Dog-Day Afternoon at the Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Trials

sheepAre you having a tough day? Long hours, changing expectations and no support?  If you want to feel better about how tough your job is, go watch the Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship in early September.  What these sheepdogs (and their handlers) do makes your tough day look like a walk in the park.

Here’s what you have to do:

the gateRun up the hill in the hot sun and approach a group of eight sheep who think you are a wolf.  Do this in an easy smooth way (called “the lift”), so they don’t bolt.  Then when they want nothing to do with you and are scared you will do them bodily harm, take control of the group and herd them down the hill through a pair of gates.  Leave the group at the bottom of the hill … and…

Go back up and do it again!  Get another group of eight sheep and herd them through the same gates even though as soon as they see the other group, they want to make a beeline straight towards them.

Join the two groups and herd all 16 sheep around a pole in front of a stadium full of people. Then send them back up the hill through yet another set of gates, with no stragglers veering off course.  Since that was so much fun, you get to do it again!  Cross the hill and herd your 16 sheep so every single one does your bidding.  Bring them back to the stadium and into a ring.

the chaseYou aren’t done yet.  That was the easy part.  Now you want to shed off all but five sheep.  Not just any five, you have to keep the ones with red collars. The problem is they really, really, really want to stay together.  They will bolt the minute they can.  Picking out five and keeping them separated from the others is like picking a needle out of a haystack on a moving truck.

IF, AND ONLY IF, you are able to accomplish this, you have one more step – get them in a 12 x 12 pen so your handler can close the gate.  By the way, these sheep are now very irritated and tired of you pushing them around.  They will challenge you, stamp their feet, refuse to budge, or try to run off.  You have to get up close and personal (remember they think you are a predator) and herd them gently into this pen which is just about the last place in the world they want to go.  You have to be extremely patient and slowly urge them in. No problem, right?

the penSome of the dogs lost their cool and either rushed the sheep too quickly or nipped at their feet. That’s a no-no. They just couldn’t take it anymore!  Who could blame them? But the best dogs were able to do it!  At the sight of the gates shutting and the handler raising his hands, the dog jumped for joy and then jumped directly into a big horse trough full of water to cool off after a job well done.

Whether the dog gets the trophy or the doghouse, it’s been an extraordinarily difficult feat that very few dogs and handlers achieve!  Whatever my day has in store for me, I know it’s much easier than a dog-day afternoon at the Sheepdog Trials, but certainly not as entertaining.

Paddleboarding Birthday Party

Lance bdayOur first stand up paddleboard experience was such a rousing success, that no sooner were our feet dry, and lunch eaten, than Lance decided he wanted to celebrate his impending 10th birthday by inviting a few pals to try the sport with him and then have lunch at the Deer Valley Grocery~Café.

I, for one, could not think of a more fun way to celebrate my firstborn son’s first decade. Trent Hickman, owner of Park City SUP, was thrilled. “I love when people get excited about the sport after the first try,” he said. “I can’t wait for the party!”

paddlesWe booked one board per child, and one for me, for one hour. I figured that it made sense to have an adult on the water, and since Trent would likely be on and off throughout the hour, tending to other guests—and I’m crazy about SUP—I nominated myself as the adult. Secretly, I was hoping that Seth would get up the nerve to paddle solo, and kick his old mom off the water, but I didn’t tell him that. Fact is, he announced up front that he preferred to “ride with the professional.”

trent bdayIt was, by far, one of the easiest birthday parties I have ever planned. The team at Deer Valley Grocery~Café made it easy—Janine (DVGC Manager) and I sat down with a menu a couple of weeks ahead of time, and scrutinized it for party-friendly options.

Kid-favorite/birthday party staple pizza? Check.
Lemonade? Check.
Unexpected fun nosh in the form of house-made potato chips in multiple colors and flavors? Check.
Menu settled, the countdown began.

About a week before the party, Lance got into the habit of checking the weather forecast. I keep trying to explain to him that “forecasts” in Utah are more like “suggestions of what could happen at any given time on any given day,” because the weather can change three or more times in an hour. (There’s a reason that locals wear out the phrase, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.”) Still, there were thunderstorms predicted on the day of the party. I reasoned that we needed only one hour of clear weather—the hour we planned to be on the water. Fortunately, the morning of the party dawned just partly-cloudy, with the storm clouds hovering just outside of Deer Valley Resort.

kids bdayAnd so, we paddled. The kids assembled—most had paddled previously—and Trent offered a few words of safety instruction, and we were off. Seth announced to Trent, “I’ll ride with you.” Trent, as I suspected, needed to tend to business on the shore, so he suggested that Seth ride on mine. And, just like that, the kid sold me up the proverbial (and literal) river. “I don’t trust her, she’s not a professional!” Quick-thinking Trent said, “She’s better than a pro—she’s your MOM!” and Seth climbed aboard. I have never had more fun supervising a party—just watching the kids invent games while they paddled, “accidentally” fall into the water, and even take sunbathing breaks (I’m looking at you, Anna!) was a hoot.

