Letitia Lussier’s Deer Valley

To ski with Letitia Lussier is a singular experience—in that a day on the hill will reveal multiple facets of her personality, and of your own ski skills. Letitia was my group instructor during the Women’s Weekend last season .

As she guided us away from more populated runs, so that my newfound ski buddies, Stacey and Jackie, and I could drill down to better turns without distraction, she shared funny tales from her career, as well as from her life as an artist. And, quietly, with a lot of nurturing encouragement, she insisted we ski the trees. My mom and dad may shudder (a lot) when I talk about it, but if they’d been with us that day, they might even be convinced it was the safest place to ski anywhere.

Throughout the years, Letitia’s artist’s spirit has taken her many places in the summers, “ I live in Park City in the winter,” she says. “And I’ve lived in a variety of places in the summer- Wisconsin (x1),  Hawaii (x2), the red rock canyons of southern Utah (x2), Washington (x2) and Wyoming (x2) but I’ve also spent many summer here in PC.”

And, her work in the mountains feeds her muse when she steps into her home painting studio. Art lessons are life lessons, and vice-versa. “Every day I witness such incredible beauty,” she says. “I make it a point to take the time to notice, to really look at my surroundings as they change every day sometimes every hour. Inspiration is all around me which is reflected in my paintings of DV,” she says, “I’ve developed gratitude for the peak moments I experience in these mountains and in life. There is nothing more powerful.”


Hometown: Auburn, ME

Years in Park City: “I’ve been with Deer Valley since day one!” In other words, you do the math.

Year one as an instructor was…”Fun! We were a tight-knit group of 23, counting one supervisor and director. We worked hard and played hard. Now we are nearly 500 instructors.”

I’m a fan of teaching Adult Specialty Programs like Women’s Weekend because…With a well matched group you have the opportunity to learn from each other, to cheer and support one another. You have the chance to create friendships with shared interests and the added bonus of finding others at your ski ability. This cohesiveness can offer the right kind of learning atmosphere for these programs. The group dynamics can be so much fun when people want to learn and have a good time. We (instructors) love skiing and enjoying sharing that passion with others.

My ideal ski day at DV is…

A “bluebird” day of crisp blue skies and deep, fresh, sparkling champagne powder. As I ride up on the chair I look in awe at the evergreen trees which are laden with snow, even the tiniest of branches on the aspen trees are decked with snow giving them a lacy, intricate look. Reaching the summit I stand there transfixed as my breath is taken away by the expansive beauty. I can’t believe how lucky I am to witness such grandeur.  On my descent the quality of the snow as I ski through it is so light it blows up in my face refreshing me with every turn. There is a unique quality to the sound as I fly through it, it is effervescent like my favorite bubbly. The snow is so light and deep I have the sense that I am floating weightlessly down the mountain, it feels velvety soft beneath my feet.   Skiing down the slope I am enveloped in a rich alpine environment  that gives me a welcome feeling. Off in the distance, I hear the call note of the chickadee, it is a sound I recognize and enjoy. I spot some animal tracks in the snow, giving hint of the activities from the night before.   This place I call home has a life of it’s own, and I feel energized by it. Every run is through virgin powder, putting a grin on my face that stretches from ear to ear. I ski until my legs feel like noodles and I can no longer go on.

On days like this I ski with: Skiing with my beau, Tom. First chair. First run is where ever the snow looks the deepest.

My go-to areas on the mountain are…

Sultan and Empire

Favorite groomer? 


Favorite trees? 

Anchor Trees

Must-have lunch break plan:

Empire Canyon Lodge. Salad Bar. Arnold Palmer. Chocolate-chip Cookie

My most treasured apres ski ritual is…Enjoying a nice cold beer and reflecting on an exceptional day feeling totally spent.

Best lessons learned as a ski instructor:

How to deal with a variety of people. Developing patience is key— every person has their own pace and learning styles. Maintaining a sense of humor when things go awry. Sharing my passion is contagious—that never changes.


Wine Pairings at The Mariposa

This month we caught up with Clint Strohl, Resort Restaurant Operations Manager, to get the insider tips into pairing wines with some of the favorite menu items from The Mariposa.

