Don’t Worry About #FOMOS (Fear of Missing Out on Seafood) at the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet

There are two distinct strategies for having a fantastic evening at the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet. The first is to enjoy your absolute favorite seafood with no restrictions. I overheard another guest planning out his evening with this in mind.

He said, while gazing at the raw oyster and sushi bar, “Wow, I could make a whole night of this!” I observed him filling up two plates of oysters with horseradish and slices of lemons and then coming back for more. With this approach, you can be in seafood bliss enjoying the dishes you love most for an entire evening.

Wine and Fire

While I respect this approach, the “fear of missing out on seafood” held me back. I wanted to try everything since it was my first time dining at the Seafood Buffet. I anticipated this reaction so I came prepared. Trying everything took a little planning and a whole lot of self-control at first.

If you want to try the second approach – a little bit of everything – here are a few suggestions:

Empty the tank before you go. Burn some calories earlier in the day. Whether it’s downhill skiing for a few hours, trying out some cross-country skiing at White Pine or snowshoeing, come hungry.

Start with appetizers at the raw oyster bar.

photo 1 (5)
Then hit the Natural Buffet to fill out your appetizers and add some salads – Pile your plate high with crab, prawns and salmon. Try a few bites of each of the salads. I have to admit I neglected to try the salads because I was so excited about the Dungeness crab. (two helpings plus one of snow crab. I know. Heaven.)

Delicacies are next at the Hot Entrée Station – When our waitress went over all the seafood specials, my thought was simply, “Yes to all.”  I wasn’t worried about which ones.  Try a bite of each!  I sampled the Honey Soy Glazed Scallops with Fresh Ginger Sauce and Pecan Crusted Sailfish among other things.

The seafood buffet is not complete without the Carvery Station.  I had Double R Ranch prime rib and potatoes. OK, mine wasn’t “a little bite,” it was a whole plate with au jus and mushroom sauce on the side.  Remember how I recommended emptying the tank?

 Meat

Wait!  We forgot the sushi bar.  This is exactly what happened to me so I went ahead and tasted a few pieces of fresh sushi at this juncture in the evening and it was wonderful.  Sushi doesn’t need to be an appetizer!

Sushi

Dessert from the bakery – Everyone will tell you to save room for dessert. No need here. There are plenty of small bites to choose from: Truffles, chocolate, mini cupcakes, and fruit parfaits if you want just a bite of dessert or something light.  If your sweet tooth is calling for something more substantial, there are choices to your heart desires. I am too embarrassed to share with you all the desserts I tried!

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My best tip of all – relax and enjoy! Slow down and take your time, you never have to fear missing out on seafood at Deer Valley Resort.

For more information on the Seafood Buffet or to make reservations, click here.

Epic feast at the Seafood Buffet

One of the best reasons to do a specialty clinic at Deer Valley is not necessarily the top-flight ski instruction—although, that’s certainly a worthy selling point. It’s the chance that lightning will strike, and you’ll be placed in a group with interesting people you wouldn’t have otherwise met. And if you’re really, really lucky, they’ll become your friends. This certainly happened last year , when I met Stacey and Jackie and our talented, big-hearted instructor Letitia.

We’d all stayed in touch, and tried our best to plan a Women’s Weekend Redux—and we almost succeeded. Jackie had family commitments that kept her from the March weekend we’d chosen. Stacey and I, however, were in “game on” mode. Stacey’s pregame strategy consisted of quick witty emails to me that described her ski days (“found my mojo in Perseverance Bowl today!”) and accused me of leaving her in the dust after I completed the Mahre Training Center camp at Deer Valley in February.

My pregame strategy was entirely different: I invited Letitia, along with Stacey and her husband Steve, to join Jeffrey and me at Seafood Buffet on the Thursday evening before the Women’s Weekend began. I half-joked that I wanted to see to it that Letitia overate, so that she’d go easy on us in the morning. I had another thing coming.

Before we embarked on the epic feast, Letitia tried to prep us for the coming weekend. “You can’t expect the same magic we had last year in our group,” she said. “You can only hope for it. And you—” here, she turned to me—“you are probably going to land in a higher group than mine. I hear you’ve made more progress.” Stupid me, and my big mouth.

Stacey added, “I don’t want you to feel obligated to ski with me. I don’t want to hold you back.”

I tried to remind myself that I’d learned not to downplay my ability—but I really couldn’t imagine that the differences in my skiing would be that great. .

Instead of engaging in a debate, I suggested we embark on the team activity at hand—tackling the Seafood Buffet.

The great thing about this restaurant is the subtle sense of surprise.

First, whether you’re a rookie—and yes, we had what we termed a “Seafood Bufffet Virgin” at the table (Hi, Steve!)—or a veteran, you can’t help but be surprised by the abundance of choices and the quality of the food—both in taste and presentation.

