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Question: Could you obtain the recipe for the Forever Braised Short Ribs at the Ajax Tavern in Aspen, Colo.?

- Greta Moncher, Martinez, Calif.

Answer: Haydn's "The Creation," Strauss' "Alpine Symphony," Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9" and a Mozart series by the American String Quartet are some of the works to be performed during the nine-week summer season of the Aspen Music Festival, which will be held between June 20 and Aug. 18. A fine roster of musicians, including pianist Misha Dichter, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and cellist Lynn Harrell, will perform in the Festival's Bayer-Benedict Music Tent in celebration of the links between music and nature.

To enjoy the music from a top-dollar seat, spread a thick blanket on a grassy spot outside the 1,700-seat Tent set in a Rocky Mountain wildflower meadow. Prop up on a pillow under blue sky, craggy mountains and rustling aspen leaves and listen to the beautiful strains of music floating out of the open sides of the Tent.

A visit to the historic ghost town of Independence, located just 13 miles outside stylish Aspen on Highway 82, provides educational family entertainment. In the late 1800s Easterners seeking their fortunes settled in the high-mountain wilderness of Colorado at 10,900 feet, 4 miles from the summit of Independence Pass on the Continental Divide. The Farwell Mining Co., owner of the Independence, Last Dollar and Mount Hope mines, built the Farwell Stamp Mill (stamps crushed ore) and sawmill. Boarding houses, a general store and stables sprang up. Although Independence is now dilapidated, it clearly details the rugged life of the prospectors. A "Ghost" caretaker is available to answer questions.

Ajax Tavern, named for the mountain that looms above it, seems to jut out of the valley. Slip into an inside window seat or sun and sip on the apres-ski deck in the best location in town at the base of Ajax Mountain for a taste of the smoky, bacon flavored short ribs with just a hint of vinegary tartness that Ajax Tavern is known for. Serve the ribs with orzo, the trendy rice-shaped pasta and Crispy Spinach.




1/4 cup olive oil, extra virgin

2 pounds short beef ribs, boneless

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 strips bacon

1 onion, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, chopped

3 ribs celery, chopped

1 bulb garlic, broken up and slightly mashed

1 tablespoon chili flakes (dried red pepper flakes)

3 ounces tomato paste

3 bay leaves

1 cup chopped tomato

1/2 cup sherry vinegar

1 cup red wine or tomato juice

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 quarts veal stock or beef broth

16 ounces orzo (rice-shaped pasta)

1/2 cup canola oil for frying spinach

24 spinach leaves

2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 215 degrees (estimate if your oven's temperature isn't calibrated to 215). Heat olive oil in large roasting pan (with tight-fitting lid set aside) over medium-high heat. Season short ribs with salt and pepper and sear in roasting pan until browned. Remove ribs and set aside.

Place bacon in roasting pan and cook until crisp. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and chili flakes and saute until tender (onions should be a light golden brown). Add tomato paste and cook 1 to 3 minutes or until caramelized. Add bay leaves, chopped tomatoes, sherry vinegar, red wine or juice, dried oregano and veal stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, place short ribs in liquid, cover with lid and place in oven to cook for 6 to 8 hours or until meat is extremely tender.

Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large pot. Add orzo and boil, according to directions on package, to the al dente stage (about 9 minutes). Drain and set aside. Heat canola oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the spinach leaves 1 minute or until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Set spinach aside.

When short ribs are done, remove them from pan. Set ribs aside. Simmer braising liquid to reduce to one quart, skimming off fat. Strain and reserve liquid. Discard solids. Return liquid to pot, add reserved orzo and heat through. Stir in parsley, basil, oregano, Parmesan cheese and butter and mix well. Place orzo mixture in warmed bowls, top with short ribs and garnish with crispy spinach. Serve immediately because the orzo will absorb the liquid. Serves four people as a main course or eight people as an appetizer or light lunch.