Eating Our Way Through Utah

I am a firm believer that the best way to get to know a new place when travelling is through its food. So, I made sure to take copious mental notes, as well as many iPhone-quality photos, on my most recent trip to Park City, UT. My family has been traveling to the area every winter break for about 10 years now, so we’ve had some time to figure out the cuisine of the area. We tend to return to our same favorite restaurants year after year (creatures of habit), though every once in a while we’ll throw in something new and different.

First, it is difficult to convey this in writing, so you’ll have to take my word for it. The quality of the on-mountain food served at Deer Valley is bar-none. I have skied at numerous other resorts around the country, and not only does Deer Valley’s food surpass all other on-mountain food, it also surpasses most gourmet, upscale restaurant-quality cuisine. I am not the only one who feels this way; Deer Valley Resort is notoriously ranked highly because of its renowned food and customer service. I own their cookbook (yes, they publish and sell an overpriced cookbook for foodie tourists such as myself).

I kid you not–we were having lunch with our family friends (shoutout to the Matz family) at Empire Lodge on our first ski day when a couple chefs came out of the kitchen wheeling a huge clear tub filled with legs of lamb marinating in gallons of olive oil and herbs. While we ate our gourmet panini sandwiches, flourless chocolate cakes, and beef/lamb pot pies (can’t make this stuff up), we watched these chefs tie and hang the legs of lamb in front of the fireplace to start slow roasting the meat (to be served at dinner for those lucky enough to eat there twice in one day). Lunch and a show (I won’t get into the sanitation of these procedures at the moment, which we were all seriously questioning but will let go because the food is just too darn good)!

Can't make this stuff up.

Can’t make this stuff up.

Deer Valley is clearly really vegetarian friendly...

Deer Valley is clearly really vegetarian friendly…

Beef/lamb pot pie with a perfect golden-brown puff pastry crust. Deer Valley's famous carrot cake.

Beef/lamb pot pie with a perfect golden-brown puff pastry crust. Deer Valley’s famous carrot cake. Not your typical on-mountain food.

In past years, we’ve tended to ski more frequently at Deer Valley than the other mountains nearby (usually because we want to eat lunch there…now you know why). This year, however, we spent more time skiing at The Canyons Resort, a mountain about a 15 min drive from Deer Valley and a 5 min drive from our condo (the Canyons also has cheaper lift tickets). The on-mountain food is not on the same playing field as Deer Valley’s, but I would still like to highlight 2 good lunches:

First, there is a Belgian waffle hut called Bruges Waffle by the Red Pine Lodge which serves THE most delicious waffles. They are coated in sugar so that, when cooked, the outside becomes sweet and crispy, and they are served with whipped cream and strawberries/raspberries/blueberries. But, the best part–they are STUFFED with dark Belgian chocolate which melts and oozes out as you cut into the breakfast/dessert concoction. As a nutrition student, I do not endorse this as a well-balanced, nutritious lunch. As a hungry skier on vacation, however, I fully support it.

Lunch of champions.

Lunch of champions.

Another good lunch at The Canyons was at the Tombstone Grill, an outdoor BBQ joint by the Tombstone lift mid-mountain. While I wouldn’t be too thrilled eating outside on a cold, snowy  day, it was the perfect choice for a sunny, (relatively) warm ski day. I ordered the BBQ pulled pork sandwich (because I’m such a good Jew) which came with a side of cole slaw and cornbread. Wasn’t a fan of the cornbread, but the pork was delicious and hit the spot. Portion was pretty decent too, as you can see. Also, service was super quick, which is always a plus when you’ve paid for an expensive lift ticket and want to get as much skiing out of it as possible.

That's a lot of meat.

That’s a lot of meat.

With all of the above said, dining on the mountain is NOT cheap. There are ways to be thrify, however. Take a lesson from my father, whose eating habits never cease to entertain us.

Bringing an apple and pack of honey in his jacket with him...happy Rosh Hashanah, everyone.

Bringing an apple and pack of honey in his jacket with him #freelunch…happy Rosh Hashanah, everyone.

Adding his own crushed cheese crackers to the free crackers that came with our paninis #carbsoncarbsoncarbs

Adding his own crushed cheese crackers to the free crackers that came with our paninis #carbsoncarbsoncarbs

His annual free birthday dessert at Ruths Chris in Park City: caramelized banana cream pie.

