Eat: Traditional Thai Salad w/Elk Meat @ Siam Talay Grille
When a best friend invites you to Telluride for the weekend, you go. You travel hours on increasingly dark & ice-laden roads; you reschedule your Friday afternoon classes. You wear your grandmother’s Icelandic wool sweater and hat, and you welcome the zero-degree breeze on your fiery Phoenician face. And then, presumably, you ski.
If any of you have also once in your life been knocked unconscious by a ski lift— or are else prohibited from the sport by the exorbitant price-tag, you’ll probably recognize the Ski Cabin Fireside Book Pose. It rivals Corpse Pose for its encouragement of utter relaxation. I mean, which would you prefer—honestly?
I realize that driving 10 hours to not ski may sound a bit absurd to you, especially given that Elena’s family invited us to share a wonderful apartment with them on the slopes. Snowboarder extraordinaire out there, go ahead and roll your eyes at me. But even Elena, whose entire family excels at winter sports, admitted to me: The best part about skiing is that feeling when you’re like nah fu*k it Im done for the day. And I have to say, there’s almost nothing better than reading, a glass of coffee or wine in hand, while watching skiers zip by you outside in all of their prancing zippiness. Its as if they’re exercising for you!
While we were there, I did brave the outdoors. We went on a long walk across the ski slopes in Mountain Village. We took the Gondola ride down into town— something that made me extremely giddy and only somewhat queasy.
Otherwise, I mostly chatted, read (see below) and ate. I ate very well: The DiRosas are restuaruanteers in NYC who know whats what. Plus: folks who spend all of their calories on the slopes seem to require comfort food—lip-smacking ribs. Italian ragu. Chocolate Mousse. And… Thai Food? This is what I was least expecting to find up in Mountain Village, which, though it is set amidst the alarming background of jagged mountains and never-ending snow, is now a resort-y town. It’s built up in the architectural style of… well, almost anywhere. A tidy collection of sanitized and pleasant-looking outdoor-shopping plazas.
And maybe Siam’s Talay Grille is that kind of upscale, slightly confusing, American-meets-Asian fusion you would expect to find in a place like Mountain Village. When I reverse-researched Siams Talay Grille, I saw a wish on Yelp for “one or two of these in Scottsdale.” This made me giggle, but I would add a penny to that fountain because at Talay—10,000 feet above sea level, in this Scottsdale-ish village— you will find a delicately breaded roast duck, some soul-warming Tom Kha, and…. ELK. Yes, elk meat on the Thai menu, which can’t possibly exist anywhere else in the world (although I’d be happy to stand corrected).
I’ve traveled some in Thailand, and of all of the delicious intricate and authentic Thai dishes that I’ve fallen in love with, one of my favorite Thai dishes is still the simple, sweet-yet-bitter, limey-slash-cilantro-y Thai salad. It might be an American-Thai reincarnation (?), but it’s yummy. And at Siam Talay, it comes topped with heaping mounds of fresh elk meet: Nearly raw, somewhat gamey, and generally very meaty tasting meat. I was intrigued; my husband in love. If you like elk (or what I’ll consider a broad category of Meat that Tastes Like Winter), you would fall for this dish, too.
Read: Ball by Tara Ison
I traveled to Colorado with a Ball in my bag. Many of Ison’s stories take place in sunnier climes, but the interior landscapes of each character is sharp and jagged and almost disturbingly cold. Telluride & Ball made for an oddly appropriate pairing.
As I read, I kept getting consternated with this or that protagonist for reacting to their sadness in the worst, possibly most selfish way. Then I’d realize that this upset me precisely because I’d anticipated the selfish move—that with some kind of freaky sense of foreboding, Ison had carefully encouraged this very anticipation. With these maneuvers, Ison somehow puts her finger on the darkest inclinations inside, well, me. Any of us, really, because we all have somewhat of a dark genie inside us, a voice that will (usually at the worse possible times) bark pretend evil orders in response to an upsetting scenario.* You can usually laugh at your dark genie’s absurdity, or ignore it, push the voice way down, and move on to rational thought. Toward sympathy and emotional connection.
Obviously, though, recognizing that you recognize these darker inclinations is, well, disturbing. And we were enjoying ourselves in Telluride. So I, rather naively, told myself I’d just put the book down for the rest of our visit. Relax. Chat. Instead, everyone kept having to pull me back and out from those pages, into our conversation. It must have been like trying to shake a limb warm when you’ve just come in from the cold.
I kept on with a story in the truck, once, even though reading in a vehicle always makes me sick. I couldn’t help myself. I’m on vacation with some of my favorite people in the world, and what do I do? I press pause to see what some distant, lovelorn, grieving, and deeply agoraphobic young girl will do when she steps foot outside of her apartment for the first time. Run her thighs again and again into a cactus, obviously.
A Kirkus Review-er gets it right by describing what lies within the weirdly ominous looking, valentine-pink book covers:
That classic horror-movie elision, from friendly normalcy to nauseating terror….
I’ve got to stay, it’s a great read for a ski-cation. I would file this under Scary Stories that Make You Think. If you’re looking for something a little more, er, Colorado-y, Ill leave you with a few other suggestions. And, because I can’t help myself, some Wallace Stevens On The Go. Next time I go to Telluride, I will walk around with this poem in my pocket:
for further eating & reading, see:
- We had some real good ribs (and remember— I’m from Tennessee) @ Oak Beer, Bourbon & Barbecue, just off “The Beach” in Telluride proper (which is apparently what the call the place where all of the sore and tired skiers wash up).
- Between the Covers Bookstore features a few local authors (mostly outdoor exploration-y kind of guides) and a quaint little cafe.
- Stephen Graham Jones, Demon Theory. Graham teaches in Colorado, and is very funny plus a bit scary, and I’d like to stay on theme.
- Lithic Press looks like a really awesome, poetry-focused small press based in Fruita, CO.
- You can also always order/pick up an issue of the Denver Quarterly, which is a stellar literary magazine out of, you guessed it, Denver.
- *I may or may not have stolen this theory from Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Shakespeare.