Seth bdayThe hour-long rental was perfect—the kids worked so hard on the boards that they were wiped out after about 45 minutes, and then splashed around and goofed off for another 10 or 15 minutes before we dried off for lunch. Trent took me aside and said, “I hope we can get Seth out a couple more times this summer—he’s on the verge of gaining the confidence he needs to paddle solo, and I’d love to see that happen.” I made a mental note to use that little tidbit to entice Seth to keep at it.

candlesAbout five minutes into lunch, those storm clouds moved in, and rained onto the deck awning that covered our tables. The kids told jokes, did magic tricks and generally ignored the weather while the adults shook our heads in amazement at the luck of it all. Pizza and chips were consumed (the grownups enjoyed the DVGC Burger—delish!) and by the time we served cake, the weather had cleared.

Birthday groupAfter lunch, we rounded up the kids for a “hike” along the paths around the ponds, and a couple of photo ops. I had to take a moment to look at my child and his wonderful friends—at least one of whom he’s known since birth. Jeff and I looked at them—and then at each other—in amazement. How lucky we are that our children are growing up in a community where they bond with their friends over interesting outdoor sports, and laugh uproariously while they do it. The fact that we have Deer Valley as our playground all-year is an amazing thing, and one we don’t take for granted.

Adventures on Lost Prospector Trail

m-lostprOften, I have guests who are looking for a mellow hiking trail. And while I am always quick to tell them about some of the easier hikes at Deer Valley Resort (in large part because they all start and finish at Royal Street Cafe, and nothing’s better after a hike than an alfresco Bison Burger and an iced tea–or one of the cafe’s award-winning cocktails while the resort is open during the summer season). But I’m also a fan of some of the amazing views of town you can get from trails all around Park City. One of my favorites is Lost Prospector. You can start at the bottom of the Aerie or from the Rail Trail and catch views of the ski resorts, City Park, Park City High School, Round Valley, and beyond.

IMG_0883It is a great kid-friendly hike, and we typically include it on our itinerary while entertaining out-of-town guests. At the viewpoint for the Park City landmark on Treasure Mountain, the kids took turns in photo-ops designed to make it look like they were holding the letters in their hands.

IMG_0886Granted, on one of my first outings of the summer, I took the first half of the trail name a little too seriously, and instead of connecting back to the Rail Trail via either the fire road at the back of Chatham Hills or Skid Row, I followed the trail all the way to the very back of Solamere. In just over 90 minutes, I had traveled about 4.5 miles, in a combination of trail running and walk-paced hiking, and now I had less than 20 minutes to get myself back to City Park before my kids two-hour skateboard camp ended. Oops. Thankfully, this classic Park City “problem” had a classic Park City solution–I simply called my friend Beth, who lives nearby, and who also had kids at the skate park, and asked her to meet me at the fire road in her car. Laughing, she agreed, and I sprinted my way back along the trail to meet her.

My next outing on the Lost Prospector trail involved two friends and our mountain bikes. We set out from the parking lot at Rail Central, took the paved path up through City Park to the bottom of Main Street, walked our bikes across Hwy-224, then rode uphill in the Aerie a few hundred yards to the trail head. As we took off, I reminded both of them of my recent calamity, and assumed that if we got separated (read: I fell behind), we would meet at the bottom of the fire road. The ride itself was a lot of fun. On my hike the week before, I had identified about a dozen spots where I thought I might need to get off and walk (around sharp corners, over extremely rocky sections) and surprised myself by walking less than I’d planned. Most of the trail is so smooth and shaded that it’s a pleasure to let your tires glide over stretches of single track. It was a casual ride with plenty of breaks to hydrate and chat.

Of course, I fell behind just enough that I did not see them pass the fire road so we could, ostensibly, take the Skid Row exit to the Rail Trail. I walked down most of the fire road (even my experienced biker friend said she would do the same…it’s straight downhill and rather rocky), and then, when I didn’t see them at the trail head, hightailed it back to the parking lot alongside the Rail Trail where we had started, saw they were not here, and biked back to the Chatham Hills trail head to look for them. They spied me for the trail above and shouted that they would meet me at the cars. A few minutes later, my phone rang and it was my friends, telling me they had missed the Skid Row turnoff and were now walking their bikes down a more technical exit trail–(duh! Why hadn’t I thought to call them, earlier). “Go ahead, we’ll call you later’” they said. “No problem,” I replied. “I’m going to buy a trail map.”

Mountain Trails Foundation offers an interactive trail map on their website www.mountaintrails.org, and paper maps for sale at many local retailers.

