Vail Design at Altitude column: Apres to picnics: A few of our favorite things
Elsewhere in the country, visions of sugarplums dance in our friends’ heads; here, many of us have very different dreams: thoughts of mountaintop picnics or festive apres-ski events and brunches after a morning of powder skiing.
The holiday season is in full force. Guests come from near and far, and the house is festooned in boughs and sparkle, which means it’s the perfect time to mix up our day-to-day routines. We’ve put together a few of our favorite ways to make the late-December days shine while enjoying the holiday bustle to the fullest.
Have a Picnic
There is little as special as a mountaintop picnic. Whether a simple meal of sandwiches and chips to a more elaborate scene with bubbles and cheese plates, fruit and baked goods — you can’t go wrong with a mid-day break and 360-degree views of the mountains around us. Find an out-of-the-way spot on one of Vail or Beaver Creek’s many decks, or venture up Vail Pass or out to Yeoman for an experience like no other. Be warned, though, a hungry fellow skier may just follow your tracks in the powder and you’ll be sharing your meal.
Our favorites? Jams and jellies that taste like home from the Front Range. Fresh-baked bread topped with prosciutto, arugula and spicy mustard alongside kir royales served in unbreakable champagne flutes and transported up the mountain in aluminum reusable drink containers. End the feast with delectable chocolates from Lafayette.
We know how to picnic here! A thermos of Italian wedding soup paired with a loaf of fresh bread will keep you warm and fueled for the afternoon adventures. I’m more of a nibbler, so a charcuterie platter is a favorite — stack the plate with gourmet cheeses and savory meats, add olives for the salt and a few pieces of dried fruit for the sweet and voila — lunch is served. Don’t forget a tool setup for easy slicing.
It was only after moving to the mountains that I heard the word apres used as a verb as in, “Where are we going to apres today?” Or “I’ll meet you for apres.” Indeed, skiers, snowboarders and powder fiends seem to take our apres seriously. Instead of hitting a crowded bar, plan ahead and host an apres party at your house. It’s the perfect time for guests to come, enjoy and leave with full bellies and happy heads.
We love Jennie Iverson’s “Ski Town Apres Ski” cookbook. Sumptuous appetizers paired with delicious cocktails — it’s the start of a party, all right. Pair the feast with a beautifully decorated table: contemporary crystal wineglasses and decanters elevate the afternoon. Or try warmed, spiced wine for the feel of holiday cheer in a cup. Cloth napkins really are not any more trouble — use them! Finally, enlist a few non-skier friends to bring an appetizer or two. Set them out on silver trivets or casserole holders, and you might have a harder time getting your guests to leave.
The day has faded into evening, and carolers have arrived. Share a glass of eggnog, light up your tree with ornaments from Christmases past and present, snuggle under a delicious cashmere throw and relish all this season of merriment has to offer.
Yvonne Jacobs is the president of Slifer Designs. She loves a good picnic almost as much as she enjoys an apres-ski adventure.