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January 16, 2013

Asian food from America's ski country

“Let us celebrate life with the creativity, diversity and beauty in the food that we eat. Let us educate ourselves and know and respect where our food comes from.”

Honga Im Hopgood; Author, “Honga’s Lotus Petal Cookbook”

The most fabulous restaurant I have ever been in is the Lotus Petal in Telluride, Colo. It is sophisticated, funky and upbeat, while having a totally relaxed ambience. It was nice to finally meet Honga as I had heard so much about her from my son Mark and his girl, Lisa. Since we are both “foodies,” we had a lot in common. We sat back in cushy, comfortable chairs and partook of a great meal, which included the coconut curry soup that I am introducing you to today. The Lotus Petal restaurant serves Asian-influenced food as it sits in the middle of an amazing American skiing area.

Honga’s menu combines flavors and foods from Thailand, Japan, Bali, Korea, China, Vietnam, India, and even Polynesia. Her menu defines creative, as far as I am concerned. Some favorites include Asian Pumpkin Soup, Coconut Curry mussels, Grilled Salmon, Sweet & Sour Tofu, and Mango and Sticky Rice. (These recipes and more are in her cookbook.)

Honga has found local farmers and ranchers to grow for her restaurant year-round. All the dishes at her restaurant contain organic and free-range ingredients whenever possible.

To quote Honga from her cookbook, “Food is a privilege, a pleasure, something to savor and share with others. We can bring an amazing diversity of flavors into our kitchens”.

About Honga Im Hopgood; It was in 1987 that Honga consciously combined her two passions; mountains and cooking. She opened a food cart on Main Street, Telluride, where 13,000-foot mountain peaks were within her sight while she worked. The cart was a success. At 26, with no experience in business or restaurants, Honga expanded from the cart by opening the Lotus Petal. In the years since her restaurant’s beginning in Telluride, it has evolved into a very popular and thriving establishment, loved by the locals and raved about by the NewYork Times, In Style magazine, Ski, and other publications.

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