His annual free birthday dessert at Ruths Chris in Park City: caramelized banana cream pie.

Moving onto some other meals out and about throughout Park City.

For dinner one night, we decided to try something new and different. My family, as well as our family friends, went to Shabu Shabu in the Redstone development (not to be confused with Shabu on Main St) to experience a claypot pho dinner–a first for us all. It was an experience, to say the least. We all bonded over how utterly confused we were throughout the process. It did become pretty clear, however, that Americans would all be much healthier if we ate pho all the time.

I ordered a plain chicken pho soup. Huge portions.

I ordered a plain chicken pho soup. Huge portions.

Corinne, Mollie, and Ethan smile as they receive a pho steam facial.

Corinne, Mollie, and Ethan smile as they receive a pho steam facial.

For a more conventional meal, my mother, sister, and I ate at Zoom on Main Street for lunch one day when we took a day off skiing. Interestingly, the restaurant was opened in 1995 by Robert Redford and is a Sundance Resort Restaurant. The vibe is very chic and modern-mountain-esque, which supports the eclectic menu well. I ordered the bison/beef/venison chili, Corinne ordered the truffle mac and cheese starter as a main course, and my mother ordered the special of the day which was a grilled halibut sandwich. The three of us shared a side of sweet potato fries (because if and when that’s on a menu, you can’t not order it). Despite the wait (we couldn’t get in for lunch until 2:30pm since we hadn’t made a reservation beforehand), the food was worth it and we were not disappointed.

IMG_2995

Perfectly crisp and salty.

When out west, how can you not order wild game chili? Homemade corn muffin on the side.

When out west, how can you not order wild game chili? Homemade corn muffin on the side.

Truffled mac with bacon. Doesn't get any richer than that.

Truffled mac with bacon. Doesn’t get any richer than that.

Grilled halibut sandwich and side of fries (not as good as the sweet potato ones though)

Grilled halibut sandwich and side of fries (not as good as the sweet potato ones though)

The last meal of the vacation to discuss took place at Riverhorse on Main. We’ve been coming to this restaurant for a number of years now; it never seems to disappoint. The upscale restaurant was re-modeled recently and is stunning. As beautiful as the decor is, though, the food is not to be outshined. The specials are always innovative (my dad ordered a special–tortilla-encrusted grouper) and I appreciate the freebies that come with the meal–an amuse bouche as well as a dessert treat that comes with the bill.

Our amuse-bouche of the evening: salmon mousse on a cracker.

Our amuse-bouche of the evening: salmon mousse on a cracker.

Fried goat cheese salad with heirloom tomatoes, balsamic syrup, and microgreens.

Fried goat cheese salad with heirloom tomatoes, balsamic syrup, and microgreens.

My mom's dish: UT red trout with pistachio crust, forbidden rice, pomegranate salsa, and arugula

My mom’s dish: UT red trout with pistachio crust, forbidden rice, pomegranate salsa, and arugula

My dad's dish: the special of the evening--tortilla-encrusted grouper with black beans and avocado aioli

My dad’s dish: the special of the evening–tortilla-encrusted grouper with black beans and avocado aioli

My sister's dish: macadamia-crusted halibut with broccolini, herb-whipped potatoes, and mango

My sister’s dish: macadamia-crusted halibut with broccolini, herb-whipped potatoes, and mango

My dish (again with the wild game): slow roasted buffalo short ribs with red currant compote and parmesan steak fries.

My dish (again with the wild game): slow roasted buffalo short ribs with red currant compote and parmesan steak fries.

The best part: their molten lava cake. By far the best lava cake I've ever had anywhere. That's saying a lot because I've tried many.

The best part: their molten lava cake. By far the best lava cake I’ve ever had anywhere. That’s saying a lot because I’ve tried many.

Free dessert treat with the bill: homemade dark chocolate truffles and peanut brittle.

Free dessert treat at the end of the meal to make paying the bill not as sad: homemade dark chocolate truffles and peanut brittle.

Needless to say, it was hard to pick a favorite dish (jk the lava cake wins every time).

I’ll end with my favorite quote from the trip. I’ll set the scene: we were in the car leaving the mountain and my dad, making conversation, asks my sister: “What was your favorite part of the day? Ninety-nine 90 [a tough peak at the Canyons which we’d skied that day]?” Corinne’s nonchalant and totally serious response: “umm…lunch.”

And there ya have it.

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