Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend pairs Western flare with food and wine | VailDaily.com
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Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend pairs Western flare with food and wine

Kim Fuller
Special to the Daily
Sean Razee, beverage director for Vail Resorts, educates a table at the SaddleRidge Four Course and Two Step event on Friday. The event was part of the Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend.
Townsend Bessent | townsend@vaildaily.com |

Still trying to digest all the food you consumed during the Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend? It takes a few steps, like this: quick, quick, slow … quick, quick, slow … quick, quick, slow.

On Friday evening, a two-step lesson followed the four-course dinner at SaddleRidge, an event featuring guest chef Jon Bonnell, who is well-known down South for his “fine Texas cuisine.”

The gathering was set in the ideal spot, since SaddleRidge is adorned with an impressive spread of antique Western decor.

“SaddleRidge was such a great place to cook our style of food this weekend,” Bonnell said. “All of the authentic Western artifacts and rustic game feel perfectly matched our bold Texas flavors and wild game menu. It was the ultimate setting for my kind of cuisine.”

Bonnell said SaddleRidge Executive Chef Adam Roth and his staff were the “ultimate hosts,” as they opened up their kitchen and dining room for Bonnell to showcase the cuisine he makes best.

“Chef Roth was extremely accommodating and allowed us to write the menu first, then bookended the menu with a salad to start and a dessert,” Bonnell said. “He was an outstanding host and paired his courses and appetizers perfectly with our fare.”

After dinner, visitors were given a lesson in Southern dancing, and most of the room was up and tapping their cowboy boots.

Bonnell said the two-step lesson was a “great way to round-out the overall experience” of the four-course, country dinner.

“Can a Texan two-step?” he questioned with a laugh. “Can a one-legged duck swim in a circle? … I grew up two-stepping. They even taught us that kind of ‘thang’ in school. I had a blast interacting with guests after dessert as they learned the basics of how to two-step.”

Pairing two-stepping with a Texas-inspired meal is only fitting, and Vail Resorts master sommelier Sean Razee made sure each wine pour of the evening methodically complemented each course — much like a well-practice dance.

Hors d’oeuvres were served with an Italian white and red, both simple yet well-structured, alongside the elk mini tacos, barbecue rabbit bites and Rocky Mountain trout with caviar, which together got taste buds ready to roll. Bonnell made the tacos, and he couldn’t keep them coming out fast enough. They had perfectly crispy shells, with a pop of flavor that paired nicely with the Italian soave.

After appetizers and once the guests took their seats, Razee kept the wine all-American.

“I find California wines, with their rich fruit and intense flavors, are great matches for heavily seasoned dishes originating in the South,” Razee said.

Roth’s first course was a mache salad with corn vinaigrette and crispy oyster mushrooms, topped with cotija cheese and ancho popcorn. It was light, yet savory, and Razee chose a white wine with clean flavors and very little oak to go with it: the Talbott Kali-Hart chardonnay.

Bonnell made the second and third courses. First was the bacon-crusted redfish, served with blistered heirloom tomatoes, Southwestern tortilla sauce and avocado.

“Russian River pinot played very well off the bacon and tortilla sauce components of chef Bonnell’s bacon-crusted redfish,” Razee said. “The pinot noir, although dominated by intense and ripe red fruit notes, contains a hint to smoke and organic, mushroom-like undertones that merge seamlessly with this dish.”

For the main dish of the evening, Bonnell put out pecan-smoked buffalo tenderloin over green-chili cheese grits, grilled cactus and a cabernet reduction. Razee said he felt the creole-crusted meat would work well with a full-bodied, tannic red wine. He chose the William Hill Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon.

“This is a textbook version of a Napa Valley cab,” he said. “But I found the most interesting wine and food component of Chef Bonnell’s main course to be the chili cheese grits. The fire-roasted poblano chili that he used in this dish merged perfectly with the hint of tobacco and pepper notes that were otherwise hidden by the rich red and black fruits on this powerful cabernet.”

Finally, Roth’s dessert didn’t disappoint — a spiced chocolate tres leches cake with candied pepitas. It’s sweet endings like this, or a nice dance with a cowboy (or a two-stepper in training), that make culinary events more than an eating frenzy.


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