Don’t Try This at Home: Champagne Sabering Ceremony at the St. Regis

nancy and jayChampagne is something we don’t drink often enough.  Traditionally Champagne is the beverage of choice for celebrations, and I don’t know about you but I tend to only pull out a bottle for the big things. When there is a new job or promotion, a wedding, a new baby or a new home, out comes the bubbly.  My European friends on the other hand, will pop open the cork simply for a beautiful afternoon to enjoy together. They know how to celebrate life every day.

My husband Jay and I, along with some good friends, decided to follow the European tradition and celebrate a beautiful evening in Park City.  We headed to Deer Valley and took the Funicular up the mountain to the St. Regis to enjoy the nightly Champagne Sabering Ceremony.  I figure, if you are going to enjoy champagne, why not enjoy the pageantry of the sabering ceremony while taking in the view of my favorite ski runs from deck of the St. Regis?

pre saberAs often happens in the mountains on a beautiful clear evening, a cloud appeared and sent droplets of rain on all of us.  Though we easily could have gone inside, we stayed out on the deck with a few other adventuresome patrons and ducked under the substantial umbrellas until it passed over.  It was worth the wait as the sky cleared up and the St. Regis Butler jumped onto a large boulder with a champagne bottle in one hand and a saber in the other.

post saberIn the blink of an eye, he sheared the top of the champagne bottle clean off.  At first, I thought he had sliced the cork and it popped off because I’d never seen this before.  Under closer inspection, the sword indeed had sliced cleanly through the neck of the bottle.  After holding the heavy and very sharp saber myself, I could see how it could be done.

nancy with saberThough I wouldn’t recommend trying this at home but watching at the St. Regis mountainside deck with good friends, definitely!

Cheers!

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The St. Regis Champagne Sabering Ceremony is held every evening on the deck. Contact the hotel for more information. The gorgeous views and the champagne are complimentary.

 

The Park City Food and Wine Classic

bari nan and husbandThis summer, Jeff and I were invited to enjoy “The Best of the Best” event during the Park City Food and Wine Classic, held at the Montage Deer Valley. Lucky for us, we got to spend the night, too.

There is something magical about pulling up to the Montage—for me, it means my blood pressure drops to near-sedated levels. I’m in my favorite corner of Deer Valley Resort, Empire Canyon, and I’m just minutes from home, but a world away. This time, it felt even more “away,” because my kids were not with me. And my husband was. To say we were excited about the prospect of an overnight “away,” is a mild understatement.

hotel roomHere’s where I will include traditional disclaimer about how we LOVE our kids, and can’t IMAGINE life without them—it’s all true. Except for the second part. I remember quite clearly the 30 years of my life before them, and they were good years. The years with the kids? Better than good. But a night off from parenting is a key ingredient in recharging one’s parenting batteries. A night off at the Montage is even better, because I could turn off the whirring in my brain—the schedules and bedtime battles and snack requests that serve as so much white noise (and a trusted friend was in charge of the kids and accompanying “noise” for 24 hours).

See, all the thinking is, well, pre-thought for you at Montage. The details of daily living are sorted out for you by the able staff. Even checking in is a treat, as a staff member greets you, room keys and paperwork in hand, to escort you directly to your room, and handle check in procedures there.  Imagine my delight when I found our room equipped with in-wall USB charging ports for the gizmos we brought with us (iPads, phones, kindles), as well as current issues of our favorite magazines. (By the way, I needed none of these items—the view from our twin terraces was breathtaking and all-consuming).

people archeryThe property is beautiful—wandering the grounds makes a person feel like she’s ensconced in a lovely movie about resort life, since the gardens have hidden speakers that makes it seem like the flowerbeds are singing to you. We took in a view of the archery field (lessons offered multiple times a day), and then went to lounge by the pool. Kermut, a helpful staffer, situated us on lounge chairs that he outfitted with comfy toweling covers, and then proffered cocktail and snack menus. We ordered the Park City Mule and For Jonas cocktails—light, refreshing and fun—, and a charcuterie platter, and while we were waiting, a lovely woman arrived to ask if she could give my sunglasses a complimentary polish. Who was I to refuse?

drinkscheese and meatpoolAnd with the clarity of vision returned to my favorite pair of shades, came a moment of clarity: One of the best things about staying at a property where all the details are managed so that your stay is effortless is that your brain has time to relax and explore some of the terrain that usually goes neglected when you’re fussing and fretting over the actual running of your life.  Which meant that Jeff and I had the chance to let our minds wander, do some brainstorming about various creative endeavors we’ve been pondering, and, yes, notice how much the kids would totally enjoy a stay at the Montage, as well. Tons of kid-friendly activities were available at nearly every turn—from the human-sized chess pieces on a walk-on board adjacent to the pool deck, to the aforementioned archery lessons, Paintbox Kids activities, lawn games, and, of course, Daly’s—the sports pub/grill complete with bowling alley and a gaming arcade. A pact was made: We would satisfy our craving for more top-notch service and relaxed unwinding time by returning with the kids in a few weeks. After all, they deserve to see that their parents are more than just schedule keepers, meal-providers and homework-naggers, too!

