Thank goodness Solitude Mountain Resort has retained its tranquility amid the musical-chairs ownership game that’s been playing among Utah ski resorts the last year or so.
Who cares who owns what? As long as Chefs Craig Gerome and Ray Goodman are still manning Solitude’s kitchen, the table is set by Big Cottonwood Creek burbling through its grassy banks, by which to sit and sip wine, I’m happy. No other resort has the intimate setting that’s possible at Solitude. Each summer, Solitude presents a creekside dinner outside of the Inn at Solitude, as part of the Wasatch Mountain Table series. This year’s singular event featured the theme Pigs ’n’ Pinot, featuring delectable porcine creations from Gerome and Goodman and a selection of paired pinots. A match made in heaven, although pretty much anything with pinot noir is a happy marriage, if the wine is good. Here is our review in five courses.
First: As the creek burbled obligingly, we sipped rosé and mingled with our chatty colleagues in mountain dining. Servers passed a nutty gazpacho to whet our appetites.
Second: ribbon-cut honeydew and cantaloupe mingled with Belleta speck, popped sorghum like tiny popcorn and Manadori Balsamic. Maybe you know what that is, but I didn’t: Evidently Massimo Bottura, chef at Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, makes this artisanal vinegar in limited quantities, aging it in a series of oak, chestnut and juniper. Feel humbled. I did for a second, but after finishing my glass of Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé, Burgundy, France 2016, I felt better about myself.
Third: Niman Ranch baby back ribs with a scallion, fennel and lobster slaw was paired with with the Domaine Carneros 2015 pinot noir,
Fourth: a pork tenderloin roulade with fresh sage polenta and a pinot reduction came with 2015 Cakebread Cellars Two Creek Vineyards, Anderson Valley.
Fifth: Even dessert—a plum galette with vanilla ice cream had a bacon brown butter on it.
Solitude used to present the Wasatch Mountain Table Dinners several times during the warm months—now this year’s Pigs ’N’ Pinot was the sole event meaning enthusiastic fans of the series were limited to just one night. Making this year’s Wasatch Mountain Table dinner feel more like a group of friends gathered around than a banquet. And, I guess, since we all ended up in the hot tub together after dinner, we were friends. That’s what convivial dining does.
Really, I only have one criticism about the event, but it is a crucial one: Solitude should host these dinners more frequently and bring back the full series.