I have been trying to find a time to attend the special Moonlight Dining series at Arapahoe Basin for several years now. Ever since I heard about it. The ski area hosts a monthly special Moonlight meal at the Black Mountain Lodge at mid-mountain. Most skiers know that the last lift of the day happens at 4 p.m. Then everyone is in some sort of race to clog up I-70 with loads of traffic. I wasn’t really sure what to expect – but open for anything.
We headed to Arapahoe Basin around 4:30 p.m. Check in time is at 5 p.m. This particular dinner was lift served (not all of them are) so we had a choice, we could either take the lift up to mid-mountain, hike up, snowshoe up, or skin up. We chose to hike. It was a beautiful night with the full moon up and the sun just setting. I do want to warn you that hiking in Uggs (which I did) is not the best choice of footwear (I did have hiking boots – but chose to leave them in the car – not so smart). It is a winter hike. By that I mean, wear all the winter wear you would when you are going skiing. You will need to have those ski pants on, jacket, gloves and a hat. It is a hike! So be prepared with a bit of water too. (I downed a gallon of water when we got to the top because I forgot that detail).
When we arrived at mid-mountain the stars were beautiful and the Black Mountain Lodge had been transformed from some cafeteria style utilitarian feeling hut to an elegant lodge complete with real linens and silverwear. There was lovely atmosphere including a local musician who played guitar and sang songs. It was a little bit of older rock and roll – but certainly set the entertainment mood. The bar was open (lots of people drinking a bit of wine). Chef Rybak came out of the kitchen and addressed the group (of almost 100 people) what they had prepared. He also said that this was the first time they had done Indian food so he felt that he really pushed his staff.
The meal was four courses including Hors d’Oeuvers; Soup & Salad; Entrees and Desserts. Each of these were delicious in their own right. I liked the idea that they didn’t go overboard when it came to spices (and I know that a lot of Indian food is very spicy). We had made a decision to try a little bit of everything. This also meant that we would have a LOT of eating to do! (Give me a challenge…)
Hors d’oeuvres included: Freshly made Paneer with dried fruits & nuts; Onion Bjajias; Fresh Coconut Chutney; