Akeeno Clarke’s Deer Valley Difference

Akeeno Clarke

Akeeno Clarke

New to Deer Valley’s staff, Akeeno Clarke is a culinary extern who comes to us from Jamaica. Born in Hanover, Parish of St. James, Akeeno went to culinary school in Montego Bay. He currently works as a Chef at Royal Street Café.  

JF: Why did you pick culinary school?

Akeeno: Because in Jamaica, you want to set an example for youngsters like yourself. In high school, I was actually granted a culinary scholarship to go to Spain, and I ended up working for the Grand Palladium Palace, one of the most famous hotels on the island of Ibiza. When I returned from that experience, I felt compelled to further myself professionally and to commit to a culinary career.

JF: How did you become aware of Deer Valley Resort?

Akeeno: In Jamaica, we don’t know much about skiing. I was approached by my Dean who told me about a program offered by Janus International, involving hospitality student exchange for bachelor degree graduates like me. I actually sought out this program and that’s how I was told about an opening at Deer Valley, in a state called Utah. I’d never heard about that place. The only thing they told me was to bring some warm winter clothes because it was going to be cold!

JF: Get ready for some snow!

Akeeno: That’s right, be ready for the snow. So, I looked up on the Internet, I explored the Deer Valley website and after I completed that first Skype interview, I immediately felt the love. I liked the people I talked to and I jumped on the opportunity!

JF: What did you expect when you took that job?

Akeeno: Apart from expecting some very cold weather, I was told in the interviews that the resort was ranked number one in America. I was also told in one these interviews by Chef Chris Gibson at the Royal Street Café, that everything in the kitchens is made from scratch. Their dressing, their tomato sauce and everything else are all made from scratch, from quality, fresh ingredients.

JF: Were your hopes realized?

Akeeno: When I got there, not only did everything I had imagined materialize, but my expectations were absolutely exceeded. I must commend Chris Gibson as he set the tone and shone a very distinct light on what was supposed to be done.

JF: How would you compare your previous experience, abroad in Spain, with that at Deer Valley?

Akeeno: I must say that Spain and America are two distinctly different nations. The way of doing things is also different; while the internship in Spain was very enriching, Deer Valley offered both a much more friendly and professional work place. I guess Deer Valley has been improving its services, its culture and its environment for a much longer period of time. Nevertheless, both places will have been great experiences that I will treasure for a long time!

JF: This obviously is your first season at Deer Valley Resort?

Akeeno: Yes, my very first season, but I hope the first of many more to come!

JF: Are you saying that you are hoping to return next winter?

Akeeno: Definitely, if I am given the opportunity!

JF: What were your first impressions when you began to work?

Akeeno: From the get go, the minute I arrived, Chris told me, “Jump in the kitchen!” and proceeded to show me around. While I was already getting involved, I began to pick up bits and pieces of the job, that I guess, make the “Deer Valley Difference.” The whole training was communicated to me in a very friendly manner. What surprised me the most was how everyone was treated equally, the same rules that applied to the managers also applied to the staff and whether I was hard at work or just having fun skiing, I was always treated with respect and friendliness.

JF: Precisely, let’s talk about your skiing experience. I guess you had never seen snow before you came here, right? When did you arrive?

Akeeno: That’s right; snow was new to me! I arrived on January 13, and it was cold and snowy; it had just snowed the day before.

JF: How did you learn to ski?

Akeeno: That’s surprising because when I first came here, I was shocked; I arrived from a warm country into a very cold place. I told myself, “I’ll never go skiing!”  I had heard about a couple of ski lessons that were coming up, but I never went to any of them. Then my friends, back in the kitchen, kept on telling me, “You need to go skiing, you need to come with us!” I’m talking about guys from Argentina or from the Philippines and one day someone summoned me one more time to get on skis. It’s at that moment that I finally decided to give it a try. I actually never took a ski lesson. My buddies showed me how to do it; that was it and now I’m doing it almost every day!

JF: You mean to say you’re skiing every day? That’s a fast learning curve!

Akeeno: You’re right, I’m skiing almost everyday and to my surprise I’m enjoying it very much. I love to ski!

JF: Aside from skiing, what are the most important things you’ve learned since you’ve been at Deer Valley?

Akeeno: First, I’d say that they’re a lot of different cultures in the work place. You need to be receptive to all the people that surround you. Coming from Jamaica where the culture is a lot different, in Deer Valley I needed to learn how to interact with all my co-workers whether they came from Argentina, Peru or Paraguay. Another important element of what I learned is the barrage of recipes I’ve learned to prepare. But what I learned the most has been about quality and consistency in all the meals I prepare, and my own ability to control my attitude in that high stress level job. Those are by far the most important skills I’ve learned at Deer Valley and I treasure them.

JF: Now, if you had friends who might be interested in taking a position at Deer Valley, what would you tell them are the required qualities to successfully accomplish the job and be happy?

Akeeno: As a matter of fact, when my friends back in Jamaica ask me what it would take to get a job like mine at Deer Valley, I always tell them that they must be a consistent person, they must be very punctual, they have to show up early on the job everyday. I mean they’re not supposed to be at work watching the clock, they have to be committed to their task. Much of this has to do with the high standards Deer Valley is setting. People working here have a mutual interest with what Deer Valley is trying to create and what they want to achieve for themselves.

JF: This makes a lot of sense. Now, in your view, what is so special and so different about Deer Valley Resort?

Akeeno: What’s really special about Deer Valley? As I mentioned before, it’s all the employees. They all know how to provide quality in a consistent manner. It never changes; everyone is aware of the standards Deer Valley is setting. It’s not like one day you can provide a certain level of service and a totally different one the next day. For instance the “Deer Valley Difference” is found in details like when you are about to ride the chairlift, the lift attendant brushes the snow off the seat and says, “Enjoy your day skiing!”, regardless of whether you are a guest or a resort employee. They will repeat these gestures and say something nice to you every single time; it never changes…

JF: The same measure for everyone?

Akeeno: The exact same!

JF: Akeeno, anything else you’d like to say?

Akeeno: I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Deer Valley, its staff, its managers and all my co-workers. Thank you for accepting me and for sharing your knowledge with me. When I return to Jamaica, this will have been a life changing experience for me that I will share with every one I come in contact with. I only hope that I can keep on working at Deer Valley Resort for many more seasons!

Take Home Deer Valley Turkey Chili

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“Can I have the recipe?”

That’s what my friend said when I dropped off a container of my “take home and make at home” Deer Valley Turkey Chili for her.  The package was enough for 10 people so I wrapped up some for my friend and left it on her doorstep for her family to enjoy.

“We can go one step further than that!  The mix is available at Deer Valley Grocery~Café,” I responded.

Many visitors to Deer Valley Resort look forward to the turkey chili just as much as they enjoy the skiing!  Being new to skiing, I didn’t really know about this tradition until I overheard several different groups of people on the chairlifts talking about how much they were looking forward to it!  Once I tried the turkey chili at Silver Lake Lodge, I knew why.

Since my husband had shoulder surgery, he wasn’t able to get up to the resort so I decided to surprise him with a special treat. I brought the chili to him. Though I am not a very good cook, (I readily admit defeat in this area), even I was able to make the world famous turkey chili with the help of the special take home spice pack kit!

Here’s how it went:

Beans were soaked overnight and rinsed.

A few ingredients were purchased at the store and chopped up in (relatively) even pieces.

Browned the turkey, boiled some chicken broth on the stove, added the spices and the ingredients, simmered for a half hour or so and served.  Even Nancy Anderson was able to do it!

You can pick up your Take Home Turkey Chili packages at  Deer Valley Grocery~Café.

After you try it, let us know if yours was as tasty as ours!


Chili

 

 

As Seen on the TODAY Show

Deer Valley Resort’s executive chef of Snow Park and Empire Canyon Lodges appeared on NBC’s TODAY Thursday, March 6, 2014, for its TODAY’S Kitchen segment. For the in-studio segment, Executive Chef Jodie Rogers showcased how to make a variety of creative pancakes, from carrot cake pancakes with cream cheese frosting to bacon, blueberry and fresh thyme pancakes.