Before long, it was time to return to our room and prep for the evening ahead—which promised wine and food paired tasting stations featuring inventive dishes from the Montage (everything from fire-roasted wild boar tostadas to DIY s’mores with homemade flavored marshmallows and locally sourced dark chocolate). I didn’t get to any other events at this year’s Park City Food and Wine Classic, but from everything we sampled and tasted over the course of the evening, I have to agree—the Montage presented The Best of the Best.  I don’t think anyone at the property would take credit, but some much-needed rain sprinkled onto the terrace off the lounge, and then…a rainbow.

hotel room bedAn evening of revelry behind us, we retreated to our room—and to the world’s most comfortable bed. (Yes, I did look up the bedding on the hotel’s website, and I may or may not have ordered a feather bed and some new pillowcases by the time you are reading this post.) By morning, we felt refreshed— and ready for alfresco breakfast at Apex. Now, we were well-entertained, well-rested and well-fed, which may well be the trifecta of the mini-break.

By the time we checked out, I had a to-do list for our next visit: Hang out with the hotel’s resident Bernese Mountain Dogs, take archery lessons, dine at Daly’s and hit the Deer Valley trails for a hike—all of the above, with the kids. Plus, a detour to the spa for Mom. Yes, it does sound like the makings of a great family getaway. Stay tuned!

Rafting Down the Weber River

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Cindy giving the thumbs up before we begin our tour.

The writer, Deer Valley Resort communications coordinator, Katy McEver, has lived in Park City just over a year and a half with her dog Ellie. As a transplanted Southerner, she plans to keep finding new adventures in the mountains and deserts of Utah.

Last summer, I made the mistake of keeping my adventures limited to hiking nearby local trails. This is a tragic mistake and every local and visiting tourist should make the effort to explore! Nearly finishing my second summer here in Utah (and in case you were wondering, I definitely caught the local bug called ‘came for the winter and stayed for the summer!’) I decided this summer to jump feet first into finding adventures located right in my very active backyard.

A month ago, I had the pleasure of experiencing one of the ‘must-do’ summer activities in Utah—rafting! My friend and colleague, Kyle Hooker, owns Park City Tubing and when I asked where he would recommend a novice rafter (I don’t even own a pair of Tevas or Chacos, oh the horror!) to start he quickly pointed me towards the Weber River.  Luckily for me, just down the road in Morgan, Park City Rafting offers guided rafting tours from two hour to full day trips. Its sister company, Barefoot Tubing is also located in Morgan and offers tubing rentals that are a huge hit with locals on the weekends. Both companies put in on the Weber River, a 125-mile long river starting in the Uinta Mountain range and dumping into the Great Salt Lake.

I asked my friend Cindy, a veteran river rafter, to join me. She’s someone who knows a thing or two about rafting and just prior to our tour had gotten back from a eight day trip down the Grand Canyon! While I wasn’t ready for anything that adventurous, I was looking forward to our day trip which last about two hours depending on the water height and the rapids.

IMAG0076We arrived at Park City Rafting and were greeted by Kyle’s son who was manning the post while Kyle tended to the Barefoot Tubing operation and filled out necessary paperwork. We needed to wait just a bit for the groups in front of us to make it back before we could start our tour. While we were waiting I wanted to get to know our fellow rafters. It was a family affair with two families, one local and the other visiting who were just as excited for their rafting adventure.

IMAG0077IMAG0079Our guides (who are all very skilled and certified in First Aid and CPR) met us to drive us the very short distance up the Weber to our drop in point. It’s amazing how short the drive is and yet how fun river miles can be while paddling! Our guide helped us into our boat and off we went –dead-last behind the two other groups!

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Katy posing before hopping in the raft.

IMAG0082Right away we helped him navigate through Rock Alley (a fun obstacle course of rocks that caused our guide to yell out, “all forward!” or “all back” at any given moment while he steered at the rear of the raft).

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Emerging from Rock Alley

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One group down as they hit a snag in Rock Alley

While in between rocks or rapids we talked about the history of Weber Canyon, the river and the areas we passed. Our guide was more than willing to answer my questions about the “Devils’ Slide” an interesting rock formation that looks just like you could slide down the mouth of the rock and about the beautiful willow trees that seemed out of place in the middle of the desert. We also learned that the railroad track that runs along the river is actually the original track laid during the building of the Transcontinental Railroad by Union Pacific! Another fun fact, due to how difficult terrain was in Weber Canyon, the railroad was only able to build two feet of track per day. Learning about my new home in Utah is always fun. I like to test the knowledge of local Utahns with interesting facts I have picked up here and there.

