As I write this, over 250 inches of snow has fallen in the mountains and giddiness abounds. A fire is crackling away in the fireplace. 14 of the 14 resorts are open! This is a good time to look ahead and plan to hit the best of the best—best resorts, best runs, best apres-ski spots and of course, best food! Here are my “Must Eats” for Utah’s 2015-16 ski season. Consider this a culinary bucket list of some classic cocktails, dining events and go-to nibbles.
1. Fireside Dining. Grand timber lodge, Swiss raclette cheese melting by the roaring fires, fire-roasted leg of lamb, dessert fondue. Can’t get much more picture-perfect-ski-postcard than this. Deer Valley, Empire Canyon Lodge, $63 per person.
2. Apres-Ski Experience, Goldener Hirsch. Be transported to the Alps as you listen to yodeler and accordionist Elsbeth Gugi while noshing on four-cheese fondue, house-made pretzels with mustard or poutine with braised lamb. From January-March.
3. Molly’s Milk, Molly Green’s. When the pow is deep and you need a warm-up, head into Molly’s, a rustic A-frame featuring this concoction of Brandy, Kahlua, coffee, whipped cream. It’ll set you straight.
4. Cotton Bottom Inn Garlic Burger. Almost lost to history, this flavorful, crave-worthy burger has been an apres-ski favorite for decades. One and a half patties of garlic-infused beef on French bread with classic shredded lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, seasoned with salt and pepper, melded with cheese.
5. The Shooting Star Burger. At The Shooting Star Saloon, Utah’s oldest bar and perfect après ski joint below Pow Mow, Nordic Mountain and Snowbasin, you’ll find a burger known around the West and across the Mississippi: Two beef patties, cheese, the usual fixins and a grilled knackwurst on top. Just cuz.
6. Yurt Dining at Solitude. Snowshoe under the stars to a lantern-lit yurt where stellar chefs prepare a four-course meal. A wonderful way to embrace winter! Price: $125 per person, starting December 3, 2015, TH-SUN, 5:50-9 p.m.
7. Alpine Nachos at Log Haven. After a cross-country ski adventure in Millcreek Canyon, glide down to one of America’s most romantic restaurants, a snowy postcard cabin nestled in the pines, and crunch into Chef Dave Jones take on nachos: house made chips, forest mushrooms, speck, fontina.
8. High West Distillery and Saloon. Just go here. Just go and try everything and eat too much and sip too much and leave with bottles of whiskey, because that is what I do and it’s great.
9. Make S’mores Slope-side. What’s not to love about lounging on the fabulous deck at the Montage Deer Valley, chilling like a furry fashionista by a fire and roasting marshmallows like a boss, all with a view of the Empire Canyon runs of Deer Valley?
10. Wild Game Chili at Troll Hallen. No ski season is complete—in fact, hang your head in shame if you miss it—without a visit to Stein Eriksen Lodge and the Troll Hallen, where a bowl of the deservedly famous wild game chili is a capital-M-must.
11. Apres-ski at Cinnabar. Sure, this Snowbasin lounge has Murano crystal chandeliers and tufted banquets but the atmosphere is slouchy and local. Bluegrass bands, delicious bites such as Asian lamb sliders with hoisin glaze and spicy slaw or the bleu cheese nachos on house-made chips.
12. Stroll Around Sundance. The menu at The Owl Bar doesn’t draw me in so much as the vibe. Go for the perfectly restored Old West atmosphere, sidle in (can you sidle in ski boots?) like a cattle rustler for a whiskey and a warm bar stool. Try the Foundry Grill for wonderful brunch and soak in the charm of this one-of-a-kind small-town resort.