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Sep 21, 2007 04:28 PM

Vail Valley report 9/15 thru 9/22/07

Our week in the Vail Valley is just about over, with only one dinner remaining.

The highlight of the entire week was dinner last night (Thursday) at the counter overlooking the kitchen at Dish in Edwards. We chatted all evening with Jenna Johansen, the chef owner, as she was stationed immediately in front of us. She totally took care of us, suggesting dishes and pacing the service. Everything was incredible, from the savory bread pudding to the corn cakes with *fresh* huitlacoche (!), from the chanterelle stew with a perfectly poached egg on top to the shaved zucchini with pesto, and on and on. We also met Pollyanna Forster, the managing owner, and talked with her for awhile. It was altogether a sublime evening.

We also ate at Dish on Monday night, and everything that night was excellent as well. I think one of the standouts was actually the bread served with house-churned butter, a deliciously fruity olive oil, and Murray River pink sea salt. We also sampled their cashew bacon brittle, glad we had it but one piece was enough for me.

Breakfast on Sunday, and lunch on Wednesday, were at Route 6 Café in Eagle-Vail. This place is so down to earth, with reasonable prices for large servings of delicious food. Egg dishes and sandwiches we sampled were all very nice.

We ate twice at Sweet Basil in Vail – lunch on Monday, and dinner on Tuesday. The service was highly professional yet not at all stuffy, and everything we had was really good. For lunch, we shared the Vietnamese spring rolls, then my husband had a crab-stuffed poblano chile and I had a salad with pulled chicken, walnuts, apricots, cherries and other goodies. Dinner the next evening started with the local tomato salad, then venison carpaccio which was served with Oregon huckleberries and some mascarpone cream making for a really sophisticated presentation. My husband had the pork loin for his main course and I thought it was interesting that it was served more like a steak, rather than sliced. I had duckling which was served three ways – sliced breast, a confit cassoulet, and sausage – the cassoulet was my favorite component. For dessert we splurged with the sampler where our favorite was the (justifiably famous, I guess) sticky toffee pudding cake, but we enjoyed every last bite of all the desserts.

Dinner on Sunday was at Juniper in Edwards. I started with the roasted tomato soup with an aged balsamic drizzle, and my husband had the ahi tartare. My soup was really densely flavored, delicious. For mains, my husband had the lamb “t –bones” and I had the halibut atop a chickpea puree, both really nice presentations and good flavors. Dessert was a chocolatey cakey thing with some super sweet toffee sauce, too sweet for my taste. We enjoyed Juniper quite a lot and decided to re-book there for tonight’s dinner which we are happily anticipating.

Our first dinner in town, last Saturday, ended up at the Gore Range Brewery. We hadn’t made plans because we didn’t know what time we’d be arriving and we wanted to leave things open. Well, the beer was very good and the atmosphere was befitting a brewpub, but the food was mediocre, the less said the better.

Our final lunch in the area was today at EatDrink (same owners as Dish, in fact the fellow who made our lunch today was one of the chefs working at Dish last night). Wow, another great meal – flatbread with burrata and prosciutto, and a hot panini with more prosciutto, pesto, roasted tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, served with a lovely salad. I would like to eat there every day, once again the staff were so incredible, knowledgeable and friendly. What a gem.

Almost forgot, we had dinner on Wednesday at Fiesta’s in Edwards. We really enjoyed the margaritas and the food was pretty good too – the New Mexican emphasis was nice to experience since L.A. Mexican food totally lacks in this area. Chiles rellenos were quite tasty.

We had a couple of lunches outside of the area, one in Leadville at the Columbine Café (apparently a popular moniker) and one in Glenwood Springs at Daily Bread. Both were good for simple café food.

We also enjoyed the Vail Farmers Market on Sunday until it started storming. We picked up a few different prepared food items to bring home to California, and some apples for my husband to enjoy during the week. One difference between this Farmers Market and the ones I frequent at home (most often Hollywood, sometimes Santa Monica, sometimes Studio City) is that you couldn’t buy fruit by the piece in Vail – everything was pre-bagged. I asked one of the vendors about it and he said it has to do with the calibration of the scales, apparently the state of Colorado is much more stringent than California. I probably would’ve bought a couple of local peaches but couldn’t use eight of them and didn’t want to waste them.

Anyway, thanks for reading this and thanks again to everyone who helped me in prior posts.

