Gourmet on Gore returns Friday through Monday with plenty of palate pleasers

So much food, so little space.

Considering the average human stomach can only hold about a liter of food, it’s important to go into food events like this weekend’s Gourmet on Gore in Vail with either a plan of attack or enough patience to see what everyone is serving before you make a decision about what to consume.

In other words, don’t show up starving. You’d hate to waste precious room on something standard when the booth down the street is serving up a dish that’s even more creative and delicious.

“Pick your battles for sure,” recommends Paul Anders, the executive chef at both Sweet Basil and Mountain Standard.

This is one crusade you’re likely to crush. Gourmet on Gore kicks off Friday evening with the Tasting Tour. The open-air tasting takes place Saturday and Sunday. Monday’s tasting, dubbed Brunch on Bridge Street, has a breakfast theme. Here’s a sneak peek of what local chefs are cooking up this week for this Labor Day weekend tradition.

Dessert first

Life is short, so we should eat dessert first, right? Well maybe not every day, but it’s OK to make an exception once in a while, and Batter Cupcakes has us covered. Owner Liz Rackoff, participating in the festival for the sixth year, is taking advantage of the plethora of ripe Palisade peaches weighing down orchards of trees west of here for the Palisade peach pie cupcakes.

“Our handmade Palisade peach compote is so delicious because it lets the fruit shine on its own,” Rackoff said. “We enhance those natural flavors with our buttery vanilla cake, Philadelphia cream cheese frosting and handmade pie crumble topping. Come early on Saturday and Sunday and you can find these little peach gems, served with smile.”

And don’t miss the “Fat Elvis,” Batter’s tribute to The King.

“Folklore says he loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches,” Rackoff said. “It is controversial whether or not he added bacon to these infamous sandwiches, but we trust that he did. Look for our version of Elvis’ guilty pleasure on Saturday — fresh banana cake, marshmallow buttercream filling and peanut butter frosting, garnished with candied cayenne bacon.”

The Sweet Basil booth, outside the restaurant, might be a good place to head to next. Chef Anders likes to serve street-food inspired eats that are portable at festivals such as this one. On the menu for Saturday and Sunday are confit duck tacos with jicama kimchee and fresno chili peppers.

Over at Mountain Standard, chefs are stoking the wood-fired rotisserie for porchetta — a stuffed, boneless pork roast.

“It’s a very traditional approach to doing porchetta,” Anders said. “The classic way to serve it is the day after, to do a sandwich out of it.”

That’s just what they’ll serve, porchetta sandwiches with fennel agrodolce — an Italian sweet and sour sauce — and smoked mayonnaise.

Larkspur returns to the festival again, serving crispy beef tacos on Saturday and crispy fish tacos on Sunday. They’ll have two sweet options each day as well: Mini chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cayenne brownies.

Swiss Chalet is staying true to its Bavarian roots and serving “Krautkrapfen mit Apfelmus.” Not sure what that is? Don’t worry, we asked.

Sauerkraut, bacon bits and melted onions are wrapped in pasta dough and served with apple sauce.

Feeling like something with an Asian flair? Matsuhisa is back this year with a Japanese tuna poke in lettuce cups with hearts of palm. If you prefer your seafood cooked, they’ll also have a seared scallop with truffle cauliflower puree.

‘Come back for more’

The Fitz Lounge is taking part in Gourmet on Gore for the first time this year. Executive chef Weston Schroeder and Eric Berggren, chef de cuisine, will serve smoky barbecue baby back ribs with a charred Olathe sweet corn succotash at Masters Gallery in Vail Village on Friday night during the Tasting Tour. And on Saturday, expect more pork, specifically toasted-coriander barbecue glazed pork belly with Brussels sprout cole slaw with a side dish of sweet-and-spicy pork belly baked beans on Saturday.

“After one sample they’ll want to come back for more,” said Nicole Martin, the Lord Gore’s social media and electronic marketing manager.

There’s a Cajun influence at play in the Vail Marriott’s offering for Saturday and Sunday: smoked pork shoulder with collard green gumbo.

“We smoke the pork overnight,“ said Executive Chef Roger King. “The gumbo has housemade Andouille sausage and a fresh corn fritter on top.”

King’s worked at the Vail Marriott for three years and particpated in Gourmet on Gore each year without fail.

“The people are great,” he said. “When you’re outside in Vail, how can you not be happy? Then you add food in. That’s the best.”

Richard Bailey, owner of Taste 5 Catering, is cooking up a storm this week. He’s participating in Friday’s Tasting Tour and Monday’s Brunch on Bridge Street. At the Carrie Fell Gallery on Friday night expect a handful of tasty bites like braised artichoke and Gouda cheese wellingtons, asparagus bisque with truffle oil and shaved Parmesan cheese, and chile-braised carnita tacos with mango and avocado salsa. Sounds good, no doubt, but it’s Bailey’s Monday brunch offering that has us drooling. He’s searing ahi tuna on a Himalayan salt block and using it for eggs benedict.

“I’ll sous vide the eggs and have them ready to go, toast the bun, add the ahi and hit it with a lemon hollandaise sauce,” he said. “That’s $5. Come on down.”

Speaking of brunch, Maya, Richard Sandoval’s restaurant in The Westin in Avon, is taking part in Monday’s festivities. On the menu is the eatery’s breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs, housemade chorizo sausage, onions and salsa roja tucked in corn tortillas and served with breakfast potatoes made with potatoes, bell peppers, onions and cream.

Gourmet on Gore is the last big summer food festival of the season, “besides Oktoberfest, but that’s all about drinking beer and eating brats,” Bailey said.

It’s a chance for local chefs to showcase what they’ve been doing in the kitchen and what they’re excited about.

“We get to come out to the streets and have a good time with clients and guests,” Bailey said. “It’s a great opportunity to meet the local chefs. Most people don’t get to talk to a chef and at this event, all the chefs are there and accessible. It’s a great weekend for us to let loose and say goodbye to summer.”

We’re curious about what your favorite bite of the weekend will be. After the festival, tweet High Life Editor Caramie Schnell @caramieschnell or @vaildaily with your favorite Gourmet on Gore offering.


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The VailDaily Updated Aug 27, 2014 06:51PM Published Aug 27, 2014 06:59PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.