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Kevin Clair of Sweet Basil received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Restaurant Association

Kevin Clair, owner of Sweet Basil and its sister restaurants, recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Of the several honors that the CRA awards to restauranteurs in the Centennial State, the Lifetime Achievement Award is the most prestigious. Awards were presented at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors Inaugural Dinner on Oct. 15 at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs.

When Clair opened Sweet Basil in 1977, its center-of-Vail location was considered off-the-beaten-path. The restaurant quickly blazed its own trail, raising the caliber of the town’s whole dining industry in the process and today is a fan favorite for fine dining in town.

After graduating from the University of Denver’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, Clair spent a year in France as an apprentice cook at two different Michelin three-star restaurants. When he returned to the U.S., he fostered a culture of constant improvement to his own restaurant. Sweet Basil became of the first restaurants in Vail to serve varietal wine by the glass while the norm was to serve boxed wine. He also banned smoking in the dining room.

Kevin Clair (center) with KC Gallagher (left), CRA chairman of the board, and Sonia Riggs (right), CRA president and CEO.
Danielle Lirette | Special to the Daily

Clair’s tenacity is part of the reason Sweet Basil remains a contstant, and since, it’s spawned several siblings. Clair opened Montauk Seafood Grill with partner Gary Boris in 1988, Zino Ristorante in Edwards in 1997, and Mountain Standard with partners Matt Morgan and Paul Anders in 2012. All of the restaurants are still operating successfully.

Outside of his restaurants, Clair was the first president of the Vail Restaurant Association and was a founder of the Taste of Vail. He and his wife Sally spend their free time traveling, biking, and boating.

Others who received the Lifetime Achievement Award this year include Patricia Calhoun of Westword in Denver, Jeff Hermanson of Larimer Square in Denver, Jose Ramirez of Los Dos Potrillos in Centennial. Josh Wolkon of Secret Sauce F&B in Vesta won the Noel & Tammy Cunningham Humanitarian Award, and KC Gallagher of Little Pub Company received the Richard P. Ayers Distinguished Service Award.

Restaurant deals, concert deals, gear deals and more: Tricia’s weekend picks 10/4/19

Underground Sound Concert Series

It’s deal season this time of year and the discounts aren’t just reserved for restaurants, spa treatments and hotel stays. Add concerts at the Vilar Performing Arts Center to that list of off-season specials.

The Underground Sound Concert Series returns to Beaver Creek this weekend and lasts until Nov. 11. This annual fall event has been dubbed “love for the locals” and is a way for the Vilar Performing Arts Center to provide some great acts at an affordable price this time of year.

For 10 years, the Vilar has been hosting a variety of musical genres ranging from bluegrass to funk, blues, indie folk rock, soul and country. Past performers have included Brandi Carlile, Jerry Douglas, Elephant Revival, Lukas Nelson, Gregory Alan Isakov and Chris Thile.

Concert tickets are affordably priced between $28 and $38 for individual shows, but the real deal is in the Underground Sound Pass. For $125 you get seven shows, a drink at each show and it’s transferable, so you can share it with co-workers, friends or neighbors. Maybe trade out baby-sitting with your neighbors and enjoy a few shows this autumn.

Dates of the concerts range from weekends to weeknights so you can enjoy a concert experience as a date night to celebrate the end of the week or take a break from the daily grind and squeeze in a show during the workweek.

Discover new music this weekend. Ranky Tanky will kick off the season on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Ranky Tanky hails out of Charleston, SC and is known for its jazz, funk, gospel and R&B sounds. For information on all of the artists, the Underground Sound Pass or individual tickets, go to www.vilarpac.org.

Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week

Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week continues through Sunday. Take advantage of the $20.19 specials at over 40 restaurants in Vail and Beaver Creek along with deals on hotels and spa treatments.

Last week, I had an opportunity to try the four-course meal at Tavern on the Square at the Arrabelle. It was a delicious deal that started out with an Italian white bean soup, followed by a baked burrata with Pomodoro sauce. For the third course, I got to choose my entrée. It was hard to pick between seafood cacciatore, lamb T-bone or beef bourguignon, so the chef let me try all three. For dessert, I saved room for autumn spice churros and the sugary spice and texture were a great way to complete the meal.

The menu changes nightly, so see what they are cooking up at the Tavern. The chefs have been having a lot of fun trying out new dishes and some of them may remain on the menu for the winter.

I also stopped into La Nonna Ristorante, which is offering its house-made pasta dishes for $20.19. Chef-owner Simone Reatti and his staff have been busy cranking out the same wonderful menu at discount prices as a thank you to the locals and visitors who have supported them since they opened La Nonna last winter.

I tried a few dishes on the menu, including spaghettini crostacei, ravioli tre funghi, and malfatti di ricotta. They’re so tasty, you may want to order two.

I can’t eat at all the restaurants during Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week, so I enlisted the help of Casey Russell, our arts and entertainment editor at the Vail Daily. Casey dined at Gessner at the new Grand Hyatt Vail (formerly Hotel Talisa) and tried sourdough toast with charred peppers, local honeycomb and local goat cheese-which used milk taken in both the morning and the afternoon for two different flavor profiles.

Casey loved the vegan butternut squash soup and the tomato and foraged mushroom tagliatelle with basil cream sauce, which in the winter, becomes a truffle sauce.

For an indulgent dessert, Casey said to try the peaches and cream cake with pistachio crust and mousse at Gessner. Its sweet flavor and light texture pairs well with fresh Palisade peaches and meringue kisses that decorate the slice.

Wherever you decide to dine, call for reservations in advance. These deals are very popular and you don’t want to be turned away if the restaurants can’t fit you in. For a full list of specials, go to www.diningwithaltitude.com.

Gear sales and swaps

Did you lose your gloves last year? Are you due for a new snowboard? Have your kids outgrown their snow pants? If you answered affirmatively to any of those questions now is the time to buy while area sports stores are having gear sales and swaps. Here are a few going on this weekend:

Sun & Ski Sports

Get the best deals of the year during the 3rd annual First Tracks Ski and Snowboard Blowout Sale. Ski and snowboard equipment and apparel will be discounted up to 50% off throughout the store through this Sunday. Make sure you ask them about how you can win a pair of Liberty Skis this weekend, too.