Warm Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Tart:

The caramelized onions and the muscat reduction add subtle layers of sweetness to this dish which can be complemented by an initially sweeting tasting but dry finishing light white wine. We are currently serving Domaine Weinbach ,Reserve Personelle, Gewurztraminer, Alsace France 2009

Tomatillo Crusted Sturgeon Fillet:

With nearly a pyramid of flavor profiles contained in this dish a paired wine must not cover or clash with any of them. Sauces of roasted red pepper and black bean add earth and mild spice to the sturgeon. Add in the crisp green freshness of frisee, a layer of sweetness from the local sweet corn and a touch of acid from the heirloom tomatoes. Considering these many flavors over time we have learned that Pinot Grigio from northern Italy is at once no heavier in weight than the dish and at the same provides a wine with equally deep flavors and intensity. We are currenly serving Livio Felluga, Pinot Grigio, Fruli, 2010

Wild Mushroom Beggars Purse:

To the same degree that the above dish is a challenge to pair the beggars purse is a dream with touches of fat coming from the cheese and the purse itself.  This touch of fat is complimented with earthy richness of the mushrooms and hints of beaujolais fruit and acidity in the sauce. For some time we have enjoyed serving somewhat earthly light pinot noirs from Burgundy with this dish. Currently we are serving Vincent Girardin, Les Santenots, Volnay 2008

Bear Lake Lamb Chop:

Many of our guests know that indian spices and in this case masala are tough to impossible wine matches, (masala chicken and lamb are classic Indian preparations), However Clark keeps it all in balance with this lamb preparation. The lamb chops are seasoned lightly with masala while being seared. The lamb itself is tender and succulent. The pan sauce brings additional richness to the dish. The pan roasted cherry tomato and its richness allow us to serve a slightly bigger wine than might be expected. We are currently serving Shafer Vineyards, “Relentless” Napa 2007. “Relentless” is a Syrah, Petit-Sirah blend.

The various desserts:

We are currently serving a Pedro Ximenez Sherry produced by Alvear of Andalucia Spain. It is their Solera 1927. The taste of this wine quite complex with dark caramel, maple syrup, dates, prunes, and hints of coffee and dark chocolate. It is an exquisite and warming sweet wine that goes great with nearly all of Letty and Steve’s dessert

Leap Year Birthday Boy

Leap Year is now my favorite holiday—because it means that we get an extra ski day every four years! In honor if Leap Year, I’m introducing you to Deer Valley’s own…Leap Baby. He has skied at Deer Valley for ten years—which is astounding, considering he’s only having his third birthday this year. He has two younger siblings, Natalie and Ethan, both of whom have had more birthdays than Jack. While you struggle with the mental math, get to know my favorite Leap Boy!

Name: Jack Rubenstein, parents: Robert and Katia Rubenstein

Hometown: Hollywood, FL; He and his family are part-time Parkites, and they’re planning to celebrate Jack’s Bar Mitzvah next year (birthday confusion notwithstanding) at Temple Har Shalom in Park City.

Age: 3 or 12, depending on how you count.

Years skiing: 10

Happy Third Birthday Jack! What’s the best part of being a Leap Baby?
Thanks! The best part, probably, is not getting very old so soon, and I get to celebrate my birthday all week for three other years because I don’t have an official birthdate.

What are your three favorite runs to ski at Deer Valley?
Chute 1/ Daly Bowl
Chute 2

What is your favorite restaurant for lunch at Deer Valley? And what is your favorite thing to eat there?
Royal Street Cafe- Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich with Hot Fudge
Stein Eriksen’s Buffet- everything

What is your favorite dinner restaurant at Deer Valley?
Seafood Buffet- I love the prime rib and shrimp and king crab. (Don’t forget the homemade whip cream at dessert!)

How many cocoa breaks do you like to take during a ski day?
Are you kidding? I’m here to ski not drink cocoa!!!!!

Which runs do you ski better than your dad
All of them. (Mostly, moguls.)

What is your favorite part of skiing with your dad?
Waiting for him at the bottom!

What is your favorite part of skiing with your whole family?

Do you like bumps or groomers?

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I have no clue, I am only three years old.

