Cookbook author roams through the sights and tastes of Gourmet on Gore | VailDaily.com

Cookbook author roams through the sights and tastes of Gourmet on Gore

Jennie Iverson
Special to the Daily

This past weekend, Vail Village celebrated the American labor force with a labor of culinary love: Gourmet on Gore. The open-air tasting that meandered through Vail Village and weaved its way through the Labor Day weekend provided pedestrian eaters (and I don't mean inexperienced; I truly mean foot traffic) with many different flavors and tastes, igniting an underlying appreciation of American cuisine.

Sweet Basil gave an ode-to-the-end-of-summer taste: a New England-style rock shrimp roll with seasonings and radishes served on a buttery, grilled white roll, which they called the Rock 'n' Roll. Larkspur served beef tacos with fresh pico de gallo, crunchy Mexican slaw and spicy pepper jack cheese atop light and crispy taco shells, reminiscent of the Southwest.

Ludwig's was adventurous and served a wild coho salmon confit from the Pacific Northwest alongside a delicious crema Catalan with caramel foam and pineapple chutney. The Remedy at the Four Seasons Vail created an undeniably perfect balance with its six-hour braised shredded pork belly tostada adorned with cilantro-based, crispy and crunchy slaw, delicate lime crema, Mexican cotija cheese and sweet-and-spicy pickled jalapeno peppers.

I was able to enjoy creamy, dreamy polenta with a richly flavorful reduced short rib sauce from Blu's Restaurant that harkened back to the Midwest. And attendees also enjoyed gorgeous, authentic, pan-fried pork dumplings from DeLite & Bowl.

BURGER BONANZA

I delighted in touring the Gourmet on Gore booths with friends Jeremy and Kelly Kossler, the founders of Denver Burger Battle, especially getting the insiders' perspective on sampling burgers. Larkburger's truffle burger with Tillamook cheddar cheese created a perfect blend of juicy, tender meat and earthy sharpness from the truffles and cheddar cheese.

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Elway's created a unique 7X Wagyu beef burger with Elway's special steak seasonings. The burger was topped with Asadero, a mild Mexican cheese and roasted anaheim peppers that gave the burger a welcome spiciness.

DESSERTS AND DRINKS

And, what could be more all-American and cross-regional than cupcakes? Batter Cupcakes displayed a copious range of colorful cupcakes and cake pops with no holds barred. Finally, not much can top end-of-summer Labor Day picnic fare, alfresco-style, except possibly spiked lemonade as refreshment. Local distillery 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Co. served a Little Rye on the Gore.

These culinary compatriots assuredly enjoyed a feast of the senses with Gourmet on Gore: beautifully crisp and clear September weather, bright and vivid colors and delightful and abundant wafts and tastes of savory and sweet treats.

Jennie Iverson lives in Vail and is the author of the "Ski Town Soups" and "Ski Town Apres Ski" cookbooks. Through her books, Iverson provides insight into the culinary scenes of ski towns across America. You can contact her for more information at jennie@skitowngroup.com.

inspired by the festival

Inspired by Gourmet on Gore, Jennie Iverson, author of the “Ski Town Soups” and “Ski Town Après Ski,” shared the following recipes from her cookbooks.

Mason maple shandy

(From Hyde Away Inn and Restaurant at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont)

¾ ounce Vermont maple syrup

2 ounce bourbon

3 ounce lemonade

3 ounce Vermont pilsner draft beer

In a 16-ounce mason jar with ice, combine all ingredients. Shake or stir to incorporate. Garnish cocktail with lemon wheel.

Serves 1.

Tamarack sliders with bourbon-bacon onion relish

(From Unbuckle at Tamarack at Heavenly Mountain Resort in California)

1 pound fresh ground beef, 85 percent lean

1 tablespoon steak seasoning

2 slices ghost pepper jack cheese, quartered

½ cup bourbon-bacon onion relish (see recipe below)

8 slider buns, freshly baked

Lettuce

Tomato, sliced

Onion, sliced

Mix steak seasoning into ground beef. Form 8 patties, and place on hot grill, flipping after 4 minutes. After flipping once, top cooked side with 1 tablespoon Bourbon Bacon Onion Relish and pepper jack cheese. Toast buns on grill. When cheese is melted and bun is toasted, place slider on bun with lettuce, tomato and onion.

Bourbon-bacon onion relish

1 pound gourmet bacon, cut into half lengthwise and then into ½-inch pieces

2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced

½ cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup bourbon

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt and black pepper

In a large pot over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, and reserve excess bacon grease. Place sliced onions in pot, still on medium heat, and coat with reserved bacon grease. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to soften and become translucent. Stir in brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until onions start to caramelize. Stir in bourbon, balsamic vinegar and ¼ bacon. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain and reserve all the liquid.

Place reserved liquid and about ¼ of the bacon-onion mixture into a blender. Pulse until pureed consistency, and then pour over non-pureed bacon-onion mixture. Stir and refrigerate in an airtight container.

Serves 4 to 8.