Part 1: Snowbasin Resort
When Ski Utah invites you on a trip with the title, The Après Ski Overindulge Trip, you just don't pass that one up. Especially when the name of your company is All About Après and you are a self described drinker with a skiing problem. This trip seemed tailor made to my skill set so it was an easy decision to jump all over it when the opportunity came my way.
As the trip began, it became abundantly clear that overindulgence might have been the understatement of the ski season. Especially since Utah has so much more to offer than just skiing. With a burgeoning craft beer and distilling scene that rivals that of any other major ski area and a new influx of farm to table offerings the ski resorts and surrounding areas are a foodie's paradise. A combination such as this is easily enough to make the après worth it but throw in some pretty epic skiing on three bluebird spring-like days and you've got yourself the makings of an amazing trip worthy of its title.
"We're Going to Eat A Lot Today"
We pulled up last Thursday on a beautiful, sunny spring day and parked in the front row of the parking lot at Snowbasin Resort. I've never had rock star parking like this before, it's kind of unheard of here in the east, especially when you usually roll with a crew that is the equivalent of herding cats. However, the group that our esteemed leader, Paul Marshal of Ski Utah assembled, was on the ball for the first day. Maybe it was my insomnia having already had me up for a few hours pacing around the house that had us raring to go, but I doubt it. It was, more than likely, a combination of the random Bravo TV references that were dropped in the 10 minute car ride to the mountain and the enlightening account, by one writer, of the movie Chalet Girl, who used it as her research for this trip, that got the people going. Nonetheless, we hopped out of the car and headed toward the monstrosity of a lodge that looked like something worthy of hosting the Olympics. Oh wait... Snowbasin did host the Olympic downhill races in 2002 and is, after all, a Sun Valley property. That alone should say it all. However, upon walking into the lodge and seeing the insanely large Murano glass chandeliers hanging from the ceilings checking out the bathrooms...yes the bathrooms, you'll know you're not at any lodge that can be considered pedestrian.
As we approached this behemoth of a ski lodge, we were greeted by Snowbasin's ever so bubbly director of marketing Megan with an exuberant, "Hi!" followed immediately by, "I hope you're ready, we're going to eat a lot today," and so the gluttony that was this ski trip began with my breakfast that consisted of two eggs, toast, potatoes and the, piece de resistance, smoked brisket hash. A tough breakfast choice to say the least when one of the other options included a fried chicken and waffles slider which consisted of two fried chicken tenders slapped between two mini Belgian Waffles. How I made this decision, I will never know, and regrets, there were none, but this does leave open the option to go back to Snowbasin and try this other breakfast dish.
The eating and drinking marathon continued all day and into the night at Snowbasin bordering on gluttony and making a Megan, in no way regret her words. This was totally fine by me since I do love eating and drinking and we did enough skiing to turn my legs into jelly and make me feel like I earned my apres for the day.
Award Winning Chili, The Olympic Downhill and A Ravine
My lunch consisted of the award winning chili from this year's chili cook off. The recipe that contained both buffalo and andouille sausage was so good that it had me rethinking my own award winning recipe and pondering a comeback to the chili cooking circuit. I chowed down on this delicious dish at the John Paul Lodge which offers epic views of the Wasatch mountains and, in my case, the men's Olympic downhill run in my foreground, all the while sucking down some liquid courage for what would be my next run. The last two runs of the day consisted of the aforementioned downhill course (no I did not tuck it the entire way) and a sojourn through the steep Snowbasin bowls that deposited me into some sort of ravine and when combined with the heavy spring snow had me exhausted and ready for après ski.
Did Frank Sinatra Ever Headline Après Ski?
Après ski at Snowbasin was a highly unique experience. The Cinnabar, was not exactly jamming on a Thursday, with the scene limited to my group a few others. This made it no less exciting given the dynamic of the fun people I was with, and with an extra large patio overlooking the mountain and bands that play regularly on the weekends, I could see how Snowbasin could really be a great time after hours.
Après ski is so much more than just live music and beers, it's about sharing the day's accomplishments with those you are with and that we did, to the fullest. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of beers involved and bloodies and Old Fashioneds and Gluwein...overindulgence, you get the point. The most distinctive part of this experience, other than learning more about the inner workings of Chalet Girl and Vanderpump Rules, was the Frank Sinatra blaring in the background. I have to say, that this was a first time for me and I wondered aloud, "Did Sinatra ever headline après ski?" He had to have at some point, right? One thing I know for sure though was that this place had a shotski and there was no way we were leaving without doing one, especially with three shotski virgins in the house. The shotski is all about chemistry and this team had it as we downed a local liquor from Ogden's Own Distillery called Porter's Fire effortlessly, right before we headed up the gondola to the Needle's Lodge for a surf and turf pairing dinner.
A Five Course Dinner Pairing to Finish the Day
Having gorged myself on food and booze all day, I am quite sure that the last thing I needed at this point was a five course dinner pairing, but when in Snowbasin do as the Snowbasins do (that sounded so much cooler in my head). As unique as après with Sinatra, this dinner began with a ride up on gondola amidst beautiful sunset laden mountain views to the peak of the mountain and Needle's Lodge. The dinner itself did well to showcase the local fare and the farm to table movement that the area is becoming known for. There was very little that I was served that I had eaten before, a surprising notion since I've never had a problem trying new foods. The chef impressed with not only the creativity of the surf and turf courses as well as the preparation. Such combinations of monk fish boiled in whole milk served with veal medallions cooked to perfection and duck and salmon pate had me craving for more. Each place was only enhanced by being pared with a variety of local adult beverages including Snowbasin's own Rye Amber, brewed specifically for them by Uinta Brewing. I do love myself a Rye beer and managed to find a few in front of my plate for that specific dish.
What a way to end the night and an amazing day at this great resort. They far from over delivered on Megan's promise to eat a lot and the skiing was some of my favorite ever. The overindulgence had only just begun and I could not wait for more.
Stay tuned for Part 2, a recap of my visit to Park City on St. Patrick's Day.