Add lamb to some olive oil, pour in a Washington syrah, garnish with a cigar and serve in a snow fort at 11,000 feet and whabam - that's Taste of Vail in a nutshell. But don't settle for the shell. Seriously. Go full-on nuts.
In its 23rd year, the Taste of Vail is a local institution. Created as a way to showcase the Vail Valley lifestyle - great wine, terrific food and ski terrain that just won't quit - the festival is some kind of wonderful for foodies, winos and anybody with even a passing interest in sipping or noshing.
At the beginning, there were chefs, winemakers and tasting events. Then came the seminars. For a while, there were celebrity chefs, but why focus on big names from afar when the point is to celebrate Vail's embarrassment of riches? A competitive lamb cook off, food and wine discussions, winemaker dinners and new this year, a Nordic wine event, round out the 2013 Taste of Vail.
"Though the core events are still the same, we've made some changes, too," said Greg Moffet, Vail resident, business owner, town councilman and Taste of Vail board member. "The town has changed in the past 20 years, and so the event had to evolve, too."
Moffett is part of an almost-entirely-new board that came in less than two years ago. Chris Chantler, co-owner of Vail Mountain Coffee, has been involved in the festival since its inception. He's now the chair of the board. Add in the energy of Executive Director Angela Mueller and it's a whole new ball game.
"It took the new board members a while for the old board members to drill into us what the object of the exercise is," Moffet continued. "Ultimately we got it: It's about the Vail lifestyle. We play in the snow here - that's what we do."
Hence there's a new on-snow event, a cross-country ski/snowshoe tasting at the Vail Nordic Center, which kicks off the festival on Wednesday. The Nordic wine tasting was Moffet's idea.
"Here's the thing: One of my all-time favorite things to do is go out to wine country and ride my bike from winery to winery. (So this event) is like a mini wine country tour substituting the tools we have in the winter for the ones they have in the summer. Let's exercise a bit and have some wine."
What could be wrong with that?