The Limelight Room at the Sun Valley Inn has a great deal in common with the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts Castle (for all you Harry Potter fans out there): it can be transformed into virtually anything you need. Hosting a conference? Easy. Staging a benefit gala for 200? Got it covered. Need a space to feature a special speaker? Done. This room can provide a perfect setting for just about any occasion.
This weekend, the Limelight Room assumed one of its myriad personalities: that of a beautiful venue for and evening of dinner and dancing — all for a great cause. On Saturday night, it was the backdrop for the always-popular Fall Game Dinner sponsored by the non-profit Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.
The Game Dinner is only one of many parties that take place each year in the Limelight Room.
Set up was in full swing in the Limelight Room Saturday afternoon
With its beautiful crystal chandeliers and rich color palate, the room provides a canvas that can be painted countless ways. I have been to events at the Limelight Room where the space is divided into two intimate areas – one for cocktails and one for dinner. I have enjoyed a mock casino night there, when it is jammed with “blackjack” and “poker” tables. I have listened to great speakers in that room (David Sedaris being my favorite) when rows of gold chairs faced the podium. Other events, like the upcoming Firefighters’ Ball, another local favorite, don’t require much more than a few bars, some cocktail tables and great music to morph the space into a nightclub. Each summer, the Limelight Room becomes HQ for the world’s media moguls. Within those four walls, deals are made that make history.
The auctioneer encourages the crowd at the Game Dinner
On Thanksgiving Day, the Limelight Room will once again be transformed, this time into a lavish holiday all-you-can-eat buffet. Families and friends will gather to enjoy a home cooked meal with all the fixings that they did not have to spend days preparing. It is worth checking out the terrific room packages and early season ski specials available for Thanksgiving. Imagine taking a few opening day runs on Baldy or Dollar, eating until you can’t move and simply walking down the hall to your room for a much-needed nap and perhaps some football on television. Pretty great.
Chances are, if you visit Sun Valley or live here, some occasion will bring you to the Limelight Room. It is quintessential Sun Valley and a place where memories are made.
The view from the Inn's terrace is pretty tempting indeed
There is no such thing as a quiet week in Sun Valley. Even in the middle of the shoulder season, operations on the mountain and in Sun Valley Village hummed. Lunch specials attracted locals and visitors alike and the season’s first snow fell in earnest.
Mother Nature combined with Sun Valley’s top rated snow making to cover Baldy in white. According to the Resort’s Marshall McInnis, the piles of snow hugging the guns on Warm Springs are so deep, they are ready to “push” them, creating the beginning of the season’s base. It’s on!
In preparation for a very special holiday season, the Monument Tree was planted across from the Sun Valley Inn during the snow storm earlier this week. The Colorado Spruce will serve at the Village Christmas tree for generations to come. It was harvested from Hillside Farms near Picabo, Idaho, and was chosen for its beautiful shape. Meanwhile, the grounds and maintenance crews are hard at work stringing holiday lights, a process that takes a full month. The Village, Inn and Lodge will be decked for the holidays this year by Thanksgiving and highlights will include a spectacular Winter Wonderland (more on this to come). With the accompaniment of Santa, the Sun Valley Carolers, ice carving demonstrations and refreshments, this tree will be lit during a highly anticipated celebration on December 15.
Very visible operations were also underway at the Konditorei coffee shop. The Konditorei, literally the cornerstone of activity in Sun Valley Village, is in the midst of a major transformation, returning to its roots. Expect a cozy atmosphere, delicious food and a wonderful place to gather at this Austrian-style patisserie.
The Resort’s slack dining specials drew a full house to Gretchen’s Restaurant at the Sun Valley Lodge on Thursday. The ladies who lunch gathered, chatted, organized the world and relaxed while snow showers swirled outside. An always popular menu item? Sun Valley’s famous french onion soup.
This weekend, the fun continues as Warren Miller’s latest installment of his ski film empire, “Flow State,” comes to the Sun Valley Opera House. Tickets are $18 and the movie is a great way to get excited about the winter season.