What are you looking forward to about having your Bar Mitzvah in Park City?
The party, skiing, and getting presents

What is your favorite memory about skiing at Deer Valley?
Going down Chute 10 for the first time.

Empire Canyon Grill with Andrew Fletcher

Deer Valley is lucky to see visits from both loyal locals and returning out-of-towners. Many guests return each season with specific traditions that they must incorporate into their Deer Valley experience. A best kept secret for many skiing at Deer Valley is Empire Canyon Grill, located in the Empire Canyon Lodge, tucked away at the base of Empire Canyon Express Chairlift.

We caught up with Andrew Fletcher, Empire Day Sous Chef to share his favorite things about Empire Canyon Grill and Deer Valley.

When did you come to Deer Valley?

I arrived at Deer Valley in November of 1998 for one ski season, and have been here ever since.

What does a perfect ski day mean to you?

Any day on the slopes!  If you are cold you can come inside and warm up by the fire.  If it is sunny you can sit out on the deck.  You can always find the perfect run at DV no matter what day it is.

What is your favorite thing on the menu at Empire Grill?

The Steak Baguette at the specialty grill.

Who is your favorite person to ski with?

My wife and daughter.

What is your must have treat at Deer Valley?

A beer on the Empire or Sliver Lake deck after a day of skiing.

What run is a must for every ski day?

Magnet on Lady Morgan.

What is your most memorable chairlift ride?

I was once on a chair with two men who had just retired and were going to ski every resort in the U.S. that season.

Empire Canyon Grill is open during the ski season for continental-style breakfast from 9:15 – 11 a.m. daily, featuring fresh pastries, homemade granola and beverages including espresso, latte and cappuccino. Open for lunch from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., offering a traditional and gourmet grill, Natural Salad Buffet, soup, chilies, paninis and fresh baked goods.  Afternoon snacks are available until 3:30 p.m.

I’m a hopelessly romantic…skier

I’m not really a Cupid hound.

Ski Dad and I, of course, exchange cards every February 14th. And, without fail, he brings home a bag of Conversation Hearts (only the original Necco hearts suffice for this New England girl). And while I’d like to say we downplay the day because we’re too cool for school, the fact is we are total dorks who like to mark February 24th as a special day. It’s the day we had our first date. Twenty-three years ago. We’ve been going steady ever since. Which is astonishing since I’m only 25…but I digress.

But this year, we’re doing something special to get ready for Valentine’s Day. We are, together, embarking on the Mahre Camp at Deer Valley, Feb 10-12. Because we both want to up our game—and what better way to lock in what we’ve learned than to give ourselves a rest day on the 13th (seriously, we’ll need one after three days of first-to-last chair skiing. Someone may take away our Locals’ Cards—or at least our membership in the Crack of Noon Club!), and spend the day, er, racing each other down the steeps?

Of course, no Valentine’s Day would be complete without some chocolate and bubbly. I’m voting for lunch at Royal Street Cafe, complete with the Ice Cream Sandwich and Hot Fudge, and a cocktail (St. Germain, anyone?).  Cheers!

What’s your perfect Valentine’s Day at Deer Valley?

Valentine’s Dinner at The Mariposa

I’m no romance expert, but I’m sure people gaze adoringly into each other’s’ eyes at Fireside Dining at Empire or Seafood Buffet. But to my mind, the sure bet for a romantic night is The Mariposa. Consider it the Valentine’s Day dinner destination of romantic skier-types (and non-skier-types) alike.

It’s one of the few restaurants in Park City with underground parking—so, ladies, you can safely bust out the cute shoes for a night out.

Plus, every time I eat dinner at Mariposa, it feels like Valentine’s Day, or my anniversary.  I’m not the only one who thinks of the warm candle-lit room with the crackling fireplace as Romance Central. I’ve witnessed a marriage proposal in that room.

And, frankly, you can check your brain at the door when you go to Mariposa—it’s impossible to make a bad choice on the menu. But the best part is, you don’t have to make a choice. There are two tasting menus—one vegetarian and one that’s decidedly carnivore-friendly—complete with flawless wine pairings. I have it on good authority that the restaurant manager and the sommelier have personally taken (more than) one for the team and opened bottle after bottle to make sure the pairings are just right.