The junior ski and snowboard seasonal lease program is going on as well. You can lease skis, boots and poles or a snowboard, bindings and boots for $99. That price goes up to $119 after Nov. 29. Visit www.sunandski.com/avon-co for more information.

Charter Sports

The Empty the Warehouse Sale will be held at Charter Sports at the Christie Lodge location in Avon. They will be selling a lot of gear and that additional merchandise will spill out of the store and into the parking lot of the Christie Lodge, so be prepared to shop around to find everything you need.

Discounts start at 50% off on winter gear, outerwear and accessories. The discounts will increase as the weekend goes on, but keep in mind that sizes and brands and models of gear may be picked over. The event kicks off on Friday and runs through Sunday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Alpine Quest Sports

Thinking about getting into a new sport or upgrading your equipment? Now is the time to buy and sell new and used AT, Tele and Splitboard skis, boots and bindings. 

The Alpine Touring, Telemark and Splitboard Swap is this weekend at Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards. Drop off gear on Friday before 6 p.m. Sell your gear and get 100% of the selling price in store credit or 70% of the selling price in cash.

The annual sale and swap runs until Sunday. Call 970-926-3867 for more details or stop by their store in Edwards.

Oktoberfest in Gypsum

If you are considering buying a dirndl or lederhosen, I am going to encourage you to do so because you’ll have plenty of opportunities to wear the traditional grab. In Eagle County, we have had five, count ‘em, five Oktoberfest celebrations in the last six weeks (and that is not even counting the Oktoberfest celebrations in other mountain towns or in Denver). Things move down valley to Gypsum for this weekend’s Oktoberfest.

The Gypsum Chamber of Commerce, the town of Gypsum and a host of other sponsors are bringing out the traditional Bavarian costumes, games, brats and pastries. There is even a Bonfire Brewing beer named especially for the event: Gyptoberfest.

The Lundgren Theater will play host to the festival, which is free and open to the public on Saturday from 1-5 p.m. There will be music by A Band Called Alexis. Free pumpkins will be available in the pumpkin patch. For more information, visit www.gypsumchamber.com.

If you want to bring a taste of Oktoberfest home with you, stop by West Vail Liquor Mart and take advantage of some seasonal brew sampling. West Vail Liquor Mart will have oompah music, tons of giveaways and plenty of Oktoberfest beers to try on Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. German-style pretzels with beer cheese and mustard options will also be served. Learn more at www.westvail.com.

Fire Department Open House

In honor of National Fire Prevention Week, Vail Fire and Emergency Services is inviting the community to visit the West Vail Station for an open house on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The West Vail Fire House has become quite the attraction for kids. During the open house, kids can view the fire engines and the station up close. There will also be a kid’s obstacle course. Free hot dogs and chips will be served as well.

In recognition of National Fire Prevention Week, activities will center around fire safety information on smoke alarms, exit drills and carbon monoxide alarms presented by the Fire Prevention Division.

National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 6 through 12 and this year’s theme is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape – Plan and Practice Your Escape.” This campaign encourages everyone to create a home escape plan and not only come up with the plan but also practice it.

Between the open house at the West Vail Fire Station and school visits, representatives from Vail Fire will educate students on the importance of drawing a map of their home and practicing fire drills with family members. During the sessions, firefighters will be teaching children about closing doors to slow the spread of smoke, flames and heat. Students will also learn about staying outside of a building and not going back inside to retrieve belongings.

Gluten-free folks and vegetarians, rejoice: here’s what you can eat at Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week in the Vail Valley is an undeniably good time. What’s better than eating old favorites and new specials from the best restaurnants Vail and Beaver Creek have to offer? But for those who follow an alternative diet, planning outings like these usually pose a challenge.

Here’s a list of where to get gluten-free and vegetarian options at Fall Restaurant Week $20.19, which runs from now until Oct. 6.

Gluten-free

10th Mountain Whiskey: A tasting flight and a bowl of mixed nuts goes for $20.19.

8100 Mountainside Bar and Grill: Lunch options include a kale salad. Though it comes with a draft beer, gluten-free diners could bring a beer nerd friend or ask for a substitution.

Beaver Creek Chophouse / Vail Chophouse: For lunch, grab a house salad with a Mountain Cheeseburger with one topping – ask for their gluten-free bread – and a house dessert for $20.19. For dinner, both restaurants are also serving a Loch Duart Scottish Salmon with summer sweet corn succotash, rock shrimp and roasted corn sauce or a Slow Cooked Pork Shank with green apple mustard, mascarpone polenta and fennel slaw.

Blue Moose: Grab all-day food specials with a Guenoc Chard, Cabernet or Sangria for $2.19.

Bol: This eatery is offering 20.19% off the entire check – pair a sweet discount with poke, wings or gluten-free flatbread.

Buffalo’s @ Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch: The food options – cauliflower masala with a cashew raita and the cast-iron nachos – are gluten-free or can be made gluten-free. But each entrée comes with a Colorado draft beer, so try asking for subs or donate your beer to a friend.

Boneyard: The two other menu options are burritos, so gluten-free people should try the low roasted prime rib with garlic mashed potato and asparagus or the short rib platter with garlic mashed and broccolini.

Elway’s Steakhouse: Try the USDA prime New York Strip, Prime Rib, Vancouver Island salmon or half a roasted chicken for $20.19.

Fall Line: This restaurant is also offering $20.19 entrees, or grab 2 cocktails for $20.19. The steak frites, the shrimp pad thai and the Vietnamese noodle bowl are all gluten-free, and so are most of the starters.

Garfinkel’s: Go classic with a rib eye, salad, baked potato and a vegetable. It comes with either a draft beer or a soda, so naturally, gluten-free people will want to go for the soda.

Gessner: Sip on $20.19 select bottles of wine, and pair that with two-for-one entrées when you order an appetizer. Stick around for fall spa specials if you’re stopping in after a busy day of hiking, climbing or other activity.

Golden Eagle Inn: With select entrées at $20.19, and a menu that contains several gluten-free options, diners should head over to check out what’s on tap.

