Janet Day: Let it snow and they will come
February 2, 2009
Snow Rules. It really is all about the snow, isn’t it? The resort, roads and many restaurants were packed this past weekend even though there were no big events and it wasn’t a holiday.
With blue skies, sunshine, moderate temperatures and great snow conditions, Mother Nature did more than any amount of marketing could. Safeway was elbow-to-elbow night and parking around town was at a premium. Tens of thousands of people hit the slopes of Winter Park Resort on Saturday.
And at least one restaurant actually had to turn people away. The Back Country Grill had a full night of reserved tables on Friday and those without reservations were left with a seat at the bar or going elsewhere.
I’m glad I finally spent some time at the charming little restaurant that looks and feels nothing like its former incarnation as a sushi restaurant. The wood-paneled walls and low tin-covered ceilings keep the ambient noise to a minimum. The 10 tables give it an intimate feel. I’ve always liked open kitchens as they keep restaurants honest and offer visual entertainment.
There’s nothing quite like the smell of beef fat dripping onto a fire to get an appetite going and that whiff of carnivorism hits as soon as you walk in the door. The grill specializes in the super-rich Kobe beef and natural bone-in ribeye steaks as well as bison, scallops and other entrees, plus daily specials. If you’re just hanging out at the bar, the appetizer menu ranges from a hearty bowl of gumbo and big, cheesy crab-topped tortilla chips to an ever changing light fruit and cheese plate. (Tip for bar-sitters: grab the seats to the far left or the far right. The cold air from the open front door blows right onto the backs of those sitting mid-bar).
My next weekly night out may be at Gasthaus Eichler, where the European continental dining room is complementing its existing menu with a new one: “Smaller Plates ” Lighter Checks.” The idea of smaller portions and lower prices sounds perfect for those of us who often like to nibble or are lighter eaters in the evening. The whole country could benefit from this approach in every restaurant. I’d love to see the all-you-can-eat buffets and super-size portions disappear.
Calling Cupids. Gasthaus and many other establishments are gearing up for Valentine’s Day with all kinds of specials for you or your sweetie. Try the Mountain Moisturizing Rose massage at the Gasthaus spa for $50 off. Or indulge yourselves with the Devil’s Thumb Ranch February Sweetheart Special for couples. The special room rate is being offered throughout the month of February, not just on the 14th.
And don’t forget to stop by Cupid’s Corner on Saturday. The arts/crafts fair at the old church rec center in Fraser is a great place to find one-of-a-kind gifts and benefit the Middle Park Land Trust.
Or bet an early start to Valentine’s Day and get your sweetheart’s heart pumping with the competitive and non-competitive Nordic ski and snowshoe activities at Devil’s Thumb this weekend in conjunction with the 22nd Annual Governor’s Cup Ski Festival.
Old School Style. Nice shout-out to the TimberHouse Ski Lodge and owner Todd Waldron in Sunday’s New York Times Travel Section. The “Journeys” feature was all about traditional ski lodges, focusing on those in Vermont, Utah, New Hampshire and Colorado that “attract a loyal following.” The writers particularly liked the lack of televisions and the communal approach to meals and recreation at TimberHouse.
” Keep in Touch: What’s got your attention around the area? Let me know. I’ll try to find the answer or spread the news. Send it all to JDayQuilts@msn.com.
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