Vail Daily food feature: Eggs, elevated
January 1, 2014
For a food that has been consumed by humans pretty much forever, the egg is a quiet, unassuming staple for almost every culture in the world. At times maligned and at others lauded, the egg has its ups and downs but remains one of the most versatile ingredients — and dishes — in the world.
In Eagle County restaurants, chefs are having fun with eggs. Remember deviled eggs from summer picnics? Look for an elevated version at Sweet Basil; garnished with pickled mustard seeds and dill, their black truffle deviled eggs are like the knockout at the class reunion — familiar but much better than you remember.
For a fresh take on this classic southern treat, head up to Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. Christian Apetz, executive chef at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill, has created crispy fried deviled eggs and offers these decadent nuggets of goodness on the bar menu. Crispy on the outside and stuffed with a caviar-studded creamy yolk filling, these packages are the perfect treat after a day on the slopes.
"I've loved deviled eggs ever since I was a kid," Apetz said. "They have always been associated with the South, and most of my family is from the Carolinas."
The feedback from guests has been positive.
"'Pleasantly mind blowing,' is the reaction I most often hear," Apetz said. "Every guest asks, 'how did you get that filling in there?' It's such a conversation starter."
A staple Irish item
Another classic egg preparation has appeared on the menu at Grouse on the Green: Scotch Eggs (or Scots Eggs). The preparation first appeared in the early 1800s in the British Isles; it's a fitting addition to the menu at the only authentic Irish pub in the Vail Valley.
A traditional Scotch Egg consists of a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, covered with breadcrumbs and fried. Chef Collin Smelser's Scotch Eggs are classically prepared, but the Irish whiskey gravy that he's created takes the dish from pub grub to featured fare.
"Scotch Eggs are a staple on most pub menus in Ireland," Smelser said. "I wanted to offer something that's classic but that many people might not have tried."
The Scotch Egg is enjoying a revival in other parts of the country, too. In California, chefs are creating new spins on the classic. New versions include an egg wrapped in prosciutto with brioche and truffle butter at Restaurant 1833, a duck egg served with stone fruit chutney and spicy greens at the Cavalier and Wexlers' BBQ Scotch Egg with burnt ends, house-made hot sauce and sweet tea gastrique.
breakfast to appetizers
Instead of a fried egg, how about a grilled egg? At Beano's Cabin, chef Bill Greenwood is making use of his wood fire grill and is offering a wood grilled organic egg with heirloom grits, jowl confit and shaved Cacio Pecora cheese from Fruition Farms in Larkspur. Though it's described as an appetizer, it could be enjoyed as the ultimate breakfast, too. The egg is grilled to a lovely over-easy texture, but the appeal is the delicate smoky flavor that the wood smoke imparts to the egg white. Unlike the grilled eggs that are served in Cambodia, which are grilled to a hardboiled state in the shell (though tasty, they look very unappetizing), Greenwood's egg is the perfect centerpiece for the dish.
"It comes with heirloom hominy from Anson Mills, which we make in house — a three-day process — finished with mascarpone and lemon," Greenwood said. "We confit jowl from a Berkshire pig then reheat it with brown butter."
It's not all about hen's eggs, though. Quail eggs are popular additions to tartare — a poached quail egg rests on the buffalo tartare at Buffalo's at The Ritz-Carlton in Bachelor Gulch; Beano's Rocky Mountain elk tartare is also topped with a quail egg. The rich yolk creates a silky sauce that seamlessly melds with the finely chopped meat.
As a new year dawns, consider celebrating with the humble egg. It is, after all, a symbol of rebirth and longevity. So in 2014, whether it's fried or scrambled, stuffed or deviled, smoked or grilled, experiment at home or visit one of the fine local restaurants to enjoy an egg.