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  1. Nice report, Debbie. Thanks for the insights. The Vail vendor was full of it! There is no "calibration" problem at the Minturn Market, five miles away from Vail. We buy fruits and vegetables in quantities we can use every time we go there. Don't know what the problem is in Vail.

    9 Replies
    1. re: ddavis

      Debbie, thanks for the fine report. Dick's correct there is not state regulation that does not allow you to by by the item. The vendor that we have found to have the most consistently good produce is Wynn's Farm, plus the lady from Grandby with fresh herbs and heirloom veggies. They do the Edwards Market on Saturday and Vail on Sunday. This is the last weekend for both markets.

      3 folks from Tossocni (sp) in Beaver Creek are opening VIN 48 in the old Vista space in Avon. It will be twice the size and more upscale then Vista with 32 wines by the glass. The current curved area (facing the round-about) will be a wine bar. Unfortunately, the landlord isn't going to get rid of the stupid looking "hat" on top of the building.

      And please let us know if you find any "gems" on your drive back.

      1. re: BlueOx

        No gems on the way back, believe me. Out the door at 6:30 a.m. yesterday, picked up coffee at Starbucks in Edwards, we had packed bananas for breakfast so ate those at some crappy truck stop somewhere in Colorado. The only place we stopped to eat was McD's in Richfield, UT for grilled chicken sandwiches, maybe the least vile of McD's food (but at least it wasn't connected to a gas station). Then on to Vegas, enduring at least three hours of highly hazardous driving in pouring rain. At least we had a very nice dinner last night at FIX and a great burger lunch today at Burger Bar before hitting the road for home, and the traffic for a Sunday Vegas to L.A. run wasn't as nasty as usual. Thanks again, and you are lucky to live in (?) such a beautiful part of the country.

          1. re: gramercyfoodie

            I haven't heard anything about it yet about VIN (48 comes from the address). Not hearing any locals talk about it surprises me.

            We had take out, beef burgundon with rice, from the Blue Plate Bistro which is across the street in the Christie Lodge. It was very good, in a home cooking style kind of way.

            Went to Dish Wednesday night, really good as always. But it was only about a third full. Yet the lesser places in Vail and the Beav were jammed.

            1. re: BlueOx

              I hate hearing that about Dish but hopefully it was only a one time thing. What time were you there? Usually when I'm in there on weekends they are taking reservations at 6ish for earliest available around 9.

              1. re: RobynS

                We got to Dish about 6:30 and left at 8:30. James was working that night and when I asked about the sparse crowd, he did not seem concerned. Dish is so good that I'm sure they will make it. I more concerned about folks who get shuffled off to lesser places by their hotel staff.

                1. re: BlueOx

                  Ah, yes, shuffled off to the places that aren't nearly as good. I have mixed feelings, I want Dish to succeed and people to try but part of me wants my spot at the kitchen counter to be available on those random nights I'm "stuck" in Eagle-Vail. Selfish, I know, but who can blame me with the likes of Hawaiian Blue Marlin "Bacon", Housemade pasta with truffles and short ribs that melt in your mouth.

            2. re: gramercyfoodie

              Hubby and I were in the area over Christmas vacation. We stopped in Vin 48 one night just a few nights after they had opened. The decor was modern, with an impressive array of bottles. It is great to be able to have so many wines available by the glass and the storage system for them is gorgeous! It is called a cruvenee, I think. My BIL took us there and he is the sommelier at Ritz-Carlton and he explained how each bottle is hooked into an argon-gas pump that allows the glasses to be poured while the wine doesn't come into contact with oxygen. He thought most of the wines were okay, but his barolo had an "off" taste as though maybe the argon gas system wasn't working perfectly. I couldn't taste anything funny, but my palate is nowhere near as trained as his!

              There were about 50 wines available by the glass and about 8-9 flights available. They write the names of the wines on the base of the glass so you know what you are drinking. I thought the prices were very reasonable, especially the flights, with some available for under $20.

              We were mostly in the bar area and the setup was a little awkward, but it may have been changed by now. Hubby and I split a flight of Rhone varietals and they were all very nice. I also ordered the warm chocolate cake with raspberry coulis. It was dark and choclately and very nice. The only real downside was the service, which was spotty and not very organized. This was probably because they had just opened.

        1. Thanks for the review Debbie and I'm very glad to hear that Dish lived up to the hype and the review of the Route 6 cafe.