Traveling for Food: Pine Creek Cookhouse in Aspen, Co.
Hiring a horse-drawn carriage to take you anywhere might be corny, having to take a horse-drawn sled to get to dinner is anything but. There is a restaurant in Aspen, Colorado that offers such an experience. You can only drive so close to this mountain lodge before sled, skis, or snow shoes become necessary. (So it's OK if you disagree with me on the corniness-factor of the sled.) The Pine Creek Cookhouse has twice provided me with an unforgettable dining experience. The first time my now fiance took me to Aspen we had barely been dating three months. His parents found this restaurant and meant the whole horse-drawn sled part to be a surprise (they're awesome). Unfortunately it was negative 26 degrees Fahrenheit that evening and being outside for more than 3 minutes was out of the question. In extreme cases like that one, there's actually a fourth method of travel. Tightly packed into a Snowcat with strangers who are also scheduled to take the sled. Awkward? Yes, but we were warm.
Whatever way you choose to arrive, this is the view waiting upon your arrival.
If you are able to take the sled, a photo like this is recommended.
The authentic log cabin was built with native Colorado logs and the decor is exactly what you'd expect with antler chandeliers, carved candle holders and a wood burning oven to gather around for drinks and between courses.
To stave off our initial hunger pangs we were greeted with a plate of charcuterie.
The Cookhouse dining experience includes four-courses and after rapidly enjoying the first we had some decisions to make. I opted for the Winter Cookhouse Salad made with organic winter greens, apples, candied pistachios, dried cranberries, cambozola cheese and topped with a maple balsamic vinaigrette. Rob and his brother choose the soup du jour, a mushroom based bisque.
We also opted to share a few Wild Game Momos, very authentic Nepalese dumplings.
For a truly authentic experience, I think wild game needs to be included. Though there are plenty of more traditional entree options available for the more particular diners. We were going all out on this particular evening. Two of us chose a Pan Roasted North American Elk Loin and Rob went for the Pan Roasted North American Buffalo Tenderloin.
The Elk was served mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables and a spiced cranberry sauce.
The Buffalo came on top of some white cheddar grits, spicy green beans and a ruby port smoked pan sauce.
I was the only one who opted for dessert (which is usually the case) and I had been having a serious chocolate craving. The brownie was perfect. As full as I was I polished this off in a matter of minutes.
Delighted with our meals and full bellies, we hung around the fire until it was time for the sled to take us home. Our waitress even suggested a drink for the road and had Irish coffees ready for us as we headed back outside to the sled.
As you can see I dressed for the occasion ;-).