Park City, Utah, is perhaps best known as a thriving ski city that’s also home to the celeb-laden Sundance film festival. But this mountain town is way more than just that. Park City is a haven for summer travelers searching for milder temps and low humidity who also happen to love food. Food is so important to the city that every year the Park City Restaurant Association hosts Savor the Summit, an outdoor festival that champions local cuisine.
I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s event, and I can assure you that this is a food event worth traveling for. Park City’s quaint Main Street is shut down and lined with tables decked out for a feast. Select local restaurants each fill one long table that’s usually decked out for the occasion—my table featured bright blue glass bottles and classic Western décor like cactus flowers—and offer special menus for the event. The whole thing was like something out of someone’s dream. As the sun was setting on the summer solstice, attendees began reveling with pre-dinner cocktails and live bands. The musicians near my table at Park City’s High West Distillery & Saloon (the only ski-in distillery in the country, respectively) churned out 80s rock hits while I downed a mixed drink.
And then came the food. It’s impressive what the staff whipped up even when their kitchen was far from where they were standing. Our first course was a cool, creamy and smooth pea and ham soup served with ham hock, goat’s cheese and pea shoots. It made for a light way to start the night. Seeing as High West is a distillery, each diner had the choice of pairing his or her plate with wine or whiskey. I went with the High West rendezvous rye, but found it a little too strong to drink on its own.
Next up was a chicken liver mousse with bourbon-pickled Utah berries, candied pistachio and farm greens. This dish’s presentation was beautiful—with slices of bread, greens and nuts surrounding the mousse. But I loved this dish’s varied textures most of all. The crunchy bread balanced out the smooth mousse and the berries added a nice touch of sweetness to the entire entree. Penner Ash’s Pinor Noir 2011 made for an ideal full-bodied companion to this dynamic plate.
My favorite plate of night was a charred and poached escolar surrounded by a vivid orange saffron broth alongside Gulf shrimp and chorizo. Although it did seem a little strange to have two soup entrees on the menu, I adored this so much that it didn’t matter. The tender and just-juicy-enough fish was paired well with the slightly spicy soup and made for a light and tasty plate. Since I can’t resist a Rioja, I ordered a Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 2007 glass of the noted Spanish red wine that went down smooth.
The juicy roasted rack and confit belly wild boar were tender, delicious and small enough portions to ensure that everyone had room for dessert. And the dessert plate was another highlight here. The unpretentious vanilla, peanut butter and caramelized banana s’mores topped with a still melting piece of chocolate with a horseshoe emblazoned on the front made for a fitting last course at this charming outdoorsy town’s food celebration. This plate was paired with High West Campfire Whiskey, naturally.
As I walked back to meet my ride with another fellow writer, I couldn’t help but appreciate the cuisine, atmosphere and stunning scenery that all seamlessly blended together at Savor the Summit.
Teresa K. Tobat is a special contributor to The Daily Meal. Follow her tweets @ttobat88.