A-Basin’s first full-moon dinner waxes successful
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
There’s something magical about riding up a chairlift and having the entire ski area (almost all) to yourself.
At 7 p.m. Friday, we rode Exhibition Lift, feet dangling without skis, up to Black Mountain Lodge for Arapahoe Basin’s first full-moon feast.
Everyone bristled with excitement: The liftie at the top ushered people off, saying things like “Namaste,” and “Enjoy!” General manager and chief operating officer Alan Henceroth stood outside Black Mountain Lodge, greeting everyone who walked by. Inside, coat checkers offered guests a shot of cinnamon amaretto, and chefs walked through the lodge, smiling proudly.
That night, chef Chris Rybak and his staff had every reason to be proud: The dinner, accommodating about 150 people, sold out last Tuesday, and the guests were about to eat the finest cuisine ever served at A-Basin.
An expansive spread of various cheese, meat and fruit platters enticed people as they strolled in. The cash bar saw plenty of action, as people mingled before the main entree came out.
Leon Joseph Littlebird welcomed guests with the sacred sounds of his flute, which complemented the vast, snow-covered views of the East Wall. By the time the buffet dinner was served, he had transitioned into his singer-songwriter style of entertainment, playing tunes ranging from Johnny Cash to the Grateful Dead.
The ages of guests ranged from kids to seniors, but everyone chatted and mingled as if they were old friends.
When they brought out the main course, I couldn’t help but feel like I had been transported to a Flintstone’s cartoon ” the bison leg the chef carved up was enormous. And, it was the bison that seemed to be the biggest hit, at least from where I sat.
I prefer overhearing comments about the food at a dining event, rather than formally interviewing people who craft their answers to appear in the paper.
We sat next to three snowboarders, age 20 or so, and this is how the conversation over the bison went:
“Duuude ” ” snowboarder one said, taking his first bite of bison.
“I knooowww,” snowboarder two said.
“It’s really good,” snowboarder one said.
“It’s REALLY good,” snowboarder two said.
I chuckled a bit at their lack of articulation, until I sank my teeth into the bison and was rendered as speechless with the tenderness and the flavor. “Dude,” I thought to myself, “I know,” I answered myself, “This is REALLY good.”
On the other side of us, an older couple raved about the food, using adjectives like “excellent” and “delicious.”
Both sets of diners couldn’t have been more accurate.
In addition to the carving station with succulent turkey and bison, a pasta bar offered vegetarian ravioli, as well as separate chicken and seafood pastas. The salad bar overflowed with crisp Caesar salad, spinach salad and a pasta salad surrounded by fresh breads.
By the time the dessert buffet emerged, most people had stuffed themselves with the incredible cuisine. Still, we made room for dessert, justifying the indulgence by saying we’d burn some calories walking or snowshoeing down the mountain.
The dessert trays were even more expansive than the impressive appetizer platters. As the man behind me said, “There’s too much to choose from.”
The table offered individual servings of mixed berries, cinnamon bread, chocolate-covered strawberries, mini cannolis, mini chocolate cakes, mini cups of chocolate mouse housed in dark chocolate, mini cheese cakes ” you name it, they had it, and it was divine.
Upon departure, small boxes of chocolate truffles were given to the ladies.
As we walked down the freshly groomed path, which meandered around the base of Lenawee chair, following the easy road marked with glow sticks, moon-lit clouds hung over the East Wall.
It was a memorable night ” one on which the staff at A-Basin will model more full-moon dinners, perhaps including themed Italian Alps and Asian nights, next season.
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