Grill on the Gore: Take 20.19% off the entire bill, but the discount is only valid from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and diners must mention restaurant week to receive the discount.         

La Bottega: Take $20.19 off select pastas and entrees, and most pasta dishes can be made gluten-free.

La Tour: Start with two cocktails for $20.19, and pair it with select $20.19 entrees. Go traditional with a chicken Paillard, or warm up with the roasted maitake mushroom and lettuce curry.

Leonora: Choose three items off the small plates menu for $20.19. All menu items are labeled, and bonus, many of them are also nut-free and dairy-free. Keep in mind that the deal did not apply on Friday, but will continue until Oct. 6.

Matsuhisa: Pair a miso soup with a three-compartment bento box for $20.19. Get creative with some sushi and sashimi.

Mirabelle: Chef Daniel Joly’s Colorado lamb meat bowl with local mushrooms and potato gratin is sure to bring an aire of luxe to your dining plans.

Moe’s Original BBQ: Share a Double Wide Family Pack with three to four people. The whole spread includes one pound of pork, chicken or turkey, two pint-size sides and choice of four buns or cornbread. Skip or share the bread it for a gluten-free meal.

Montauk Seafood Grill: Take 40.38% off full-size entrees for double the savings. Menu highlights include shrimp and scallop fra diavolo and steamed Alaskan crab.

Pepi’s: For a $20.19 lunch, choose any two items off the “Sandwiches” or “European Specialty” menus: gluten-free folks can eat veal, pork or smoked buffalo brats or leberkäse, a mashed potato dish with spinach and a fried egg. Moving into the evening, then gluten-free entree option for $20.19 include is the double veal or pork bratwurst.

Root & Flower: Toast to your small bowl of olives with a glass of Italian bubbly: the bar is offering a bottle of prosecco and olives for $20.19.

Russell’s: Take 20.19% off of the entire check, but leave the King Crab off the table, because it’s not included in the deal.

Splendido: Wine lovers can snag bottles of Naonis or Prosecco for $20.19.

Sweet Basil: Pair a small plate and a drink for $20.19. Gluten-free options include a half-dozen oysters with a glass of sparkling wine or the Salmon Tataki and their special Perfect Margarita.

Swiss Chalet: The restaurant at the Sonnenalp Hotel is offering assorted entrées for $20.19.

Tavern on the Square: The restaurant is offering a four-course chef’s tasting menu that changes nightly, so there’s a chance that items could fit dietary needs. Call ahead to confirm.

Terra Bistro: Try a buy-one, get-one-for-$20.19 deal on house entrees, many of which are gluten-free.

The George: All entrees are $20.19, including the king crab and the surf-and-turf. Both are gluten-free, and would pair nicely with happy hour drink specials.

The Met Kitchen: This restaurant leaves it open for creative menu selections with signature cocktails for $20.19 and 20.19% off the total bill. There are plenty of options, including the lobster tacos on a corn tortilla.

Toscanini Ristorante: All entrees are $20.19 – and they have a whole gluten-free menu. Check it out on their website.

Up the Creek: Entrees are $20.19. For gluten-free options, try the pan-seared scallops with mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, grilled sweet corn, basil, balsamic and buffalo mozzarella.

Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week kicks off Friday, Sept. 27, and spans 10 days.
Townsend Bessent | Daily file photo |

Vegetarian

10th Mountain Whiskey: A tasting flight and a bowl of mixed nuts goes for $20.19.

8100 Mountainside Bar and Grill: Lunch options include a kale salad, and it comes with a draft beer.

Big Bear Bistro: Pair two crepes with a bottle of wine for $20.19, or do two smothered burritos – plant-based options available – with two coffees for the same price.

Blue Moose: Pizza and beer is the perfect pairing, and get any 3-topping slice and a Colorado draft beer for $2.19 each.

Bol: Take 20.19% off the entire check – try the sweet pea ravioli for a full meal, or pick and choose from the extensive list of snacks and shareables, many of which are plant-based.

Buffalo’s @ Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch: The food options – cauliflower masala with a cashew raita and the cast-iron nachos – are gluten-free or can be made gluten-free. But each entrée comes with a Colorado draft beer, so try asking for subs or donate your beer to a friend.

Boneyard: Chow down on some enchiladas with black beans, lettuce, sour cream and pico de gallo with a guajillo red sauce. There is also a special on the classic Boot Burrito. Both are served with meat, chicken and pulled pork respectively, but diners could ask to omit those ingredients.

Fall Line: This restaurant is also offering $20.19 entrees, or grab 2 cocktails for $20.19. The noodle bowl is vegetarian, but that’s it for the entrees.

Gessner: Sip on $20.19 select bottles of wine, and pair that with two-for-one entrées when you order an appetizer. Stick around for fall spa specials if you’re stopping in after a busy day of hiking, climbing or other activity.

Golden Eagle Inn: Plant-based eaters of all varieties can get the vegan zucchini sautée, normally $30, for $20.19. It’s also gluten-free, too.

Grill on the Gore: Take 20.19% off the entire bill, but the discount is only valid from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and diners must mention restaurant week to receive the discount.          The menu is fairly traditional, and most of the vegetarian options are salads and appetizers.

La Bottega: Take $20.19 off select pastas and entrees. Vegetarians should try the the spinach and ricotta cannelloni, the fettuccine puttanesca with Kalamata olives in red sauce or the truffle gnocchi.

La Nonna: All pastas are $20.19, and half of them are vegetarian. Try the spaghetti crudaiola with fresh tomato, arugula, garlic and extra virgin olive oil for a lighter meal, or go all-in with the malfatti de ricotta: spinach ricotta dumplings, heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and straciatella cheese.

Leonora: Choose three items off the small plates menu for $20.19. All menu items are labeled with dietary preferences. The summer farro risotto and watermelon and heirloom tomato salad will satisfy everyone, including vegetarians. Keep in mind that the deal did not apply on Friday, but will continue until Oct. 6.

Matsuhisa: Pair a miso soup with a three-compartment bento box for $20.19. Get creative with some sushi and sashimi.

