A few weeks ago three friends and I strapped on snowshoes for a half mile hike to the Solitude Yurt for dinner. Working in the ski industry I spend a good amount of time at ski resorts, but never at night walking up through the trees to get to a yurt. Joe, our chef and Ann, our guide and chef’s helper, did everything in their power to make sure it was a first-class evening.
According to Wikipedia, yurts are “traditionally used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia,” have stoves in the middle and a door that faces south. According to Ann, our yurt was built by ski bums. Although yurts have been around for 3,000 years, this was my first experience in one and upon entering I was immediately filled with a sense of comfort. Perhaps because I didn’t fall on the way up like several in our party did and arrived fairly dry, but probably more because I knew there was good food and good wine in store. And I was right.
The five course meal started with an apple vegetable puree soup, with a hint of cinnamon and jalapeño. Joe explained that he used very little cream or butter and that the flavor mostly came from the other ingredients through a process that sounded labor intensive — I was impressed. Next was a mizuna leaf salad with seared ahi, almonds and avocado, followed by a blue goat cheese- topped mini beef wellington surrounded by a light and flaky crust. Joe called the beef wellington our “appetizer” which I found odd since it was the third course. Maybe I need to dine in places other than pizza shops and sushi restaurants more often.
After the appetizer and prior to the main course, Joe and Ann ushered us all outside for a quick break and a fire twirling exhibition. Joe apparently has many talents. It isn’t every day that you can say your chef twirled fire for your dining enjoyment.
The main course was a spiced pan-seared duck with creamy polenta. Honestly, by the time it got there I was already full, having shown no restraint in downing all the other courses. But the few bites I had were delicious; the duck was full of flavor and very tender.
The meal ended with chocolate bread pudding that both gave me a sugar high and simultaneously filled me with joy. I am a bread pudding aficionado and this was an excellent version. The yurt dinner at Solitude is something I’ve encouraged all my friends to try not only because of the outstanding food, but also the chance to meet new people. We sat with Peter and Stacey from the Catskills and very were entertained by hearing about their first time in Utah and why they choose Solitude. They were raving about their great trip and left us glowing as proud locals.
The yurt at Solitude is now on my list of all-time favorite dining experiences. Whether with friends, for romance or just as an interesting alternative to pizza night, it is well worth both the cost and the hike.
The yurt is open both winter and summer and more information can be found at www.skisolitude.com.