Comfort and Joy: Satisfying Ski Day Meals
Worldwide, every culture has its comfort foods, nostalgic dishes that warm the belly with carbs, calories and simple ingredients, and create a toasty feeling in the soul because of their sentimental value. In Italy, it’s all about lasagna and gnocchi; in Britain, they tuck into a plate of bangers and mash. A nourishing potage in Indonesia is soto ayam…basically chicken soup. We all really want the same thing: comfort.
In Utah’s mountain culture, we take comfort food seriously. After hours crushing the slopes, we navigate toward food that not only replenishes, but acts like a warm blanket. It needs to be hot, tasty and preferably dripping with cheese or sauce. Winter comfort food needs to soothe and satisfy and charge our bodies for more action on the slopes.
Located at the Silver Lake base at Deer Valley Resort, this classic Swiss hotel oozes charm. The cozy bar hosts one of the best après-ski experiences in the state, yes, enhanced the house yodeler and accordion guy but earned by the food. Nothing is more satisfying than meat-and-potatoes, which is basically what poutine is—a big pile of meat, fries and cheese. A Canadian diner staple, Goldener Hirsch'sGoldener’s version takes it up a hundred notches, using ingredients like local lamb or filet mignon, topped with Beehive Cheddar or fresh tomato gravy. 7570 Royal Street, Deer Valley. 435-649-7770
As far as bar food goes, you can’t get more classic than wings but not all wings are treated equal. While Buffalo style reigns supreme, the folks at Powder Mountain add a great twist of flavor and texture. In this dimly-lit (with Edison bulbs) bar with family-style tables, you’ll find locals elbowing with new PowMow pilgrims over plates of glistening wings. The bbq sauce is tangy, rich and sweet while the wings are tender but crispy on the outside. I don’t know the secret, but I believe they are deep fried and then charred on the grill. Maybe you’ll need to investigate yourself. 8000 N. 5100 East, Eden. 801-745-3772
When you kick back by a roaring fire in luxurious tufted leather chairs under the sparkle of glass chandeliers, you wonder if you’re really in Utah, until you notice the booth of locals chugging PBRs. That’s the beauty of Snowbasin Resort—take away the fancy fabrics, Italian marble and it’s the same beloved family resort that it’s been for decades. Here comfort food is served up nice and smoky: Juicy sliders loaded with slow-smoked beef brisket smothered in bourbon BBQ sauce and crispy onions on bun. 3925 E. Snowbasin Road, Huntsville. 801-620-1072
Everything is big time at the Montage Deer Valley and the burgers are no exception. Stacked to the hilt with premium ingredients, once you get one in your paws it’s impossible to put it down. Eating the MDV Chili burger—loaded with house chili, pickled jalapenos and American cheese and paired with a fresh strawberry shake and rosemary sea salt fries—is like childhood but better, especially if you finish it off with a bourbon coke float. 9100 Marsac Avenue, Deer Valley. 435-604-1300
Great barbecue takes a lot of love, something Brian Head’s owner, John Grissinger, puts into every brisket or rack of ribs. “BBQ is my favorite subject, next to skiing of course!” Down at Utah’s southernmost resort, you’ll find BBQ made the Kansas City style (where Grissinger hails from), meat smoked low and slow overnight with a nice red smoke ring. Every Saturday night during ski season at the Last Chair Saloon, dinner is served at 5 p.m.. It’s one meat item only—ribs, brisket, pulled pork or chicken—while it lasts. There’s no sauce on the meat, but it’s on the table. Enjoy live music and bone up on your skills; according to Grissinger, “studies have proven that good BBQ makes you a better skier.” 329 South Highway 143, Brian Head, UT 435-677-2035
What would a round-up of comfort foods be without nachos? Don’t worry, we didn’t forget the delicious, cheesy layered decadence of Sundance’s Bearclaw nachos. This high altitude dish is served up at Sundance's’s Bearclaw Cabin, a ridiculous location, with views to the west overlooking Utah lake and expansive views to the east overlooking the Park City mountains. Build in extra chill-time here to really soak in the scenery and grub down this shareable pile of goodness. 8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, Sundance, UT 801.223.4157
At 11,000 feet at the top of Hidden Peak, Snowbird’s Summit restaurant serves a cafeteria-style menu with a side of—OMG, check out the view! After doing circles on the Tram when the pow is deep and you need a breather, this place is perfectly situated to duck in for satisfying while absorbing the 360-degree vistas of the stunning Wasatch Mountains and valleys beyond. In this situation, it’s hard to beat homemade pizza, covered in cheesy sauce and artisan ingredients. Somehow, they make the dough—chewy and crispy---work at that elevation, some kind of culinary magic on the mountaintop. Hwy 210, Little Cottonwood Canyon. 801-933-2222