Happy to be back out-of-doors in the culinary food scene! Last Friday (May 24th), we enjoyed the 1st time Vail has hosted Feast! Vail. (Carrie Fell, featured artist created the gorgeous promotional artwork.) I will not succumb to calling it the 1st Annual, as nothing becomes “annual” until it is repeated. But, here’s hoping it may be described as “annual”, because the Small Plates, Big Valley Flavors evening was spectacular! Under a stunning spoon chandelier created by an extraordinary event design company - Pink Monkey Solutions, we tasted foods from Vail restaurants, as well as visiting Denver restaurants.
The culinary cohorts with whom I attended – Jeremy Kossler (Denver Burger Battle and Food Events in Denver) and Aubrey Cornelius (Sprocket Communications) – really enjoyed the Bourbon Chicken Liver Mousse adorned with a chicken skin chip, apple jelly and shaved walnuts created by Chef Paul Anders from the acclaimed Sweet Basil. Whilst a little rich for my taste, we all agreed that the Caramelized Hawaiian Butterfish served with a salad of shiitakes, spring peas, and crab was incredibly prepared by Chef Troy Guard of TAG in Denver. My other favorite bite was from Chef Elise Wiggins of Panzano in Denver. She created a delicious Maple-Fig Glazed Lamb Bite with goat cheese and walnut dust. My mouth is watering in remembrance of this taste! Denver restaurants came to impress and absolutely represented – you are welcome to our valley at any time, Denverites!
After a few rich bites and culinary delights, we cleansed our palettes with tasty, sparkling Rose champagne and Hennessey cocktails. Then, commenced the feasting, once again! We sampled Blue Moose Pizza’s Buffalo Wing Pizza with diced chicken and cheddar and their housemade buffalo wing sauce. We tried twelverestaurant Chef Jeff Osaka’s house-marinated mackerel with citrus salad, pink peppercorns, and cilantro. And, we truly enjoyed the Kasespatzle, homemade swiss dumplings and cheese topped with diced tomatoes and fried onions from Chef Bernie Oswald from the acclaimed Sonnenalp in Vail. Chef Jay McCarthy, featured in the Ski Town Soups cookbook with his Chophouse Chili, created scrumptious short rib sliders topped with brie, demi drizzle and cabbage slaw. Following many savory bites, the heirloom tomato and pesto bruschetta that was sprinkled with goat cheese and drizzled with honey balsamic vinegar was such a refreshing bite: this was created by Chef Marty Odom from Big Bear Bistro.
After the palette-cleansing, if you will, we continued by trying Chef Theo Otte’s rich foie gras terrine and vegetarian terrine, Chef Brian Brouillard’s (Mountain Standard) pork shoulder rillettes with pickled pineapple and mustard seeds, and a bright taste of Spring Pea Panna Cotta with spiced pistachios, preserved meyer lemon emulsion, pickled asparagus and pea shoot salad from Chef Kelly Liken (Restaurant Kelly Liken). Finally, with jeans stretching, we finished our tasting (of the sea) with Chef Oliver Philpott’s (La Tour) kampachi sashimi, Chef Julian Smith’s (Bol) spicy tuna tartare, Chef Mark Dinh’s (Matsuhisa Vail) bright and decadent lobster tacos, and Chef Frank Bonanno’s (Bonanno Concepts) octopus salad with white bean vinaigrette. In the effort to round-out our "meal", we were able to treat ourselves to a yummy and well-deserved raspberry cupcake created by Chef Lauren Smith (Mountain Cupcakes). It’s a hard job of eating, mingling and enjoying some libations, but somebody’s got to do it!