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.


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


The Just Because- Cupcakes

photo (27)Certain things simply create a special occasion. The Black and White Cupcake at the Deer Valley Grocery Cafe is one of those things.

In our family, the Black and White Cookie (particularly from the now-shuttered Bruce’s Bakery in Great Neck, New York) held a revered place in the dessert galaxy. The Deer Valley Black and White Cupcake is right up there. It’s not a comparison, given the obvious cookie/cupcake distinctions. However, it has the same capacity, within its category, to create dessert nirvana.

Which is why, on a recent Sunday, we picked up four…and saved them until the next night. A simple way to turn Monday into an art form.

Shane Symes’ Deer Valley

With 34 days left in the season there is still a chance to experience some of Deer Valley’s unique dining options. To help make the most of your Deer Valley experience we caught up with another employee for their expert opinion:

Meet Shane Symes, Sous Chef at Fireside Dining.

When did you come to Deer Valley?
Shane: I came to Deer Valley the winter of 1984-85. This is my 27th year.

What does a perfect ski day mean to you?
Shane: A perfect day skiing is a deep powder day off of Lady Morgan Express chairlift. I love that mountain and rarely come off it on a powder day. But on a REALLY good powder day I would actually prefer to snowboard at one of the other awesome resorts in Park City!

What is your favorite thing on the menu at Fireside?
Shane: This is one of our new dishes this year. We do a seared beef or venison medallion on top of a bacon pancake served with a homemade huckleberry jelly. We also serve this dish with a little fried quail egg and a little lemon butter.

Try the bacon pancake out for yourself!

2 Cups AP Flour
2 1/2 Cups Buttermilk
2 Eggs
1 T. + 1 t. Olive Oil
1T. + 1 t. Sugar
2 t. Baking Powder
1 t. Vanilla
1 t. Salt
1/8 cup Water
3-4 Bacon Slices
Slice the bacon up 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 just until incorporated.
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 you see bubbles forming and bursting on the top of the pancake it is time to flip. Only flip pancakes once.
Another minute or two later 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.

Who is your favorite person to ski with?
Shane: My favorite person to ski with is by myself, I really enjoy the solitude. I also enjoy skiing with my staff as we have fun together and ski everywhere.

Your must have treat at Deer Valley?
Shane: The must have treat at Deer Valley is anything that Debbie Swenerton (Snow Park Bakery Chef) makes. Mostly the peanut butter truffles and white chocolate rice krispy treats.

What run is a must for every ski day?
Shane: There are two “must” runs, Magnet and Hidden Treasure.


Dessert Recipe For Your Holidays

This holiday season; surprise your guests with delicious Deer Valley Lemon bars. Executive Pastry Chef Letty Flatt, shared her recipe for Deer Valley’s President Bob Wheaton’s favorite sweet treat at the resort.

Lemon Bars
2 cups plus ¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup plus 1 ½ cups sugar

8 ounces unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces

½ teaspoon baking powder

4 eggs

4 teaspoons grated lemon zest

½ cup lemon juice

Confectioners’ sugar, to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix the first 2 cups of flour with the first ½ cup of sugar. Cut in the butter, mixing until the dough resembles sand. Press evenly into the bottom and a little bit up the sides of a 9 x13-inch baking pan. Bake about 15 minutes until the crust loses its shine and barely begin to show a hint of color.  Cool.

Sift the remaining 1/4 cup of flour with the remaining 2 cups of sugar and the baking powder into a large mixing bowl.  In another bowl, beat together the eggs and lemon zest and juice; then mix into the sugar/flour mixture until the ingredients are homogenous. Pour over the pre-baked crust. Bake until the filling has set and the edges are light golden—about 20 minutes. Cool. Chill. Cut into 2” squares. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Makes about 24 lemon bars.


Letty Flatt, Deer Valley Resort

Thanksgiving in the Bakery

Thanksgiving Day? How about Thanksgiving LIFE?

Living in Park City is an exercise in daily gratitude… for my life. That I am raising two boys with a love of the mountains, a love of skiing, alongside a spouse who appreciates it as much as I do is a gift. It’s always touching and amusing to hear the “I’m Thankful For…” moments at our Thanksgiving table, because they may include things like, “fresh powder,” and “new skis,” and “Star Wars Lego sets!” which perfectly offset my emotional mush ball moment of praising the virtues of each of my children—I’m generally overwhelmed with gratitude for their health, their dad’s, my own, and all eight of my children’s grandparents and two great-grandparents. The blessings are plentiful—and it feels like bad luck to count them.

However, it doesn’t escape me that the blessings are many outside my home as well. Like the fact that I get to make friends with likeminded folks—from my ski-buddy-moms to Deer Valley’s celebrated pastry chef, Letty Flatt.

Yesterday, I walked into the buzzing Snow Park Bakery, and found four bakers hard at work. Letty took time out of the pie-making rush to introduce me to her hardworking team–-including a new-to-DV baker, Sung Yup (favorite Thanksgiving tradition: “Playing football with my friends.”) Given that the team had 58 pies on order when I arrived (and 60 when I left, since my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner is ordering the pies), the hands were much-needed.

Letty (favorite Thanksgiving Tradition: “Skiing Snowbird on fresh powder.” Deer Valley, of course, doesn’t open til December. See below for Letty’s DV favorites.) was quick to offer me a ginger snap cookie—made from the gingersnap pie crust she uses for the pumpkin pies. “The recipe is my sister-in-law’s,” she told me. “Gingersnap crust and orange zest in the filling. Look, Dana is rolling out gingersnap crust over there, Sung Yup is working on regular crust—wait, let’s get your order, now.”

