Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ski Food.

I’ve made a recent rather sad discovery about traveling. When I was younger I used travel and vacation-time as an excuse to eat every bad food on the planet from burgers to nachos to mile-high sundaes. Plying myself with everything I had denied myself back home, and washing it down with an armada of boat drinks. But now, I find I just can’t do it. Not even a little bit. My whole body rebels. It's awful.

I tried to do it in Breckenridge on our trip there last month – loading up on burgers, chili, mashed potatoes. Carbing it up for the snowboard lesson the next day. Hey, doesn’t matter right? You’ll burn off all those calories anyway. But when I tried it, my body freaked out. When into rebellion. Instant carb coma. It was yelling at me things like, "Go a day without fruit? A day without some sort of vegetable? All right - just TRY it, and see what happens. And TRUST me, it won't be pretty."

I carbed it up and tried to tell myself that trail mix with chocolate chips and yogurt covered pretzels mixed in was healthy. And an hour before my snowboard lesson, I got the jitters. The sugar shakes. And it wasn’t just from nerves. My body was going into veggie withdrawal. Lack of fruit convulsions. Or maybe it was veggie withdrawal mixed with altitude sickness. In any case I didn’t feel better until I had some miso with seaweed and sushi that night. Real food with omega 3’s and vitamins. Now instead of going whole hog (sometimes LITERALLY) on vacation, I’m going to have to eat like I do at home. Search out healthy but tasty things while at the same time treating myself ONLY every once in awhile. This REALLY sucks.

Where before I'd use vacation as an excuse to leap from the diet without looking back, particularly in hotspots like Vegas where food and boat drinks are king, now the travel journey has changed. No longer will I have to workout extra because I jumped headlong into a vacation mode - the high-fat abyss. Now I'll have to change the paradigm. Look at why I love to travel so much from a whole different angle. This will be difficult for someone who plans her entire trip around the cuisine of the region she's traveling to. Damn. And pigging out was so much fun too.

Before reaching this epiphany, I *did* do some pigging out at the Breckenridge Brewery. Even though their burger sent me into a high-carb-coma and my guts felt like they were being wrenched out of my body, it wasn't because the food was bad. On the contrary, the burger was OUTSTANDING. Especially when washed down with a yummy Vanilla Porter. I just paid the price afterward.

Oddly enough, I did find some incredibly tasty, healthy options in Breckenridge. Maybe these restaurants are meant for those few non-skiers out there who don't need 5,000-calorie pancake suppers to fuel their trips down the mountain? Nonetheless, they were pretty damn tasty.

That miso and sushi I talked about was wolfed down at Mountain Flying Fish, an unassuming little place upstairs on Main Street near Peak 9. They promote themselves as the "Highest Altitude Sushi Bar in the World!" Not sure about that, but I wolfed down the stuff because I can't remember when I've had better sushi. It was superb. The yellowtail belly nigiri was sublime, the grilled yellowtail cheek was a revelation of crunchy skin and sweet, tender flesh. And yes, it was a yellowtail kind of night. The service was friendly, the miso was tasty, and all that sushi after a carb coma was very very welcome. Afterward we kept talking about how good it was and couldn't stop. In fact, it was SO good we went back to eat two nights later, the snow pounding down all around us - the first heavy snowstorm of our trip. Not sure if it was because we were eating sushi during a snowstorm, which is strange, or if it tasted so yummy after all the carbs, or what. All I know is that it tasted like the freshest, bestest sushi we'd ever had.

After the wonderfullness of the sushi, I was determined the next day to find myself something healthy for lunch. Hubby went skiiing, but I had given up snowboarding by then (and yes, there is definitely a forthcoming travel story there). The snow was still falling heavily as I ventured forth in my ski jacket and big boots. Crunching my way along Main Street, then down the narrow side streets, just wandering and exploring. Taking pictures of the quaint Christmas village that is Breckenridge, and marveling at how rugged and old all the houses looked. Like something out of and old western movie. Happened upon this little house on a corner. The sign said, "Amazing Grace" and so I went in. That's what you do in my world anyway. You see amazing grace you check it out.

Inside I found an adorable little three-room house full of mismatched furniture, not unlike the restaurant slash houses I used to frequent during my college days in The Fan (Richmond, VA). A shiny silver woodstove was roaring in one corner, the glass-encased counter near the kitchen was full of baked goods, and the entire place seemed to invite you in to take off your coat and stay a spell. I did, ordering their spicy tofu salad rapidly, like a man in the desert. I needed veggies! I was starving for sustenance and vitamins. That sushi the night before had only wakened the beast. Now the beast was hungry for greens.

The salad didn't disappoint - a HUGE portion of greens, carrots, peppers, and other yummy vegetables with a spicy tofu salad atop it. The spicy tofu had the consistency of something like tuna salad. It had a great kick of heat which paired nicely with the great crunch of the greens. I swear as I ate more of the stuff I felt my body sighing with relief. Which made me stay a longer while, open my laptop, do some writing, and sip a chai while watching the owner stoke the fire. Watching the snow fall. Listening as the mother and daughter in the corner (other non-skiers?) laughed over a huge book called, "What Does Your Birthday Mean?" It was a perfect afternoon, so perfect I decided to pack up a little of it to take with me. Bought two huge lemon raspberry ginger scones to drink with coffee the following morning. My "once in awhile" treat. They were out of this world good.

So what's the travel story here? Just a little ditty about how a middle age woman had a not-so-pleasant food epiphany while on vacation in Breckenridge, Colorado. How she came to realize that maybe food doesn't have to be the epicenter of the entire trip. Maybe by having to put a little more effort into finding tasty, healthy food (while at the same time leaving room for some delicious banned items) she can have an even more delightful culinary adventure. Weirder things have happened...


where i've escaped...

template by - header image by Martin Walls