Today

Deer Valley Resort Pancakes

Makes about 10 four-inch pancakes

Basic Pancakes Mix

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ¼ cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1T + 1t olive oil
  • 1T + 1t sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup water

Serve with blueberries, chocolate chips, butter, banana butter, berry compote, vanilla whipped cream, maple syrup, powdered sugar

Deer Valley’s Carrot Cake Pancakes

  • Makes about 10 four-inch pancakes
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ¼ cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1T + 1t olive oil
  • 1T + 1t sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup water

1 cup fresh peeled carrots, Fine-Grate (lay on a baking sheet to air dry for approx. 15 minutes)
½ cup dried carrots, Fine-Grate (for garnish) To prepare the dried carrot: Spread the fine-grated carrot on parchment paper and slow roast at 300 degrees for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

¾ cups toasted walnuts, chopped (save ½ for garnish)
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

Make the basic Pancake recipe

In a separate bowl, mix the dairy, egg, oil and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together.

Take ½ of the batter and add in the grated carrots and ½ of the toasted walnuts and cinnamon

Over medium heat, pour the pancake batter onto the pan.

Once bubbles form and burst on the top of the pancake it is time to flip. Only flip pancakes once.

After another 3-4 minutes, the pancake is cooked. Remove onto a plate and either eat, or place the plate in the oven on warm to keep the pancakes hot until you are finished cooking all of them. (Tip: these pancakes take longer to cook due to the extra moisture from the carrots)

Serve three pancakes stacked with dried carrots and walnuts sprinkled on top

Top with Deer Valley’s Cream Cheese Frosting

 Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 2.5 pounds

  • ½ lb butter, soft
  • 2 lb. cream cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 ¼ lbs powdered sugar

Tip: If butter is not smooth before adding cream cheese – there will always be lumps

Directions:

Beat Butter until very soft and smooth. Scrape sides several times so that no lumps remain. (Very important)

Add cream cheese, beat well – scrape again several times so that cream cheese and butter are very smooth but do not overbeat.

Add vanilla and salt

Add powdered sugar

Mix 1 minute on first speed

Scrape bowl well and mix on third speed for about 30 seconds

Don’t overbeat as it tends to make the frosting runny

Deer Valley Resort Bacon, Blueberry and Fresh Thyme Pancakes

Makes about 10 four-inch pancakes

Start with Deer Valley’s Basic Pancakes Mix

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ¼ cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1T + 1t olive oil
  • 1T + 1t sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 cup water
  • Add:
  • 3-4 bacon slices
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • Whip cream mixed with lemon juiceand fresh thyme to taste

Directions:

Slice the bacon into small pieces and fry it over medium/high heat until it is the crispiness that you desire. When finished drain on a paper towel.

While the bacon is cooking, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl

In a separate bowl, mix the dairy, egg, oil and vanilla

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together

Over medium heat, pour the pancake batter onto the pan

Immediately after you pour the batter, sprinkle a hand full of bacon bits onto the pancake. You could mix the bacon directly into the batter, but I have found that you get better distribution if you sprinkle it on this way.

Once bubbles form and burst on the top of the pancake it is time to flip. Only flip pancakes once.

After minute or two, the pancake is cooked. Remove onto a plate and either eat, or place the plate in the oven on warm to keep the pancakes hot until you are finished cooking all of them.

Top with lemon thyme whip cream

Elderberry Compote Pancake Syrup

  • 3 ½  pints of berries (elderberries
  • 1 pint fresh (or frozen) strawberries- washed, trimmed and sliced
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ pint fresh blackberries
  • ½ pint fresh blueberries
  • ½ pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 splash of Grand Marnier
  • 1/8 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Honey to taste

Directions:

Combine water and sugar in medium sauce pan.

Cook while stirring until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear.

Add ½ berries and honey

Cook until berries are soft

Remove from heat and add Grand Marnier and Vanilla extract

Put remaining berries in another pan

Pour syrup over berries and mix lightly so as not to break up berries

Chill overnight

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Deer Valley Resort Executive Chef to Appear on NBC’S TODAY

Deer Valley Resort’s executive chef of Snow Park and Empire Canyon Lodges is scheduled to appear on NBC’s TODAY Thursday, March 6, 2014, for its TODAY’S Kitchen segment. For the in-studio segment, Executive Chef Jodie Rogers will showcase how to make a variety of creative pancakes, from carrot cake pancakes with cream cheese frosting to bacon, blueberry and fresh thyme pancakes.

