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Morning feasting at Cascade

Greg T. Spielberg

Waking up on Sunday morning just got easier. Whether you’re wiped out from the night before or looking for a leisurely way to start the end of your week, the Cascade Resort and Spa has got you covered. For locals and tourists, Cascade provides the perfect setting to slide into a summer day with its Jazz Brunch.The Sunday brunch combines a classic buffet menu with the light jazz of the Tony Gulizia Trio each week from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The kitchen is in Cascade’s renowned Chap’s Steakhouse, but guests can sit inside or on the outdoor deck. For those who want a little of both, there’s also the spacious bar with its high ceilings, enormous windows and plush couches (mimosas are complimentary everywhere). During the summer months the deck is your best bet. The open air, spectacular mountain views and creek-side location is a main reason locals become repeat visitors. “I’m pretty much a Sunday regular,” said valley resident Rick Richards, enjoying the shade from underneath a white parasol. “I mean, the scenery is just beautiful, Tony’s music and the service are both great; I bring all of my out-of-town guests here.” His business partner from Scottsdale, Ariz., was more focused on the food, saying, “I’m here for the prime rib and coffee.”Prime rib at 10 in the morning may not be everyone’s first choice, but that’s what the chefs at Cascade have planned on. You’ll find buffet comforts like pancakes, fresh fruit and prepared-to-order omelettes, but there’s also gazpacho, insalata caprese and a carving station. Chef Jared Huchs said, “We always try to keep it interesting through variety and different flavors. The New York strip steak is a little out there, but people like it.”Strip steak is only one of the variables, especially on the carving board. This week it was paired with a fresh turkey, next time it’ll be ham and a rack of lamb with mint jelly. The gazpacho might be replaced by Vichychoise and the wide fruit selection will be completely redone.Huchs, a local chef for over three years, acknowledges the highly-competitive brunch market, but notes a main difference between the Jazz Brunch and other offerings in Eagle County. “Some places think it’s better to throw the cheap (food) out there to make money,” he said. While browsing the extensive selection, however, it’s clear the chefs at Cascade approach buffet lines differently. Huchs and Executive Chef Rainer Schwarz plan their menu weekly and are not sparing on the details. The insalata caprese is made with heirloom tomatoes to better compliment thick slices of buffalo mozzarella. Extra attention is even paid to the vinegars and oils. Rather than the usual balsamic, Huchs and Schwarz use Tribbiano, a reduction from Modena, Italy. Traditional reductions tend to be tart, but this eight-year-old, barrel-aged version provides the reduced look and feel while maintaining its sweetness from the grape to the plate. And then there’s the jazz.At many Sunday buffets you hear the clank of countless spoons, forks and plates. That or the overbearing muzak piped through ceiling speakers. The Jazz Brunch – whether you’re indoors or out – provides guests with live music from the Tony Gulizia Trio. Gulizia (keyboards and vocals), Tom Kirk (saxophone) and Allan Finney (drums and vocals) offer up a jazz menu much like that the chefs prepare. Playing classics like Cole Porter and George Gershwin allows patrons to eat and socialize amidst familiar tunes; giving them a taste of Antonio Carlos Jobim expands the palate. So while the kitchen is sneaking in cous-cous between the lox and french toast, the trio is spicing up their “standard American songbook,” as Gulizia put it, with Brazilian samba and international fare. Despite serving hot and cold breakfast until 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday, the Jazz Brunch is Cascade’s morning centerpiece. Enjoying a personalized omelette between sets, Finney said, “I can’t imagine a nicer spot in the valley. They’re generating quite a crowd.” The Jazz Brunch will run until mid-September unless long summer weather allows for an extension. Manager Salvatore Morale says, “I’ll give every chef in this valley credit. The biggest difference though is having Tony – and the deck.”Vail, Colorado


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