Village

In the summer, Vail explodes with flowers of every kind and color. In the winter, snow embraces the village in a wintry hug that’s as photogenic as any alpine village in Europe, and that’s not a coincidence. Many of the town’s buildings were purposely modeled after European architecture such as the iconic Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer, home of Pepi’s Bar & Restaurant and the Sonnenalp, to name just a few.

4. Vail Brewing Company

For years I’ve been visiting Vail Brewing Company’s tent at beer festivals because I can always count on them to be pouring something delicious, but I hadn’t actually been to their brewery until earlier this year.

Technically, their brewery is a stone’s throw away from Vail in Avon, but Vail Brewing Company does have a tasting room in Vail Village.

We visited the brewery in Avon on a snowy afternoon and were delighted to discover that we like the brewery space as much as the beer. It’s a local waterhole that features the Rocky Mountain Tacos food truck, live music and more.

5. Shopping

Despite the rash of shopping posts recently on HeidiTown, I’m not a big shopper or big spender. However, I love interesting jewelry and while I don’t wear much, the jewelry I do wear usually has a story.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado. Shopping in Vail Village. HeidiTown.com

On the Vail shopping outing with my mom, I bought a ring that’s become part of my daily worn accessories. The cool story behind the ring is that Mary Jane’s Vail also has a store in Hawaii and one of their featured jewelry artists there makes a gorgeous silver and gold wave ring for that store. The owners of Mary Jane’s decided that the wave pattern could be tweaked into a great mountain motif and now the artist makes wave rings for Hawaii and mountain rings for Vail.

A LITTLE EXTRA – GETTING AROUND VAIL

If you aren’t familiar with the layout of the town, Vail Village is the old part that photographs well because it looks like a European ski hamlet. West Vail is home to the Lionshead area, and while it’s quieter than Vail Village it has a neighborhood feel that I really enjoy. We frequently stay in Lionshead.

Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado. Lionshead area. HeidiTown.com

Springtime in Lionshead at Vail Spa Condominiums.

A free bus connects all of Vail and the buses run frequently, so there’s never a problem getting around without a car.

Read more about Vail on HeidiTown.com, Things to do in Vail, Colorado When You’re Not Skiing.

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So there you have it, there are so many reasons to love Vail.

Feel free to leave a comment telling me why you love Vail!

Two Restaurants in Grand Junction, Colorado that Foodies Can’t Miss

Let’s face it, many people who grew up on Colorado’s Front Range tend to think of Grand Junction as that far away cowtown town that’s practically in Utah. Of course, that reputation has slowly been changing thanks in part to the growing popularity of and interest in local food.

Eat All the Things in Grand Junction, Colorado. Farmers' Market. HeidiTown.com

Grand Junction Farmers’ Market

Colorado’s western slope is a place where local food has been a way of life long before it became trendy. It doesn’t hurt that food grows relatively easily here when compared to other parts of Colorado, so sourcing locally is a little less complicated for chefs.

On our trip earlier this summer, we had the delicious pleasure of dining at two of Grand Junction’s most foodie restaurants. These two eateries, 626 on Rood and Bin 707 Foodbar, have set the bar high for farm-to-table cuisine (and for cuisine in general). Continue reading

Featured Festival: BrüFrouFEST 2017, Denver, Colorado

BrüFrouFEST was my husband’s favorite event of 2016, and that’s really saying something because we go to a lot of events. I loved it too. What’s not to love about food and drink pairings? And this is not your average “taste of” kind of event.

BrüFrouFEST inspires chefs and brewers to take food and drink pairings to the next level — and they do.

Featured Festival BrüFrouFEST 2017, Denver, Colorado - HeidiTown - steak & dark beer

Photo courtesy of BrüFrouFEST.

Last year, we wandered through the event, increasingly impressed by what we were putting in our mouths. Verboten Brewing’s Cucumber Gose paired with Harman’s Eat & Drink’s salmon pastrami with dill cream cheese mousse, avocado, brewers rye crisp, pickled mustard seed and cilantro was my favorite on the day.