It is also another big bike weekend in the Wood River Valley as the annual Crosstoberfest gets underway. This bike racing and beer festival takes place at Old Cutter’s Park in Hailey, Idaho, and features seasonal beers from around the world, great food, live music and cyclocross racing.
The Folklife Fair, a big part of this weekend’s highly-anticipated Trailing of the Sheep Festival, proved a feast for the senses. Dozens of lamb dishes, cooked on site in a park in Hailey, tantalized. The smell of lamb burgers, lamb pockets, delicacies of every persuasion, wafted throughout the fairgrounds, subtly reminding visitors that it was lunchtime. And by all accounts, the food tasted just as good as it smelled.
Local lamb burgers tasted as good as they looked
Strains of bagpipes resonated across grassy fields throughout the day, drawing the crowds temporarily away from the food stands and craft tents to cheer on performers. Basque dance groups also proved to have a Pied-Piper effect on visitors, attracting a wide circle of onlookers.
Children and adults alike were invited to touch shorn wool that lay in huge matted bundles throughout the park. It was much, much softer than it appeared. Color exploded from every corner. From the perfect bluebird sky of the Idaho Indian Summer day, to yarn bundles in every hue, to the capes and bright skirts worn by the dancers, the Folklife Fair was a feast for the eyes as well.
Local lamb -- the draw for many fair-goers
Judging from the hundreds of out-of-town license plates lining every street for blocks and blocks around Roberta McKercher Park, people came from near and far to enjoy the Trailing of the Sheep. For every familiar face enjoying what might have been the nicest day of the year, there were three or four unfamiliar ones, all soaking up this glimpse into Idaho’s rich sheep-herding history, all coming together to remember to appreciate life’s simpler joys.
While the parade that wends down Ketchum’s Main Street may be the weekend’s signature event, the fair also deserves a few hours of your time. Before this year, while I always attended the parade – and I do love it; it is colorful, and musical and downright funny – I had never made it to the Fair. From now on, the opportunity to walk through the dozens of craft booths, admiring people’s skill and handiwork with textiles, stopping to let my children watch old-fashioned spindles at work, and yes, to enjoy the wonderful locally-sourced food prepared by local chefs, is permanently on my calendar. If it’s on your calendar next year, too, be sure to check out the great room specials Sun Valley Resort offers for the Trailing of the Sheep weekend.
The boys imagining life in a sheep trailer -- albeit a really, really nice one
Unexpected traffic jam on the bike path after Sunday's big parade
If you plan to attend the screening of the documentary film “G-Dog” this Saturday night (October 13) at the Sun Valley Opera House, prepare to laugh, cry and be moved. The film profiles Father Greg Boyle (G-Dog) who created Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles; a man who has helped turn around countless lives for at-risk youth. You will meet two of Father Boyle’s success stories, as well as Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock. Lastly, you will make an impact locally, as 100 percent of the evening’s proceeds will support the work of the Hunger Coalition. Not bad for a Saturday night in slack and a $10 entry fee.
Father Boyle’s program rehabilitates, trains and employs 12,000 former gang members a year. Two program graduates, who now work with Boyle, will join Mock to answer questions after the screening. Hector Verdugo is Associate Director of Homeboy Industries and Shirley Torres is Director of Reentry Services. Both met Father Boyle when they were young and in trouble, and with his help, turned their lives around. Verdugo, who is Father Boyle’s right-hand man, also stars in the film. The two will be guests in Sun Valley and plan to get out and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Freida Mock hard at work
Documentary filmmaker Mock likes to delve into tough subjects, to stir the proverbial pot, to inspire and provoke thought. This part-time Sun Valley resident is thrilled to bring Father Boyle’s story to a local audience. “It is a very hopeful film,” Mock said in a phone interview. “It is a wonderful combination of funny and deep, light and deadly serious.” But G-Dog’s joy and optimism pervade the story. Mock said it is appropriate for older children and leaves audiences on their feet. She said the film will be shown here on a top quality audio-visual equipment, providing a great movie-going experience.