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rafting 1

Taggart Rapids

I mentioned earlier that we started off third (dead last) on our tour, but since there were only three of us in our raft, we made good time (and I believe this is due to our amazing paddling skills). We passed both groups and picked up a bit of water when we splashed through the Taggart Rapids and ended up at the take-out spot. It was refreshing to feel the cool water and enjoy a couple of hours doing an activity less than an hour from Park City.  I plan on floating the Weber in the near future and continue to feel like one of the luckiest people in the world that I can call this area my playground!

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After the trip, posing with our rafting guide.

 

15th Annual Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner

 

logoDeer Valley Executive Chefs Jodie Rogers and Clark Norris were invited to participate as featured chefs at Niman Ranch’s Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa this August.

 Niman Ranch raises livestock traditionally, humanely and sustainably to produce the finest tasting meat in the world and is a main supplier for Deer Valley Resort.

The 2013 Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner is the ranch’s biggest event of the year and Featured Chefs included:

Alex Yellan- POK POK,  NYC
Anne Quatrano- Bacchanalia, Atlanta
David Bull- Congress, Austin
Clark Norris & Jodie Rogers- Deer Valley Resort, Park City
Jack Riebel- Butcher & the Boar, Minneapolis
Kevin Sbraga- Sbraga, Philadelphia

The 15th annual Niman Ranch Farmer Appreciation Dinner, celebrated the important connection between the food we eat and the farmers who produce it.  This event has grown over the years from under 100 guests the first year to over 400 guests last year. Read more about the 2014 event on Niman Ranch’s blog

Chef Jodie Rogers documented their weekend in Iowa visiting the farms and of course, everything they ate!

Thursday, August 15:

Here we are at 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon sill trying to get to Iowa- Clark and I arrived at the airport at 6 a.m. to find out that our flight had been CANCELLED and they could not put us on a flight until Saturday (which is when the dinner for 500 hog farmers is scheduled)!  Oh dear, thankfully Sarah Willis (original farmers daughter of the Willis Hog Farms) was able to secure different seats on another airline to get us in that day!

We filled in our six-hour wait at SLC International Airport by enjoying breakfast at Cat Cora’s Kitchen, Basil Bloody Mary’s and a massage… oh my god, the massage (Clark made me do it).

We finally made it to Denver, had a quick layover and met Amanda from Niman. Soon we were finally en route to Iowa!

The Welcome Dinner that night at DJANGO, a local brasserie-style restaurant where Owner/Chef George Formaro serves everything we loved about French cuisine, utilizing fresh local sustainable ingredients (including Niman Ranch). Chef George was one of the featured chefs at the ranch’s 2011 dinner! We had a lot of fun meeting all the other chefs participating in this year’s event over dinner. We even toured their cured meats area, which is down in the “dungeon” and very similar size to what the chefs at Silver Lake do.

DJANGO menu

DJANGO dinner

Friday August 16:

Today was an amazing day all around. All the chefs and Chefs Collaborative Scholarship winners toured La Quercia.  La Quercia makes artisan cured meats or salumi — prosciutto, pancetta, coppa, speck, lonza, guanciale, and lardo. Seeking out the best ingredients, produced responsibly, they craft them by hand into something that expresses their appreciation for the beauty and bounty of Iowa. Cathy, of the husband and wife team, was extremely passionate and knowledgeable with what they produce. The two-hour tour was mind blowing and reminded me of why I should and will support the artisans within our trade. We witnessed a tight team take the steps learned by trial and error over the years to produce a superior Iowa prosciutto. After the tour we were lucky enough sample the product. It may be a long three-year process for the acorn prosciuttos but the wait is well worth it. My new favorite is the prosciutto spread, I think it would be great addition to our local cheese selections!

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For lunch, we met up with Trevor (Wasatch Meats) and his wife Sharen, Amanda (Our Niman Ranch Representative) and Rich (Niman Ranch Niman Rep) for a simple but tasty Ham and Swiss from the HUB.

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Back to the hotel (did I mention how sweet our suites are?!) Change of attire to “country casual” and back on the bus……. seriously, how can the day get any better?

Two buses were loaded up about 120 Chefs, salesmen and women in media and marketing (Google was even represented!) We were in for about a hours drive to Alderland Farm in New Providence, Iowa for five extensive lessons on hog farming.

Station 1: We started at the end product and learned how they rate the meat color and the marbling the fat contents. After this experience I am not sure I will ever buy commodity pork for my family ever again!

Station 2: What does a Niman raised hog have the privilege of eating at will? Corn, wheat, soybeans and oats. All pretty much grown on the farm the pigs are raised on. In my mind I am thinking of the dish Clark and I have ready to prepare the next night! Oh no, its high end hog feed, organic farro, fresh corn and a plethora of other local ingredients.  Hope the farmers do not catch on to this!