Mother-Son Night at World Cup

World Cup Fever hit hard in my house.

So did the regular fever, which turned out to be strep—but it only derailed our mad spectating skills for one night. More on that in a minute.

No sooner had Sundance ended, than my family was plotting out our strategy to be spectators at the VISA Freestyle International . We decided that the moguls on Thursday would be my mother-son night with Lance—in part to compensate for my all-day birthday ski date with Seth earlier in the week, while Lance was busy being a third grader. Said third-grader wasted no time telling his teacher that he’d be out late Thursday at the World Cup. Thankfully, Park City teachers get it—Lance said Ms. Thompson was really excited for him.

The buildup was immense—so when we got home from karate and I discovered that little brother had a fever, I saw Lance try to mask his disappointment at the prospect of missing out on our evening. Dad, of course, saw no reason for us to change our plans—all Seth needed was one parent in the house to take care of him. Mom and brother? Redundant.

So, we bundled up and off we went. I can safely say there was nothing the kid did not enjoy about the World Cup—from the walk through the parking lot to the chairlift ride with no skis, to the hike up the bottom of Little Stick. Seeing all the kids (and some adults) sliding on their bottoms off the runout on the bottom of Solid Muldoon was a hoot, too. And then…the holy grail:  We were lucky enough to be invited to the VIP Tent, so my soup-loving boy got to enjoy a second dinner of Tomato Basil Soup and unlimited cookies.

And this kid—he may be but a yellow belt in karate, but he’s got a black-belt in events. “Mom, it’s warm in the tent, and we’re bundled up—let’s take our soup outside and eat where it’s cooler,” he said, wisely. “Plus, we won’t miss a minute of competition!”

And, of course, the competition was amazing.

In the process, I think I found the phrase that will make my kids roll their eyes in that “Mom, you’re such a dork, you always say that!” way that teenagers acquire. It is…

“You know, if you were growing up in New York City, you would not get to do this!”

Admittedly, it’s kind of a preemptive strike against the kind of groaning I have anticipated as soon as my kids figure out that my old life as an Entertainment Editor in New York City involved premiere tickets to just about every major studio release, house seats to popular Broadway shows, and concert tickets with backstage access at lots and lots and lots of teenybopper concerts. I once said to Ski Dad that I wondered if, for all the effort we put into moving to Utah and creating a certain kind of life here, if our kids would “reward” us by lusting after city life, as a sort of karmic joke. (I was the originator of that particular bit—growing up in Vermont, I pined, pined I tell you, for life in the big city. Three cities and twelve years later, I was done.)

So, yes, I went ahead and made that statement, aloud, to Lance as we got ready to watch the women’s and men’s moguls’ competition on Thursday night. Shameless.

But something cool happened. Lance got the same look of awe on his face watching the competition as he got when I took him to see American Idol Live on Tour, or the first time he watched Star Wars. He was both completely absorbed in being entertained, and impressed with what it took to make this entertainment happen. And you know what? Even though mom’s job still have the kind of perks that get us into VIP tents, that wasn’t the thing that impressed him about the experience:

“Mom, look how good they are,” he said. “I’m thinking about how hard they all worked to get here. It’s a lot of work, isn’t it, Mom?”

For once, I just shut my mouth and let the experience speak for itself.

Thanks, Lance.

Dinner at The Mariposa

Each mountain range has its summits and among them, there’s always a towering giant that dwarfs the rest of the peaks.  The same is true for great mountain dining. Without a doubt, if Rocky Mountain Dining were like a formidable chain of mountains, The Mariposa at Deer Valley Resort would be its Mt. Everest….

Dining at The Mariposa doesn’t take the courage or skills required for a seasoned mountain expedition though. It’s conveniently located at Silver Lake Lodge, mid-mountain, but the short winding road that leads to its door guarantees both a quick and easy access from the valley below. Inside, a rustic, yet very elegant decor, along with an attentive and expert staff, greets the diners.

Last Friday night, my wife and I made the trip up to this pinnacle of fine dining and both had a wonderful time. Our table was tucked into a quiet corner near the fireplace and still provided us with a full view of the restaurant’s beautiful dining room.