Filmmaker Mock with her stars
The Hunger Coalition is thrilled to be the beneficiary of this screening. “October is Hunger Awareness Month and each year we try to do an event that gets people out on the town having fun but talking about hunger in the Valley,” said Naomi Spence, program director for the organization. Every dollar from ticket sales goes directly to benefit the Hunger Coalition whose mission is notunlike Homeboy Industries. “We are focused on empowering people,” Spence explained, “in supporting them through their journey to get back on their feet. By the time people come to us, they have surrendered to the crisis. Like Father Boyle’s organization, we strive to help people return a place where they are once again sustainable.” Gathering on a lovely fall night in Sun Valley is a terrific opportunity to raise awareness and get the community together.
The screening begins at 7 p.m. Tickets to a VIP pre-party at the Boiler Room, including dinner, cocktails and a chance to mingle with Mock and the cast, are available for $50. General admission is $10. The Resort is also running slack dinner specials at Resort restaurants – an affordable way to grab a great meal before the show.
Tickets are available at Chapter One Bookstore in Ketchum, Wood River Motors in Hailey and at the door, based on availability.
Last weekend, I found myself without children – a rare state for me. My daughters were whitewater rafting and my son was at a sleepover. With this sudden profusion of grown-up time, my immediate instinct was to avoid my own kitchen and let a professional do the work. I wanted elegance, charm, great food, a cocktail. So I headed to the Ram Restaurant in Sun Valley Village. From the toile draperies to the hideaway wooden banquettes with their needlepoint backs and leather seats, there is nothing I don’t like about the Ram. On the occasion that I have an evening to spend with an adult I really want to talk to (read: a date), the Ram is my restaurant of choice. On Saturday night, I slipped into a booth by the window, admiring the pressed white linens, sparkling crystal, and spotless silver, and allowed the soothing notes of the piano to adjust my attitude. I went from harried mommy-mode to night-on-the-town-mode in record time.
There is something truly relaxing and romantic about the Ram. From the moment you walk into the room — styled with more than a hint of Sun Valley’s Austrian roots in mind – the pressure is off. Unlike some other area restaurants fueled by the see-and-be-seen scene, at the Ram, you can bring a big group and make a scene or simply nod and smile at your fellow diners as you enter (because you will inevitably know someone there), but take comfort in the fact that your privacy will be respected. Many of us locals (you know who you are) seek refuge, while seeking a good meal, at the Ram.
The gateway to a wonderful evening
None of this would matter, of course, without delicious food. For a few years, the Ram’s menu was bit heavy for me, focusing on wild game, red meat and rich sides. Not my thing. Today’s selections are much more eclectic. Sure, you can still get a great steak, but I swapped the red meat for gravlax, the heavy red wine for a perfectly chilled Cosmo, added a fresh beet salad and a hot, creamy cup of New England clam chowder and, voila! I created my perfect meal (plus a few bites from the communal Bananas Foster, of course). My only complaint? Rice pudding is no longer served. I used to go to the Ram just for that. (Hint).
The beet salad is one of the most popular dishes on the menu. The Ram’s chef, Steve Ludwig, was kind enough to share this healthy, delicious fall recipe.
Ram Beet Salad:
what you will need:
candied walnuts, crumbled/crushed
ricotta salata cheese, crumbled
picked fresh herbs: chervil, parsley, dill, etc. (whatever you like)
for the beets:
Find medium to large beets at the store. I use chiogga and golden varieties for this dish since the red beets stain everything. Set your oven to 350 F and depending what type of beets you bought, cut the greens off. Find roasting pans or pots with lids large enough to hold the beets. Roast different color beets separate from each other by placing them in their own pan, adding a ½ inch of water, covering tightly with lid or aluminum foil and roasting in oven until a small pairing knife can be inserted easily into the beets. Depending on how uniform the beets were, some will be done before others; remove beets from pans as they fininsh cooking and continue to roast the remaining beets until all will easily take the pairing knife. Let cool for a few minutes and take clean dry kitchen towel and rub the outside of the cooked beets with this towel to remove the skins. Trim off the root end if necessary and any blemishes. Trim the top and bottom to create flat surfaces. Using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter and going from top to bottom, press down and cut out a cylinder of beet. Slice these beet cylinders into about ½ inch discs. Let cool down. This can be done up to two days in advance.
