Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis tries to visit her hometown of Rome 2-3 times a year. But the cooking queen also has a love for Aspen. “My family has a house there,” says the Giada: A Digital Weekly creator, in an exclusive interview.
When she isn’t cooking up a storm, or traveling abroad, she’s shopping and relaxing in Colorado. Read on for her packing style, favorite Aspen eats, and routine on the [airplane] runway.
Galavante: What do you like to do in Aspen?
Giada De Laurentiis: I like to ski – that would be number one. In the wintertime, they have a horse-drawn carriage that takes you up to the cabin lodge, and that’s fun to do: have a meal and come back. You can cross country ski up there. That’s super cool. We did that last Christmas. We brought the kids to be with my family. They put them in this little sled, and you go all the way up. You get a nice workout, and then you get there and have a great meal. You can take the horse-drawn carriage back, or you can cross country ski back. It’s really a nice way to see the mountains. There’s really nothing out there but you and nature. That’s really fun and cool to do.
Galavante: What about for people who don’t ski?
Giada De Laurentiis: I think the really fun part is taking the gondola all the way to the top to go to the cabin for lunch. Even if you don’t want to go to the lodge or the cabin at the top of the mountain and ski down, you can take the gondola down. My daughter just learned to ski last year, and I took her all the way to the top. We had lunch up there. She skied just at the top – beginner skiing, and then we took the gondola down. It’s the most beautiful way to see the mountain and not have to worry about skiing all the way down.
Galavante: What’s the shopping like in Aspen?
Giada De Laurentiis: There’s great shopping – some of the best shopping in the country, in Aspen.
Galavante: What are your favorite stores there?
Giada De Laurentiis: Boogie Center is super fun. They have the greatest collections of fun T-shirts – long sleeved, short sleeved, and they have all sorts of fun little sayings on them. They have shirts that have Paris and Rome and ‘Ciao.’ It’s always a fun place to get fun little gifts for people that are unique to Aspen.
Galavante: And obviously, you love food.
Giada De Laurentiis: There are really some fantastic restaurants there. Casa Tua just opened there. They have a restaurant in South Beach, Fla., that I love.
Galavante: What do you order?
Giada De Laurentiis: When I’m in Aspen, it’s cold out, so you want to sip hot chocolate for dessert and eat a plate of gnocchi. They have fantastic gnocchi that they do with just butter and sage, or they do a very light tomato sauce that isn’t cooked for very long – it’s like a fresh tomato sauce.
Galavante: When you travel, are you an over-packer or an under-packer?
Giada De Laurentiis: I pack outfits in Ziploc bags. I plan my outfits, and I put everything – my underwear, my bras, my accessories – everything goes in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, with the exact outfit. And then on it, I put what day it is or what the occasion, for the outfit – and what shoes go with it. I’m a very Type- A packer. We’ll just leave it at that.
Galavante: What are your carry-on essentials?
Giada De Laurentiis: A scarf, because I always get cold, and I like to wrap my neck in it. You never know if you want to cover your mouth as well, or sleep and wrap it over your head. Sunglasses – incase I do want to sleep and somebody doesn’t want to close their [window] shade. My earphones – Bose headphones. My iPod – so I can listen to music, or my iPhone. A plug – to always be able to charge my iPhone. A bag of almonds – incase I get hungry.
Galavante: What are your favorite airplane snacks?
Giada De Laurentiis: I don’t really eat food on the plane, so my almonds are sort of my go-to snack.
Galavante: Do you have any travel superstitions or routines before flying?
Giada De Laurentiis: I always buy a liter of water before flying. It doesn’t matter whether I’m in first class or business or coach. I always buy a liter of water. I cannot step on the plane until I do that… and I wipe down my seat every time!