With more than 30 restaurants and 50 premier wineries, the much-anticipated Taste of Vail will serve more than enough to please your palate today through Saturday.
Participating restaurants will offer special menus and wine pairings for Restaurant Night on Friday (and one that kicks things off tonight!). Restaurants throughout the Vail Valley are taking part in this new component of the festival. Here's a look at some of the dinners.
Bubbles and boar
Renowned chef Kelly Liken said she is excited to collaborate with Henriot, a 200-plus-year-old family-owned Champagne house at Restaurant Kelly Liken on Friday night. Liken said working with winemakers like those at Henriot really helps local restaurants stay connected to the worldwide culinary scene.
"I'm just really excited that this year the Taste of Vail has taken it to the next level," Liken said. "It's great that the event has been so encouraging for us to collaborate and expand."
The four-course, spring-inspired menu will not only incorporate some early spring ingredients, but will also highlight some of the brightest grape varietals in the world.
"The menu is going to offer a really nice flow with the wine," Liken said. "I am really excited to show it off with all these flavors that we have been waiting for all winter."
Courses include Dungeness crab salad, nettle soup, wild boar loin, and Blu di Langa Meyer lemon curd will be accompanied by pairings like 2011 Domaine William Fevre Chablis, and Henriot Champagne Brut Souverain and Brut Rose.
Enjoy four courses and wine pairings for $150, excluding tax and gratuity. The dinner offers open seating from 5:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday night. Call 970-949-0175 for more information and to make reservations.
Colorado vino at The 10th
The 10th will offer a true taste of the state tonight for the first wine dinner of the bunch. The restaurant is featuring Canyon Wind Cellars of Palisade and the three-course meal will offer local flavor to match Colorado vino.
"The Taste of Vail is a really nice event for Colorado, and this wine dinner is really going to showcase what our state can do," said Matthew Pauls, sommelier at The 10th.
While grains have been given the nod here for years - offering notable beers and whiskeys - Pauls said that it's time for local wine to shine.
"We highlight a lot of Colorado wines here," he said. "This will be our first real event like this, and we are incredibly excited to showcase what we have going on."
The wine dinner will include Tender Belly pork belly with crispy beef torchon, sweet potato puree, charred corn and green pea ragu with rose gastrique for the first course. Roasted lamb with a foie gras tart comes next and for dessert? Roasted fig and honey ice cream with housemade honeycomb and banana bread croutons. Attendees will sip Canyon Wind's 2011 varietals of Rose of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Lapyx Late Harvest Pinot Gris.
The dinner is from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday and is $95 for the three-course menu and pairings; it is $20 for pairings only, and $75 for the three-course menu only. Prices do not include tax and gratuity. Call 970-754-1010.
Elway's in Vail teams up with Grgich Hills Estate, a winery based in the heart of California wine country. Wine from the iconic Napa Valley label will be matched with Elway's timeless steakhouse flavors on Friday's Restaurant Night. The five course meal includes oyster and shrimp cocktail; grilled polenta cake with mushroom ragout; pan-seared duck breast with Brussels sprout hash; rosemary half rack of lamb with cauliflower puree; and blood orange creme brulee to finish the evening.
Executive chef Shawn Cubberley said he had a chance to taste the wines to get a flavor profile, and along with sommelier Jim Lay, the Elway's crew came up with the menu.
"We have matched the wines beautifully," Cubberley said. "It has been really fun for me and the staff to come up with some different dishes; it adds a level of creativity for us and for the guests."
Grgich Hills Estate will pour its Fume Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet and Violetta to accompany the courses.
The five-course dinner is $120, excluding tax and gratuity. Call 970-754-7818 to reserve a spot for the 6 to 8 p.m. dinner.
Taste of Italy
Take a drive down-valley and your trip to Italy can wait a little longer. Zino Ristorante in Edwards will give guests a taste of the region.
"We hope to appease our customers with this wine, and our cooking and service," said Zino co-owner and general manager Giuseppe Bosco. "We really want to give them a true taste of Italy."
Bosco said Antinori Wine is the only Italian winery participating in the Taste of Vail, so it's only appropriate for Zino to host a dinner with them.
"This will be a whole different experience, and a great occasion to sit down and talk to winemakers to get an idea of what they do," Bosco said. "Executive chef Nick Haley has created a menu that pairs each wine based on our Italian flavors and ingredients."
The menu includes dishes like seared monkfish picata; Tuscan pork belly with gorgonzola polenta; short rib raviolo; wild boar with crushed rosemary new potatoes; and a lemon mascarpone crostata for dessert. Wine will be paired with each course.
The dinner takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday and the six-course dinner and wine pairings is $75, excluding tax and gratuity. Call 970-926-0777.
Welcome to Belgium
Mirabelle, at the base of Beaver Creek, will host a tasting trip to remember on Friday night. Join Chef Daniel Joly for a food and drink journey with Belgian beers Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Leffe Blonde.
A native of Belgium, Chef Joly will explain the perfect way to enjoy a Belgian beer, from the importance of glassware to proper pouring and tasting techniques. Food selections will be served for an even more delicious seminar, and will help to change the way guests taste and cook with Belgian beer.
The event is held at Mirabelle from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, and is $50, excluding tax and gratuity. Call 970- 949-7728.