We began by sharing a new appetizer, the Fruits de Mer, which consisted of a selection of ahi, crab, scallop and oysters that all blended beautifully and were the perfect prelude for preparing our taste buds for the delights that would follow.

We then sampled the Burrata salad with fresh basil and cherry heirloom tomatoes, along with some fresh mozzarella and baby arugula, all seasoned with a delightful olive oil and balsamic dressing that was fresh, light and delicately savory.

For the main course, we couldn’t resist the appeal of the Seared Bison Filets that were seasoned with foie gras, cipollini onions, St. André cheese and accompanied by a wonderful gratin as well as a marvelous wine sauce. This beautifully lean meat was fabulously cooked and was nothing short of exquisite. This was the crowning moment of the evening, the very top of this culinary Everest!

For wine, we picked an Alexana Pinot Noir, from Oregon, which we found light, yet bursting with fine tannins, a “finish” that never ceased and that proved perfectly balanced for the menu we had composed.

To prepare us for our descent, we selected the special Deer Valley cheesecake and the flan, accompanied with macarons and amaretto crème anglaise. They both were delectable and completed a wonderful evening that, we felt, took us even higher than Mt. Everest, right up to Cloud Nine!

Reservations can be made by calling 435-645-6632, between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Upping the Ante on Bribes

By now, dear reader, you know that I am never on the mountain without a stash of bribery candy in my pockets. So I’m thrilled to report that Deer Valley has given me some new ammo in this department. Quincy’s–a kids’ self-service frozen yogurt bar, complete with exciting (and classic!) toppings like gummy bears and crushed Oreo cookies, is located in the Next Gen boutique across the hall from the lower level locker room and bag check.  

I had hinted to my kids of its existence on a recent ski day—and as soon as we finished our runs, my kids asked, “Did we earn some frozen yogurt?” They loved choosing their flavors and toppings—Don’t tell our orthodontist, but even Big Guy, who had acquired braces earlier in the week, partook of the sweets. He’s a chocoholic, so the fudge sauce suited him just fine. “Mom, don’t worry,” he assured me, as I broke the news to him that gummy and crunchy toppings were not on his menu. “Fudge sauce definitely counts as a topping in my book.” Yes, Dr. Maxfield, we brushed copiously upon our return home!

The yogurt café sits behind a knee wall within NextGen. Naturally, I took the opportunity to browse for items in my size—petite types get away with shopping in the kids’ store and, yes, in the kids’ sizes, too. I was impressed with the variety of style and price points. Meanwhile, our style-conscious Little Guy took the opportunity to peruse the merchandise from his yogurt-eating perch.

“Look!” he demanded. “Look. At. That. JACKET! It’s super-cool. I want it.”

Ski Dad and I had to admit, it was super-cool. Brown pleather bomber jacket with tons of Top Gun-style patches and a faux-fur lining. I could almost hear Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards shouting, “I feel the need, the need…for…SPEED!” Which could not be more appropriate for the type of “bombing” down the hill that Little Guy had displayed just half an hour earlier. Quickly, he lost interest in his yogurt and demanded that he be allowed to try it on.

As he put the jacket on, he assumed a “tough guy” stance and a grin as big as they get.

Needless to say, Hanukkah came a few days early.

Holiday Wine Tips

If you have been trying to pair wine to go with your holiday parties Clint Strohl, Deer Valley’s Resort Restaurant Operations Manager has some tips!

“Keep it Simple” The holidays are at times stressful, do not let a wine choice become stressful as well.

What you like to drink is just as important as what others say you should or should not be drinking with holiday meals. Do not worry about the perfect food match

Reason to not worry about the perfect food match:  Sweetness and complexity. Holiday meals often involve “Glazed” foods. Think glazed ham. This sweetness will not compliment any dry wine in fact quite the opposite. The sweetness will wash-out all the wine’s attributes. Holiday meals are made up of simple foods, but we tend to serve a lot simple foods together which introduces just too many flavors for any one wine to be complimentary to all foods.

My Holiday Utility Pair: Dry Riesling from Germany and California Pinot Noir. While not perfect this pair will do well enough to provide pleasant drinking with most holiday meals.

Happy Holidays!