Friday, June 8, 2007

Treat yourself to a silver palate

Food & Wine Festival to debut its good taste

Express Staff Writer

Tom Nickel and Anthony Maratea will be hosting one of the Vintner dinners on Saturday night at the Roosevelt Tavern & Grille. Photo by Willy Cook

Friday, June 8

7:30-9 p.m. Keynote presentation by author and gourmand Jim Harrison. nexStage Theatre, Ketchum.

Saturday, June 9

· 9:30-12:45 p.m. Local and guest chef demonstrations at Ciro, Ketchum Grill, Memory Park.

· 12:45-2 p.m. Open/free time. Farmer's Marketplace open.

· 2-3:30 p.m. Chef Demonstrations at Ciro, Vintage, Felix.

· 3:45-5:15 p.m. Wine seminar at Baci Italian Cafe & Wine Bar with Winebow Wines.

· 7 p.m. Vintner Dinners at Baci, Felix, Ciro, Ketchum Grill, Roosevelt Tavern, Vintage. Separate tickets available through restaurants.

Sunday, June 10

· 1-4 p.m. A Sun Valley/Ketchum Grand Tasting highlighting Elkhorn Golf Club with Chef Paul Dean. Sample restaurant and caterer favorites including beers, champagne, wines, vodka, and a regional Bartender's Cup. Elkhorn Golf Club, Sun Valley. Separate tickets available for $25.

Sun Valley Food & Wine Festival Passes are $250 per person. Epicurious Festival passes for $350 includes entry into VIP reception with Jim Harrison, and preferred seatings. Local chef passes are available for $89 for two local chef presentations and the wine seminar. The Keynote Address is open only to Festival Pass and Epicurious Pass holders. Festival badges are available at the Sun Valley/Ketchum CVB summer kiosk or contact 1-866-305-9798.

All events are for those 21 years of age and older, with the exception of the Farmer's Marketplace.

Tease and please your palate

The Sun Valley Food & Wine Festival begins tonight, June 8, with a keynote address by prolific author and raconteur Jim Harrison. The author of such books as "True North," "The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand" and 2007's "Returning to Earth," Harrison last spoke in the valley in 2004, out of respect for Hailey native Ezra Pound.

On Saturday, June 9, the art of cooking will be showcased in earnest with a myriad of food-related activities. Three nationally known chefs will be hosting demonstrations while there also will be demonstrations by several valley-based chefs, as well as incredible vintner dinners pairing a chef with a specific vineyard.

Three of the demonstrations will occur at the chefs' own restaurants or, in the case of Tom Nickel's Roosevelt Tavern & Grille, at the resplendent Memory Park in Ketchum from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. for a "Beyond Charcoal, Cooking with Natural Wood: Hickory, Mesquite, Oak and Fruit Woods." For 27 years, Nickel has been a part of the restaurant scene in Ketchum. He is the chef and owner of two of Ketchum's most popular restaurants, The Roosevelt Tavern & Grille and the Sawtooth Club. In 2004 Nickel was voted Sun Valley Ketchum Chamber & Visitor Bureau's Citizen of the Year for his philanthropic work in the community.

Chef Scott Mason will hold a "Cooking from the Farmers' Market" demonstration at the Ketchum Grill, 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Mason has been a restaurateur for over 30 years. Ketchum Grill is housed in a historic house on a side street in Ketchum and is regarded as a perennial favorite with visitors and residents alike.

Vintage Restaurant will be the site of "Easy Fun Foods and Special Tips for Summer Dining Pleasure" from 2 to 3 p.m. with Chef Jeff Keys. Keys has owned restaurants in the valley, including Soupçon, Bellevue Bistro and now Vintage, for over two decades. He recently published his first cookbook, "Vintage Restaurant: Handcrafted Cuisine from a Sun Valley Favorite."

The "Mediterranean Table" will be the subject of Chef Bill Pollack's demonstration at Felix's Hillside Restaurant, from 2 to 3 p.m. He will be demonstrating grilled lamb chops with Salmoriglio, a dried oregano sauce from Sicily.

There will be a wine tasting at Baci Italian Cafe and Wine Bar in Ketchum from 3:45 to 5:15 p.m. of Winebow wines, with Executive Chef Keith Otter, a James Beard foundation member chef, on hand.

Resting up is the most important item next on the gastronomist's schedule because the Vintner Dinners will commence Saturday evening at 7 p.m. These dinners are really the highlights of the festival, with feasts prepared at Baci, Felix, Ciro, Ketchum Grill, Roosevelt Tavern and Vintage. Separate tickets are available and reservations may be made by calling the individual restaurants.

Each venue will offer a specially created menu with paired wines from vineyards such as Ferrari Carano at Felix, Vineyard Brand's Tuscan Portfolio at Baci, New Zealand wines at Vintage, Frenchman's Gulch at Ketchum Grill and Trefethen at Ciro.

The Roosevelt Tavern & Grille will have pairings with wines from Phantom Hill Vineyards presented by Anthony Maratea of Ketchum-based Nouveaux Beverages.

"We're friends so we just decided to do it together," Nickel said.

"Within a couple weeks we created the menu, which is fabulous, by the way," Maratea added.

His Phantom Hill wine is made from a blend of grapes from the Dundee Hills appellation in Oregon and Idaho.

"The Idaho grapes are the best-looking fruit I've seen in years," he said. "I found good sources in Idaho finally. It's about getting growers to grow the way I want. If I buy by the acre I can tell them how to farm the grapes.

"The 2005 Idaho Pinot Gris with the Ginger-Chicken Potstickers and Flash-Fried Calamari with Chili-Lime-Sriracha Vinaigrette are perfect. It really stands up to the spicy and balances the tastes. Everything else goes really, really well, too. I can't say enough about the menu."

While Nickel works his magic in the kitchen, Maratea will discuss the wines, how they're created and how they pair with each of the five courses. The dinner will be held on the Roosevelt's flower-garnished deck, weather permitting.

"I try to take the pretensions out of this," Maratea said. "It's not stuffy, though the wines will be world class. The whole thing will be fun."

Indeed, the old friends joke a lot. (Nickel: "Before I met him, Anthony used to peel one grape at a time.")

The menu will also feature seared Alaskan sea scallops, a baby spinach salad with Humboldt Fog goat cheese and raspberry vinaigrette, and a choice of rack of spring lamb with Pinot Noir reduction or grilled filet of wild salmon brushed with lemon-basil beurre blanc.

On Sunday, June 10, the Grand Tasting at the Elkhorn Golf Club will be overseen by Chef Paul Dean. There will be assorted delicacies and taste delights, all of which may be washed down by sundry quaffable treats.

Buon appetito!

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