The Met Kitchen: Get two signature cocktails for $20.19 and 20.19% off the total bill. There are plenty of options, including the vegan plate of the day.

Mountain Standard: Pair green hatch chile pimento cheese and any two draft beers for $20.19.

Pivot 62: Select any pizza with a glass of house red or white wine or a draft beer for $20.19. Veggie pizzas include a mushroom pizza topped with a generous pile of arugula.        

Root & Flower: Toast to your small bowl of olives with a glass of Italian bubbly: the bar is offering a bottle of prosecco and olives for $20.19.

Splendido: Wine lovers can snag bottles of Naonis or Prosecco for $20.19.

Sweet Basil: Pair a small plate and a drink for $20.19. The only vegetarian option is fried cheese sticks with a Pinkus beer.

Swiss Chalet: The restaurant at the Sonnenalp Hotel is offering assorted entrées for $20.19.

Tavern on the Square: The restaurant is offering a four-course chef’s tasting menu that changes nightly, so there’s a chance that items could fit dietary needs. Call ahead to confirm.

Terra Bistro: Try a buy-one, get-one-for-$20.19 deal on house entrees, many of which are plant-based and vegetarian.

Two Arrows: Start the morning right with two avocado toasts and two 12 oz. drip coffees for $20.19.

Toscanini Ristorante: All entrees are $20.19. Go nuts on some meat-free ravioli, capellini and bucatini – all fun shapes of pasta.

Up the Creek: Entrees are $20.19. For vegetarians, the option is caprese gnocchi.

Gourmet food, wine, biking and a yoga pants party: Tricia’s weekend picks 9/20/19

Taste of Vail Fall Wine & Food Classic

The Taste of Vail, which is a long-standing springtime fete, has added the Fall Wine & Food Classic to its schedule to take advantage of not only the bountiful harvest but also the beauty that surrounds Vail this time of year.

The Fall Wine & Food Classic blends the best of both worlds with great activities like fly-fishing, hiking, yoga and salsa dancing along with venues that provide the perfect backdrop to enjoy fabulous food and great wine.

After some of the morning excursions, head to brunch at Matsuhisa, Vintage or Remedy at the Four Seasons Vail. Lunch is also an option at Sweet Basil where they will be pairing cheddar cheese with wine.

On Saturday evening, Vail Valley restaurants come together with Southern Hemisphere wines at the Grand Tasting event at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. Guests will enjoy a picnic-style event with south of the equator music while taking in the gorgeous Vail scenery. The Grand Tasting features more than 50 wineries and 13 restaurants. For more information, tickets and a full schedule go to www.tasteofvail.com.

Hike, Wine & Dine benefit

The 11th annual Hike, Wine & Dine fundraiser returns to Beaver Creek this Sunday. Get there early to enjoy a light breakfast consisting of breakfast burritos, coffee, orange juice and mimosas. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. at the base of Beaver Creek’s Centennial Lift. This is a moderate five-mile hike and kids and teens are allowed and there are tickets priced specifically for that age group. 

Leave the energy bar and trail mix at home, along the way there will be several places to stop and enjoy small gourmet bites from the following restaurants:

  • 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill – veggie or meat breakfast burritos
  • Beaver Creek Chophouse – braised beef short rib tacos
  • Colorado Tasting Room – ahi tuna nachos
  • Dusty Boot – shrimp and octopus cocktail
  • Pavalici’s Croatian Pizza – assorted gourmet pizzas
  • The Osprey at Beaver Creek – smoked pork pozole
  • Rocky Mountain Raclette – Swiss raclette cheese, toast and fig
  • Rimini – peach yogurt and toppings
  • Splendido at the Chateau – peach cobbler
  • Vail Brewing Company – Hot Mess Blonde Ale and Gore Creek IPA

Hikers will travel through a special section of aspen trees where around 40 yellow ribbons adorn the trees in honor of those affected by cancer. Plan to spend a little time there and reflect. It’s just magical to see the forest transformed into a subtle memorial.

This annual autumn excursion benefits the Shaw Cancer Center and Jack’s Place, a 12-room cancer caring house for patients of Shaw Cancer Center and their caregivers. Funds go toward the operating costs to allow patients and their caregivers to stay for free during treatment at Shaw. It also supports programs like yoga, nutrition and wellness classes, massages and more. Visit www.hikewinedine.com to purchase tickets or make a donation.

Casual Classic

If the name is any indication, the Casual Classic bike ride isn’t a race, but more of a way to enjoy the views from the bike path from Breckenridge to Vail. Yes, you heard right, from Breckenridge to Vail, meaning it’s a 38-mile trip and the last 16 miles are downhill (almost).

The Casual Classic has been a fall tradition for 34 years and benefits the Sonnenalp of Vail Foundation. The Foundation creates family-friendly charitable endeavors and proceeds are directed toward medical, educational and human services. The Casual Classic has donated over $150,000 to ECO Trails, Eagle County’s bike path system, which requires annual improvement, upkeep and maintenance.

On Saturday, riders will take part in a casual ride beginning in Breckenridge and will follow the recreational path to Frisco. Next, they enjoy a gradual climb along Tenmile Creek to Copper Mountain followed by a more challenging climb to the summit of Vail Pass. Finally, riders coast predominantly downhill to the Bully Ranch at the Sonnenalp Hotel Vail for the after-party.

The fee is $145 for adults and $45 for children under 15 years of age. The price includes breakfast, transportation, snacks, gift bags, door prizes, Bully Ranch buffet, dessert, drinks and live entertainment.

If you’re feeling the need to ride more, take on the 76-miles from the Sonnenalp to Breckenridge and back again to really earn that fabulous buffet. All details for start times and shuttles, including a shuttle back to Breckenridge in case you are starting from that point and need a ride east are provided at www.sonnenalpfoundation.com/casual-classic.

The Community Market fundraiser

You’re invited to have some great food and fun while learning about The Community Market, a program of the Eagle Valley Community Foundation. The launch party is set for Saturday at The Community Market warehouse in Gypsum from 5 to 8 p.m. and tickets are $35 per person.

This event not only aims to spread awareness about food solutions in Eagle County, but it also wants to welcome Kelly Liken to the team.

