DINING Dining and Nightlife

Warm the Soul and the Belly

Summer’s Not the Only Season for Al Fresco Dining

Break out the baskets, blankets and mittens — it’s picnic season here in the mountains. With Colorado’s sunshine and low humidity, the winter weather is perfect for dining al fresco. Whether it be an evening twilight picnic after a day of snowshoeing with friends or a world-class picnic on top of Vail Mountain, this gorgeous setting is always perfect for dining outside.

Here are some of our favorite picnics here at Vail Valley Magazine.

Planning a group affair after a day of snowshoeing can be easy if planned ahead. This vegan-friendly picnic is the perfect reward for tromping through acres of fresh powder. Pots of easy-to-make soups warm everyone up and can be made days ahead of time. Using a beautiful soup tureen from Karin’s in Beaver Creek, turns this simple meal into an elegant affair. The sturdy, antique cowboy dishes compliment the ranch setting and are easy to hold with mittens. Dessert is simple: homemade apple pie… an American favorite. Plan on having lots of blankets to wrap around your guests to keep the chill away. Blankets and fur throws from Karin’s and Renata’s Linens in Edwards do just the trick. For the recipes see page 182.

Picnics are best when they include an activity, and skating puts your picnic in motion. Nottingham Lake in Avon is the pie-in-the-sky place to have a fun family outing or even a romantic date. Plan this picnic after dinner out and surprise everyone with fabulous take-out desserts from some of our favorite sweet spots: French pastries from Bonjour Bakery in Edwards, homemade pies with buttery crusts from Magpies in Eagle and even gluten-free cookies from The Rose in Edwards. And because it is all in the presentation, styrofoam is out and china is in…  Serve your desserts on mix-and-match fine china from Annie’s in Vail Village. Don’t forget to bring a toasty throw to wrap up in when the sun goes down. Beautiful red velveteen throw from Renata’s Linens in Edwards. Keep your ears and hands warm too with a handwoven hat and fingerless gloves from Ptarmigan Sports in Edwards.

Locals and visitors alike bask in the warm Colorado sunshine, sipping fine wines and tasting fabulous food on top of Vail Mountain during The Taste of Vail, Mountain Top Picnic. Literally bringing the humble picnic to new heights, the Mountain Top picnic is one not to miss. Held in a giant ice fort, approximately 60 wineries and local restaurants serve picnic goers a smorgasbord of options. Ski to the picnic or hike the short walk down from the Eagle Bahn gondola to a feast that will please every palate. An effortless picnic that will be one to be repeated year after year. Bring your friends.

If there isn’t a kitchen in your hotel room, don’t despair. Restaurants, delis, and grocery stores all offer a myriad of mouthwatering take-out choices. Stopping at the Wolcott Yacht Club before heading out to a day snowmobiling in the mountains made this mountaintop picnic an easy affair. Fried chicken, and a cold Asian noodle salad, all easy to transport and no refrigeration necessary, were on the menu. And setting the table is not as important when the views take your breath away, a simple snowmobile seat will do the trick. Snowmobiling works up an appetite, so bring plenty of food and hot chocolate.

Picnics are a language we all speak, an international custom. Everything is wonderful when sharing a meal outside with friends and family. Even in the winter.