Vacation Dining

I can’t help it—when my friends are on vacation at Deer Valley, so am I. And thus, all reason eluded me when approaching the menu at Mariposa when our friends were in town.

You know you’re in caloric trouble when the amuse is a strawberry served in what can only be described as balsamic deliciousness. It was as rich as duck fat, without the caloric guilt. And that was, perhaps, the last nod we made toward caloric guilt.

Knowing full well none of us had room for three courses, we ordered them anyway.

Ski Dad has declared that Burrata (that wonderful, creamy-centered handmade mozzarella) at the Mariposa is the best he’s tasted. So, of course, we had some.
A bowl of the special soup didn’t disappoint, either. Nor did my Ahi appetizer. Or Ski Dad’s Ravignocchi.

As I pondered the entrees, I mentioned that the Seared Bison Tenderloin looked tasty. A remark was made that it was a low-fat, and thus sensible choice. “Yes, but the same thing cannot be said for the foie gras that comes on top…” We roared with laughter. Clearly, the caloric guilt had been embraced.

Overheard at our booth toward meal’s end? “I think I might move to the next booth to take a nap.” AND: “Yes, I’d love the rest of my veal wrapped to go—I think I’ll have it for breakfast.” The group determined that since it’s technically a Deer Valley Breakfast, and this is vacation, veal leftovers would be allowed at the morning meal.

Mariposahhhhhhhhhh

Mariposa, located in Silver Lake Lodge is, hands-down, my favorite fine dining experience in Utah. 

And believe me, I love fine dining, so I’m someone whose opinion you’d be wise to trust. Just ask Ski Uncle, who is one of those guys who likes to try to customize a menu, frequently asking a server to ask the chef to modify a recipe into flavorlessness. And, ultimately finding himself disappointed with the result. I don’t allow this fussiness on my watch. We’re out to dinner, buddy. The guy in the kitchen trained for years just so we can enjoy a great meal. Go with it. 

Ski Uncle and Aunt, plus another favorite couple, were our companions at Mariposa this weekend. Ski Uncle started to order his Seared Bison with the sauce on the side—but not without glancing my way to see if I was paying attention. I was. I gave him the look. I took over his order, noting to our fantastic server, “He’ll enjoy it as the chef prepares it, regardless of what he’s telling you.” Ski Uncle smiled in surrender. Wine was poured, toasts were made. Food was served.

I can’t possibly single out the best items on the menu—as Ski Uncle noted during the evening, “everything is a ten, right?” Right. 

Not the least of these “10” items is the atmosphere—which offers a relaxed elegance that suits a chatty group of friends as easily as a family or a couple with a nervous groom-hopeful (yes, more than once, we’ve dined at Mariposa only to see a proposal offered and accepted, a sparkly bauble admired in the perfectly dimmed light). In fact, when Big Guy was about 18 months old, we went to Mariposa for my birthday. And ordered—wait for it—the tasting menu. With the wine flight. While Big Guy, already in possession of a sophisticated palate, enjoyed a lovely fish entrée, and—when the novelty of dinner wore off—a giant ice cream sundae. My stroke of genius that evening? Asking for a demitasse spoon with that sundae, so my child would be well-occupied for the duration of the evening. The staff was smart enough to seat us in a quieter corner upstairs, but every person who was seated near us greeted us with a wan smile—as if to say, Geez, we want to be sporting, but we got a sitter, and everything—but in the course of the evening made a point to approach us with admiration and wonder: “Our kids would never sit for such a meal. What have you done to achieve this?” Rookie parents that we were, we decided to take credit, bask in the compliments and accept them as though we had actually earned them. Ha. Sure, we took him out to restaurants regularly, so he knew the drill. But he’s also one of those firstborn kids. The kind who make you falsely confident in your parenting, so that the joke’s entirely on you when your second kid is, um, spirited.

As you may have gathered, the spirits of our kids these last few days left us eager to go to Mariposa among grownups. And it was like a mini vacation, each course offering flavors that had everyone at the table insisting the other try a bite of whatever they’d ordered. The menu at Mariposa makes you feel like a genius, because you can’t order wrong.  Actually, you can—if you skip dessert, you’ll miss the point. And if you don’t order Letty Flatt’s very famous Chocolate Snowball, well, people, I have no further use for you.

 The service is, of course, exemplary. The hostess greeted me by complimenting my demeanor. “Wow, you are so cheerful.” One would think that cheer is a given, but it’s nice to be recognized for it. The table was set to perfection, the plates cleared, bread refreshed and silverware replaced with a graciousness that isn’t present at every establishment. You are made to feel like a guest, not a “diner.” It makes all the difference, and allowed some of us to feel so comfortable that “we” (read: Ski Uncle) were ordering extra servings of whipped cream by meal’s end.

I’ll let Ski Dad’s photography tell the rest of the story. I’m too tired to say another word.