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Vail lifestyle on the table in April

Daily Staff Report
Special to the Daily Organizers of the Taste of Vail have released the dates of the culinary and wine festival for 2006: April 5-8. Tickets go on sale Jan. 15.
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VAIL – Fans of food and wine can mark their 2006 calendars. Organizers of the Taste of Vail have released the dates of the culinary and wine festival for 2006: April 5-8. Tickets go on sale Jan. 15.”Come enjoy the greatest food and wine party of the year,” says Paul Ferzacca, head chef and owner of La Tour restaurant in Vail and a member of the Taste of Vail’s board of directors. “Enough said. Let’s eat and drink.”Now in its 16th year and with an annual operating budget of more than half a million dollars, the Taste of Vail celebrates the Vail Valley’s rich lifestyle – the fine dining, prestigious art galleries, shops and skiing that have made Vail a world-class, year-round resort. The festival was created in 1990 by a group of Vail Valley restaurateurs as a marketing event to showcase the resort’s world-class restaurants. Now the internationally famous community boasts more than 20 Wine Spectator award-winning restaurants – the most of any resort community in the United States.

This year, more than 6,000 attendees and volunteers are expected to participate in the 16th annual Taste of Vail, with chefs from three dozen local restaurants and winemakers and/or owners of 54 wineries from all over the world participating. “It’s the best food and wine you’ll ever see at a food a wine event,” says Ferzacca, explaining that the Taste of Vail is perhaps the only event in which the chefs, winemakers and winery owners – and not their marketers or assistants – are doing the cooking and pouring themselves.Organizers are especially excited to announce the festival has expanded its guest chef program to include not one or two, but three nationally recognized participants – Rick Moonen of rm restaurant at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas; Martial Noguiere of One Sixtyblue in Chicago; and Jennifer Jasinski of Rioja in Denver – each of whom will host his or her own Chef Showcase Dinner at a Vail Valley restaurant during the festival. The Colorado Lamb Cook-Off, meanwhile, is back, to be held Wednesday, April 5, on Gore Creek Drive in Vail Village. Voted “Best New Event” in 2005 and hosted in conjunction with the American Lamb Board, the second annual cook-off will feature samples of an array of lamb dishes courtesy of some of the Vail Valley’s finest chefs, as well as a number of Taste of Vail’s participating wineries showcasing some of their finest to complement the lamb dishes.On Thursday, April 6, are two more popular events unique to the Taste of Vail: The Après-Ski Tasting, “Life Beyond Chardonnay, Cabernet & Merlot,” a seemingly endless selection of world-class varietals, including Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Riesling, Zinfandel and more; and the Cigar Seminar, a fun and popular cigar- and spirit-tasting affair sponsored by Cigar Aficionado magazine.

The Taste of Vail’s signature event, the Mountaintop Gourmet Picnic on Friday, April 7, offers a venue unmatched by any other festival in the U.S. – the top of Vail Mountain at Eagles Nest, at 10,350 feet above sea level, with sweeping views of Colorado’s Gore, Ten-Mile, Holy Cross and Collegiate mountain ranges. Other events on Friday unique to the Taste of Vail include: the Chocolate Seminar at Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa; and the Cocktail “Mix-Off,” in which the spotlight is shifted from the Vail Valley’s chefs to its bartenders, all personalities intent on raising the visibility of cocktails as a form of cuisine.The 16th annual Taste of Vail concludes on the evening of Saturday, April 8, with the Grand Tasting, Dance and Auction at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa, an unparalleled tasting and culinary spectacle featuring all participating restaurants, wineries and all three of our guest chefs.Along with a long list of sponsors who’ve helped fund the Taste of Vail over the years, the festival welcomes Schott Zwiesel glassware, which has donated 5,000 glasses for use at the various tastings, dinners and seminars. The company’s spokeswoman, Jean Zuckerman, says the glasses are made from the exclusive tritan® crystal, “the hardest, strongest, clearest, most brilliant and break-resistant” glassware available today.The 16th annual Taste of Vail also is proud to announce its association with Denver-based artist Anton Arkhipov, whose specially created painting, “Enchanged Journey,” serves as the 2006 festival’s official artwork. Measuring 63 inches by 68 inches, including the frame, the oil-on-canvas painting will be on display at Masters Gallery Vail, on Meadow Drive in Vail Village, during the Taste of Vail. A limited edition of 95 prints of “Enchanted Journey” will be made available for sale.

“Anton is such a fun artist, because his paintings are all about food, wine and sommeliers,” says Ferzacca of La Tour, where some of Arkhipov’s other works are on display.Despite its stature among wine and culinary festivals and its reputation for haute cuisine, the Taste of Vail is a nonprofit organization. In the past 15 years, the festival has contributed more than $300,000 to Vail Valley Charities; and in 2005, in conjunction with Ritz-Carlton, the Taste of Vail donated $13,000 to the Hurricane Katrina relief fund.For more information, visit http://www.tasteofvail.com. or call 331-1645.Vail, Colorado


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