It was a tale of two eating adventures at Gourmet on Gore in the Vail Village this Labor Day Weekend. However, two didn’t ring as true with my often intemperate self, so on Friday evening my friends and I kicked off the feasting weekend with an almost 4-mile, uphill hike, gaining over 2,000 vertical feet in elevation, to Game Creek Club. Striving to burn as many calories as we’d consume at the 4-course meal, we hiked the Berry Picker Trail up Vail Mountain. This evening qualified by my glorious business partner’s standards and our “Gather, Feast, Adventure” tagline for Ski Town Life – certainly, there is nothing better than an active friendship community that enjoys the finer foods in life!
Upon arriving, the six of us settled in with the stiff drink that is a Sazerac – a substantial rye whiskey cocktail with absinthe. Over the next few hours of conversing, solving world issues and pontificating about book clubs, I consumed many a delicacy. First being a cool crab gazpacho with a rustic puree of tomato, red pepper and cucumber. This was drizzled with olive oil and garnished with crispy garbanzo beans and dill. The beautiful tableside presentation was spot-on and visually satisfying! As a gourmand and bibliophile myself, I appreciated the Game Creek dinner and the palate it developed, as “a palate is a spot on your tongue where you remember. Where you assign words to the textures of taste. Eating becomes a discipline, a language-obsessed. You will never simply eat food again,” quoted from Sweet Bitter.
The second course was the most decadent, creamy and sweet-savory balanced agnolotti pasta I may have and may ever enjoy! The perfect pillows were served with a creamy sauce of sweet corn, sherry, and madeira and adorned with spears of asparagus, prosciutto and pine nuts. “Will I allow desire to be my guide,” quoted from The Silver Witch?
I would be remiss if I hadn’t consumed the Colorado lamb in a huckleberry demi sauce with heirloom carrots, mashed potatoes, swiss chard and bacon for the entrée course. And, darned if I didn’t have room for dessert, but I did enjoy a small portion of fresh-made biscuits and strawberry rhubarb compote with diplomat cream. But, alas, studies may show that moderation is the key to health. Not to be regarded this weekend, but ashamed, I am not.
The “olfactory brilliance” (term taken from The Interestings) was not to be ignored at the open-air tasting of Gourmet on Gore on Saturday morning. My family and I tried numerous foods and I was even able to try a refreshing Don Julio cocktail. Leonora, the restaurant from The Sebastian served a buttermilk-fried chicken on a stick paired with a sweet and spicy buffalo sauce and accompanied with a compressed watermelon caprese salad with feta cheese and balsamic reduction. Obviously enjoyed by all!
***The Sebastian's Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Watermelon Caprese Salad***
Even before arriving to the Gourmet on Gore booths, I had a hankering for a burger of some sort, any sort would do! I got it in spades: a delicious green chile cheese slider from Elways. The tender burger was proffered on a succulent bun with sharp white cheddar and green chilies, this not-to-be-missed creation is showcased on their Vail menu so run, don’t walk!
***Elways' Green Chile Cheese Slider ***
The Bully Ranch of the Sonnenalp Hotel offered a crispy buttermilk-fried chicken sandwich with hot honey glaze and garlic aioli offset with a scrumptious crunch from napa cabbage and pickles. Sweet Basil also highlighted a slider: a fried zucchini slider that reminded me of many fried green tomatoes I enjoyed during our 2019 low country spring break trip. The zucchini slider had a parmesan crust, pickled jalapenos and a spicy aioli. Finally, we rounded out our savories with Larkspur’s pulled pork tacos on crispy tostada shells.
***Sweet Basil's Fried Zucchini Slider***
After the stand-in cake pops (chocolate-dipped zucchini bread), my middle son ventured to the Big Bear Bistro station for a chocolate and strawberry crepe whilst my bookend sons escaped for waffle cones at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. And, the food coma of Saturday concluded.
But, the food fast didn’t last long, as Sunday morning beckoned. My darling and I brought our cruisers to the Gourmet Let’s Go event – a guided leisurely bike ride around Vail and a lunch at The Fitz. On the pink and red-hearted cruiser, we enjoyed peddling through Lionshead and continuing to the Vail Golf Course as we worked-up appetites for a Don Julio-inspired lunch.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I” eat … I’m sure Robert Frost meant a bike ride through the Vail Golf Course woods before a catered lunch at Manor Vail. No? “Sleep”, it is then.
At The Fitz, Nico, Sweet Basil’s bartender created a bright Don Julio reposado tequila cocktail featuring vanilla syrup, peppercorns, lemon juice, and a sweet elderflower tonic that provided a subtle effervescence. The cocktail was adorned with an orange wedge topped with volcanic salt. Chef Kenneth Butler, the celebrated executive chef at Manor Vail’s The Fitz perfected a menu that would underscore all the Don Julio tequilas. Chef Butler marinated the shrimp and ahi tuna ceviche in Don Julio 70 Blanco tequila and dressed it with jalapenos, lime juice, red onion, cilantro and avocado. He created a Caesar salad dressing with tequila, lime and chipotle. He showcased a duo of arepas – Anejo tequila-brined shredded chicken and -marinated beef. And, he even set-up a create-your-own guacamole station – I could incorporate as much cilantro as I liked! His final creation was an ingenious mixture of tequila and honey over funnel cakes sprinkled with powdered sugar, a universal taste of any state fair.
Besides my people, with whom I was able to gather for 3 different fun culinary activities, I have 2 extreme loves: reading for knowledge and food for thought. I appreciate the readers of this piece humoring me on both accounts!
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,” quoted from A Tale of Two Cities. And, the foolishness may be an insatiable over indulgence. Where I aforementioned “moderation”, a new study shows that “eating well during the week and bingeing on junk food over the weekend is likely to be just as bad for your gut health as a consistent diet of junk,” as stated in What Happens to Your Body After a “Long Feast Weekend”. Does this mean that I should throw in the towel on my taste buds? I think not!