Friday, August 19, 2011

Wine, Dine, and Chat: Snowmass Part 1

It's been some time since I ventured up to the Roaring Fork Valley- partially due to the fact that I have a rather limited geographic locale, but even more so that enough free time to trek 4 hours into the hills seems more than scarce. But when I was enticed with a weekend in Snowmass and a star-studded roster of culinary talent, it was hard to pass up.

The valley this time of year is stunning- green rolling hills lined with Marigolds, spectacular views, and of course the Maroon Bells tucked away make Snowmass one of the best kept secrets in Colorado. Granted, they're known well for winter adventures but in terms of a summer getaway, they climb to the top of the list for me: especially during the Culinary Festival.

We're talking 2 days of gastronomic enlightenment- highlighted by a number of Denver and Boulder's best chefs. This event is truly worth expanding one's horizons for, but what was even more enjoyable was the price point- at $65 per person. You don't have to break the bank for this one or feel like you're restricted to the festival just to get your money's worth. However, an enjoyment of fine cuisine will keep you entertained - and satisfied.

We started off the weekend with a familiar chef- who has in my opinion mastered the mantra 'location, location, location'. Right on the edge of the mall with a patio overlooking the slopes, gondola, and Snowmass valley is Venga Venga- Richard Sandoval's concept that celebrates the foods of Mexico with a contemporary flair. A Tequila & Tapas happy hour not only executed this vision, but it also encouraged the guest to pair tequila with fine food- a noble quest if you ask me. Then again, I'm biased.

Chef Sandoval - as we sit down to talk about the upcoming cookbook with Diane Hendriks.
Tequila and Sangrita- a more traditional chaser than that of lime and salt.

Chef Gama- doing a demo on fresh guacamole at Tequila & Tapas
With a relaxed schedule of events, we didn't feel like we were being rushed from one place to the next- but rather had some down time to enjoy Snowmass on it's own, as well as its luxurious and hospitable Viceroy Hotel. And lucky us, the Viceroy houses a culinary gem that embodies the spirit of Snowmass - Will Nolan's Eight K.

With an eclectic menu that melds comfort food and fine cuisine, Eight K is accessible to any diner but also proves to offer a great experience. Settled in an elegant dining room with breathtaking views of the valley, and accented with aspen trees as a rustic touch, we found ourselves welcomed in to Snowmass' highlight of talent and design. Course after course reflected artistic attention to detail, and depth of flavor and texture.

Housemade Corn Fritters and Shrimp Hush Puppies with remoulade and
tartar sauce. A southern profile in an elegant presentation.

Foie Gras Torchon over brioche and an earthy, sweet chutney

Pancetta Wrapped Rabbit- with mustard jus and carrot puree. Hard to say
no to something that's from a place called 'Hoppity Acres'.
Some of the best Deviled Eggs I've had in quite some time...

Lobster Salad with Crispy Prosciutto and watermelon
radish in a light citrus vinaigrette

Wagyu Beef Steak in a sweet and savory roasted jus-
with asparagus and creamy herb grits

Rich, succulent Duck Confit - with Israeli cous cous, a complement of textures
and flavors. I couldn't get enough of this one... very well executed.

Thankfully we had a few friends to share this mountain of
desserts with- a grand finale to a fine meal!
This was one of those dinners where the post-meal options were limited- so we opted for a little R&R before another packed day at the festival. Time for some shut-eye... stay tuned for Part 2 - and a wrapup of the main event!

Venga Venga on Urbanspoon

Eight K Restaurant on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Great photos. Connect with us if you're back in Snowmass this summer.
    We put pics from the Culinary fest into this little slide show.