Locals and visiting skiers to A-Basin's Black Mountain Lodge over the last three seasons have surely noticed the uptick in deliciousness, with high-end resort-quality food still being served in a casual family ski lodge atmosphere.
Legendary Summit County chef Christopher Rybak pleased crowds yet again on Friday night with his menu, cooking and jovial atmosphere at A-Basin's Alpenglow Dinner and Wildflower Hike, held at the resort's mid-mountain lodge that opened in 2007.
This twilight dinner and hike was the first of its kind this season, and will be followed by three more such events before summer is over: a Yoga on the Mountain event featuring a hike, yoga and light lunch on July 26; a brunch Aug. 26; and a clam bake Sept. 8. All meals are designed and orchestrated by Rybak.
And although the wildflowers were slightly scarce, the food was plentiful, and featured all Colorado grown and produced products. Rybak was shopping at the Dillon farmer's market the same day for many of the ingredients, and prepared them with his staff at altitude in a meal that left everyone smiling and unbuckling their belts.
Hors d'oeuvres included assorted fine cheeses, smoked goat tacos with fresh corn tortillas and rainbow trout both smoked and in a delicious spread. The dinner buffet was set with natural chicken cassoulet, Colorado-farm raised striped bass, all-natural buffalo from Craig, Colo., sirloin of lamb, and many assorted vegetables and Colorado mashers. The salad table was not to be overlooked with its locally grown tomatoes, cucumbers, basil and feta cheese from Buena Vista's Jumpin Good Goat Dairy, as well as freshly baked rolls and pasta salad with fresh roasted and marinated vegetables. No one in the lodge was turning down dessert either, featuring Western Slope peaches and shortcake, homemade Colorado apple pie, assorted sweet bites such as peanut butter brownies, and Chef Rybak himself scooping out Higgles maple walnut ice cream from Silverthorne.
The Black Mountain Lodge also features a full bar for patrons to enjoy. Guests ride the lift up between 5:30 and 6 p.m. and then can either download or hike down the mountain after dinner.
"This is the best chef in all of Summit County," said Meredith Van Dyne of Keystone. "We'd go to the end of the world to have food with him." The Van Dyne's have attended every Arapahoe Basin Black Mountain Lodge dinner since the resort began hosting the events several years ago.
Rybak moved over to A-Basin as the resort's food and beverage director three winters ago after more than 20 years at Keystone, and he's been a Summit County resident for 26 years, not counting two seasons as a chef at Park City Mountain Resort. And while he doesn't cook every meal on the mountain, he is the "conductor of the orchestra."
"Doing these dinners I still get to be creative," Rybak said. "Sourcing good food, writing menus, the things I love about working in the industry. I like to take things to the next level."
Those interested in attending future dinners are encouraged to check the resort's website in October for winter dinner dates, including the extremely popular New Years Eve event at Black Mountain Lodge. Revelers may skin or snowshoe to mid-mountain, or ride the chairlift. The event celebrates New Years on Eastern Standard Time, so participants can be home safe and sound in front of the fireplace before midnight.
Visit www.arapahoebasin.com/summer to register and for more information on upcoming events.