Bru Frou 2016. HeidiTown (2)

However, there were other standouts too including the Bristol Brewing Company Roggenbier paired with saffron banana steamed mussels with Aurelia chorizo and crumbled rye (food by Brother Luck). Obviously, I love seafood, but there were lots of other pairings as well, including last course options.

Featured Festival BrüFrouFEST 2017, Denver, Colorado - HeidiTown - Mussels & chorizo

The Bristol Brewing & Brother Luck pairing in 2016.

Ryan couldn’t get enough of the Copper Kettle Mexican Chocolate Stout pair with spicy chocolate cake from The Rosedale Tavern.

Featured Festival BrüFrouFEST 2017, Denver, Colorado - HeidiTown - Chocolate Cake

Spicy Chocolate Cake. Photo courtesy of BrüFrouFEST.

BrüFrouFEST is for foodies and foodie wannabes, and the brewers and chefs that are involved take this event very seriously.

Grimm Brothers Brewhouse is thrilled to be pairing their beer with cuisine by Euclid Hall at this year’s event and I can’t wait to taste the result of this stellar combination. Verboten also got a great pairing this year – Blackbelly Market out of Boulder. Only good things can come from that collaboration.

Featured Festival BrüFrouFEST 2017, Denver, Colorado - HeidiTown - action shot

Photo courtesy of BrüFrouFEST.

While the food will continue to be spectacular, some things at this year’s BrüFrouFEST will be a little different. For instance, they are holding it outdoors at Tivoli Station in downtown Denver. They’ve also moved it from Saturday to Sunday to make it easier for chefs to be away from their restaurants on the day of the event. And it takes place from 12 to 5, as opposed to in the evening. Lastly, they’ve added craft beer cocktails from some of the region’s finest mixologists. 

Chefs are coming from as far as Vail to participate and compete and overall, there are 125 chefs and breweries and 80 unique pairings. In addition, six bands will be in attendance to keep things lively when the meat sleeps start to kick in.

Featured Festival BrüFrouFEST 2017, Denver, Colorado - HeidiTown - crowd shot

Photo courtesy of BrüFrouFEST.

This is the largest culinary event of its kind in the country, so you really, really, really don’t want to miss it. Seriously, my husband talked about this one for months; obviously, it makes an impression. This year, tickets start at just $35, so you’ve got no excuse not to be there.

BrüFrouFEST 2017

BruFrou.com

SUNDAY, July 16, 2017

12 to 5 p.m. at Tivoli Station

Denver, Colorado

Get BrüFrouFEST tickets NOW

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Featured Festivals spots on HeidiTown are paid advertisements. If you’d like to have your festival or event considered for a feature contact TheMayor@HeidiTown.com. Thank you!

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Dining in Colorado – New Favorites & Longtime Favorites

I wish I were a picky eater, because if I were pickier I’d probably be a bit slimmer, but I like food a lot. Thankfully, Colorado’s food scene is fantastic right now. No matter where we go, we find good, often farm fresh, food to eat. It’s a fabulous time to be a foodie in Colorado.

Dining in Colorado, Meat & Cheese in Aspen. HeidiTown.com

Photo courtesy of Meat & Cheese.

In my work as a freelance writer and Mayor of HeidiTown, I get the opportunity to dine out a lot. Here are a few standout restaurants from the last six months; some are brand new to me and others are old favorites we hadn’t visited in awhile. Continue reading

When Visiting Aspen, Colorado, Eat All the Things

No matter when you plan to visit Aspen, Colorado — winter, spring, summer or fall — plan to spend some time and money on dining. You won’t regret it.

Before we visited this winter, I had no idea Aspen was such a foodie town, and I’m not kidding when I suggest that you should go there and eat all the things. Seriously, forget about the diet and don’t cry over carbs, just eat everything and be happy.

When Visit Aspen, Colorado, Eat All the Things, photo courtesy of Meat & Cheese, HeidiTown.com

Photo courtesy of Meat & Cheese.

While nothing in Aspen is cheap, the bar is set high for good food in this resort town, and it’s nearly impossible to have a bad meal here.

