Monday, April 16, 2012


© 2012 Edward C Kern, Jr.
Situated in the lower part of the Roaring Fork Valley at the confluence of the Crystal River, Carbondale, Colorado is defined in part by  Mount Sopris (photo at left - also in distance, third photo down ) which towers to the South.  When gold and silver were discovered at the head of the valley in 1879 potato farms and then sheep and cattle ranches sprung up in Carbondale to feed the miners in Aspen.  The Victorian town center dates from this era. Though the rampant development of the 1990s and early 2000s took some of the farmland, many ranches remain (pasture of one in photo at left).  While Ed and I love Carbondale, we have yet to really take advantage of all it has offer.  Mostly there in the winter, we enjoy walks along the Roaring Fork River, x-country skiing at Spring Gulch and dinners at two of our favorite restaurants.

Six89 is a delightful restaurant located in a renovated Victorian house at 689 Main Street.  Its menu, which purports to serve "seasonally based artisinal comfort food locally sourced whenever possible", also contains a fair amount of coastal seafood.  On a visit earlier this winter Ed and I both enjoyed Carpaccio of Ahi Tuna with wasabi aioli, sweet soy, wonton & scallion salad. I followed with a small plate, plenty for me, of North Fork Goat Marsala | Roast Tomato, Shrooms & Greens  with truffled chevre agnolotti, reggiano which was excellent. Ed had  “Dal Bhat”, curried vegetables, lentil & spinach broth & crisp Arborio rice cake; pappadum.  Ed, who has spent much time in India, declared it the best Dal Bhat he has had to date. On other occasions we have enjoyed pomegranate Braised Colorado Lamb Shank which was not on the menu this trip as well as Crisp Gnocchi Salad | Roasted Wild Mushrooms & Butternut Squash with truffled with oregano vin which was. (See Mushroom - Arugula Salad).  Though not advertised on the menu, Six89 offers a three course prix fixe dinner (small plate, large plate, dessert) for $26.89.

The owner-chef of Six 89 also owns Phat Thai located a few blocks down Main Street at number 343. The Asian inspired menu incorporates "organic and sustainable ingredients sourced locally whenever possible and prudent" as well the chef's own sauces. While Six89 may get more critical acclaim and recognition, I really like Phat Thai.  The Fresh Spring Rolls with Tofu, mint & cellophane noodles, herbs | sweet chili sauce are exceptional  as is the Kaeng Kiew Wan - spicy green curry of chicken japanese eggplant, thai basil | coconut, basil. That said, we've yet to order anything we didn't like.

For shopping we like Crystal River Meats on North 4th Street. We often get the flat iron steak, a cut not readily available to us in the East, and pork tenderloin, also excellent though not always available. Recently, in addition to local grass fed beef, chicken, pork, lamb and eggs they have added artisan olive oil, spices, particularly those complimentary to their meats, local cheese and produce as available.  The Milangro Ranch, also in Carbondale, supplies all of the beef for ten Aspen Ski Company mountain restaurants.  This year as last Ed and I enjoyed the great hamburgers at Ullerhof.

© 2011 Edward C Kern, Jr.
And to work off all the calories from this tasty food?  We go to Spring Gulch and enjoy approxiamately 21 kilometers of very well groomed, both for traditional and skate skiing, cross country trails.  The trails climbs about 175 meters (574 feet) from the parking area to  Finlandia Trail and Paul's Point, some in the open, some (the higher trails) through aspen groves, many with great views of Mount Sopris and other mountains and ranges. Some of the trails are flat or gradual grade others much steeper. Circles, squares and diamonds indicate their relative difficulty.

© 2012 Edward C Kern, Jr.
While we drive about half an hour to Buttermilk-Tiehack or a little longer to Snowmass and Aspen Mountain for downhill skiing, when it comes to ambiance, shopping and restaurants, we stay in Carbondale.

March 2013: Sadly Six89 closed in October.  This trip, we often stopped at Tortilleria La Roca to pick up awesome, still warm corn or flour tortillas.  The former we used for soft Tacos (photo right), the later for Fajitas.

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