Kelly Liken was the chef and owner of the famed Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail for many years. She also appeared as a contestant on such shows as Top Chef and Iron Chef America. Beyond her vast cooking skills, Liken is striving to find food solutions in Eagle County.

According to Feeding America, 8,700 Eagle County residents struggle to put food on the table. The Community Market is reaching more than 800 people every week. In June, the Community Foundation and The Community Market paid off the lunchroom debt across the Eagle County School District for a second school year. This year, the debt was almost double last year’s tab.

The Community Market over the past year has been recovering more than 25,000 pounds of food each month from local groceries, as well as sourcing produce from local farmers. This assures healthy, wholesome foods to families in need while reducing food waste, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Enjoy food provided by Anthony Mazza of Chef on the Fly and Village Bagel. Complimentary beer, wine and a special Kelly Liken cocktail for purchase will round out the drinks. The Evolution and the Altitones will provide live music. They will be selling chances to win a private dinner hosted by Liken and The Community Market team. To learn more go to www.eaglevalleycf.org or RSVP by calling 970-977-1093.

Fitness happenings

Crosstraining Fitness of Vail provides a free class for the community on Saturday mornings where anybody can attend. If you want to commit more time, explore the facility for free. Starting on Monday and going through Saturday, Crosstraining Fitness of Vail is hosting a free week of classes as a Local’s Appreciation Event.  Anyone who signs up after giving it a try will get 50% off the first month’s membership.  

If you want to take your yoga to the next level, Vail’s first 300-hour Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga School begins this weekend. Led by Amy Baker, Keri Bergeron and R.R Shakti, this 300-hour advanced yoga education workshop series guides you to a uniquely rich and powerful dimension of yoga experience to amplify the practice for dedicated yogis.

The Living in Alignment 300-hour Advanced Yoga Education program is comprised of a series of weekends and workshops designed for maximum accessibility in Vail. Hosted by Inner Power Yoga and the Lodge at Vail, this flexible program provides a comprehensive certification course for yoga teachers and an empowerment education program for yoga scholars. Enroll now at www.livinginalignment.yoga or call 970-331-4493.

If you just like to wear yoga pants, don’t miss the 7th annual Yoga Pants Party hosted by Yoga Off Broadway and Bonfire Brewing in Eagle on Saturday from 6 p.m. to midnight. Bring out the stretchy pants and drink beer while enjoying live music with the Runaway Grooms from 6 to 9 p.m. followed by DJ One from 9 p.m. until close.

There are prizes for the best-dressed men and women in yoga pants. If you don’t have a pair of yoga pants, buy a pair and get a beer for just $10. For more information, visit Bonfire Brewing or Yoga Off Broadway’s Facebook page.

Avalanche Alumni hockey, Vail Oktoberfest, trail running races and more: Tricia’s weekend picks 9/13/19

Oktoberfest in Vail Village

Oktoberfest returns for its third weekend in the valley with festivities moving to Vail Village, where the Gore Range and the Bavarian-style architecture on Gore Creek Drive provide the perfect backdrop for this annual German holiday. By now you should know the drill: wear lederhosen or a dirndl if you have one, learn the words to “Roll Out the Barrel” and keep moving to the beat as the pace quickens during the chicken dance.

Vail may be miles away from the home of Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany – but the traditions are well represented at the local event.

The traditional blue and white checkered table cloths and flags line the streets and stage and authentic steins are shipped in along with authentic beer. Vail Oktoberfest will be proudly serving Spaten, one of the six breweries allowed to serve during festivities in Munich. Festival guests will enjoy classic Bavarian fare including brats, schnitzel sandwiches, spaetzle, pretzels and more.

The food and drink aren’t the only things that are authentic, the music is as well. Helmut Fricker and the Rhinelanders Band will play several sets throughout the weekend along with the Bavarian Schuhplatters. After the oompah music, Blu Krewe takes the stage on Friday and Boogie Machine will help you dance the night away on Saturday. Both bands play the late set from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

There will be plenty of fun and games at Vail Oktoberfest. Enter the brat eating or stein lifting competitions, try keg bowling or see if your outfit is authentic enough to win top honors in the costume contest. Bring the kids to the Bavarian Kinder Club for games and crafts from 12 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For the full schedule of events, please visit www.vailoktoberfest.com.

Avalanche Alumni vs. Vail Yeti Hockey

If you love hockey, casino games and helping out youth sports programs, you’re going to love this weekend. Those three elements could be described as the hat trick that happens off the ice as the Colorado Avalanche Alumni come to town to help raise money for the Vail Mountaineer Hockey Club.

Throughout the weekend, Hockey greats such as Stephane Yelle, Peter Budaj, Cody McLeod, Pierre Turgeon, John-Michael Liles, Rick Barry, even Bernie, the team mascot will be around for meet and greet events, skills clinics, a Casino Night and the Avalanche Alumni will play the Vail Yeti Hockey team. Oh, and did we mention Joe Sakic? Yep, he will be here, too.

Dobson Ice Arena will be transformed into a casino setting for the Top Shelf Casino Night on Friday featuring a DJ, casino tables and a silent auction. Some of the auction items include VIP tickets to “The Voice”; tickets for the “The Bachelorette After the Final Rose” and “Women Tell All”; a VIP experience at Pepsi Center with Jake Schroeder, frequent national anthem singer at Avs games; lots of Avs memorabilia; gift cards to local businesses and more.

On Saturday, youth hockey clinics will be held with some of the Avalanche Alumni between noon and 3 p.m. There will also be a meet and greet with Avalanche Alumni from noon to 2 p.m. at Grey Salt. Grey Salt is a men’s clothing store in Solaris in Vail Village and 20% of proceeds from Grey Salt purchases on Saturday and Sunday will go to the Vail Mountaineer Hockey Club.

The puck drops at 7 p.m. when the Avalanche Alumni take on the Vail Yeti hockey team at Dobson Ice Arena on Saturday night.

