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!