When in Aspen, you must go to Meat & Cheese. The restaurant was opened in late 2014, by the founders of Avalanche Cheese Company, and these folks know their cheese and meats.

When Visiting Aspen, Colorado, Eat All the Things, Meat & Cheese courtesy photo. HeidiTown.com

Meat & Cheese, courtesy photo.

Of course, when at Meat & Cheese, a restaurant and farm shop, you must order the Meat & Cheese board, which serves two, and follow it up with one of the restaurant’s creative entrees such as coffee chocolate rubbed short ribs or the rotisserie chicken (the best I’ve ever had). Continue reading

A Symphony of Food & Music on a Denver Date Night

Ryan and I hadn’t been out in the big city since the fall, so when we read that the Colorado Symphony was playing Beethoven, we decided it was time for a Denver date night.

A Symphony of Food & Music on a Date Night in Denver, HeidiTown.com, © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2009

Colorado Symphony © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2009

We used to frequent the Colorado Symphony quite often. In fact, for several years we bought concert packages to the CSO, giving us an excuse for a Denver date night every month. The Colorado Symphony has all sorts of subscription packages available, making it easy to pick and choose the number of symphonies you want to attend and which shows.

We started our Denver date night at TAG Restaurant on Larimer Street, an eight minute walk from Boettcher Concert Hall. This restaurant has been on my radar for awhile now and this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

A Symphony of Food & Music on a Date Night in Denver, TAG Restaurant octopus

The food scene in downtown Denver has come a long way since we lived in the Mile High City in the early 2000s.

Chef Troy Guard, who opened TAG in 2009, is a big part of the city’s culinary expansion. He has opened a number of restaurants since, and there are still more in the works. Guard’s restaurants elevate food, while still making it approachable, and I think this is why he’s so well-loved by Denver foodies. Continue reading

Best of HeidiTown 2016, Colorado Festivals & Travel

I used to call this annual post “Top 10 HeidiTown Highlights,” but I’m going to change it up this year because everyone loves a “Best Of” list, right? It’s a hard post for me to compose because every year seems to bring with it many incredible Colorado experiences. This makes it hard to boil an entire year down to ten major highlights, but every year I do it.

Trinidad, it's not what you think

Having a blast at Cardango, the ArtoCade’s evening, adults-only party.

This was a big year. I turned forty and we traveled a lot – to every corner of the state and the middle parts too. One of the major highlights was visiting Trinidad, Colorado (1) for ArtoCade, an art car extravaganza. This town blew us away. I love being surprised (in a good way) about a new place and I’m truly excited about the future of this friendly, quirky community.

Best of HeidiTown 2016 Colorado Travel & Festivals. Trinidad, Colorado

Trinidad, Colorado. so much potential!

Another standout experience was staying at a Never Summer (2) yurt near Cameron Pass last winter with our old dog, Xena. We’d never stayed in a yurt, let alone during winter and it was terrific. I loved the smell of the wood burning stove and the feeling of total peace as I snuggled into our yurt’s queen bed. I didn’t even mind having to use the outhouse, something I usually hate with a fierce passion. Continue reading

Gift Guide for Friends with Good Tastes (In Food)

Know someone who loves food? Instead of buying them a cookbook or newfangled kitchen item, how about buying them a foodie experience?

Colorado has blossomed with food tours over the last several years, and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing several of these delicious excursions.

Local Table Tours

LocalTableTours.com

This company was started by a Boulder food blogger who has traveled extensively in the United States and abroad. Today, Local Table run tours in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins. In Denver, they do a tour at The Source, a Taste of Highlands and in downtown (Taste of LoDo and Union Station).

Gift Guide for Friends with Good Tastes

Photo courtesy of Local Table Tours.

Their Boulder-based tours including A Taste of Boulder, Cocktail Tours, Coffee & Chocolate Tours and May through October they offer tours at the Boulder Farmers’ Market.

In Fort Collins, tasting tours include a Cocktail Tour, Waffle & Chocolate Tour, Artisans at Scotch Pines Tour and, the one I experienced this past summer, the Jessup Farm Tasting Tour. Continue reading

Getting Foodie in Fort Collins at Jessup Farm Artisan Village

When I was asked to join a Local Table Tours outing at Jessup Farm Artisan Village in Fort Collins, I jumped at the opportunity to explore this unique Northern Colorado destination.

