In Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, young Winfield gets mocked for thinking fool’s gold the real thing.
Having been on the road for 6 weeks, I’ve come to a similar conclusion about restaurant food: pretty as it is, in the long run it leaves me dissatisfied.
I didn’t get sick of gourmet right away. First, there was a glorious honeymoon filled with goat cheese, reduction sauces and amuse bouches. So before I sing a love song to simple food, here’s an ode to the most memorable meals I’ve eaten here in the rocky state of Colorado.
Take the Sicilian Castillo olives I tried at Eat! restaurant in Edwards. These little jewels took the term “olive green” and gave it a shot of tequila. A rich, bright jade, their meaty firm flesh dissolved into an almost lime-like linger.
Followed by a white bean puree-goat cheese-artichoke-tomato panini and a simple salad, the meal warranted a photo or two.
Over in Beaver Creek, the slogan “not exactly roughing it” came through loud and clear at Rimini gelato. Rimini, a town in Italy, is the center of the gelato world, and I’d be happy making this place the center of mine.
And then there’s Terra Bistro, who despite my cravings for simple home cooking, still has a corner of my heart.
On visit number one, the delivery of baked kale chips turned up the corners of my leaf-loving lips. Light as paper and shimmering slightly with olive oil, you can munch these in guiltless quantities without destroying your appetite.
On July 4th I stopped in just to see if they’d sell me a container to nibble on, and left with a box on the house. A mountain creek and an hour of solitude were the perfect companions.
As for the mains, on our first visit I wandered from my usual veggie fare and ordered the Amish-grown organic beef. Thin-sliced rare hangar steak came perched atop a blue cheese crostini, sharing the plate with an heirloom-boston lettuce salad drizzled in a thick molasses-balsamic glaze.
There was the the sesame-crusted salmon with carrot-tandoori tomato sauce at Paradigms in Eagle, and all the wholesome organic lunches at (the appropriately named) Eco Goddess over in Carbondale. The lake trout crusted in thin slices of baby potato at Kelly Likken in Vail was expertly crafted, and the halibut with grapefruit butter at Dish a morsel of perfection.
So what’s my complaint then, surrounded by all this wonderful food? How could someone like me, whose love for good food borders on obsession, turn down a great meal on someone else’s tab?
The choices have grown too cumbersome. I’ve become impatient through all the sitting and waiting. The disappointments are draining me, and the thrills remaining seem thin. I am ready for trips to the market, chopping, mixing, and knowing what I am putting into my body. I want to feel the slippery flesh of a mango, tear papery leaves of basil, and squish dough under my palms once again.
It’s been fun. The pampering, the service, the delight at new things. But I’m ready to go home.