Next, make the honey lavender vinaigrette.
1 T and 2tsp lavender
1 T honey
3.5oz chevre goat cheese
1 small shallot, rough chopped
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
2 T water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
1 cup olive oil
- put first eight ingredients in blender and process until smooth
- with blender still running, slowly add oil to emulsify
1) toss beets with a touch of salt and some of the honey-lavender vinaigrette
2) position on plate and top with crumbled candied walnuts, ricotta salata cheese and then chive rounds
3) lightly dress the arugula and herbs in some more of the vinaigrette and place on top
Sun Valley is currently running fall slack dining specials at the Ram and at all Resort restaurants — a terrific, affordable opportunity to enjoy some great food at a great price! Be sure to check them out!
Wish you were here ... eating this! The winners of Sun Valley's summer Instagram contest.
Taking photos of food was once the sole purpose of social media, that and telling people what you were doing at any moment in time. While, thankfully, we’ve moved on somewhat, food is still ubiquitous online. From sharing recipies, flaunting the delicacy you’re currently enjoying or pining over the one you wish you were consuming, food porn is ubiquitous in the modern age – probably because a love for food is one thing we all have in common.
This summer, Sun Valley Resort launched its first Instagram contest (for those not familiar, Instagram is a free photo-sharing social network). The resort opened the contest in early June, inviting guests at Sun Valley to snap a creative picture of their dining experience using Instagram and tag it with #LoveSVFood. Each week through the summer, one winner was awarded Sun Valley Swag. Last week the “Best Shot” was selected from among those twelve winners and awarded the grand prize, a three night stay at Sun Valley Resort.
Local girl Kristina Poydenis snapped that grand-prize winning shot, capturing her delectable Mud Pie at Bald Mountain Pizza & Pasta. Here’s Kristina’s shot, as well as some of the weekly winners and a selection of the many entries to the contest over the last two months:
A selection of entries and winners to @SunValleyResort’s summer food instagram contest.
A selection of entries and winners to @SunValleyResort’s summer food instagram contest.
For more on Sun Valley’s food, check out my series of Recipes from the Resort and learn how to whip up some of these delicacies in your own kitchen.
It’s been a long, hot summer by Wood River Valley standards, and if your vegetable garden is anything like mine, it’s hitting its peak right now, producing lots of beautiful colors and juicy treats. However, as all mountain gardeners know, we don’t have much time until the first frost, so best use up that sumptuous bounty quick smart. And the fifth dish in my Recipe from the Resort series, a delicious summer vegetable pasta from Bald Mountain Pizza & Pasta chef Dennis Pittsley, is the perfect vehicle.
Dennis’s dish is a unique twist on a traditional vegetable pasta, he incorporates spinach into his pesto and adds corn to the veggie mix, providing a surprising sweetness and delightful crunch. This is a simple, sweet and very healthy dish, and the pure pleasure of eating freshly picked veggies from your garden makes it manna from heaven.
Get your fresh veggies at the ready
Summer Farfalle Pasta 4 servings Prep time: 30 mins Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ingredients Veggie Pasta
2 cups zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups yellow squash, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup fresh white corn, cut off the cob
1/2 cup red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup of fresh seeded diced tomato
a handful of chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 oz of dry farfalle pasta
2 cups of fresh basil
4 cups of fresh spinach
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
A quick sautee and you're almost done.
Directions for the pesto Blanch the spinach and the basil, then cool down in ice water to maintain the green color.. drain and squeeze as much water out as possible. roast the pine nuts in the oven at 350F. Combine greens and pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan in a food processor and blend until it reaches a smooth consistency.
for the Pasta In a large pot, bring salted water to a steady boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. while the pasta is cooking sauté the vegetables (excluding the tomatoes) and garlic for 2 minutes in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the drained pasta to the pan, remove from heat, stir in the fresh and sun dried tomatoes. Toss in the pesto and serve immediately.