“This is an amazing opportunity for me and Deer Valley Resort,” said Rogers. “As one of the nation’s most respected morning news programs, it is an honor to be invited on the show. I look forward to demonstrating a portion of Deer Valley’s delicious fare to millions of viewers.”

As Deer Valley Resort’s executive chef, Rogers is responsible for overseeing operations of all Snow Park and Empire Canyon Lodges’ restaurants and food events, including breakfast, lunch and bakery offerings in the Snow Park Restaurant and Empire Canyon Grill during the ski season. Rogers also oversees menus for the childcare and ski school programs, après-ski appetizers in the EBS Lounge, two of the resort’s evening restaurants, Seafood Buffet and Fireside Dining and Deer Valley’s only year-round restaurant, Deer Valley Grocery~Café. Rogers also plans all wedding and banquet menus at the resort.

Jodie

Rogers’ innovative menu offerings have received notable awards and accolades, such as Park City’s People’s Choice, SKI Magazine’s best in on-mountain food and dining, America’s Top Restaurants by Zagat and Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence. A native of Australia, Rogers spent five winters as an employee of Deer Valley®, serving as the manager of the employee dining program, as well as an assistant sous chef and then sous chef at Snow Park Lodge. She was promoted to Snow Park Executive Chef in December 2000. Empire Canyon Lodge was added to her responsibilities in 2002 and most recently, the Deer Valley Grocery~Café in 2010. Rogers boasts a 15-year cooking career that includes stints in several hotels in Sydney, Australia, and working as head chef at Australia’s Charlotte Pass Resort. In both 1994 and 1998, she was part of the cooking teams that took the Australian Salon Culinare, Restaurant of Champions gold medal. She successfully opened Toast Bar and Restaurant in London, England in 1999.

For more information about Chef Rogers’ TODAY appearance or for recipes and images from Deer Valley Resort’s food and beverage offerings, visit deervalley.com

I feel the need—the need for…CHEESE.

Well, dear reader, I have found my people. They are cheese people. Clark Norris, executive chef at Silver Lake Lodge and Corrine Cornet-Coniglio, have brought the art of handcrafted cheese to Deer Valley. And, considering I have the need to eat cheese nearly every night—sometimes as my meal—it stands to reason that I would find a certain connection with people who revel in the joy of cheese-making. Not to mention cheese-eating.

Imagine my delight when I was invited to a cheese tasting with this dairy-loving duo. And then, imagine the expression on my face when a plank of assorted cheese was set between us in a booth at Royal Street Café. Trust me when I tell you, we were the envy of every passer-by. (One skier stopped, tableside, and said, with some reverence in his voice, “Is that a thing you can order? Because I could just have that for every meal.”) Seriously, I could get used to this.

Over bite after bite of perfectly-aged and cured cheeses, we discussed the roaring success of the new-this-year Deer Valley Cheese program. The cheeses are not only served in all the restaurants, but they’re sold at the Deer Valley Grocery~Café.

“It’s all we can do to keep up with demand,” Clark admitted. “The other lodges are using Meadowlark a lot.” That would be the double-cream soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese. It’s in a white rind, and handmade in the Frence Moule a la louche tradition.

The name actually reflects the cheese’s origins. “There is always a meadowlark in the valleys of Heber and Midway, singing over the pastures as the cows graze,” he said. “This cheese is truly “terroir’—“

“Wait,” I interrupted. “Explain that term, please?”

“Terroir is the French tradition of making cheese from local cows eating local grasses,” Corrine said. “I’m very proud that we make Utah Terroir cheese, born right here.”

Corrine acquired an interest in learning the art of French cheese making as result of her former career selling cheese-making equipment. “I was traveling a lot in France and Germany,” she said. “And I just wanted to know how to do it.” Cue the career change, and she’s been making cheese for 10 years.

I deferred to the experts in choosing accompaniments for each cheese. Corrine steered me to the black walnut confit with the Blue Belle. “It’s aged over 60 days, “ she explained as she made the first cut into the new wheel. “The Blue has a mind of its own, so the first tasting is always a surprise.”

