Life of a Foodie is pretty spectacular in Vail, Colorado! On Saturday, April 6, Taste of Vail hosted the culinary spectacle that gourmands anticipate each spring … The Grand Tasting! This food-frenzy is a celebration of culinary excellence and promotes the dining establishments both on and off the mountain. In addition to the granddaddy of wine, spirits, beer and food tastings, Taste of Vail hosts other events such as the Mountaintop Picnic, Lamb Cook-off and Apres Ski Tasting, and Nordic Wine, Beer & Liquor Sampling. The 2013 Taste of Vail featured artist is Carrie Fell - an artist of the 21st Century New West. She created the beautiful promotional artwork below.
The epicurean evening began with a glass of Whispering Angel rosé and a delight from Chef Daniel Joly’s Mirabelle Restaurant. Chef Joly created a scrumptious taste of lamb bacon with parsley goat cheese on a pizza crust. The parsley goat cheese was incredibly fresh and, might I say, spring-like. The second taste was a tomato, lemon, and basil gelatin on a chickpea crisp topped with micro greens. An absolutely unique start!
Entering the larger of the 2 gorgeous ballrooms at the Marriott in Lionshead, I was struck with the idea that this would be an awakening of all the senses! This room was decorated with tables upon tables of magical marvels of culinary creations – savory tastings, sweet delicacies, and libations of wine, champagne, beer, manhattans, mezcal and tequila. Bistro Fourteen – a restaurant at the top of Eagle’s Nest and the Eagle Bahn Gondola – featured a lobster salad and escarole on a small Belgium endive boat with balsamic reduction and micro greens. This was certainly a light and refreshing way to begin the mass mingling of flavors. Bistro Fourteen happens to have a very special place in my heart – my husband, Ross, and I celebrated our 11th anniversary with our 2 boys at Bistro Fourteen with a wonderful sea bass dish. This dish paired deliciously with the Wild Horse Cabernet Sauvignon.
I was extremely impressed with the representation of mountaintop restaurants at the tasting: not only Bistro Fourteen, but The Tenth, Two Elk, Game Creek Club, and Beano’s Cabin. The Tenth showcased bourbon-braised veal cheeks with duck confit mashers, garden vegetables and foie gras emulsified pan juices in a small sardine can, if you will. This pretty-presentation was matched completely by the tantalizing taste. Two Elk showcased a delicious scallop and discernibly tender beef tenderloin on a chip crisp. Game Creek Club created a foie gras parfait on a truffle brioche topped with a bright, flavor-burst of mango salad. But, Beano’s Cabin – spearheaded by the notorious Chef Bill Greenwood – served the best bite of the on-the-mountain restaurants. His mustard seed vinaigrette was tangy and rich and perfectly offset the Tender Belly pork. But, the mouthwatering, pillow-topped gnocchi - fired to order, none-the-less - set the grand ballroom a-buzz for these cushion-creations!
On-the-mountain restaurants certainly did not disappoint; the town of Vail restaurants had a lot to prove! Atwater on Gore Creek located in the Vail Cascade Resort highlighted a perfectly seared scallop dressed with just the perfect amount of sprinkled salt. Matsuhisa presented a gorgeously delicate piece of rare tuna served atop of crisp beet chip. Terra Bistro delivered handmade vegetarian raviolis, a welcome reprieve from the meat-focused dishes. Elway’s gave the attendees delicious shredded pork, but the caramelized onion jam was the undeniably shining moment on the plate. I was beginning to see a theme – the success of perfection in a single bite!
Tavern on the Square created a delicious braised beef short rib crepe, but Chef Weston Schroeder served the short rib that lives-on in my memory. Executive Chef for Lord Gore and The Fitz at Manor Vail Lodge in Golden Peak, Chef Weston created a many-hours braised beef short rib with truffle mashed potatoes. A beautiful, juicy piece of meat … his heart and soul shone through dish! On Thursday, April 4, Chef Weston won the People’s Choice Award at the 8th Annual Lamb Cook-off in the Vail Village! He is certainly making a name for himself through the Vail Valley! Chef Weston and his fiancé, Andrea Remund (a self-proclaimed foodie), make a gorgeous gourmet couple!
The pièce de résistance of the evening was the Iberico Pork Secreto with Himalayan Pink Salt and Bacon Jam created by La Tour. The “best cut of pork in the country”, "the finest ham in the world", and also known as “the Kobe beef of pork”, was cured on a salt block and served with bacon jam. I was tasked with the notion of trying the pork as a duo presentation: naked/unadorned and in combination with the most decadent, rich bacon jam. Mission accomplished and delicious in both ways! La Tour received 2nd at the Lamb Cook-off on Thursday, as well.
With so many savory flavors mingling on my palette, “The Goat and the Strawberry” from Batter Cupcakes was an ultimate finale! This beautiful cupcake was made of fresh strawberries and was filled with strawberry goat crème. The cake was topped with a bright tang of Meyer lemon cream cheese frosting and drizzled with a balsamic reduction to cut the sweetness. A balanced sweetness in each bite! This event was in no other words - an appetizing spectacle!