Someday, Jason, Niki, Leah and I will sit around a roaring fire and proclaim, our little fingers outstretched from our glass half-full of box wine, “Remember when we summered in Belize and Wintered in Vail?”
We’d go on to say, “Thank goodness we have children to take care of us through retirement.”
Yes, it is true, we “summered” in Belize, “wintered” in Vail, and now Leah and I are having a kid who will hopefully one day pay for it all; it is officially announced. We just need to get Jason moving on this primal aspect of life so my kid can kick his kid’s butt the way I did him. The next few “blogs” will be about one of our greatest, though perhaps not most risky nor humble, adventures. We traversed the mean streets of Vail, Breckenridge, and Boulder in just under a week’s time for our Christmas break. We will present most of these blogs in the form of pictures, as those pictures formulate a thousand words that you tire of hearing from us. Enjoy, or choose not to….
Our view from the balcony of our resort in Vail. We arrived here after seeing my sister Sue and picking Jason and Niki up from the airport. We made it in Sue and Diane’s Audi despite the fact that I drove at night without my glasses and could not find the switch for the headlights. To match that danger, Jason forgot his SCARF!
Our attempt at post-modern chronological order: This is us just before we hit the snowcat that would take us to the restaurant. It appears Leah is talking with more interesting people as Niki does a Jig and Jason, well, takes it all in…
Before we got to the snow cat we had to take a Gondola up the mountain. People handed us warm blankets on our approach and welcomed the “Hepburn party.” It was clear this was an exclusive engagement; it was unclear if that was good or bad.
We like to call this, from right to left, “scared, high, tool.” This was our first glass of wine before embarking on our culinary adventure. Jason and I decided on the chef’s five-course tasting menu, while Leah chose the five-course menu, and Niki the pescetarian five-course. We share everything – that’s not weird, right?
This may have been the best dish of an awesome night. I have always said that raw fish should be free, or at least close to it, but this was worth every penny. Awesome tuna sashimi (aka raw) and scallop sushi. I’m not a fan of raw scallops, but the tuna was out of this world.
Occasionally, for the sake of grace, we must display what our dear vegetarian friend was eating. This is eggplant something-or-other. In all seriousness though, when you are dealing with chef’s of this caliber, even the vegetarian dishes are amazing… even, dare I say, satisfying.
First picture of foie gras which rested upon a peach and some other stuff. [Leah's necessary addition: Jim's "some other stuff" was actually lentils filled with pork!] It was delightful. Jason was sure to inform the waiter, our new friend “Reiff” that he hadn’t seen a foie gras in “ages” being from California. The people of Vail swooned about, crying tears of pain and sympathy.
Jumbo lump crap and caviar for Leah. This was her least favorite dish – a bit too heavy on the sauce/mayo. I found it okay, but caviar is just really salty old fish. For the money they spent on this, I would have been much more excited to see some truffles. (yes, I said that like a Vailian)
Awesome awesome awesome dish. The best sea bass I have ever eaten, and for a time sea bass was the only fish I would eat. [Leah's necessary addition: Obviously, you can tell from the pretentiousness of that comment that Jim was born in Vail.] The only fish I’ve had that competed was from Striped Bass in Philadelphia which is now, sadly, extinct. Le Bec Fin’s bass was great, but this was superior. [Leah's necessary addition: Need I say more...?]
Did I mention we had the wine pairing? It was great. But even better was the information we received from our server and sommelier, Andre, about the difficulty of attaining the levels of accreditation in the wine-pouring industry. There are four categories in that world, and with number four being the most accomplished there are only 224 in the world. They have to name the year and varietal of something like 20-30 wines without error. Crazy… I’m an avid wine drinker and I can barely tell you a merlot from a pinot, let alone the year…
Filet Mignon and shortrib flank bone marrow. The bone marrow was described as a steak butter, and it was. It’s hard to imagine anything short of white truffles atop your filet to make it tastier. Our “yes man” Reiff suggested that when eating marrow, if you are counting calories, don’t.”
Jason and I were treated to three perfectly cooked Elk Filets. They were amazing; that said, I hate the fact that in these multi-course dinners the best part comes last. I’m not sure how else to do it. The beef SHOULD come after the “light” seafood, but I hate that I am full when we get to my favorite dish. Perhaps I just need to create a larger stomach. That way I can look like Leah as she packs on another human.
As all penny-pinchers do, we called the most expensive restaurant in Vail for reservations and told them it was “the short guy’s” birthday, despite the fact that it won’t be his name day for another seven months. True to form, they presented us with homemade ice cream sandwiches which were as delectable as they were free.
Our server concluded the meal with a presentation of four pumpkin spice cake pops. He recommended eating them the next morning with our coffee. Stuffed, excited, and tired, we made the difficult trip back by way of snowcat, gondola, and bus and engaged in our long, dark slumber. The next morning I ate one with my coffee and declared it was one of the best things I had eaten. Niki ate hers and enjoyed it as well. Evidently, both Niki and I presented Jason with his cake pop independently and he accepted both. This left my pregnant wife, and star of the show, Leah, without a cake pop. Jason claims he cannot be held accountable as he was only being polite and accepting the “kindness of strangers” (that he has known for 32 and 14 years, respectively).
[Leah's necessary addition: The name of the amazing restaurant we went to is Game Creek. Obviously, not an important detail or anything... ]