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For the record, that surprise was totally pleasant. A fun fact: Every line in the blue cheese is the result of forty holes that are poked in each wheel to give the culture room to grow.

Next, we tasted some house-dried pears with the Meadowlark—firm, buttery and delicious. Then, the Moon Shadow. I can’t say, out loud, that I have a favorite among these cheeses, but this one comes awfully close. It’s ash-ripened, and while the goat’s milk is 100 percent local, the ashes are imported from France. “They are vegetable ashes from the vine leaves in the Loire Valley,” Corrine explained. I can’t stress enough how much this sort of detail makes my day. Eating a product that is hand-crafted with such care is a privilege—and it’s clear Corrine feels the same way about making it.

“I work at night when no one is here,” she explains. “Cheese doesn’t like to be stressed or rushed—me neither. And, it needs to age.”

We moved onto Provence Kid, the fresh goat cheese encrusted with Herbes de Provence. It is served in a bruschetta on the Royal Street Café menu (yum), and is the so good that if I were to be left, unattended, with a jar of this cheese, I would eat it directly out of the container in an embarrassingly brief timeframe.

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Fair warning—Corrine and Clark rigidly adhere to the sanctity of the goat’s milk season. So, if you are having a hard time finding the goat’s milk cheeses in mid-February or early March, fear not—they will be back as soon as the milk supply is replenished. Trust me, it will be worth the wait.

In the meantime, pick up some of the Triple Truffle, a triple-cream Camembert-style Brie that is infused with black truffles from Umbria, Italy. Trust me, it’s not a bad way to pass the time. Creamy and earthy, it’s the kind of cheese that makes a person want to alternate bites with sips of wine.

We were all smiles at the table as we finished up our tasting—all of us noting that the experience had lifted our moods. “We don’t do this enough,” Corrine explained. “Sitting and tasting is a luxury.” And then, she said something that will now be my personal mantra:

“If you’re having a bad day, say, “Cheese.”

Well played, Corrine. Well played.

Renowned Cheese Maker Joins Deer Valley Resort

Taking its award-winning dining to new heights, Deer Valley Resort is now offering hand-crafted, artisanal cheese produced in the kitchens of Silver Lake Lodge at 8,100 feet by renowned cheese maker, Corinne Cornet-Coniglio. All milk for the artisanal cheese comes from locally pastured cows and goats in the Heber and Ogden valleys and the specialty cheeses are served in every Deer Valley® restaurant, as well as available for purchase at Deer Valley Grocery~Café.

Deer Valley

Corinne Cornet-Coniglio, a Belgium native, joins the Deer Valley team to spearhead the creation of the resort’s signature artisanal cheeses. The Cornet family was deeply rooted in the dairy industry in Belgium. She spent decades in Europe procuring knowledge of every possible European variety of cheese, including farmstead and Abbey cheeses located in remote locations. Fluent in French, she spent a significant time in France, gaining firsthand experience with dairy farmers and cheese makers. It was there that she acquired her knowledge and passion for cheese making and goat husbandry.

Coniglio came to the United States to pursue a career in cheese making in 2002. She was the former co-owner and manager of Roubideau Farm-to-You, a fromagerie in western Colorado near Aspen. Having a genuine farmstead artisanal cheese operation, she was directly involved with raising goat livestock and running a successful goat dairy, food and agritourism marketing business. After that venture, Coniglio became the national sales director for a French cheese making company and was the ambassador covering all U.S. territories for the company and its cheese making equipment.

As a professional cheese maker, consultant, and owner of Fromages Without Borders in Utah, Coniglio has a personal mission to promote gourmet/European-type cheese in the U.S. and help companies extend their production of more European-style cheeses.

 

“I am thrilled to be a part of Deer Valley Resort’s fine dining experience and create beautifully mastered artisanal cheeses,” Coniglio said. “Utah’s soil, grass, weather conditions and farming techniques will create a very specific range of new Terroir cheeses that I am excited to explore with the resort.”