It’s going to be an exciting weekend for hockey fans and it’s all for a good cause as the money raised from this event will help the Vail Mountaineer Hockey Club offset about 40% of the fees each year to make the sport accessible to local youth. For more information on the weekend’s schedule and tickets, visit www.vailmountaineers.com

Zusammen Communal Dining

Gather around the table with friends and family in a celebration of food and community at Beaver Creek’s Zusammen celebration on Saturday night. Dine and drink at communal tables on the Plaza at Beaver Creek while enjoying free live music from Spinphony.

Restaurants and small plates include:

  • Golden Eagle Inn: Filet mignon slider with roasted tomato and poblano aioli, chocolate brownie with chilled berry compote.
  • Hooked: Colorado lamb chops with R Farms squash capponata, organic chicken miniature pot pie, zucchini bread with five-spice mascarpone frosting.
  • 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill: Buttermilk-cornmeal battered Rocky Mountain oyster tacos, crunchy slaw, and salsa de chicharron and chicken tinga tacos with crunchy slaw and salsa de chicharron.

Drinks will be available a la carte from the bar on the Plaza level near the ice rink. Guests over 21 years of age can also enjoy a complimentary pour of prosecco in a Beaver Creek-branded flute.

Spinphony is an all-female string quartet band based out of Denver. This group has been wowing fans with its unique arrangements of classical, rock and pop tunes and they absolutely rock. Spinphony has played venues throughout Colorado including Lindsey Vonn’s annual fundraiser at the Four Seasons Vail. They also played on the streets of Vail over Labor Day weekend at the Gourmet on Gore Food Trucks al Fresco event in Vail Village.

Zusammen features open-air seating from 4 to 8 p.m. The pay-as-you-go system allows you to try the different small plates from the restaurants featured. Don’t forget, there is ice skating in the evenings and shopping surrounding the plaza level of Beaver Creek, so make a night of it. For more information, go to www.beavercreek.com.

Habitat for Humanity Diva Build Day

Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley and Thrivent Financial are seeking volunteers for two special Diva Day build events on Friday and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Habitat’s new Grace Avenue construction site in Gypsum.

Participants may volunteer on either or both of the build days and will be treated to snacks, beverages and a commemorative t-shirt. Suggested build day apparel is pants, hard-soled or closed-toes shoes and layers. No prior construction or home improvement experience is necessary.

On the build days, there will be plenty of ladies clad in pink t-shirts swinging hammers or operating the buzz saw alongside folks from Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley who will be guiding them on how to do all the tasks needed on the job site that day. The volunteers will also be working alongside the family members who will be moving into the house. Habitat requires 250 hours of sweat equity per adult family member. Sweat equity is a central principle in Habitat’s mission of building community and partnering with families to provide a hand up, not a handout.

In addition to the two build days, a Diva Days VIP reception will be held Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Hovey & Harrison in Edwards. Complimentary food and beverages will be served and happy hour pricing will be available throughout the event. Habitat will be collecting donations at the door to help fund its local homebuilding program.

To volunteer call Nick Mejia at 970-748-6718 ext. 127 or email volunteer@habitatvailvalley.org. For more information, visit www.habitatvailvalley.org.

MeadowGold 5k and 10k

Now is your chance to participate in the last race of the summer in the Dynafit Vail Trail Running Series. The Meadowgold 5k and 10k races will be this Saturday.

So far, the races have been held in Eagle, Beaver Creek, Camp Hale and on Vail Mountain. This race takes place just outside of Minturn on Meadow Mountain. Runners will ascend technical single track on the beautiful West Grouse Trail. At the high point and nearly halfway through the 10k race, runners will begin the descent to the finish on double track with open views of Vail Mountain and the Gore Range.

The series wraps up with an awards ceremony following the finish of the MeadowGold races at Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Company in Minturn. All registered racers get a custom tech t-shirt. Word has it that this shirt contains some pretty cool artwork featuring a llama, so that alone might be reason enough to do this race. For more information please visit www.vailrec.com.

Get your fill of ‘shrooms this fall by foraging and cooking, with inspiration from Zino Ristorante’s porcini dinner

The local mushroom harvest has been abundant this season, and as Zino Ristorante co-owner and executive chef Nick Haley explained at a dinner on Aug. 14, foraging edible fungi can be just as enjoyable as preparing and eating it.

“I get excited every year for the mushroom season because it’s a way for me to decompress out in the forest, especially because I work in such a busy environment where it’s kind of stressful,” Haley said. “I use it as an opportunity to get out there and go on this treasure hunt and have a peaceful time in the forest that I really enjoy.”

I agree that finding mushrooms in the forest is fun — a true treasure hunt, yet my favorite part of this mushroom season was at that dinner when Haley created a four-course, porcini-inspired meal at Zino alongside Italian wine selections from Fontanabianca.

Some of the wines served at the dinner included a 2016 Barbera and an Arneis Lange Bianco.
Kim Fuller | Special to the Daily

Mushrooms and wine

“Porcini mushrooms grow in Italy hand-in-hand with grapes,” said Zino partner and general manager Giuseppe Bosco. “It’s the perfect pairing and chef Nick worked so hard to balance each course specifically to the personality of each wine.”

A Vitello Tonnato of sliced veal, caper and tuna aioli was topped with shaved pocinis and paired with a Arneis Lange Bianco wine — full-bodied with a tight, fresh palate and a fruity finish. Haley’s second and third course were my favorite: Porcini Ravioli with quail egg, house ricotta ravioli, porcini and sage brown butter, served with a medium-bodied Dolcetto, followed by a Porcini Risotto topped with fresh parmesan and served alongside a 2016 Barbera. For the final course, a pour of Barbaresco “Bordini” went beautifully with Waygu steak, caramelized onions and purple potatoes, finished with a Nebbiolo reduction.

“I’ve been cooking with mushrooms since I worked in Italy and for the past 17 years here in the valley,” Haley said. “I really love them, and the porcini mushrooms are so earthy and there are so many classic Italian dishes that pair well with them — they are just meant to be together.”

Haley lived in northern Italy, where Italian porcini mushrooms are harvested, and he’s especially fond of them with Italian wine.

“And I love that most Italian winemakers, like the Fontanabianca family, are farmers and have such a passion for what they do,” Haley said. “When you go to Italy, they are just so proud of their product that they want you to try it because it’s something that they have had in their family for generations, so they are definitely proud of what they produce and they bring that energy to every dinner.”