Summer Farfalle Pasta
If your garden hasn’t been kind enough to provide you with the ingredients needed, head down to Bald Mountain Pizza & Pasta and let Dennis whip up his specialty for you. The pizza is darn tasty too, and it’s a great restaurant for the kids. If you time it right you can enjoy dinner and then take the tykes to Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days at the Opera House for free (courtesy of the resort’s dinner and a movie special), or leave the kids at home and catch The Dark Knight, both starting this Friday.
Chef Derek Gallegos shows off his restaurant's house specialty.
Valley taste-makers will be familiar with Chef Derek Gallegos’ work, initially as the chef/owner at The Sun Valley Brewing Company and more recently at Three Ten Main restaurant in Hailey. Today, he is at the helm of Sun Valley Lodge staple Gretchen’s. Named after Sun Valley’s own Gretchen Fraser, the family restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the year.
For a taste of Gretchen’s goodness at home however, I talked with Chef Gallegos to get you a step-by-step guide to the perfect ribeye, one of the restaurant’s newest specialties.
Ribeye Steak with Gorgonzola Butter & Zinfandel Syrup, served with Idaho Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus
Gorgonzola Butter Ingredients
1/4 lb. gorgonzola cheese room temperature, 1/4 lb. unsalted butter room temperature, 1 yellow onion, finely diced and caramelized in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 dashes tabasco, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar Directions
Process all ingredients in food processor until smooth. Place on plastic wrap or parchment and roll into log shape, Place on cookie sheet and chill in fridge until firm.
Garlic Confit Ingredients
1 lb. garlic cloves, peeled, 2 cups extra virgin olive oil, good quality, but not your best. Or just enough to cover the cloves. Directions
Put garlic in small thick-bottomed sauce pan and cover with oil. Bring to boil, turn down to simmer and cook until garlic is soft and just beginning to brown, about 15-20 minutes. Stir every few minutes while cooking. Cool in oil. Will keep refrigerated for 1 month.
Mashed Potatoes Ingredients
4 medium Idaho russet potatoes, about 3 lbs., 1/4 lb butter, 1/2 cup heavy cream Directions
Cook peeled and cubed potatoes in water on low boil until easily pierced with fork, drain and save cooking water. In same pot lightly crush potatoes, add melted butter and warm cream, whisk potatoes until smooth, add some cooking water to potatoes if too stiff, add salt and white pepper to taste.
Zinfandel Syrup Ingredients
1 bottle inexpensive, fruity zinfandel, 1 cup inexpensive balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup meat glacé (heavily reduced beef/veal stock), optional Directions
Reduce all ingredients in thick bottomed sautee pan over medium heat to about 1/2 cup or until syrupy. Let cool.
Steak Salt Ingredients
1 tablespoon sichuan peppercorns, 1 tablespoon rose peppercorns, 1 tablespoon allspice berries, 1/2 cup black peppercorns Directions
Grind all above ingredients in spice/coffee grinder then mix with 1 lb. kosher salt and 1 oz. brown sugar. Put in jar with tight-fitting lid. Use on steaks, chops, ribs and fish throughout summer.
Don’t want to cook? Head to Gretchens and let Chef Gallegos and his crew cook this for you to perfection.
Welcome to The Valley Sun’s series of Recipes from the Resort, where I scour Sun Valley’s restaurants for some of the best dishes to pinch for your personal cooking pleasure. This week I visited the resort’s newest dining establishment, The Sun Valley Club, and caught up with chef Art Wallace to get the skinny on a staple of the club.