 

The five artisanal cheeses currently being produced by Deer Valley are:
    • Blue Bell – A true artisan blue made from fresh cow’s milk and aged over 60 days to creamy perfection and ripeness
    • Moon Shadow – Ash-ripened goat cheese with a bloomy white rind and firm textures, made with 100% local goat’s milk
    • Meadowlark – A double cream, soft-ripened, cow’s milk cheese encased in a velvety white rind.  Hand-made in the French moulé à la louche tradition
    • The Provence Kid – Fresh goat cheese encrusted with Herbes de Provence
    • Triple Truffle – Triple cream Camembert-style brie infused with fine black truffles from Umbria, Italy. Creamy and earthy

American Cheese Society

For more information about Deer Valley Resort’s hand-crafted, artisanal cheese making, please visit deervalley.com

EBS Lounge Featuring Live Musical Events.

Deer Valley Resort’s EBS Lounge, a favorite après-ski destination, is featuring live musical events throughout the winter season on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 3 to 6 p.m. Located on the upper level of Snow Park Lodge, EBS Lounge is home to three talented musicians this winter: Michael Rogers, Alicia Stockman and Ché Zuro.

Michael Rogers brings his musical talents to Park City, where he is a Professor in Music for his company, Musician Builders. Rogers not only performs as a dueling pianist, he also teaches, composes, arranges and operates his own music studio. He grew up and attended schools in Massachusetts and is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. Rogers has performed as a dueler for many years at Salt Lake City’s Tavernacle, as a solo act and also with a number of popular bands throughout the country. His performances are one-of-a-kind and never cease to thrill audiences and his counterparts.

Alicia Stockman hails from the beautiful Swiss-themed mountain town of Midway, UT. It was there that she formed her love of country and folk music. Stockman now resides in Park City, where she can be found playing music at various venues around town or in neighboring Kamas, Heber and Hanna. She is a solo singer and guitarist, known for her acoustic covers and is also a member of the lively Bonanza Town band.

Ché Zuro is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. After seeing The Rolling Stones on TV and deciding she wanted to be just like Keith Ricards, Zuro’s parents complied. At just 9 years old, Zuro received her first electric guitar. Growing up in a musical family, Zuro never officially “learned” to sing; singing in tune to the radio, a capella or fighting family members over who got to sing the harmonies was a common place occurrence. Over the years, Zuro has worked with many groups and artists, singing, playing, touring and recording. Her touring has taken her all over the country as well as internationally and her music has been acquired for film and TV libraries. She has been called the hardest working woman in rock and roll.

Named in honor of Deer Valley’s founder, Edgar B. Stern, Jr., Edgar’s Beer and Spirits Lounge offers a large selection of draft and bottled beers, fine wines and cocktails, including Edgar’s favorite drink, the Edgartini, for après-ski enjoyment. Guests can also cozy up with delicious appetizers while watching sporting events or ski movies on the big screen TV. Outside, the large deck offers great views of Deer Valley Resort—a perfect way to remember a fun day on the slopes.

Eric Schramm Photography 2013
For more information about Deer Valley Resort’s EBS Lounge and its live music schedule, please visit the resort’s event calendar or contact resort. To follow resort happenings on social media, search #skithedifference.

My Favorite Things: Yama Sushi at Montage Deer Valley

Julie Andrews and Carrie Underwood may have enjoyed raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, and brown paper packages tied up with string when they reflected on their favorite things. For me, though these don’t rhyme, I love the mountains, I am addicted to skiing, and am crazy about sushi. Since the combination can be found at Yama Sushi at Montage Deer Valley, this restaurant is officially one of my favorite things.

My husband Jay and I pulled up to the resort to the complimentary valet parking, walked through the lobby and we made our way to Yama Sushi. The restaurant is nestled along the windows over looking ski runs and the expansive deck with a roaring outdoor fire pit.

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I have to admit we started with a sesame wings appetizer with chili and peanuts because we just couldn’t resist them – we decided it isn’t a “first date” item to order.  Since we’ve been married for 19 years, we were safe!  We weren’t worried about getting any sauce on our chins.  Besides, we were kindly provided with a warm towel for quick clean up, so we started our sushi night in wing heaven.

