Plenty of food, wine and sunshine to go around
VAIL MOUNTAIN – Michelle Pirozzi impaled a marshmallow as white as the snow under her feet on a tiny stick and watched it catch fire over smoking-hot coals at the Johnson and Wales booth. “I like the instant gratification when I light it ablaze and poof, blow it out, instant s’more,” said Pirozzi of Edwards giggling.”The simplicity, beauty and essence of a s’more, this is it right here,” said Grant Gingerich of Denver, as he placed his perfectly golden marshmallow between two graham crackers half-dipped in chocolate and went in for the kill.
Pirozzi admired her warm, sugary creation. “I could be camping right now,” she said.”I know, we’re in this snow-cave. I feel so giddy,” said Gingerich, melted s’more dripped down his chin. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”Nine inches of fresh snow had fallen on top of Vail Mountain by mid-morning Friday, but the clouds parted ways just in time for Taste of Vail’s annual Mountain Top Picnic, notorious for bringing blizzard conditions.
Not this year. Spring arrived in full force as the blue sky emerged and the sun shone down on hundreds of hungry skiers who had made the trek to the 2-story-high snow fortress where the wine flowed like runoff and gourmet food filled. Revelers strolled from booth to booth sipping and sampling the finest from more than 60 world-class wines and 17 Vail restaurants. The Gourmet Cowboy offered a deliciously petite smoked salmon quesadilla drizzled with spicy chile, cilantro sour cream. Game Creek served up warm shrimp and foie gras sausage with spicy, sweet bell pepper and strawberry marmalade. Lord Gore presented tender, smoked venison with refreshing lime creme fraiche atop a miniature corn cake. Mirador shared a hearty shrimp and corn crepe with creamy poblano pepper sauce.”We almost definitely knew it was going to snow today and we wanted to heat everyone up,” said Adam Lewis, Mirador’s general manager.
Everyone had their favorites. George Oliphant of Avon pointed to the rich, creamy pheasant soup and grilled three-cheese sandwich toasted and melted to perfection accompanied by a pureed passion-fruit chocolate mousse from Chap’s Grill and Chophouse.Carlos Washington of Eagle-Vail set his sight on the wild boar sandwich from Blu’s.”It reminds me of New Orleans,” he said washing it down with the second round of Margerum syrah, where producer Doug Margerum poured the wine himself. A 200-case production from a 13-mile Santa Barbara County vineyard, it was the smallest winery in attendance.
Wren Wertin of the Vail Daily couldn’t get enough of the Domaine Serene from the Wilamette Valley, “It’s the best pinot here.”As the wine flowed steady and the sky turned bluer, picnic-goers delayered and smiles grew bigger.”We’re having an epic powder day, playing hooky from work and now we’re here. It’s just a rockin’ day no matter how you slice it,” Danny Pednick of West Vail said nibbling on his “perfectly sliced beef sandwich topped with caramelized onions” from La Tour. “This is actually food you can get full on.”
Pirozzi, still lingering near the campfire, perhaps said it best, “The gathering of old friends and great food and wine, it’s the best way to end a long season.”Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or firstname.lastname@example.org.