Vail Simply Seasonal: Pineapple will take you to the tropics
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – Mid-winter in the rocky mountains of Colorado makes me yearn for the North Shore of Oahu – beach stretching miles in either direction, the deep blue Pacific curling and frothy and peppered with native surfers. Facing inland, vast pineapple fields are evidence that the succulent fruit on the picnic table is as fresh as it gets.
Christopher Columbus is credited for recognizing the pineapple as an edible fruit on his second trip to the New World in 1493. Fresh fruit was a rare treat in Europe at this time, as were most sweets, and the Spanish sailor was eager to share this discovery from the Caribbean. It soon became a symbol of royal privilege.
In early colonial America, the primary social engagement was visiting friends’ homes; the concept of hospitality was born and symbolized by the pineapple. A pineapple might appear as a token of welcome on the doorstep of the home or a centerpiece on the dining table.
As the hotel and restaurant industries emerged, fresh pineapple retained its symbolic presence.
“Hospitality is the cornerstone of our business,” said Avondale’s Executive Chef Jeremy Kittelson, “welcoming our guests as if they were joining us in our homes.”
Avondale’s pastry chef, Bill Fitzgerald, suggests an American classic – pineapple upside-down cake for a tropical dessert. “The recipe is simple, but the presentation is pretty enough for entertaining,” he said.
“Pineapple juice is a great component for a mocktail,” said Brian Harker, Avondale’s bar manager, “add coconut milk and sorbet for a tropical treat. Prefer something stronger? Try the Riviera.”
Pineapples are mainly associated with Hawaii, though they are grown throughout the tropics of Central America and the Caribbean. Since these regions sport temperate climates year round, pineapples are readily available any time. So if you feel the pull of the tropics during the mid-winter blues, try cutting into a juicy, sweet pineapple. Breathe deep, close your eyes and you can almost hear the surf.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
1 1/3 cup milk
1 1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons rum
4 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup purchased caramel sauce
1 fresh pineapple, trimmed and cut into rings
1 jar maraschino cherries
Vanilla bean ice cream
Macadamia nuts, toasted
Spray two 9-inch pie tins with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 350°. Spread caramel sauce on the bottoms of each pie tin. Decoratively arrange pineapple rings over the caramel. Place a cherry in the center of each pineapple ring.
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in one bowl. Set aside. In another bowl cream sugar and oil. Add eggs and milk and beat well. Stir in rum. Mix in flour mixture and beat till smooth. Pour batter over pineapples in prepared pans. Bake 45 to 60 minutes or until batter springs back when touched. Cool slightly, then invert onto serving plates. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream and toasted macadamia nuts.
2.5 ounces pineapple-infused gin*
.75 ounce fresh lemon juice
.5 ounce maraschino liqueur
.25 ounce simple syrup
.75 ounce egg white
Pineapple wedge for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake vigorously 30 seconds for egg white to become frothy. Strain into martini glass and garnish with a pineapple wedge.
*To make pineapple-infused gin – Combine 1 liter dry gin with 1/2 fresh cut pineapple. Allow to infuse at least 4 days and up to one month. Strain into clean bottle. Keep refrigerated.
2 ounces coconut milk
4 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce grenadine
2 scoops tropical sorbet
Combine coconut milk, pineapple juice and grenadine in a shaker and shake well. Strain over ice into pint glass. Float sorbet on top.
Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur, (larkspurvail.com) at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American Classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale, (avondalerestaurant.com) opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa and features a West Coast inspired, market driven menu.
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