Our server Brittany was full of good advice and since we love trying new things, we decided to try the local favorite “Wasatch Roll” with Montage Mountain Ale battered shrimp, spicy tuna, salmon, cucumber, avocado, chipotle aioli, and tobiko.  After trying, the lemony Yama Roll with spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, yuzu-shisito pepper “pesto” suzuki, lemon and micro shiso, my husband now has a new favorite roll!

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Since I am normally more of a wine lover than a sake aficionado, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and try the sake flight.  As a sake novice, in the past I had only tried warm sake. To keep up with my quest to try something new every single week of my life, I decided to try three different cold sakes.   I won’t tell you which was my favorite. You’ll just have to check them out for yourself and maybe you’ll find that Yama Sushi becomes one of your favorite things, too.

A0002494with vignette

For a sample menu, click here.

More information on Yama Sushi, click here.

 

 

 

Who Has a Gingerbread Doghouse?

What makes the holidays special to young and old alike?  Well, I have a theory – it’s the delight of the surprise.  When you open up an unexpected gift, your eyes open wide, a quick smile comes to your face and you lose your breath for a second.  The really cool thing about it is the gift giver experiences the same physical reaction as the gift receiver!

One winter when I was a young girl, my brother and I spoiled our Christmas. You see we searched until we found my parent’s special hiding place and we saw our unwrapped gifts!  At the time, it was a thrill to seek out and find something we weren’t supposed to see.  We kept it our little secret.  Then on Christmas morning when we opened the packages, the whole thing fell flat. Knowing what was inside took away the delight and it just wasn’t the same. My brother and I never spoke about it but we never tried to find presents again.

When I went to see the life sized gingerbread house adorning the lobby of the Montage Resort at Deer Valley, I expected it to be wonderful.  A 12 foot high gingerbread house was sure to be impressive!  I’d heard the resort’s award winning Executive Pastry Chef, Raymond Lammers and his team spent two months building it – so I knew it was going to be really special.

House

It is spectacular!  The house is tiled with over 11,000 gingerbread cookies (2,000 roof tiles, 8,000 small tiles and 1,000 white gingerbread tiles) and completed with:

1 ½ pounds of nutmeg

135 pounds of butter

165 pounds of sugar

170 pounds of molasses

85 pounds of corn syrup

540 eggs AND 110 pounds of special sugar were used for the 26 sugar candies and the 6 window panes.

But there is more!  The delight came when while I was looking up at the gingerbread house, a furry friend nudged me.  Jonas, the Bernese Mountain Dog Ambassador at the Montage was visiting his very own gingerbread doghouse.  Let me ask you this.  Who has a gingerbread doghouse?  Well, Jonas and his fellow ambassador, Monty both do. These 3 ft. wide and 4 ft. deep gingerbread doghouses sit on either side of the life sized gingerbread house.

House 2

When I saw them, I had the same physical reaction as if I was opening that unexpected gift. Everyone around me had it too. I watched teenagers elbowing each other and saying, “Look at the doghouses!”  Jonas lapped it all up oblivious to the doghouse as he focused on making sure each one of the guests had a chance to pet him and give him a nice big hug.

Don’t spoil the surprise when you bring your family to visit the gingerbread house at Montage Resort – keep the gingerbread doghouses under wraps!  That way you can watch their reactions as their eyes go from the tall roof line of the gingerbread house, to the six foot tall candy canes on either side of the front door, and finally to the doghouses with the names “Jonas” and “Monty” written in icing on the top.

House 3

 

Deer Valley Winter Menu Tasting 2013-2014

Eat all the food.

That’s my motto: Eat all the food. So, when I was invited to this year’s Deer Valley Winter Menu Tasting, I realized it was the perfect antidote to my late-autumn blues—in which my impatience for winter rears its head. I had, that morning, said to a friend, “I’m trying to overcome my grumpiness about the beautiful weather.” Because, as we locals know, the mid-Novemeber weather is a tease—a few inches of white stuff, followed by fifty degree sunny days. Gloriously sunny. It’s enough to knock the wind out of a desperate-to-ski person’s sails. Or something.

So, dining a la Deer Valley, and mentally planning my evenings out for the winter, banished all grumpiness. Which may or may not have been followed by some freshies in the next three days. I dare not take credit.