We started to walk towards station 3 only to be met by a tractor driven by the farmers son. We were herded on to the back and transported to meet with Paul Willis, co-founder of the Niman Ranch pork program. He is such a wealth of information and he talked us through the life of the hogs out on the field. They even have housing!

Tractor Transportation

At stations 4 and the 5 we met up with Paul Brown, the owner of the farm, he has so much passion and pride in what he does! Here we learned his story and realized that he may be the farmer but it really does take an entire family effort.

Next stop was back to the farm house for an awesome array of farm baked goods from the farmers wife. They had a chocolate caramel slice that reminded me of home (Australia). It was one of the first desserts I ever learned to make when I was not even 10. I couldn’t believe I was in Iowa with a childhood memory in hand. It was actually the farmer’s daughter that made it and we talked for a long time.

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Paul Willis

 

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Back on the bus we all go for another hour to the stop I have been waiting for– Willis Dream Farm..and yes, it is very appropriately named!

A few simple words come to mind! Prairie, Whole Pig, Heirloom Tomatoes’, Potato Salad, sunset…… I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves but did I mention the whole pig…. Delicious.

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L to R, Amanda Seastrom (NR Sales) Chefs Clark and Jodie (Deer Valley UT...

Saturday August 17:

The day of the dinner has arrived, it’s time for the chefs to show the farmers just how much we appreciate them. I hope they are ready for a lot of pork on their forks!

The day is long and tedious with many “unexpected” moments for all of the chefs. Clark did not have the roasting pans we needed to perfect the cooking of the Tenderloin and I was wearing a pan of farro down the front of my legs and in my shoes right before plate up, yes, its true! I found out the hard way that the 65 pounds of farro with 10 pounds of butter and 30 pounds of Frisian farmstead mature gouda is great for the complexion.

Appetizers began at 5 p.m. and the chefs were running for their lives, thankfully Clark did the pork cheeks at Deer Valley and shipped it overnight. We would never have made it otherwise!

Let me take a moment to give you something to think about: one kitchen and crew being invaded by 10 out of town anxious chefs, culinary students, local chefs and many many many different levels of stress and personality……. you can probably picture the chaos that ensued.

This is the menu and line-up of chefs featured:

Passed Hors d’ Oeuvres

Sausage and Eggs
Slow Poached Egg, Spicy Italian Sausage, Garlic Crouton, Basil
Chef David Bull
Congress Restaurant
Austin, Texas

 Daeji Bulgogi
Korean BBQ Pork Cheeks, Sweet and Spicy Sauce,
Pickled Cucumbers and Peppers, Butter Lettuce
Chefs Jodie Rogers and Clark Norris
Deer Valley Resort
Park City, Utah

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 Strammer Max, Butterkäse, Quails Egg, New Potato, House Mustard
Chefs Jack Riebel and Peter Botcher
Butcher and the Boar Restaurant, B&B Foods LLC
Minneapolis, Minnesota

 Iowa Farmstead
Selection of Iowa Locally Grown and Produced Foods
by Iowa Farmers and Chefs

Muu Sawan
Fried Dry Pork, Crispy Lime Leaf, Dry Chile Sauce
Chef Alex Yellan
Pok Pok
New York, New York

 Pork Pâté, Tomato Confit, Yogurt, Pita, Dill
Chef Kevin Sbraga
Sbraga
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 Star Provisions’ House Cured Toscano Crostini
Preserved Lemon, Pickled Mustard Seeds
Chefs Anne Quatrano & Clifford Harrison
Bacchanalia
Atlanta, Georgia

 Amuse Bouche
Pork Belly & Tofu Terrine
Apple-Fig Salad, Tonburi, Shisho, White Soy
Chef David Bull
Congress Restaurant
Austin, Texas

 

First Course
Country Ham Tamale
Greens, Ham,Tomato, Chile
Chef Alex Yellan
Pok Pok
New York, New York

Dish #1

 Second Course
Chilled Pork Breast, Cucumbers, Chili Oil, Sea Lettuce, Scallion
Chef Kevin Sbraga
Sbraga
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dish #2

 Third Course
Trotter Ring Sausage, Crispy Pigs’ Ear, Heirloom Tomato, Green Chile
Chefs Jack Riebel and Peter Botcher
Butcher and the Boar Restaurant, B&B Foods LLC
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Dish #3

Entrée
Oak Smoked Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Iowa Sweet Corn and Frisian Farmstead Mature Gouda, Farro, Root Vegetables,Pontack Sauce, Elderberry Glaze
Chefs Jodie Rogers and Clark Norris
Deer Valley Resort

Park City, Utah

Dish #5, entree

 

 Dessert
Chocolate, Chicharonnes, Chile
Anne Quatrano & Clifford Harrison
Executive Chefs/Owners
Bacchanalia
Atlanta, Georgia

Dessert, partially eaten

A few Pictures from behind the scenes:

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Clark with his Home-made Oak Smoked Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

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65 lbs. of faro ready to be cooked

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Prepping at 1 a.m. in the morning before the event. We even had apprentices!

