Cheers to the kickoff of the season of eating, when indulgences can be sought with wild abandon and no savory, sweet or succulent bite is left untouched. For most of us, Thanksgiving is the official launching point for holiday parties and beautiful food–laden tables, but for me, it is The Annual Christmas Tree Hunt. I’m always thrilled to be invited on this weekend outing, not only because it’s a festive way to begin the holidays, tromping through the woods with saw and rope in hand, but because the guest list is loaded with foodies, professional chefs, creative home cooks and—for blog purposes—more than a few professional photographers.
The tree hunters gather in the Uinta Mountains near Flaming Gorge, one of Utah’s most dramatic landscapes (I know that’s saying a lot), at Red Canyon Lodge. Sometimes there’s enough snow to x-country ski or snow shoe along the rim, but not this year. As it was 50 degrees and the skies were blue, it was a great weekend to hike, fish for trout in the lake right in front of our cabins, and of course, eat!
The day always begins with the fireside breakfast featuring Bob and Pam’s pancakes with an apricot jalapeno cilantro jam. It’s the perfect blend of sweet with a kick and great with classic bacon and eggs. After foraging for our trees, it was cocktail hour at the cabin of food writer Virginia Rainey and photographer John McCarthy. We all had the important job of testing Manhattans: Straight up or the rocks? Brandy soaked maraschinos or the giant Tillen Farm Bada Bings? Both versions got the thumbs up.
Dinner was a feast. My husband and I whipped up blue cheese fig bruschetta with a drizzle of honey. I loved Virginia’s simple but beautiful orange and avocado salad with shallot vinaigrette. There were loads of fresh tamales, salsas and beans of every variety, and a chicken chili to die for. Rebekah Abrams, a private chef in Park City, served her juicy flavorful smoky paprika ribs with a fig bbq sauce. Delicious! Rebekah is also a former Division I ski racer and was featured in the Warren Miller film “Journey” in the Canyons segment. Today she’s on the photo/model team for Canyons Resort. Like I said, great crowd and great way to kick off the holidays!