5 Ski Towns That Are Must-Visits for Foodies
The Canadian hotspot may have a (well-deserved!) reputation as a legendary ski town, but it’s fast becoming notorious for farm-to-table dining as well. Whistler’s chefs are taking full advantage of the bountiful farmland located just 25 minutes north in Pemberton Valley by partnering with local farmers and incorporating seasonal produce and organic meat into constantly-evolving, mouthwatering menus. As part of Whistler Cornucopia, an annual feast of all things culinary that brings together chefs, vintners, and farmers, top chefs take you on trips to local farms, winemakers host gourmet dinners, and experts teach you creative food pairings. Meanwhile, at Araxi, executive chef James Walt rotates his menu with local or organic produce and game, serving dishes such as butternut squash soup and Yarrow Meadow duck breast. At Bearfoot Bistro, you’ll feel as if you’re watching Food Network, presuming you score a seat in front of the open show kitchen, where executive chef Melissa Craig commands a team of 20. Definitely don’t skip dessert—the nitro ice cream is perfectly creamy, made tableside, and served with your toppings of choice. Plus, you can get your drink on by visiting the restaurant’s Belvedere Ice Room, the coldest vodka tasting room in the world, or by sabering a bottle of champagne in its 20,000-bottle wine cellar.
Sure, Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, but there’s more to this place than powder: Even though Utah doesn’t have much farmland to speak of, a crop of young chefs, such as 33-year-old Zeke Wray from Talisker, are finding innovative ways to incorporate the region’s plentiful fish, game, and root vegetables into their menus. You’ll find no shortage of trout, red meat, or beet options in this restaurant scene. Case in point: chef Phil Grubisa’s mountain cuisine at the Canyons Resort’s farm-to-fork restaurant, the Farm, located across from the base of the Red Pine Gondola. The eatery is filled with rustic wood tables and cuisine sourced from growers and ranchers located within 200 miles of Park City. Its menu changes depending on what’s in season, but small plates might include carrot soup with rabbit sausage; a sample large plate is Utah trout with goat’s yogurt, sunchoke, house kimchi, and trout roe. You’ve no doubt burned some serious calories on the slopes, so give yourself permission to dig in to the delish Chicken ‘N Waffle Tacos, too. There’s also High West Distillery, a gastro-distillery modeled after an Old West saloon where chef James Dumas uses seasonal ingredients from local suppliers, such as produce from Park City’s Cooper Moose Farms and meats from Rolling Hills Ranch.
Nestled in the majestic Rocky Mountains and at the doorstep of Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks, there’s no shortage of snow for ski bunnies in Jackson Hole, WY, which has gotten almost 17 feet so far this season. Celebrity chef Michael Mina (of the eponymous Michelin-star-awarded restaurant in San Francisco) was so attracted to the stunning natural setting and rustic, Wild West vibe that he opened the Handle Bar, an American pub and beer hall in the Four Seasons Resort with sweeping views of Rendezvous Mountain. Modeled after a 19th-century American tavern, its upgraded comfort-food menu is packed with playful twists on traditional fare, such as a crunchy burger with peanut butter, bacon jam, and pimento cheese; sweet potato tots with buttermilk ranch dressing; and a root beer float with chocolate-chip walnut cookies. If you’re not in the mood for a beer after hitting the slopes, you can rinse your meal down with something on the rocks from the ever-rotating “Whiskey Playlist.” Another spot well worth a visit is , helmed by James Beard Award nominee Jeff Drew. Food Network host Giada De Laurentiis has praised it, andWine Spectatorgave the restaurant its 2012 Award of Excellence. Try the elk tenderloin medallions with celery root mash with a tall glass of Snake River Pale Ale.
The Green Mountain State is known for its ample ski hills, including Stratton and Mount Snow, as well as staples like maple syrup, cheddar cheese, and, oh, those wonderful concoctions from the ice cream gurus at Ben & Jerry’s. The restaurant at the Windham Hill Inn in West Townshend is renowned for dishes such as braised “Adams Farm” Vermont rabbit with red cabbage, mashed potatoes, beer, and mustard crema, made using produce from the on-property garden. Nearby at Grafton Village Cheese Company, award-winning cheesemaker Dane Huebner handcrafts artisanal cheddar from hormone-free milk sourced from small, family-run Vermont farms. When ski season comes to an end, Stratton also hosts an annual Wanderlust Festival, which combines live music with daily yoga classes and organic food and wine. This year’s is scheduled for June 19 to 22.
Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks has the greatest vertical drop in the east, 87 trails (a third of which are rated for expert skiers), and 11 lifts, including a gondola. Just down the road in Lake Placid, NY, you can visit the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex and the Olympic Sports Complex, then head to a special meal at gastropub Liquids & Solids at the Handlebar. There, James Beard-nominated chef Tim Loomis mixes up new American dishes, like fried Brussels sprouts and cider bourbon apple cabbage, served alongside stellar cocktails—we’re loving the Balsamic Fizz, a combo of vodka, fresh strawberry juice, basil, balsamic vinegar, soda water, and pineapple juice. Foodies are only now recognizing what's long been around the Adirondack area: a cheese trail to write home about, apple farmstands selling top-notch handmade pies and fritters, and family-run microbreweries mixing up award-worthy ales and hard ciders, including U.S. Open Beer Championship winners like Saranac’s Adirondack Lager and Pale Ale. Pop into a pub après-ski and you’re likely to find a local lager that pairs perfectly with the region’s rich cheeses and grilled lamb.
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