Few things work up an appetite as much as a day
spent on the slopes. Luckily for skiers and snowboarders who are sick of
snacking at standard pizza and burger joints, several North American resort
towns have become come flush with high-end culinary options in recent years that
reflect the local region.
“Our visitors know and appreciate good food and
are looking for an experience,” said
James Walt, executive chef at Araxi restaurant
and bar in Whistler, British Columbia. “Resort communities tend to have a
high concentration of restaurants and hotels, which creates an opportunity to
reach quality suppliers, giving us access to the best product.”
Mountain towns have also seen a boost in local farming
and foraging thanks to the continent’s wide-spread farm-to-table movement,
which has given chefs a supply of fresh ingredients to work with. Even in the
cold winter months, restaurants rely on a mix of root vegetables and locally-canned
produce to ensure the plates have a strong regional component as well as a
variety of flavours.
The result is a food scene that is just as
strong in the busy ski season as it is in the summer, with top chefs working to
create innovative menus for diverse crowds all year long. So when it comes to
what to eat après-ski or even pre-ski, skip the lodge cafeteria and try one of
these spots, where the dishes are executed with double-black diamond skill.
You do not have to be a skier to reach Christine’s,
located within the 1,860m-high Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain, but you
will have to take Whistler-Blackcomb’s Peak 2 Peak gondola to get there. The 11-minute
ride is well worth it for the snow-capped mountain views (from both the lift
and the restaurant) and the comfort food brunch- and lunch-only menu, which includes a wild
Pacific salmon sampler, prepared tartare, smoked and candied, and eggs Benedict
on toasted brioche topped with avocado hollandaise.
Start your après-ski drinks at Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler Village,
where you can learn to sabre a champagne bottle in the cellar (home to more
than 20,000 bottles of wine) or take a few shots of one of 50 vodkas in the
Belvedere ice room. Chef Melissa Craig’s food menu shows similar ambition and
creativity; try the heirloom tomato salad with charred tomato gazpacho and
fresh mozzarella pearls, or the seared fois gras with plum puree and spruce oil.
also in Whistler Village, the dining room decorated with fresh flowers and
original paintings sets a romantic background for a dinner of freshly caught
Pacific seafood like halibut or white prawn risotto served alongside local
tomatoes, beetroot or mushrooms. On the other hand, if a fresh steak is just
what the ski school instructor ordered, sneak into Sidecut
in the Four Seasons hotel, where hefty cuts of meat are accompanied by an
incredible range of spice blends and specialty sauces.
The Bavarian-inspired building facades of this Colorado town belie the
diversity of high-end dining options like Matsuhisa, by chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa,
known for the eponymous Nobu restaurants around the world, in the recently-opened
Solaris condo and retail complex in the centre of town. Start with a large
carafe-sized serving of sake served in a hollow bamboo branch, order a round of
tempura rock shrimp with butter ponzu as an appetiser, and as an entree, try
the black cod with miso sauce or the Colorado lamb with wasabi pepper sauce.
For European cuisine that matches Vail’s
exterior ambiance, the Swiss Chalet
within the Sonnenalp Hotel (one of the
area’s original resorts, founded by a German immigrant) specialises in European
alpine cuisine. Order the Colorado goat cheese fondue or the classic wiener
schnitzel with lingonberries and parsley potatoes.
After a long day cruising Vail Mountain, ski
down to Larkspur at the mountain’s
Golden Peak base for the decadent truffled beef larkburger served with truffle
aioli and truffle fries, and finish off with a slice of goat cheesecake topped
with liquor-infused cherries. Grab seat in the bar area for views of the
mountain, or cosy up in the wine room, decorated with a stone fireplace and
elegant light fixtures.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Restaurant and bar Local opened in June in the
Jackson Hole Town Square, and specialises in the type of local cuisine that
Wyoming does best: fresh meat. The chefs make the sausages and charcuterie on
site, dry age the steaks in house, and always have at least one locally-sourced
steak on the menu. Even though the menu features game meat like elk, bison and pheasant,
the clean white walls and dark, straight-lined furniture give the interior an
ambience that feels more modern than old Western. Order the raw buffalo tartare
with black truffle vinaigrette as an appetiser; the wild game pasta or the cast
iron-seared rib eye as an entree; and finish the meal with the fried mini
blueberry pies. Though the restaurant does not offer any vegetarian mains, the
cheese plate served with triple cream brie, sheep’s milk cheese and cave-aged
gruyere could be a meal in itself.
Genevieve also brings the rugged Wyoming environment to life in its
historic log cabin location a block east of Town Square. Comfort food like
candied bacon, biscuits and Cajun sausage gravy, and fried chicken and waffles
make for a hearty brunch before heading out on the powder.
Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Situated at the top of a triangle between Ottawa and Montreal, Mont Tremblant has
food options that combine classic French cooking styles with Canadian ingredients.
Taste a bit of this authentic French flavour at
Restaurant La Savoie, housed in
a converted ski chalet in the middle of the base village. The cosy restaurant resembles
an Alps chalet with wooden walls and tables, and stays true to its southeastern
France namesake, serving red wine broth and raclette cheese fondue alongside
Parma ham, duck, shrimp and roast potatoes.
For French dishes with a bit of Asian and Mediterranean
fusion flair, a greater amount of, try tapas at L’Avalanche, located in the oldest ski
chalet building in the resort, and order a la carte items like escargot or
chorizo tempura. The VIP platter includes tastes of sake-marinated filet
mignon, curry shrimp tempura and bacon-wrapped chicken.
Best known for its pan-seared duck fois gras, Aux Truffes, located in the centre of Mont Tremblant’s
pedestrian village, serves Quebec specialties like guinea fowl stuffed with
basil butter and goat’s cheese, and red deer fillet and other game meats, as
well as a selection of hard Quebec cheeses like tomme de demoiselles and soft
varieties like pont-blanc. Large windows, white linen tablecloths and red-shaded
chandeliers give the interior a warm elegance, made for a romantic end to a ski