Regardless, there were so many exciting developments revealed at the menu tasting, I couldn’t help but feel excited and hopeful about the coming season.

Perhaps the best news, at least to a woman who enjoys a “cheese course” nearly every evening—even if that translates, roughly, to breaking off a bite or two of aged Gouda pulled from my stash in the fridge and warmed from a rest at room temperature for a few minutes—is this: Deer Valley now makes artisan cheese. Yes, there is a cheese making operation at 8100 feet, in Silver Lake Lodge, utilizing dairy from the Heber Valley.

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You can enjoy this cheese at every restaurant at Deer Valley, but perhaps the best news is that you can purchase it to enjoy at home (or in your vacation lodging, or on the plane ride home, or in the taxi on the way to the airport), at the Deer Valley Grocery Café.

Belgian-born cheese maker Corrine Cornet-Coniglio knows her stuff. She walked me through tasting all four cheeses: Blue Belle, Moon Shadow, Meadow Lark, and The Provence Kid. Each one delighted my palate in a different, cheese-obsessed way. (Yes, I’m planning to devote another post entirely to Corrine and the cheeses.) For now, I’ll tell you that the Blue Belle is a ripened blue cow’s milk cheese, Moon Shadow is an ash-ripened goat cheese with a white rind and a firm texture that made me wonder why other cheese makers bother, Meadowlark is a double-cream soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese and The Provence Kid is a marinated goat cheese with Herbes de Provence. I was lucky enough to take a couple of these cheeses home, and served them the following night to guests. My friends conferred near-rock-star status on me, just for having introduced them to the cheese.

Dinner brought still more fun surprises, many of which were inspired by Chef Jodie Rogers and Clark Norris’ trip to Iowa over the summer, for a farmer’s appreciation dinner. Here’s a restaurant-by-restaurant guide to the new menu items:

Lemon-Black Garlic Bluenose Bass, The Seafood Buffet 

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Prepared in an oolong tea and wild mushroom broth, and served with fresh basil chiffonade, this dish boasts a sustainable New Zealand blue-nose bass. It’s light, but satisfying, and the flavors are complex and rich, without being overpowering.

Porchetta – Royal Street Café

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Chefs Clark Norris and Chris Gibson prepare this Niman Ranch Pork Belly in an immersion circulator at 145 degrees for a whole day. Then, they pair it with creamy Brussels sprouts (who knew?) and whole grain mustard. It’s so rich, they decided it needed to be served only in appetizer portions, but I could make a meal out of it, with a salad, easily. 

Pancetta Wrapped Monkfish- Mariposa     

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This dish was a favorite on the specials menu last winter—and it was so popular, that Chef Norris and Chef Tim Gibson decided to make it a staple of the regular menu this season. With its mustard pickle burre blanc, pan-roasted frisee and chevre mashed Yukon gold potatoes, it’s a superstar of a dish. Chef Norris even shared his secret to pan-roasting the frisee—he sears an entire head of the greens in a cast-iron skillet, then places a second skillet on top of the greens, themselves, creating a crispiness through the entire bunch. 

Rose-Hip Glazed Niman Ranch Pork Tenderloin—Fireside Dining

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Chef Shane Symes uses rose hips foraged from the mountain to create the glaze. Accompanied by parsnips, which are boiled in 2% milk, strained, then pureed with the retained liquid in a smoothie blender. The parsnips almost take center stage—they’re that good. 

Buckwheat Crepe and Deer Valley Brie Roulade—Mariposa        

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You’d think this is so rich that you need to share it. But, to my mind, it’s so rich, I need to keep it all to myself. You have my permission to do the same. Pastry Chef Stephen Harty pairs it with champagne huckleberry sorbet, lacquered walnuts and huckleberry crunch. Seriously, you will need to swat away your dining partners’ wandering forks.

 

Salted Carmel Panna Cotta—Seafood Buffet

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Snow Park Pastry Chef Debbie Swenerton said she was “inspired by Cracker Jack,” when she created this dessert. The milk chocolate cremoso, caramel corn cream with a cone of cashew caramel corn is going to be a runaway hit with certain members of my family, when we visit the Buffet this winter. The ski lodge version of the ballpark snack is, forgive my expression, a grand slam home run.