What’s amazing to me about Letty, who has worked at Deer Valley since Day One, is that she isn’t frenetic in her demeanor. Everything is organized, matter-of-fact. “I like people, so I like the bakery when there are about five people, each with their own project, each with our own space,” she said, reaching for a bowl of cream that was poised to go into a test wedding cake for a bride and groom. “But some days, we’re so busy we have six or more crammed around the work stations.”

Back to my pie order—she and Debbie who heads up the Snow Park bakery operations, gently guided me to their favorites.

“You should try the Apple-Cheddar pie, it’s something special,” said Debbie.

“No pumpkin?” Letty wondered, as if to say WHY?

“Chocolate silk,” I said. “It will make my eight year-old so happy.”

“He’s the one who likes the chocolate cup at the Seafood Buffet, right?”

Letty’s love for people is evident in her recall of certain people’s dessert preferences.

Nervous my family would revolt at the idea of cheese invading their favorite pie, I ordered a simple apple pie, instead. Still, as a Vermonter, the idea of some cheddar in there was appealing.

Debbie then handed me a wrapped-up bundle of Snow Park Bakery dog treats. “It’s Bark City,” she said. “We bake for the whole family here.”

Needless to say, I was very popular when I arrived home later that night. Letty had sent me off with a care package of Deer Valley cookies. Once all were plied with treats, I floated the idea of the Cheddar Apple Pie. The notion was greeted with a resounding, “Yum!” I made a note to call Debbie the next morning and change my order. And when I did, she didn’t laugh—she sounded, however, utterly pleased.

And, dear reader, I did not leave without getting Letty Flatt’s Deer Valley

Ideal ski day: “I’m with my husband, of course, and there is 8” minimum of fresh powder. We’re on the first chair. We ski Empire, because it has the best snow—it’s the only part of the mountain that gets the Lake Effect snow from Salt Lake City. And we go, go, go until about 11:30And then home.”

Crack of Noon Club: “We have very social ski days, too. We meet friends, but we compete to see who can arrive the latest.”

Favorite food: “The whole wheat crust pizza at Silver Lake—it’s vegetarian, and I love it.”

Favorite DV indulgence: “Mariposa’s desserts. And, I have to say, I tend to always gravitate toward the Seafood Buffet. We have guests who will go there more than once during a vacation, so we make sure to mix up the menus a couple of times a week.”

Thanksgiving Feast

Don’t forget to choose one of our delectable made-to-order pies for your Thanksgiving Feast this year.  Choose from old fashioned pumpkin, sweet potato pecan, apple cheddar, traditional pecan or chocolate silk.  We also offer apple ginger bread, pumpkin walnut bread and cranberry orange pecan bread.

We peeked into the bakery to see the staff getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Be sure to order by Monday, November 21.

Deer Valley’s food and beverage team is here to also help with some Thanksgiving favorites for your holiday dinner. Our Thanksgiving menu includes; Deer Valley roasted garlic mashed potatoes, steamed green beans with shiitake mushrooms, roasted acorn squash, house made struan stuffing, lemon thyme sauce, cranberry chutney.

Pick up is on Wednesday November 23rd by 6:30pm or November 24th by 11:30am at the Deer Valley Grocery~Cafe.

Please call 435-615-2400 to place your orders for turkey dinner sides and 435-645-6625 for Bakery orders.

I Ski For Lunch- Part 1

This is not the last time you will read that particular line in my posts. I often say that the cookies at Deer Valley, consumed at lunch on my first ski trip to Park City, were a deciding factor in our plan to move here. Letty Flatt, Deer Valley’s inspired executive pastry chef, and her team have probably heard that particular gem before.

The Vermont day lodges my youth offered fare with little allure, aside from a candy counter with a seemingly unlimited supply of Charleston Chews, which my erstwhile ski buddy and best friend Nancy and I buried in the snow banks before “lunch” (read: hot dog of indeterminate fillings) and took great joy in literally cracking open on the armrest rail (we called it a safety bar, back then), on that first post-lunch run, for the true culinary delight.

So the variety of dining options at Deer Valley (each of which I’ll tell you about, extol the virtues of, rave over, and generally create raison-du-drool, in this space in the weeks to come) never cease to impress or delight me.

But here’s what I’m loving this week. We’re getting ready for Thanksgiving—which is a fabulous holiday, and also part of the most excruciating period of the ski season: The part called, WAITING FOR DEER VALLEY TO OPEN.

That’s not exactly the love part. Patience isn’t something I possess in abundance.

But this is: My husband is a great cook. And he, blessedly, works alone. Leaving me to take the kids hiking on Thanksgiving morning (along with my in-laws, who will be visiting this year) and then set the table. In theory, I’d handle dessert. He doesn’t really bake (though he could). I do—but not in an awesome way. Just well enough, you know? Which would be fine. But I’d have to reserve time in the kitchen. Which could be an issue. But then my husband mentioned, just this morning, that he saw an ad in the paper in which Deer Valley pies were advertised. Which kills several birds with one stone. He gets to keep the kitchen to himself, and we get awesome pies for dessert. Total crowd pleasers. And, thank you, it makes the seemingly interminable eight-day wait from Thanksgiving to opening day at Deer Valley, just that much easier to bear. After all, it only takes closing one’s eyes while taking a bite of pecan pie to imagine you’re après lunch at Snow Park Lodge.

More information about the Deer Valley Bakery can be found here: http://www.deervalley.com/dining_shopping/snow-park-bakery.html