I'd like to tell you that they come for the brats. I have 'em flown in from Sheyboygan-best this side of a Lambeau tailgate-parboil 'em in beer, and then serve them up with a fire-roasted green chile pico de gallo, a local spin from my adopted New Mexico. The grilling only takes a couple of minutes. Good thing, too, because the crowd looks like it's swelled to 50.
Yep, I'd love to tell you it's the bratwurst, but looking up past my grill's siren song of smoke, I contemplate my setting: I'm parked below the quad, the D lot of the Santa Fe ski basin, and the late-March sun has turned a 40-plus-inch base into some of the finest Jolly Green Giant nibblets you'd ever care to cut a corner in. We've set up a kicker above the lot, off which my friend Mike can launch hold-the-pickle, hold-the-lettuce McGrabbies. Dave has just fired up Sabbath on the accordion. An odd sort of conga line forms.
I admit it, I'm blissed out. Sure, there are bigger mountains with more snow up north; better après across the big pond, where après is a word you actually say in public. But I wouldn't trade this hill or this tailgate for all the Nalgene-bottle-mixed Bloody Marys you could shake a celery stick at.
Okay, they come for the ambience, I'll give you that. And if you show up in Santa Fe around the third weekend in March, I'll stoke you a brat, too.