I'm one of those people, those people who stare endlessly at a new menu, hypnotized by the array of vibrant ingredients nearly jumping off the page, wishing each and every carefully constructed dish could leap right onto our plates. How can I possibly choose? The Lodge at Vail's Wildflower restaurant made my decision so much easier with Vail's Appetite for Life, a sustainable cuisine program that lets you know just what you're eating (and you'll be able to decide what to eat before your dinner companions have moved on to dessert). At the start of the 2007-2008 ski season, Vail Resorts made the commitment to serve organic dairy products and natural, hormone-free meat and poultry (okay, natural is a controversial term but this is a step in the right direction) at all of its on-mountain restaurants, making it the largest restaurant operator in North America to exclusively serve natural meats and organic dairy products. Appetite for Life also offers 100 percent certified organic Starbucks coffee and Fair-Trade blend espresso and eliminating the use of all artificial trans fat in food preparation at Vail Resorts' 90 on- and off-mountain restaurants. Some restaurants, like Wildflower, also source sustainable seafood with help from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafood Choices Alliances, and Marine Stewardship Council.
This time, when I stared at Wildflower's menu, I knew all items marked with a small green circle would be comprised entirely of sustainably sourced organic, natural, seasonal, local, and regional food and beverage components. And it came as no surprise that nearly half the menu's dishes were adorned with the proud insignia. The Lodge at Vail's Executive Chef Rahm Fama (a self-proclaimed farmers market snob, meaning get there before him or he'll get all the good stuff) also created the Colorado Cookin' package, where visitors spend their Sundays shopping at the Vail farmers market, then take a cooking class with chef and create delicacies based around their preferences and dietary needs.
Are you on the edge of your seats wondering what I ate at Wildflower? I opted for the Appetite for Life "Four Story Hill Farms" Chicken Confit and Mushroom Pot Pie, complete with chanterelles, porcinis, fava beans, carrots, edamame, and cream. A decision I can stand by.