As described by the Fontanabianca winery, the wine welcomes “the taste of the territory of Neive, rich in perfumes and elegance.” Mushrooms, like grapes, tell a story of their native land, the terroir.

The selection of porcini-inspired dishes at the Zino dinner traversed across Northern Italy, where Chef Nick Haley worked before coming to Vail.
Kim Fuller | Special to the Daily

Colorado harvest

Every year, depending on what the valley provides, Haley said he incorporates mushrooms into special menu items for as long as possible.

“It has been an ideal mushroom season with all the snow this past winter, and we also had good rainfall in the beginning of summer,” he said. “It really has to do with a lot of rainfall and hot temperatures, which we had.”

Haley said the best way to tell how great of a mushroom season we’re having is to go camping. He said to notice when there is morning dew lifting off the forest floor, creating a mist.

“This year we had really good porcinis, but now it’s kind of drying up because we haven’t had any rain in three weeks,” Haley explained. “We should be getting chanterelles right now. But I feel like we may not get chanterelles this year — it’s still possible if we start to get some rain, but we need to get some moisture here pretty quickly. It can turn off as fast as it turns on.”

Mushroom season generally lasts until the first frost, he added.

“That could be middle of September, or really early,” Haley added. “So it’s really on Mother Nature to decide what we’re gonna get.”

The last course was a Wagyu steak with caramelized onions, purple potatoes and a Nebbiolo reduction.
Kim Fuller | Special to the Daily

From the Kitchen

For some inspiration in your kitchen, here is a porcini recipe from Zino Ristorante co-owner and executive chef Nick Haley.

Porcini Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage

Serves about 5

For pasta:

1 kg flour

30 egg yolks

For filling:

1 lb. ricotta cheese

½ lb. porcini mushrooms

Sage

Parmesan

Egg yolk

Parsley

For brown butter:

6 oz. butter

Sage

4 oz. porcini mushrooms

Salt and pepper

Ravioli pasta: In a mixer, mix the flour and slowly incorporate egg yolks. Roll out sheets of pasta with a rolling pin or use a pasta roller. Set aside in the fridge.

Ravioli filling: Slice the porcini mushrooms and sauté in olive oil with sage. After mushrooms are cool, chop them. Mix your chopped mushrooms with ricotta cheese, chopped sage, parmesan, egg yolks, salt and pepper. Place filling inside pastry bag. Place sheets on table and lightly brush with egg wash. Put a half-ounce of mushroom filling in 2“ x 2“ square, and place another sheet of pasta on top. Cut between the fillings with pasta cutter to form ravioli.

Brown butter: In a sauté pan, cook butter until it’s brown. Then add sage and mushrooms. Cook raviolis for about two minutes. Before draining the pot, save two ounces of pasta water to cook in the sauté pan with your brown butter sauce raviolis and serve.

Matsuhisa Vail serves cuisine inspired by the seasons

Stunning mountain days that soften into lovely summer evenings are ideally spent from a place where you can soak it all in. Sit on the open-air patio at Matsuhisa Vail and relish the expansive views of the village and all the mountainous terrain beyond it.

For a special date night or family outing, the refined service and hospitality at Matsuhisa turn any evening into a sweet occasion. Order a Gardener cocktail to start — for a fun change, ask for tequila instead of gin for a unique play on the cocktail that combines spirit with serrano pepper, cilantro, ginger and lime.

Chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa has been recognized internationally for his fusion cuisine blending traditional Japanese dishes with Peruvian ingredients, and Matsuhisa Vail General Manager Jordan Harrill says Nobu is cultivating a lot of his recent inspiration from vegetables.

“Our kitchen continues to stay inspired every season,” Harrill enthuses. “We’re working with local farms and creating great relationships to share these incredible ingredients with our guests.”

Shishito peppers and toro tartare are wonderful starters this summer, and definitely don’t miss the heirloom tomato salad, complete with a cilantro-mint vinaigrette and topped with flakes of black Cyprus sea salt.

It’s always a treat to let the Matsuhisa team guide you through their menu. From the kitchen to the bar and dining room, this staff knows what they’re serving you and why, so it can be as much of a learning experience as it is a truly enjoyable meal. They may recommend a perfect piece of tuna or Scottish salmon on a crisp lotus root chip, or help you fulfill a sushi roll craving with a Tiradito Roll topped with a luscious white fish and filled with tempura-fried shishito pepper, avocado and creamy spicy sauce.

A festive evening carries on seamlessly with a bamboo carafe of the TK40, a silky yet defined rendition of Nobu’s exclusive Hokusetsu sake. Every sip exhibits the perfect balance of vanilla and fruit and provides a delectable pairing with, say, king crab tempura atop sweet ponzu. For a main dish, black truffles are quite the treat on a filet of Chilean sea bass, especially alongside a glass of French chardonnay. New this summer, a homemade coconut rice pudding with a flavor and texture so lovely it reminds us why to never skip the sweetest course. 

Grill on the Gore at Vail Golf Club focuses on local ingredients

When you hear that there’s a restaurant at the Vail Golf Club, you might assume it’s exclusive, maybe even a little pretentious. But much like the public golf course itself, the stunning setting is paired with a laid back, welcoming atmosphere that does what they do exceptionally well, without pretense.

Executive Chef David Sanchez, who thrives in the recently built clubhouse’s expansive grounds, is a veteran of the Vail restaurant scene. He’s one of those chefs that could very well have traded their chef coat for a lab coat, a tinkerer at heart whose passion for Old World techniques and quality ingredients make every element of a dish count.

When we met with Sanchez on a beautiful spring afternoon, some of the first golfers of the season were coming off the 18th hole and straight onto Grill on Gore’s expansive patio. The restaurant claims to have the best views of any restaurant in Vail, and it’s hard to argue. The greens stretch as far as the eye can see, surrounded by steep aspen-covered peaks and ending with the dramatic crests of the Gore Range. Evenings here are a nightly spectacle as the darkened valley is offset by the brilliant sunset reflected on the Gore.