Second, there are always some new items woven into the mix—on this evening, there was a runaway hit with an appetizer of a roasted tomato stuffed with warm goat cheese—and a hint of heat.

Third, no matter how hard you try to pace yourself, you will always, always surprise yourself with the quantity of food that you’re able to consume in an evening.

We chided each other over sushi—“Don’t fill up on the rice! You need to save valuable digestive real estate for the crab legs!”

Letitia uttered a maxim that is as true as the local’s rallying cry (“No friends on a powder day!”) when there’s a foot of fresh on the hill—“There’s no waiting,” she said. “When you’re ready for the next course, you go get it.”

Our Virgin was not disappointed. Neither were the rest of us.

Interview with Jodie Rogers Executive Chef of Snow Park and Empire Canyon Lodges

JF: First Jodie, remind us what’s your philosophy at Deer Valley Resort?

JR: The biggest thing we’ve done in the past two year was to turn to three fundamental principles: Local, sustainable and fresh ingredients. Fresh ingredients have always been a big concern for us. This year I was lucky enough to be invited on a couple ranch tours, in Bear Lake and in South Dakota. We work with Niman Ranch where traceability is available and easy to check. They work very closely with us and make the effort to understand our needs. For instance, all of our lamb, in all in our menus, comes from Bear Lake. Our beef comes from many of the Niman associate farms. We’re staying away from unnecessary antibiotic, steroids or things like that. Freshness is paramount with us.

 

JF: Do you treat seafood the same way?

JR: Absolutely! Heather, our seafood chef at the Seafood Buffet, has been leading that way for many years already. She follows the “Seafood Watch” at the Monterey Bay Aquarium daily and purchases accordingly. For instance, we can trace back all of our oysters to their origin and to the actual fishermen. Now, our guest have come to expect this kind of quality from us! Not only are we doing the right things, but our guest expect us to keep that lead.

JF: So tell me, what’s new this winter at Deer Valley?

JR: First at the Grocery~Café, we are working very closely with Copper Moose Farm for our field greens, beets, herbs and other vegetables that can be grown in our harsh environment. As far as the Seafood Buffet is concerned, Heather having  her crew go back to the roots of some classic dishes. As an example, this season Heather had the idea of serving Pazole with the DV twist. Instead of buying ready-made cans of Hominy, she’s taking the dried corn and making it from scratch. The seafood Buffet chefs will continue to follow what’s sustainable and we’ll advise the chefs be creative within that parameter. The Day Lodges will continue with Niman burgers and homemade bratwursts. We’ll keep everyone focused on these goals so that our chefs understand our local sourcing, make sure it remains a priority and use it as creatively as possible.

Fireside Dining is opening an extra night, Saturday, and that will go from three to four nights. All the lamb will be sourced locally, from Bear Lake. We’ve also gone local with some of Salt Lake’s Creminelli cured meat instead of importing them; Creminelli is really good, they source Berkshire pork and other high quality ingredients as local as possible… The Mariposa is going to offer a great southwest sturgeon dish this winter to continue our quest in trying to stay sustainable. Royal Street Café is focusing on using lots of local cheeses, like Beehive, Rock Hill Creamery and Gold Creek. Our Day Restaurants will incorporate all of these into our other menus as well. Royal Street Café will also still serve their fabulous homemade meatballs, that by the way are also sold at the Deer Valley Grocery~Café…

Our big focus as far as management is to see even more consistency out of our three Days Lodges. Now that we’re Number One for the fifth year in a row, it behooves us to maintain our lead, ahead of the competition by continuing to strive for culinary perfection.

We’ve had a lot of construction going on this summer and some of it involved rebuilding the whole employee dining area at the Snow Park Lodge as we had outgrown it. Since it caters to our own staff, it also gave us the opportunity to offer an extended menu along with faster service, and this is not small stuff as, if we’re able to make our own people happy, we can be sure that they will make our guests even happier. That may sound like “back of the house” but it will have a huge impact on the “front of the house” and their interaction with our guests!

On the cocktail front, the Park City Area Restaurant Association had upped the ante by organizing a cocktail contest twice a year and we’re participating along with the other Main Street establishments. We’ll be featuring the winner of the last contest, the Easy Street Cocktail, that will be on all our menus. We will also feature more seasonal drinks and cocktail and we’ve also upgraded our wine and liquor list. Finally, we’ll be offering more live entertainment in the afternoon at the EBS Lounge, during weekends, with some of our best local musicians…

 

JF: Sounds wonderful! Where do you get all that inspiration?

JR: Our guests drive us to become better, especially when they do vote us continually Number One in Food and Beverage, on-mountain dining, specially. The good comments we get from our guests make us want to be better. Our chefs are also a very creative team that is always on the lookout for new things and are key in keeping our lead. I want to give them every opportunity to try something new and wow our guests.

