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.

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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.

Dining with Friends at the Seafood Buffet

SnowballWhere do I begin or where do I stop? Well, it’s easy to know where to stop at Seafood Buffet- the selection of desserts, but how you get there is a different story.

The other night I went to Deer Valley’s Seafood Buffet with my husband and good friends, Pete and Jolie Iacobelli. I can’t remember the last time I dined there. Not one of us left disappointed, eating at the Seafood Buffet is one of the most relaxing ways to dine. It’s a great way to catch up with friends because eating is at your own pace. You go to a food station, come back to your table, talk, and decide when you’re ready to select another station OR repeat the same station because it was so good.

Even though there is a suggested way to visit the stations, there are no specific directions or order you need to follow. We all started with the raw bar of oysters and sushi. After, I went to the grill for steamed clams and mussels. I could be completely satisfied the entire night by staying here and repeating this stop many times.  It reminds me of being on the beach in the summer because when I’m on the Cape that’s all I eat. So much for ski season weight loss after eating at our Deer Valley restaurants! Heck, life is short might as well enjoy the good stuff!

I then followed with the shrimp bisque. Yummy! I think I should challenge someone to see if they can eat everything at the Buffet just once. I wanted to try the Italian soup too, but I knew I needed room for the rest of my wish list. Now this was just my plan (of course it’s always about me) ha, but Tim and Jolie followed my path.  Pete went his own way. He came back to the table with his choices but with a sample of a dessert already! He continued to bring a dessert each time he returned. He is Italian after all.

I then ventured over to the entree station. I am a sushi and fish fan, and I will hands down say the Ahi tuna, seared rare, is best in town! My three dining partners concurred with thumbs up! We all repeated this station a couple of times even though we were trying to pace ourselves. Next came the carvery with duck & prime rib! What is nice are the small, tasting size portions you are given. You can eat a lot and try foods that you may otherwise not.

Finally it’s time for dessert. So many choices again, but my favorite is the Chocolate Snowball.  When I find my favorites, I rarely go off course. Just like Royal Street Cafe’s tuna tacos, I can’t stay away from those!

If I haven’t tempted you to dine at the Seafood Buffet then get out and ski! Start your snow dance and see you on the slopes!

The Double Life of Snow Park Restaurant

Snow falling slowly to the ground is transcending and full of magic. A blanket stitched together one fat flake at a time, it smooths the sharp edges of the world offering a more tender landscape to the senses. Few things are more inviting than the best snow on earth, and few places more than Deer Valley. Under a dark Utah sky and through the lights of the Snow Park Lodge, my friend Kate and I walked toward the Seafood Buffet last night, all smiles after several days of great skiing.

I had come to lunch last week at the Snow Park Restaurant, enjoying New York Strip with béarnaise, Seared Scallop Florentine, and a piece of cheesecake that was, as Will Ferrell says, “Scrumtrulescent.” The Scallop Florentine is easily one of my new favorites. I am almost certain that it is meant to be served over pasta, but with scallops that tender and a simmering sweet sauce I couldn’t let anything get in their way.

Instructors from the Deer Valley Ski School were enjoying lunch a few tables away, hands gesturing in smooth arcs and deep angles like pilots talking about turns and maneuvers carved out of the sky. Like many Mondays at a ski mountain everyone was very relaxed and in no hurry. I browsed the food, taking note of the house made bratwurst and gourmet pizza for my next day visit. When I was asked to come back for Seafood Dinner I readily agreed.

As we were seated for dinner the restaurant was relaxed, guests mingling at the tables and serving stations. I was immediately drawn to the Natural Buffet, specifically the Opillio crab. I may live in the Wasatch now but was raised in Maryland. Hardly a crab has gotten by me over the years. After living near the southern tidewaters for the past several years Kate naturally leaned toward the fresh shucked oysters, and steamed clams and mussels. As we began to eat it occurred to me that few foods encourage sharing like seafood. Take two or more people with a passion for sustainable gathering from the sea, and the conversation will travel up and down the coasts of the country. 

Our talk was punctuated with trips to the sushi bar and carving station (Double R Ranch prime beef!) along with our server recommended sable fish and ahi tuna.

After nearly an hour of talking and eating we made a last foray, standing at the bakery trying to make the most difficult decision of the evening. Chocolate raspberry torte and coffee finished us, the mesmerizing spell of a great meal slowly receding. Several inches had fallen while we were inside, promising a great day to come and capping a wonderful evening.

Make reservations for yourself and some friends online or by phone at 435-645-6632. If you can, take a friend who has never been to Deer Valley before. The look of contentment on their face at the end of the evening is almost as rewarding as the meal itself. Thanks to Ryan and the rest of the staff of the Snow Park Restaurant for an outstanding meal.