It’s a patio that invites you to linger, both with its incomparable views and 90” TV — perfect for catching a game and chatting with friends. Wander beyond the patio and you’ll discover Grill on Gore’s extensive gardens, which Chef Sanchez carefully plotted and maintains to take full advantage of East Vail’s finicky sunlight.

What Sanchez can’t grow himself he works to source locally wherever possible and with the highest standards. “One of the things that makes Grill on Gore unique is our focus on local ingredients,” he says, “Colorado made, Colorado grown, Colorado produced.” From cheese produced in Buena Vista, to Colorado-focused beers, to chips made in Crested Butte, even seemingly simple garnishes have been selected with the utmost care.

“The other thing we do here is we double smoke our own foods,” Sanchez says, adding a piece of Palisade peach wood to the smoker. “We smoke pork belly, pork shoulder, chicken wings, beef rib eyes, ribs, even some vegetables,” he says, then smiles, “we have some fun with this.” All that time and effort is used to great effect, bringing unexpected depth to familiar dishes like the Smoked Pork Belly BLT.

And that’s just what Sanchez wants. The menu items are familiar, but the way that Grill on Gore constructs them makes them un-missable. “What we do is we elevate,” says Sanchez, “so take something as simple as a burger. We’re going to give you the best, straightforward burger we can and we do that by working with our distributors to customize exactly what we want from each building block — the best meat, the best bun. Tomatoes, pickles, onions, they’re all cut fresh and seasoned to order.” So whether you drive, bike, or take the free Town of Vail bus to Grill on Gore, settle in for a wholly satisfying meal served with genuine passion and a view that will take your breath away. 

El Sabor is a Vail gem hidden in plain sight

There’s a gem hidden in plain sight — a place, once found, you will want to return to again and again for the laid-back vibe, stunning views and, of course, amazing food. El Sabor is just that place: a Latin American restaurant that promises heritage-inspired dishes from Mexico, South America, Central America and Spain. The food and drinks are all house made and it shows with zings of freshness and bold brightness. Think fresh-squeezed mixers for every cocktail; hand-made happy hour tacos and even an authentic Cuban sandwich.

Where is this slice of heaven? Right near the skier bridge in Lionshead in the Lion Square Lodge. It features a deck with views overlooking the Gore, Mountain and Gore Creek. Obviously, we all love a mountain view, but the food is the reason you will keep coming back. And for those sad sacks who don’t like Mexican? No worries, the owners have created a menu so friends can fiesta together.

The creative kitchen staff knows how to make a mean burger and tasty chicken sandwich but the real magic comes when they channel their energy into Latin American flavors. The tacos are raised to an art form with a variety to choose from: the Sabor with pickled onion, roja aioli, cilantro, cotija cheese and cabbage; Mahi Mahi, served with guacamole, asadero cheese, slaw and lime crema; Al Pastor with slaw, cotija cheese, pineapple and onion or the Barbacoa, which is perfectly seasoned shredded beef, cabbage, salsa verde, pickled onion, cilantro and cotija cheese. Miguel’s chicken enchiladas and rellenos are also hot-ticket items.

For those who want to play it safe check out the fried chicken sandwich. It lets folks be conservative while living on the edge — just a little bit. It comes with a sweet-and-sticky agave glaze, habanero slaw and roja aioli — a classic chicken sandwich amped up enough to be worthy of this fantastic deck. See, we can all just get along. 

After an active day on the mountain or hiking the trails, continue the wanderlust for Happy Hour:  tacos, margaritas and beer specials. It’s the best way to be in the middle of everything but still off the beaten path. Watch the world (and bikers, walkers, hikers, climbers and kids) go by as you sample the summer tiki cocktail or live like a local and reach for the lip-smacking jalapeño cilantro marg with Tanteo jalapeño tequila, cilantro for an unexpected bit of brightness, orange liquor and Hellfire bitters. Absolutely delicious. Remember, all the mixers are hand made and freshly squeezed. You can tell they are made with some love and deliver a punch. So, set a goal for yourself. Leave your comfort zone. Go exploring and find this hidden deck for a true summer experience. Then tell your friends — just because you don’t want them to be left out.

Elway’s Vail, where precision and perfection are part of the nightly play-by-play

To say that Elway’s in Vail Village is known for its steaks is like saying John Elway played a little football. Precision, practice and perfection are part of the nightly play-by-play action that makes this steakhouse popular among both locals and tourists alike. USDA prime hand-cut beef is the star at Elway’s of Vail, whether a diner’s palate preference is a thick NY strip, tender filet or juicy ribeye.

To find this upscale eatery and be an active participant in the Elway legacy, stroll over the bridge and head towards the Lodge at Vail where a spectacular menu awaits. The sleek wooden beams nestled among modern stonework and crisp white linens beckon guests to enjoy the action of the main dining area, the privacy of the rounded atrium, or the crisp mountain air on the private patio.

Executive Chef Ray Trujillo has crafted a terrific menu that includes old favorites and exciting new options. When asked the secret to their success, Trujillo pointed directly to using “the finest hand-cut quality Prime beef combined with Elway’s famous steak seasoning.”

But simplicity can be found in pristine ingredients, such as the signature steaks that have delighted so many diners. From a demure 8-ounce filet to the succulent ribeyes, part of the fun is choosing one of the sauces — chimichurri, peppercorn, blue cheese and more. But the seafood list is just as deep: Maine lobster with drawn butter, Alaskan halibut, Vancouver Island salmon and much more.

Starters and Ride-alongs

But don’t dive right into the main course. Starter menu all-stars include the must-have lamb chop fondue that is so tender Trujillo boasts, “It can almost be eaten like a lollipop.” Also lining the A-list are the West Coast Goose Point oysters (seasonal) that are smooth enough for oyster newbies, followed by a touch of briny hurricane harbors that connoisseurs will love. On the Elway’s team is longtime sommelier Dana Smith who is more than willing to be the coordinator for any one of the 350 options on their wine list. From deep reds to light whites, there’s a perfect match for the steak and seafood that Elway’s specializes in. The final play of the evening should be a move towards the baked-to-order Chocolate Chip Cookies, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. They are guaranteed to entertain the senses and warm the soul.