During the dinner Niman Ranch recognizes their outstanding farmers of the year and present the next generation scholarship awards. During the meal it is communicated to the farmers that their continued commitment to traditional farming practices remains vitally important.  

Also awarded were the top 10 hog farmers (based on meat quality) and the Hog Farm Family of the Year. This year’s award went to the Crowe family. A great video of Adair Crowe played during the presentation and I was able to get the link for it: http://vimeo.com/54176499 (be sure to watch, this was a really good video).

Overall it was a fantastic weekend in Iowa and a wonderful way to meet the Farmer’s who provide us with such quality product!

Dinner at the Deer Valley Grocery~Café

dvgc- (3) Park City and Deer Valley Resort have many secrets only known by a select few (generally local folks, a few visitors in the know, or natural explorers). One of them might still be the Deer Valley Grocery~Café located at the Deer Valley Plaza. This restaurant stands as a refreshing oasis of calm, fine food, casual ambiance and relaxation, a stone’s-throw away from the busy commercial heart of Park City.

In fact, barely one mile separates the Grocery~Café from the bustling Historical Main Street. There, visitors will discover a place filled with serenity, framed by nature and offering sensibly priced meals on a deck facing a pond that now welcomes stand-up paddleboarding during the day and entire families of ducks that take over the water front when the sun is ready to set.

dvgc- (20)This pristine location is already known for its wonderful breakfast with delightful croissants and other morning pastries, something I have experienced since the place was taken over by Deer Valley Resort. It has gradually been gaining popularity before becoming the choice breakfast place in Park City. It is also a great spot to take someone to lunch and have a quiet conversation accompanied by good food.

dvgc- (10)What most people still don’t realize is that the Grocery~Café can also be a wonderful location for a casual, yet delightful dinner. This is something I discovered for the first time a few evenings ago and that I am definitely going to repeat.

If walking the short distance between Main Street and Deer Valley Plaza is not quite what you had in mind, just hop in your car. If you’re coming from Park City, drive up Deer Valley Drive or descend Royal Street if you are staying up the hill; you’ll always find abundant parking for your car and you’ll be welcome “Deer Valley style” by a staff that never forgets how important their guests are.

Since beautiful weather rules almost constantly in Utah, any day will do. When you get there, just place your order at the counter and pick a table on the deck. Dinner is served from 5 to 8:30 p.m. during the summer and it’s not rare to see diners linger on well into the cool evening. After you’ve ordered at the counter, the servers will bring the order right to your table.

dvgc- (17)Perhaps the best way to prepare for all the delightful options offered by the Grocery~Café extensive menu, is to go online and review its tantalizing array of fares in advance. There are great starters, a large selection of salads, the classic Deer Valley panini sandwiches and wraps, some great soup and gazpacho, plus the usual hot specialties ranging from pizza to quiche. For dinner, the Grocery~Café also offers an extensive list of specials with a good selection of vegan and gluten-free options.

dvgc- (6)The gazpacho was recommended to us, so that’s how we started our dinner. It was the perfect appetizer on such a beautiful summer evening. We continued by sharing a few small plates; the cedar plank salmon that was literally melting in the mouth and received the perfect accompaniment of rhubarb rosemary compote.

We also wanted to sample the duck breast and were not disappointed. It was roasted to perfection and was just delicious. Somehow, we also wanted to try the chicken wrap that was to die for, and dying we almost did from such a feast, but we still managed to conclude the evening with the appropriately named “World famous biscotti” for dessert. What a treat and what a discovery!

A superb evening, a relaxing, casual and beautiful setting, plus a very affordable menu have added the Deer Valley Grocery~Café to our very select list of great dinner spots in Park City. The tranquility of the site, its informality, a staff that goes out of their way to make sure everything is perfect, all these elements bring a piece of magic hard to duplicate anywhere.

Make sure to experience it during these last weeks of summer and I’ll guarantee that you too will become fans. As for us, we’ll soon be back!

Families that Paddle Together…

family pondI expected hilarity to ensue. One of my dear friends, Christina Boyle Cush, a former colleague who runs Sea Glass Communications in Connecticut, brought her family to visit a few weeks ago. We used to work together at a teen magazine. She would drop by my office to read letters from readers about their most embarrassing moments. I would return the favor by dropping by her office to introduce her to actors I was interviewing for the magazine. (Hello, Jerry O’Connell. How ya doin’ Ashton Kutcher?)

