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By Linda Hayes
posted: 03/03/2004

Hestia is the kind of place that makes you wish you were a local. That way, you could sample chef Stacey Baldock's Mediterranean dishes on a whim. Baldock and her partner, Pagge Wheatley, opened their Basalt eatery (about 15 miles from Aspen) last July. The room is simple and modern, with concrete floors in burnished copper, cornmeal-yellow walls and moss-green velvet curtains. At the heart of the room, a hulking bar inlaid with ocean fossils fronts an open, stainless steel kitchen.

At dinner, barstools and tables fill up with a chatty crowd not shy about sharing their enthusiasm for the food. Starters such as spicy fried calamari, baba ghanoush, spanakopita and potato-feta cakes disappear as soon as they hit the table. Tender lamb shanks, rich moussaka, and perfectly grilled salmon or halibut follow suit. The dessert roster doesn't disappoint either, with guilt-inducing treats like warm chocolate cake and homemade bread pudding.

Throughout the year, Hestia (which means hearth in Greek) spotlights cuisines from different Mediterranean regions, including Spain, France and Morocco—more reason to make the trip, whether you're a local or not. 305 Gold Rivers Court, Basalt; 970-927-2025

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