 

JF: How do you gather that feedback?

JR: Our guests are pretty verbal, and we get lots of comments, phone calls and emails, helping us to steer our offerings in the right direction. We’re are labeling our menus to indicate all the gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian items as we get these questions all the time, and it’s sometimes hard for waiters to keep up with all these details even though we keep on educating them as well on all these issues.

We have an eight-day rotating menu for our kids ski school, and while we’ve always cater to Kosher, this year our menus will also display the gluten-free options. Further, our ski school menus are all nut-free and we take all the necessary care in the kitchens to avoid cross-contamination so kids can eat with total peace of mind. The bottom line is that if anyone has some special needs, we’ll take care of them!

 

JF: Is the improving level of the Park City, Main Street restaurant benefiting Deer Valley?

JR: We all help each other. The more demand we place on certain ingredients, the more choice we get from suppliers and the more that quality improves. That’s a huge help from all of us. When I first came to Deer Valley I couldn’t get coconut milk; you know, I come from Australia and I couldn’t get any of it and I got so frustrated! Because we have such a diverse and talented pool of chefs between Main Street and Deer Valley, there’s a friendly and highly productive emulation that elevates the quality of the food served and benefits everyone. Our guests too are very diverse and come to us with pretty sophisticated tastes and a fine palate that push us all to become better!

 

JF: You’ve wet my appetite; when can guest samples all that wonderful food?

JR: Very soon! While our Grocery~Café is always serving food, Royal Street Café will open the last weekend of November and then the weekend of December 3, all Day Lodges will welcome the skiing public. Then on Friday, December 9, our Seafood Buffet will be available to diners, followed by Fireside, the last one to open, on Wednesday, December 14. Mark your calendar and come sample our wonderful food!

Check out this blog post on Park City Magazine by the lovely Kristen Case sharing her experience at the Deer Valley Winter Menu Tasting.

Happy as a clam at the Seafood Buffet

Those clams surely weren’t happy, but I was. I had no qualms. I ate the clams and their friends at the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet. I stuffed myself full, couldn’t help it one bit. You couldn’t have either—there is an absurd gluttony of seafood at the Snow Park Lodge during the winter season, and I was fortunate to get a taste of the ocean in a mountain town far away from the sea. 

Being that the Rocky Mountains’ only seashells are fossilized atop the mountaintops, finding fresh seafood embedded in the mountainous region of the United States is rare.

As friendly staff greeted me, I looked at the food presented so perfectly in the lodge (the eating area during the daytime transforms into a high-end restaurant at night) and started to drip with drool. There was spicy tuna with ginger soy sauce, curried carrot ginger soup with spiced cream and crab, honey soy glazed sable fish with ginger sauce, beer battered barramundi with lemon remoulade sauce, plus endless amounts of clams, mussels, and oysters. And just to mix it up, the buffet also offered BBQ baby back ribs and prime rib with au jus. As I worked my way through such fine food, I definitely had seconds. I savored the sable fish twice as it melted in my mouth (it’s definitely a must have, and a staple on the menu throughout the season). The menu changes every three days with plenty of new sauces and starches, but the main dishes such as sable fish and prime rib remain. 

When it came time for dessert, I tried everything from the vanilla bean crème brule to the butterscotch pudding. A kid at a nearby table decided to consume as many Phyllo fruit tartlets as conceivable. 

 The best part of the Seafood Buffet is that the portions are small enough that you don’t feel wasteful if a dish doesn’t whet your appetite. Plus, having to stand up and retrieve your own food keeps the calories burning as you enjoy your stay. I ate for two hours. 

I was happy as a clam, and you can be, too.

Open during the winter ski season, Monday through Saturday, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Phone reservations can be made by calling 435-645-6632, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.to 5 p.m. Free parking is available. Adults $62, Children $34 (11 years and younger). Deer Valley uses sustainable seafood.

My New Year’s Resolutions

For the past five years, we regularly get together with Diane and Peter from New York during the Holidays. We traditionally share a European-style raclette for dinner at home, and always have a wonderful time. We had randomly met at the bottom of the Mayflower chairlift in 2003 (this would be a long story in itself) and besides having that late December dinner together, we’ve developed a tradition of sharing our New Year’s resolutions and checking our progress, or lack thereof, the following year.

Usually, we simply focus on lofty objectives and wishes, including of course, potential vacation spots, intellectual pursuits, sporting accomplishments and even building projects. This year though, we decided to forgo Machu Picchu or the backyard compost bin and focus instead on our common love for skiing. Again, our big city friends come to Deer Valley, once a year, for Christmas, while my wife and I are the lucky ones who get to live full-time in Park City and ski probably more than our fair share!

