When living in a small town like Aspen, I say that going to big cities is actually vacation. The energy, the people-watching – the food. A few years ago we went to Thailand, and while most people dart through Bangkok and head for the beaches, we spent several days there getting lost between canals, bright lights and papaya salad.
I so vividly remember meals from trips, and though I’d be hard-pressed to describe different sculptures in a museum, I can tell you that I had an incredible cauliflower steak in Mexico and the best Pappa al Pomodoro (tomato-bread soup) in Florence. In fact, I basically categorize trips by the culinary experience; ranking on top is Turkey, Thailand and Italy, and at the bottom there’s Cuba and England.
My mind is on wanderlust right now, as most of town is somewhere else in the world, devouring good meals. I did get the chance to venture to Washington D.C. a couple of weeks ago to visit friends, and as I guessed, a lot of the trip centered around dining.
I’m still thinking about a trio of hummus, babaganoush and tzatziki sauces paired with pita bread that we had at a Lebanese joint. Milk Bar. Have you been to a Milk Bar? Christina Tosi’s dessert concept shops serve “truffles,” which are really cake balls, and they’re heaven. Like many cities, D.C. has turned a warehouse into a food stall arena. This one, Union Market, is super hip. I had Korean veggie tacos and frose. Of all the above, quite literally the only thing you can get in Aspen is the frose (and that’s a new turn of events).
There was also an Italian restaurant with thin, plate-sized pizzas that didn’t come sliced. Just like in Italy, you have to eat it with a knife and fork, or divvy appropriately. And even this seemed exotic to me. I’ve been watching people’s Instagram stories about travels, and watching them eat banh mi in Vietnam, or tuna in Hawaii. Amanda Rae, food columnist for the Aspen Times, lured me in with her stories about stretched rice in Tokyo.
Traveling is an exploration of another culture, and what’s more exposing of that culture than its menu? There is a reason that Aspen is home to several steakhouses, and it’s because people associate the Rocky Mountains with meat and game. Though I love them, the fact we have as many sushi restaurants in town as steak joints is curious. But it’s part of the Aspen experience.
So to everyone heading off into a different time zone, enjoy the travels and the tastes. We’re not going to a metropolis this May but off to Mexico to see the sand and sun, and to get something I actually dream about: the Farmarita from Flora Farms in Baja. The drink is a perfect blend of tequila and fresh-squeezed carrot juice, and that little bit of added vegetable is a nice trick into thinking it’s healthy. Cheers to vacation!
3 oz. fresh squeezed organic carrot juice
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. orange juice
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. cointreau
2 oz. tequila
1 fresh peeled carrot with stem
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 mason jar*
salt for rim of glass
Wet rim of glass with lime juice and press into salt. Chill glass
Combine first 6 ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with small amount of ice
Shake 30 seconds to chill
Strain over ice, into mason jar
Sprinkle chili flakes and garnish with fresh carrot
Christine Benedetti writes about food here every other week. Mostly the plant kind. She’s editor-in-chief of Aspen magazine, but you can reach her @cabenedetti.