Aspen extremes: James Caan glanced over the booth in Aspen's Boogie's Diner and gave me that look of his that says, "You want a piece of me?"
No thanks, I decided. I'd rather have another piece of Boogie's banana cream pie. Or anything at Boogie's, for that matter.
Although the ski season is almost over, a good dining deal is always a welcome discovery in Aspen. When we visited the resort town recently, we chose Boogie's, an upscale diner that sits above Boogie's skiwear shop (534 East Cooper Avenue), for the simple reason that it's hard to find places in Aspen that don't frown upon--nay, spit, snarl and scratch at--children. But Boogie's not only welcomes kids, it does everything it can to make them feel at home, including serving some of the best down-home diner food around.
That's why "Jimmy," as the staff at Boogie's calls him, goes there, too. He was with his wife and son, who was about the same age as one of our daughters (the son, not the wife--although she might have been close). The kids threw things at each other over the booth while the rest of us tried to make a dent in Boogie's generous portions.
While Jimmy was eating some sort of special thing created just for him by the kitchen, we had to content ourselves with the regular menu. A Boogie burger ($9.95) clearly was in order, and the full-pound patty topped with American cheese, lettuce and tomato was a monster, just the thing we needed after a day of snowboarding. So was the "World Famous" hot open-faced turkey sandwich ($7.95), which is probably famous because no one has ever actually finished one. Texas toast had been piled four inches high with real oven-roasted turkey, which, along with a mound of mashed potatoes, had been smothered in a peppery, creamy gravy. Sides of coleslaw and cranberry sauce also came with this monster, but I never got past a bite of each. Of course, downing a chocolate version of Boogie's Famous Gigantic Milkshake ($4.25) probably didn't help clear a path into our stomachs.
Ultimately, we decided to take our desserts back to the hotel--the carrot cake ($3.95) and banana cream pie ($3.95) sounded too good to pass up. And oddly enough, the next morning they were just what we needed for breakfast.
By the way, there is a Boogie, and he happens to be the guy who was the inspiration for the character "Boogie" in Diner, which was written and directed by Boogie's buddy Barry Levinson. And "Jimmy" was proof that you don't have to go to the Little Nell to see celebs in Aspen.
If you want to see adorable older ladies dressed up like extras in the movie Heidi, though, then you have to head over to der Weinerstube for breakfast. It's the place to go in the a.m. in Aspen, and with good reason: This large, rustic German spot serves incredible pancakes and really fabulous everything else. The pancakes are buttermilk-based, but there's something else in them that defies description. Order a stack of four ($3.95) unless you've just been racing in the 24 Hours of Aspen or something, because otherwise, the stack of seven ($5.25) will kill you (or at least make it impossible to do anything but lie on the floor for twelve hours). I also recommend the eggs Benedict ($9.55 for a full order, but they'll do half for $6.50), which come with asparagus and a killer hollandaise, and the corned beef hash ($7.25), which is made into a big patty, browned, and then topped with poached eggs.
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The other must-have is the Austrian apple/ raisin bread pudding ($6.25), a delightful custard packed full of apples and raisins, thrown under the broiler for a minute to caramelize everything, and then drenched with vanilla sauce. Guten Morgen to you, too. You can also get a good lunch after 11 a.m.--or grab a few pastries, the perfect size for stuffing into your pocket on the way up the hill.
Just hurry before the snow disappears faster than Weinerstube's Austrian sausages.
Mark your datebooks: The next round of the American Heart Association's "Cooking for Life" classes begins Friday, March 27, at the Goodsen Center in Littleton; during the six-week series, dietitian Vivian Bradford teaches tricks for heart-healthy cooking. For information about the classes or free recipes (using prune puree instead of oil!), call 369-5433. The action on Thursday evening, April 2, may not be as good for your body, but it should feed the soul: The sixth annual Microbreweries for the Environment benefit brings seventeen local microbreweries together at the Boulder Theater, 2034 14th Street in Boulder. A $12 ticket buys you the right to purchase pints--for a buck each--of microbrews by Avery, H.C. Berger, BJ's Pizza Grill and Brewery, Broadway, Great Divide, High Point, Left Hand, Mountain Sun, New Belgium, Oasis, Odell's, Red Fish, Rockies, Steamworks, Tabernash, Tommyknocker and Twisted Pine; proceeds go to local environmental groups. Think globally, drink locally.