If they could, our friends would also like to ski more often, but need to convince themselves that they must set aside more time for that purpose. This is why we helped them formulate several compelling reasons, ranging from technique improvement to a great tan. Peter would love to improve his “bump” technique, while Diane is looking for a patient instructor that could take her into deep, powder snow, something she’s always dreamed of. Practically, this would mean setting aside a few more days during the winter months, in which they’d take these “Max 4” lessons that some of their friends have told them about, that run half a day and are limited to just four students.

This is how we all came to the conclusion that they should also try “spring skiing.” We have always been telling them how fun March skiing can be, filled with light, and abundant snow and is the very best way to fully enjoy the “beach” at Silver Lake, right after lunch. Besides, March skiers are almost guaranteed to come home with a tan that won’t be unnoticed when they return to the office. That was all that was needed to convert our New-Yorker friends into signing up for a “studious” ski week in Deer Valley, early March.

This was leaving us, the two locals, to display the resolve expected of us. My wife has always been a “fair weather skier.” This means that a blue-bird day is the necessary reason for her to get out and ski. On the other hand, subtle cloudy streaks on the horizon have often derailed many of her ski outings. Whenever it snows and I go skiing, she thinks: “Poor guy, he’ll get all wet and won’t see a thing…”  Yet, it’s often during those overcast and snowy days that I have the most fun. For years, I’ve tried to convince her that she should at least try, and experience the unparalleled snow softness and the surreal lighting that often makes the experience almost magical. As my argument appeared convincing and met the expectations of the rest of party, she decided that it would be worth a try and volunteered to ski at least five snowy days this season…

I was the only one left to step out and make a pledge. With around 60 ski days under my belt in a typical season, where could I go? I didn’t feel like breaking the 100 day mark but could certainly stretch it to 80, and I also declared that I loved to log as much skiing as possible within one single day. I measure it by just tallying-up the total accumulated vertical drop. There are even special wristwatches for that (I happen to own one.) A full ski day can range between 15 and 35,000 feet vertical depending on one’s ability and how leisurely and substantial the lunch is. I’ve logged around 80,000 feet before and I wondered aloud: “Might I break the 100,000 mark?” My wife looked at me as if I had suddenly become insane, but I remained composed and serious. “I believe I can make it happen,” I added.  “Go for 100,000!” chanted the rest of the table.

With everyone now committed to improving their skiing lives, we felt a need for a common pledge that would further cement our individual resolutions. Diane didn’t need much time to come up with a great idea: “My favorite run happens to be inside the Snow Park Lodge, and it’s called the Seafood Buffet; let’s all go there when we’re back in March!” My wife who loves sushi didn’t have time to second the idea as a loud and unanimous “Yeah!” shook up the whole house. We all recognized that it was a fitting instrument to keep track of some impressive New Year’s resolutions.

jf resolutions[1]

Off Hill Update

I hate to admit it but I still have not been out on the slopes.  With the cold temperatures (that were great for snowmaking) that mother nature brought our way last week I decided to take everyone else’s word that the skiing was good. But we have finally been blessed with a good storm so now I am itching to get out!

 Since, I have been hiding in the lodge I have had the opportunity to take advantage of our award wining dining. I have hit the natural buffet at Snow Park for lunch and love that they now offer grilled chicken as an option for your salad.  I also love the roasted veggie and mozzarella plate but nothing beats the Deer Valley Turkey Chili; a Deer Valley staple. I have to have the famous Turkey Chili a couple times a year.  I also got the privilege to check out The Mariposa menu.  If you have not been to The Mariposa I would HIGHLY recommend it.  There is so much to love on that menu I don’t even know where to begin.  The new crab casa appetizer and caprese salad are decedent.  My personal favorite is the sea scallops for the entrée but if you are not into seafood the bison is unbelievable…I think that I dream about them at night!

The Mariposa- Crab Casa Appetizer
The Mariposa- Crab Casa Appetizer

 

 Now that I am full from just thinking about all of the food, I don’t want to forget to mention some great events coming up.  On December 24, Santa will be at the Snow Park Lodge getting the little one’s last minute gift requests (so don’t forget to be good)!  On December 30 at 6 p.m. on the plaza at Snow Park you can watch our annual Torch Light Parade.  We will be passing out complimentary cookies and hot chocolate for guests.

Santa's visit to Deer Valley in December 2008

Santa's visit to Deer Valley in December 2008

 Those of you who are interested in coming out during Sundance, we have extended our EVP package through the beginning of February.  The EVP package saves up to 25% on your lodging and lift tickets. For more information check out our website deervalley.com.  If you have not been out during Sundance, it is always a great time to ski as most guests are in town to attend films.  Then at night you can check out a movie or just try to catch a glimpse of a celebrity on Main Street.

 Wish me luck on getting some turns in this week!

The Lodges at Deer Valley

The Lodges at Deer Valley