Chef Art Wallace's versatile chicken lettuce wrap, a great option for wheat- and gluten- free diets
Check out this video for a quick, step-by-step guide to the simple but scrumptious Chicken Lettuce Wrap:
Chicken Lettuce Wrap Serves 2
Internal Garnish Ingredients 1/2 red bell pepper, 1/2 green bell pepper, 1 green onion, 1/4 cup water chestnut, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon ginger, 2 cups cooked chicken, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 6 whole lettuce leaves (Butterleaf or Iceberg) Directions Chop all the ingredients into bite-sized pieces. Combine bell peppers, onion, water chestnut, garlic and ginger. Heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over a high heat, saute the vegetable mix, add the chicken, saute for 2- 3 minutes more. Serve with whole lettuce leaves for wrapping and sweet chile and curry sauces.
Coconut Curry Sauce Makes one cup Ingredients
1 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon curry paste, 1 tablespoon brown sugar Directions
Bring coconut milk and curry paste to a boil, reduce heat, simmer and add brown sugar. Continue to simmer until sauce reaches desired consistency.
Don’t want to cook? Head along to The Sun Valley Club and let Art and his crew whip these up for you.
Enjoying good brews and good food over Trail Creek at the Sawtooth Brewery Brewer's Reception Sunday.
Historically Trail Creek Cabin was the hotspot of Sun Valley Resort. The cabin in the woods was built in 1937 by Sun Valley’s founder Averell Harriman as a place for his fancy East Coast socialite friends and glamorous, raucous Hollywood buddies to mingle over meat and music.
Manager Matt Robinson is hoping to resurect some of that sophisticated party atmosphere by launching a series of beer tasting dinners. “Beer fits well with the relaxed atmosphere up here,” he said, while pouring some tasty local brews from a mobile chiller. This past Sunday night, Mr. Sun and I abandoned the little ones and headed up to the cabin to sample the goods at the Sawtooth Brewery Brewer’s Reception.
Mr. Sun samples the Sunnyside Summer Ale. Matt Robinson pours the Last Chair Stout and Sawtooth Brewery founders Paul Holle and Kevin Jones toast the evening's success with their better halves.
Mr. Sun, who is an accomplished all-grain home-brewer, has very discerning tastes when it comes to beer and traditional Western food. The combination of a great brew and a perfectly smoked pork rib is as important to him as the particular pairing of a sweet Sauternes with a slice of foie gras is to a sommelier. So you can imagine his delight as we tucked into the four course extravaganza starting out with appetizers of shrimp ceviche and elk tartar complimented by a Sunnyside Summer Ale. Next came the first course of False Summit Amber Ale with grilled artichoke and romesco sauce, then a salad of asparagus and arugula salad and a sampling of Flow Trail Pale Ale. The main course was a hoppy Freeheeler Rye IPA accompanied by Trail Creek’s sumptuous house smoked baby back pork ribs, then finally a molten chocolate cake topped with ancho chile ice cream, washed down with a healthy dollop of Last Chair Stout.
Chef Wendy Little and Sawtooth Brewery’s head brewer Paul Holle collaborated on the menu to achieve the perfect balance of malt, hop and yeast with meat, vegetable and manchego cheese. Accompanying our beverage and barbecue feast was a running commentary from Paul and his business partner, Kevin, on the nuances of each libation, including the story behind the bubbly brews.
Sawtooth Brewery's beers paired with Wendy Little's divine asparagus and arugula salad, baby back pork ribs and molten chocolate cake with ancho chili ice cream. Spicy!
As we supped under clear skies, serenaded by the gurgling Trial Creek beneath our feet and surround by the ghosts of Trail Creek, one could just imagine the erstwhile regular Ernest Hemingway discarding his signature Mojito and digging into one of Wendy’s grilled artichokes with a Sawtooth Brewery Amber Ale clasped firmly in his hand.
Matt will be hosting brewer’s receptions throughout the summer, from $47 per person. Check sunvalley.com or call 622.2019 for details. There will also be regular beer and wine tasting on Tuesdays at the Cabin, as well as live music on the deck Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5-8 p.m. For more of Paul’s crafty creations visit sawtoothbrewery.com or stop into the tap room on Main and 6th streets in downtown Ketchum.