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20th Annual Taste of Vail

20th Annual Taste of Vail

[ Mon, 2010-04-19 13:00 ]
Wines chilling at Taste of Vail
Wining and dining at 10,000 feet is a rite of spring at Vail, and a tasty way to cap off the ski season. From the Belgian Beer Lunch to the Aphrodisiac Food seminar, the weekend long event served up good times and great food. The best event: The Mountain Top picnic.

As an Aspenite, I could get skewered for saying this, but one of my all-time favorite foodie events is the Mountaintop Picnic held during the Taste of (gulp) Vail.

For starters, it takes place at the top of Vail Mountain. In early April. At noon-thirty. That means you get to work up an appetite skiing the back bowls all morning long before ditching your skis, trading your poles for wine glasses and heading off to, how shall I put it? Indulge. The afternoon of wine tasting and gastronomic gluttony gives you perhaps the only acceptable excuse in the skier's codebook to download the gondola.

This year was Taste of Vail's 20th Anniversary, which added an extra air of celebration to the festivities on the hill and around the village. The picnic took place on the second day of the festival atop Vail Mountain at Eagle's Nest. Inside what is loosely described as a snow fort, dozens of wineries, breweries and distilleries poured samples from bottles chilled in mounds of snow. A gang of Vail Valley restaurants ringed the fort's walls with food stands—some with grills, others with sauté pans or even woks. The drill was pretty straightforward and user-friendly: fill your glass with your beverage of choice, then forage for some tasty morsel to go with it (or, perhaps, the other way around). Drink, eat, repeat.

Chorizo and black bean sliders from Beano's Cabin, lamb shortribs from Atwater, and grilled caribou sausage and achiote quail from Up the Creek got the most thumbs-up on the food front. On the beverage side, Champagne Henriot, Justin, Klinker Brick, ZD, Calera, Paraiso and Leffe drew steady crowds. All in all, the perfect salute to another great ski season.