Heavy snow can’t stop Vail foodies | VailDaily.com

Heavy snow can’t stop Vail foodies

Lauren Glendenning
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyJulia Olsen, 2, takes a bite of a lemon and rasberry sorbet on a stick from her mother, Lindsey Olsen at the Taste of Vail Mountain Top Picnic Friday on Vail Mountain.

VAIL, Colorado “-Robyn Specthrie wasn’t going to miss her 16th Taste of Vail just because of a little snow and some bad roads.

Specthrie, of Arrowhead, was in Eagle Friday morning ” it took her an hour and 45 minutes to get to Vail.

“It was all in the pursuit of good food and good booze,” she said. “I’m so happy to be here.”

As the noon start-time of the 17th Annual Taste of Vail’s Mountain Top Picnic approached, it became clear why the event isn’t called the Taste of the Vail Valley ” anyone not actually in Vail was likely having a tough time getting there.

The heavy, wet spring storm was going strong during the morning commute, and by about 10 a.m. cars heading eastbound on Interstate 70 were at a standstill around the Eagle-Vail exit. Missing one of the Taste of Vail’s most exciting events was not an option, Specthrie said.

“If the roads were open, I was going to get here,” she said.

While the Mountain Top Picnic setting itself is irresistible ” nestled back in the trees overlooking Vail Mountain and the Vail Valley ” it’s the food that keeps people coming back year after year. Sun or snow, hundreds brave the unpredictable April weather in exchange for samples from Vail’s finest chefs.

Upon stepping foot inside the makeshift snow arena, guests were already gobbling up tastes from Up the Creek, Atwater on Gore Creek, the Lodge at Vail and Kelly Liken. Walking through the winter food wonderland was also a test of willpower ” could you really avoid trying the desserts before finishing with all of the savory dishes?

From braised short ribs in wine and veal stock to lobster macaroni and cheese to simpler items like pulled pork sliders and chicken marsala skewers, it’s safe to say everyone’s bellies were satisfied after the two-and-a-half hour event. Some walked around double-fisting plates of food, while others were clearly there for the alcohol.

If you wanted to make it a true foodie event, there was enough food and wine there to make some excellent pairings with a little thought and effort ” most people just grazed aimlessly, though.

Shareef Hammad came up from Avon, through Eagle-Vail back roads while trying to avoid the traffic scattered all over Highway 6 and the interstate, and had already made his way from La Tour to Beano’s Cabin to Terra Bistro by about 1:20 p.m. He was chowing down on La Tour’s flank steak sandwich with daikon radish and carrot slaw and a hoisin-based sweet barbecue sauce. He barely had two bites in before his friend was whisking him off to get a taste of something else.

That’s what the event is all about ” taste. While some restaurants generously served up portions that looked more like large appetizers, some gave just enough to get guests’ mouths watering.

Timber Hearth Grille dished out just enough melt-in-your-mouth short ribs with buttery mashed potatoes that tasters could clean the plate without feeling too guilty about it. A larger portion of Beano’s Cabin lobster mac-n-cheese also left people licking their plates, with only a little remorse afterwards for even considering going for a second helping ” it was just that good.

As the event winded down, desserts became more popular ” dulce de leche, a banana split on a stick from Rimini, chocolate cakes galore and the most sinfully decadent banana’s foster from the Mirador in Beaver Creek that several people had seconds.

Warm banana bread swimming in a pool of a brandy-cinnamon-brown sugar-butter sauce topped with bananas and creamy vanilla bean ice cream was probably the result of many skiers and riders taking a very sluggish last run down the mountain ” the perfect end to a day that began with a sluggish winter storm.

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com

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