Seth Sea glass CommSixteen years later, we found ourselves being taught stand up paddleboard skills by a much-decorated professional SUP athlete Trent Hickman, a celebrity in his own right, and gearing up for what I was sure would be many embarrassing moments. I didn’t flinch when Christina’s 12 year-old daughter took in my outfit (pink baseball hat, pink rash guard, pink-striped surf shorts) and dubbed me “Pinky Pants.” Instead, I owned it, and determined that our two families would be “Team Pinky Pants.”

family learningThis came in handy when Trent asked me to gather everyone around for a quick safety discussion and shore-side lesson. “Team PinkyPants, circle up,” I shouted. Christina’s two girls beamed, while her son and my boys shook their heads in dismay. Then, we all got quiet as Trent explained how to hold the paddles, steer the boards and generally keep ourselves safe (when in doubt, kneel). I fully expected to remain on my knees for the entire lesson. Trent heard Seth express concern that he might not be ready to steer a board of his own, and offered him a ride on the front of his own board. Nothing makes that kid feel more proud than hanging out with professional athletes, so he could not accept the invitation quickly enough.

trent familyBefore long, we were all kneeling on boards, and paddling away from the shore. And in what seemed like a blink, we were all standing. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to maintain my balance while handling the board and paddle. Chrissy and her husband seemed to have the same sense of ease on their boards, and most of the kids had no problem figuring it out. What was remarkable to me was the sense of calm that seemed to pervade the outing. It’s one of the rare sports where I have no unreasonable expectations of myself (I’m not a naturally gifted athlete, but I am hyper-competitive with myself in almost every athletic pursuit. The fact that this is ridiculous, counterintuitive, useless thinking has no bearing on my behavior—but, that’s how I roll.)

kids familyHere, I could see the calming effect of standing on a board in a placid body of water and just…gliding. I noticed that Lance, who often gets frustrated when he can’t get something right on the first try (yes, I know where he gets that from) discovered a heretofore untapped reserve of patience for himself and the learning curve.

Thrillingly, I had found a sport that involves standing on a board that my entire family can enjoy together. [See also: my kids love to skateboard, and their parents do not.]

Bari Nan familyMeanwhile, I gained so much confidence in a short amount of time that when Trent had to help other guests, and Seth still wasn’t ready to go it alone, I offered him a seat on my board. I should add that Trent had observed Seth paddling on the front of his own board and felt confident that he could handle himself–and told him as much before going ashore. Seth, however, felt differently, and when Trent returned, he made a point of telling him, plainly and respectfully, that he didn’t agree, and that he didn’t like that he was left alone. Trent is naturally gifted with kids–he didn’t belittle the feelings of a six year-old, but rather thanked Seth for telling him how he felt, and explaining that he knew, even if Seth didn’t, that the kid was capable of handling a board, solo. I loved how he both showed Seth respect and instilled confidence in him at the same time.

We paddled a while longer, with most of the kid members of Team Pinky Pants finding excuses to “fall” into the water (read: jump gleefully off their boards) only to climb aboard again and find another excuse a minute later. When our hour was up, we dried off, thanked Trent and relented to the deck of the Deer Valley Grocery Cafe for cookies.

family funAs we sat there, the kids feeling the bond of having shared a cool experience together, I felt pretty confident that no one on Team Pinky Pants would feel compelled to write a letter to a teen magazine about their experiences.

Skateboard Camp

photo (9)There are times, in parenting, when you just want to look the other way. I feel like that every single time I set foot in the world-class cement structure known as the Park City Skateboard Park. As it happens, I set foot in there daily for a week at a time, sometimes more than once, each summer.

From the moment they learned how to skateboard last summer–no, from the moment I bought them all the gear last summer, they have fancied themselves little Shaun Whites. Simply put: my children are suckers for the skatepark, and they are crazygonuts for the skateboarding camps offered by Park City Recreation Department. Offered weekly, the camps are taught by our town’s super-talented teen (and maybe even younger) skateboard instructors. Great talent–and even great teaching talent–knows no age. This may or may not hold true only within the confines of the skateboard park. Regardless, I’m totally impressed by the quality of instruction my kids receive at this camp.

This, however, does not cancel out my overriding fear that the children are going to maim themselves in the name of a totally rad trick. These tricks have cool skater names, but I tend to (privately) name them after the injuries they have the potential to produce. The Spine Tangler. The Shoulder Dislocater, The Fibular Fracture. You get the idea.

Still, for two hours a day, my kids revel in the ramps. And, in fairness, they are learning to skate safely. And as you can see from this video clip, we aren’t exactly into high-risk skill sets….YET.

(link to Seth demonstrating his moves)

Nevertheless, I make it my business to keep my cardiac health intact by running and hiking during the hours they are at camp–because after all, at the end of the day, they are going to want me to watch them show off their mad skillz.