 

Winter Menu Tasting

Pre-Season Training

I’ve been doubling up on workouts at the gym—not really to get my ski legs on, because we all know the only real way to do that is to ski. For me, these workouts are insurance—that I can eat lunch with impunity. (And by “impunity” I mean taking a no-holds-barred approach to toppings on my Turkey Chili.) I make no secret of the fact that I ski for lunch—and that I’m ever-grateful that Deer Valley turns ski cuisine into high art. But, friends, I think they have outdone themselves.

A few weeks ago, I had the great good fortune to attend a sneak preview menu tasting for the Deer Valley restaurants. The first surprise (and there were many) was that the restaurant in Snow Park Lodge underwent a significant remodel in the off-season. Most noticeably, the beverage stations—once located at center stage in the middle of the buffet lines—have been relocated to a wall, skier’s left as you enter the buffet area. It’s easy to use during the ski day, and easy to hide behind a curtain when the restaurant is transformed, four evenings a week, to the Seafood Buffet.

At center stage is an expansive Natural Buffet station, which will double as a raw-bar/chef’s station for the Seafood Buffet. Oh, and speaking of bars—there is a beautiful new bar just to the right of the stairs to the second level of dining. By day, it’s a full-service espresso bar, where you can order your caffeine fix in any number of combinations. By night, at Seafood Buffet, it’s there for the graceful service of cocktails. Naturally, I I started my evening here,  with a glass of Reederer Estate, Brut, sparkling wine from Anderson Valley, California, poured by Mariposa manager Scott Myers.

Chefs from each restaurant at Deer Valley, presented the new menu items they’d spent the summer perfecting. (I know, I know, I have a very rough job.) I tried everything—and now I will present your restaurant-by-restaurant guide to the best-bet bites.

Seafood Buffet

If you haven’t tried this restaurant, this is your year. Two standout dishes were added to the menu, one as a “bite,” the other as an entrée.

The bite: Seared Wagyu Beef on a duck-fried Yukon gold potato chip with bacon and caramelized onion jam. Abandon all hope of stopping at just one. There is something about the duck fat in this dish that makes the rest of the ingredients pop.

Garithes me Domato Kai Feta. It would have never occurred to me to prepare shrimp with Feta cheese. Which is why I am not a chef. The broth is light—lemon, chives and fennel. The heirloom cherry tomatoes (from Copper Moose Farm and from farms in Wyoming) are cooked just enough to enhance their natural sweetness. The feta provides a tart measure that plays against the sweetness of the tomatoes and the shrimp.

Royal Street Café

The full-service restaurant in Silver Lake Lodge is one of my favorite stops. From the cocktails to the menu that’s so delightfully varied that it almost demands we order in concert so no dish goes untasted. If you must choose, take a break from your usual edamame appetizer and bite into the Tomatillo and Jalapeno crusted Calamari Frito. I had to try several, as I was trying to decide whether I preferred dipping them in the poblano aioli or the red chili cocktail dipping sauce. Jury’s still out. I’ll have to go to RSC post-haste for further research.

Known for inventive sandwiches, Royal Street won’t disappoint meat lovers—aside from the fact that they have to choose between three new and delicious sandwiches:  the Maple Bacon BBQ Bison Burger (the bacon is cured and smoked in-house, the bison is ground fresh, daily) the House-smoked Pulled-Pork sandwich, and the Bulgogi and Bao Bun. This Korean-seasoned beef cheek is probably my favorite—plenty of heat, with an undertone of sweetness. And you can order it in a lettuce wrap, too.

Deer Valley Grocery Café

Sous Chef Adam has been at the Grocery Café for just a few months, but he’s already upped the ante on the menu, by adding some excellent après ski options. Roasted Pepper Fondito, Salmon Rillette and Smoked Tomato Blue Crab Dip. Here’s a tip—try them all, and ask the team at the café to heat a few take-home entrees for you while you enjoy appetizers on the deck. You won’t be sorry.

Fireside Dining

For a restaurant that cooks all of its food directly from the hearths in the dining rooms, you would not expect fish. But Chef Shane Symes presented a Juniper Berry Crusted Walleye with a house-made thyme ricotta cheese, balsamic pearls and a lemon-whey sauce that I might have happily enjoyed as a dessert if it didn’t pair so nicely with the fish.

