Last Friday’s head-to-tail lamb-and-wine pairing dinner at Viceroy Snowmass was perhaps the culinary highlight of an exceptionally foodie weekend in Snowmass.
The five-course dinner occurred in conjunction with the Snowmass Culinary and Arts Festival, which brought together foodies, wine connoisseurs, and art lovers on the Snowmass Village Mall for food demonstrations and wine, beer and spirit samplings. But the Viceroy Snowmass dinner combined all of the tenets of the festival into one great meal: superb food, exceptional wine pairings, artisanal plating, and even a little Southern charm from executive Chef Will Nolan. This was my first sit down meal in the modern-meets-mountain EightK restaurant, but it certainly won’t be my last.
The menu consisted of lamb-head cheese on house-made French bread with local Palisade peach-pepper jelly; lamb bacon-wrapped sweet breads and local kohlrabi in a sauce Meunière; lamb cheek ravioli with Colorado heirloom tomato and rosemary-mint relish; roulade of lamb; crown rack of lamb, tenderloin, merguez and fennel mustard; and Basalt cherry hand pie with a lamb-fat crust and sheep’s milk ice cream.
I mentioned in last week’s column that the first two courses — the lamb’s head cheese made, literally, from the meat in the head of the lamb, and the sweetbreads, made from the thyroid gland — had me more than a little anxious. But I can officially say I’m now a convert. The nuttiness of the head cheese paired perfectly with the ever-so-sweet Gewurztraminer, and between the lamb bacon wrapped around the sweetbreads and the sauce Meunière it was doused in, I didn’t even have to close my eyes and think happy thoughts to enjoy it. The textural balance was a true delight.
The remaining courses were expectedly good, but the rosemary-mint relish with Colorado heirloom tomato that went along with the lamb cheek ravioli was a particularly standout. Several dinner patrons were caught slathering the leftovers on bread and enjoying once the ravioli was long gone. And the Sonoma Geyserville Vineyard Zinfandel was more than bold enough to stand up to the strong flavors.
Before slicing the fourth course, Chef Nolan brought out the full crown rack of lamb for the patrons to admire. And admire we did. As steam wafted from the majestic rack, mouths watered. And the corn, done up in a Creole grits style, had an almost nostalgic quality about it that reminded me of Sunday supper at home with mom.
But the Basalt cherry pie, made cleverly with a lamb fat crust to adhere to the evening’s theme, left the diners speechless as everyone sat in silence devouring the hand-sized portions (This dish, we were told, was thanks to Viceroy Snowmass pastry chef Ashley Jenkins.)
This was just the first of such themed dinners at Viceroy Snowmass, but for all our sakes I hope it’s not the last.
After such a lamb-heavy meal, my body was craving veggies. Here’s a recipe for Vegetarian Korma I made the day after the dinner to replenish my body’s vegetable supply.
1 1/2 tbsps vegetable oil
1 diced onion
1 tsp ginger root (minced fresh)
4 cloves minced garlic
2 potatoes (cubed)
4 carrots (cubed)
1 jalapeno pepper (fresh, seeded and sliced)
3 tbsps unsalted cashews (ground)
4 oz tomato sauce
2 tsps salt
1 1/2 tbsps curry powder
1 cup green peas (frozen)
12 green bell pepper (chopped)
12 red bell pepper (chopped)
1 cup heavy cream
1 bunch fresh cilantro (garnish)
1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and cook until tender. Mix in ginger and garlic, and continue cooking 1 minute. Mix potatoes, carrots, jalapeno, cashews, and tomato sauce. Season with salt and curry powder. Cook and stir 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
2. Stir peas, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and cream into the skillet. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro to serve.