Getting Foodie in Fort Collins at Jessup Farm Artisan Village

Jessup Farm was a working farm built at the turn of the century. In 2011, the Campana family of Bellisimo Inc. rehabilitated the property and repurposed the buildings to house modern-day businesses scattered around like a village. Today the property is home to multiple small businesses, a flock of chickens and a large garden.

Getting Foodie in Fort Collins at Jessup Farm Artisan Village (10) HeidiTown

Chicken coop at Jessup Farm Artisan Village

According to Steven Sorensen, a Campana family member and part of Bellisimo Inc., when the family first conceived of the plan for Artisan Village, they didn’t visualize it as a destination for anyone other than those who lived in surrounding neighborhoods. Continue reading

Featured Festival: Mountain Harvest Festival, Paonia, Colorado

If you’re planning to celebrate the harvest season, why not do it in one of Colorado’s most bountiful areas? Mountain Harvest Festival takes place in the North Fork Valley, an area that is brimming with small family farms and vineyards.

featured-festival-mountain-harvest-festival-paonia-colorado-wine-glass

I didn’t know about the North Fork Valley until three years ago, and the region has stolen my heart. It is located in Delta County on Colorado’s Western Slope. It’s 40 minutes east of Delta, which straddles Hwy 50, the road connecting Grand Junction and Ouray.

Farm-to-table has been part of everyday life in the North Fork Valley long before it became trendy. It is made up of three communities; Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford. Mountain Harvest Festival takes place in Paonia, but celebrates the entire region.

14-farmers-marrket-mountain-harvest-festival-chl

This photo courtesy of Mountain Harvest Festival.

The four-day event kicks off on Thursday, September 22, with a variety of activities including a Farm-to-Table dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, The Living Farm Cafe.

Things really get going on Friday afternoon. There’s a pumpkin contest, bike parade, a Drink Locally event at Town Park and live music.

featured-festival-mountain-harvest-festival-paonia-colorado-drink-locally

This photo courtesy of Mountain Harvest Festival.

This festival is a celebration of all things local, including food, music and art. After all, the North Fork Valley isn’t only a great growing region, it’s a place where artists flourish as well, and there are a number of area art schools.

On Saturday there’s a smorgasbord of events planned. Don’t miss the Cirque Bike Farm Tours at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. We did a bike to farm tour with Cirque while we were in town earlier this summer (read all about it here).  You can also do self-guided farm and winery tours while in town for the festival.

featured-festival-mountain-harvest-festival-paonia-colorado-living-farm

This photo courtesy of Mountain Harvest Festival.

A festival farmers’ market will take place throughout the weekend and the Drink Locally event in Town Park happens Friday through Sunday. In addition, Mountain Harvest Festival has loads of live music schedule, farm-to-table dinners, yoga, bike Olympics and so much more.

Mountain Harvest Festival is a feast for the eyes, heart and stomach.

featured-festival-mountain-harvest-festival-paonia-hula-hoop-girl

This photo courtesy of Mountain Harvest Festival.

And here’s a warning: If this will be your first visit to the North Fork Valley, you may fall in love. Because what’s not to love about a region filled with vineyards, rolling hills dotted with sheep and trees heavy-laden with fruit? In a recent magazine article I dubbed the region “the land of milk and honey,” and that’s not an exaggeration.

featured-festival-mountain-harvest-festival-the-view-from-garvin-mesa-north-fork-valley-photo-by-heidi-kerr-schlaefer

If you’d like to experience this Delta County’s North Fork Valley to the fullest, you need to attend Mountain Harvest Festival in Paonia, Colorado.

Mountain Harvest Festival

winner of the Governor’s Award for Best Small Community Festival

September 22-25, 2016

Paonia, Colorado

Some events ticketed/Most events are free

MountainHarvestFestival.org

Join MHF on Facebook

Mountain Harvest logo with date

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Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.

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