Mariposa

I’ll find any excuse to dine at Mariposa—but I’ve often found it hard to choose between dishes, then over-ordering and then feeling that I’ve overindulged by meal’s end. In fact, once, we took our friends Florida Keys Girl and Guy to dinner there, and Keys Girl found herself so stuffed that she retreated to an empty booth to lie down. Well, I’m happy to report that we can sample the menu with impunity, as Executive Chef Clark Norris and Sous Chef Tim Carpenter have transformed the entire menu into small-plate style—you can still order entrée-sized portions, if you wish, but choosing a variety of bites is encouraged. Don’t miss the Niman Ranch Beef Short Rib with Pontack Sauce and chevre mashed potatoes. The hidden gem of the dish was the fried smoked shallot—which had been smoked on oak from Chef Norris’s property. And since you asked, I’ll tell you about Pontack sauce: It’s an English elderberry sauce with a slightly sharp sweetness that plays beautifully against the beef. Executive Chef Norris harvests the berries off the slopes of Deer Valley. I defy you to find a more local dish.

At this point the meal, having enjoyed more than a bite of everything—plus some lovely paired wines—I learned a delightful new phrase: Cheese Course Slider. Seriously.

Executive Pastry Chef Letty Flatt, and Snow Park Pastry Chef Debby Swenerton  did not disappoint, serving up the Brown Butter Pineapple Upside Down Cake with coconut-lime mascarpone cream. You’ll find this dessert at Seafood Buffet—and you’ll taste the influence of Swenerton’s Hawaiian vacations.

Believe it or not, we had more dessert: Chai gianduja ice cream, hibiscus sorbet and carmelized pear ice cream from Pastry Chef Steve Harty at The Mariposa.

I left the tasting confident in two things: I won’t have any shortage of amazing dining options this winter—and I’m going to have to ski harder for lunch.  Bon Appetit!

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.

Black Belt in Buffet

You know a dining experience has been a decadent success when your seven-year old is ranking his top SEVEN desserts from the evening on the drive home from the meal. 

Yup, we conquered the Seafood Buffet. We came, we saw, we ate. Everything.

Big Guy made a point of thanking me for suggesting he try the Maple Glazed Sablefish. For those of you who have not yet gotten the memo, Sablefish is the actual name of the mysteriously chic Black Cod. And NOBODY does it like Deer Valley. 

We were fortunate to have an evening with some dear friends who are part-time Park City residents. This is a family with whom we bonded four years ago in Snow Park Lodge—we were experiencing the same level of kid-mayhem, which, upon reflection, seems a little strange. At that time, they had our kid-count bested by two, and yet…

 Anyway, it was one of those instant bonds that had us inviting them for dinner at our house that same week, and we (and all the kids) have been inseparable ever since. Little Guy was born later that spring, and as soon as the other family arrived for the summer, their daughter had him in her arms—and that, as they say, was that.

 

So we decided to hit the buffet together—but not without some strategic planning (après ski naps and snacks to compensate for a seating at the risky-with-kids hour of 7pm ) and warning: “Kids, this is a special restaurant and we expect best behavior.” Which is one of those lies parents tell. We expected poor behavior (the naps didn’t happen) but hoped for better. Sometimes those hopes get answered. This was one of those times. The kids reveled in the relative freedom to  visit the buffet stations with minimal adult involvement. Bigger ones offering to help smaller, and buddies pairing off. Little Guy’s Guardian Girl saw to it that he had an ample selection of berries, and the adults took turns competing to see who could make the most trips down the stairs. 

I just loved watching my kids explore, and consider their next moves. Little Guy started the evening expecting his usual Snow Park Penne, then insisting on a plate of rice from the carving station plus some sushi rolls to start his meal. His brother offered him some sablefish, and he was game to wait in line for his own portion. A dad in front of me was a bit wide-eyed noting the three year-old’s seemingly adventurous palate. Then the fish was plated, and a mini-tantrum ensued. I just did what any reasonable person would do: I offered dessert. It worked.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss the brilliance of the chocolate bread pudding. Unanimously adored by all in attendance at our table. I know this because we discussed it as a group for about 15 minutes.

I can’t say enough about the cheerful and impeccable service—or the fabulous table we had in the balcony on the second floor. The kids, as a group, are pretty well-behaved. But it’s still a table with five kids under 10. So having a little remove from the main dining room was a plus. And, as I joked with Bonnie at the bar, a person could burn off calories by stair-climbing between courses. (Reality check: after a bit of skiing on Wide West—a workout when you count all the lifting of a thirty-pound three year-old with a predeliction for falling, and the perma-wedge required for skiing with a tot—I logged an hour of cardio and strength workouts at home in preparation for the feast.)

The true test of a successful restaurant visit? The kids managed to forget about their electronics until after the fifth trip to the dessert station, and only then clustering around iPod Touch games as the adults lingered over conversation and coffee.