What the Rockies taste like | VailDaily.com

What the Rockies taste like

by Wren Wertin
Chef Jean-Luc BH 9-6/Mon Photos/Ludwigs 9-6 BH

It’s a good year for mushrooms and peaches, as any farmers market will prove. Soaking up the sun and the rain, Colorado produce is still ripe, tasty and available. To capitalize on the state’s indigenous foods – chevre, porcinis, peaches and lamb – Ludwig’s of the Sonnenalp is bringing back their “Taste of Colorado” menu.

Each course in the four-course meal highlights one famous Rocky Mountain ingredient. The regular menu is still available.

The first course is a strong start, with Haystack Mountain chevre croutons atop mixed greens tossed in a sweet walnut vinaigrette. The croutons are toast rounds, with a neat shock of garlic smoothed over by the creamy goat cheese, made outside of Boulder in Niwot.

Soup is next, with Vail Mountain porcini mushrooms as the featured ingredient in an infinitely creamy soup garnished with porcini and yam brunoise, drizzled with pumpkin seed oil.

“Our bartender finds them on a secret spot on Vail Mountain,” explained Andreas Wickhoff, sommelier.

With the first two courses, Wickhoff poured a 2002 Garfield Estates fume blanc from – shocking – Palisade. Touted as the fasted growing wine region in the United States, Palisade is actually producing some decent wines. The slightly smoky essence of the wine compliments the salad and the soup.

No menu celebrating the bounty of Colorado would be complete without Colorado lamb. Executive Chef Jean-Luc Voegele opted to showcase the shank, slowly braised in a savory, slightly sweet sauce and served with sun-dried tomato, olive and pancetta polenta, as well as crisp tender green beans. The 2001 Garfield Estated cabernet franc “Reserve” added a deep, oaky flavor to the meal, and stood up well to the deeply flavorful lamb.

The grand finale is truly dessert – warm Palisade peach and hazelnut tart, served with a drizzle of cherry coulis and a scoop of High Mountain Yogurt ice cream, soft and mildly sour. The peaches and hazelnut filling sink into the pastry, oozing sweet goodness and decadence.

Voegele features special dinners on a monthly basis at Ludwig’s. Having spent the last 20 years chefing in France, Hong Kong and Hawaii, he’s an advocate of using local products.

The dinner, including wines, is priced at $45 per person. The dining room is tucked into the heart of Vail, and is comfortable and posh. Service is always conscientious. The special menu will only be available through Sept. 12. For more information, contact the restaurant at 476-5656.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.

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