Today we hear from guest blogger Jessie Brinkley who's not long back from skiing Beaver Creek. It's a bit of luck that even though this post was scheduled weeks ago, it feels just right on  this bitterly cold 'snow day' in North Carolina. Vicarious thrills for those of us who won't be making it to the slopes anytime soon......and we have more to celebrate than just this great post coming along with the first regional snow of the winter.  Today mark's the 52nd post for Studio Traveler's 'A CITY A WEEK...'so one full year of weekly shout outs on cities large and small...Now that we have our sea legs, we are ready to tweak things up a bit.  Beginning next week we'll have a new look and we'll begin to roll out of some new guest bloggers.  Good things ahead...beginning with today's post--


Last fall, 2 friends and I scrambled to find a few winter days to head out to Beaver Creek for a ski in/ski out vacation. My friend, Suzanne, has a brother with a beautiful house right on the slopes of Bachelor Gulch and Bachelor Gulch sits right next to Beaver Creek-- 25 minutes from Vail. The house is in a resort community of lodge-style houses which rim the ski slopes with a Ritz-Carlton Hotel placed comfortably at the base. It is truly picturesque.

Early January was the only time that worked for all of us and our fear was that it would be really COLD. It turns out this is the perfect time to go on a ski vacation in Colorado. The temperature was a balmy 30 degrees, the lift lines were non-existent and there was fresh powder.

Our first day we worked on getting our ski legs back as fat snowflakes fell most of the day. We enjoyed lunch at the top of the lift at Mamie’s Mountain Grill. Mamie’s unique menu features “grill your own” options of Colorado lamb or chicken and burgers, homemade signature soups and European style hot dogs. The grill is peacefully nestled among an outcropping of birch trees.

The lifts close at around 3:30 which seems early but the sun sinks low way before 5. This is a great excuse to head back to the house for some rest, drinks and a few snacks by the fire before dinner.

And speaking of dinner, one of the highlights of our stay was dinner at Spago at The Ritz-Carlton. I was skeptical. Could the name live up to the hype? It was already clear that in Beaver Creek it's especially easy to spend a large amount of money on only a pretty good dinner. Spago certainly lived up to it’s reputation. We started with 2 appetizers; short rib ravioli topped with fried Parmesan curls, sun-dried tomatoes and beautiful baby swiss chard. The flavor of the filling was subtle but rich -- it melted in your mouth. Even tastier were the 3 crispy sesame cones of sashimi grade tuna with roe, ginger and some type of nori confetti bursting out of the top. Also as delicious was a signature wood fired pizza topped with wild mushrooms, butternut squash, grilled radicchio and ricotta salata.

Grouse Mountain Grill at The Pines Lodge also served up some especially good food. It is described as New American fine dining but the menu featured heavily on wild game including elk, rabbit and bison. First came house made pickles and crispy brussels sprouts. We raved about the brussels sprouts which had a maple gastrique and were soon rewarded with a copy of the recipe.

The most interesting starter we shared was the Carrot Tasting. This dish contained roasted baby carrots, crispy quinoa, locally made yogurt, carrot emulsion and ras el hanout which, it turns out, is a Moroccan spice mix, much like Garam Masala in Indian cuisine.

Suzanne tried the rabbit which was actually a bacon wrapped sausage of rabbit with sweet potato tortellini, chestnut puree, apples and rabbit jus. She refused to share so I’m assuming it was a hit.

The only dark cloud in an otherwise perfect ski vacation was a trip to the urgent care after our last ski run. Coming down a small hill leading to the house, I fell and cut my leg. As the nurse was prepping me for stitches, she ran down her list of mandatory questions about visiting Africa and whether I had done any drugs in the past year. I asked her clarify whether she meant legal or illegal drugs -- we were in Colorado, after all. It was just a joke but we did read in a local magazine that an occasional issue restaurants are having is that a diner will fall face first into their meal. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t considered when legalization was being discussed.