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Simmer and reduce: Book boils down Vail’s best flavors

Maia Chavez and Mike Larkin

For a valley chock-full of fine restaurants and renowned chefs, Vail has up until now demonstrated a surprising dearth of locally produced cookbooks. This year, longtime local Carolyn Connolly steps into the breach with “Flavors of Vail,” a full-color, soft-cover, 100-page book of recipes from area chefs, as well as a selection of multicultural family recipes culled from Vail’s legacy of homeowners, vacationers and frequent visitors.”Vail has such a great tradition of diversity,” says Connolly. “I wanted to make sure there were many different flavors and ethnic backgrounds in it.”Published by Peak Properties, local purveyors of vacation rental properties, the book was initially conceived as a Christmas gift. Only as the idea took shape did it begin to target a broader audience.”Peak Properties was originally looking for a gift to give its property owners and rental clients,” says Connolly. “But everyone I talked to about it was like why wouldn’t you make it into something that would sell in the bookstores?”A natural entrepreneur and lifelong photographer, Connolly took the idea and ran with it, talking to local chefs, taking many of the book’s photographs herself, and tapping into her local connections for time-honored family recipes.Is there a built-in demand for such a cookbook in the valley? Kathy Westover of The Bookworm of Edwards says not necessarily, but books of local lore have the potential to create their own market.”There wasn’t a demand for “Inventors of Vail,” either,” she says. “But (Dick Hauserman) created a demand for it. Also, I have to say, cookbooks reach above and beyond what there’s an interest for in the valley. Someone from New York who had a wonderful meal while visiting here is going to be interested in a recipe from that restaurant.”Laura Gentry of To Catch A Cook, a kitchen store near Crossroads, has already found there to be a considerable market for the book.”We got it at the beginning of the summer, and we’ve already sold 23 or 24 at least,” says Gentry. “People are very interested. I think it’s something that makes a great housewarming gift, or a souvenir for people to take away from Vail with them.”Flavors of Vail consists of two to four recipes from each of nine local chefs, including La Tour’s Paul D. Ferzacca, Larkspur’s Thomas Salamunovich and Game Creek Club’s Christopher Wing. Interspersed with photos of some of the finished dishes, recipes range from salads to desserts.”I was really just trying to make sure there was a good range of types of dishes,” says Connolly. “I wanted everything from main courses to appetizers.”Rutherford Maule of Chef de Maison, a catering and personal chef service, contributes a salad of arugula, endive and baby spinach with goat cheese, caramelized nashi pear and toasted cashews with sweet and sour apple vinaigrette. Mirabelle’s Daniel Joly offers up a vegetable ravioli with asparagus coulis. Foods of Vail’s carrot ginger soup is topped with a cilantro coriander cream.The final section of the book, titled “International Flavors,” consists of family recipes from around the world, from Hungary to Marblehead, Massachusetts, from Sweden to South Africa’s Cape Malay.”I thought there are definitely a lot of families in the area that have really great recipes that should be shared,” says Connolly. “And the thing is that every one of the people that are in it have a connection to Vail. They are either people who own property in Vail, or used to live here, or who vacation in Vail every year.”Flavors of Vail is currently available at Verbatim and To Catch A Cook in Vail, The Bookworm and The Kitchen and Linen Source in Edwards, at the Kym Collection booth in the Minturn Market, as well as at La Tour, Larkspur, Mirabelle and Foods of Vail. Connolly will be signing copies this month in Verbatim’s booth at the Vail Farmer’s Market.Vail Valley Epicure is a weekly column following the events and changes in the local restaurant scene. If you are changing your menu, on the forefront of a new culinary trend or introducing a new chef please drop us a line at maiachavez@aol.com or 376-1811.


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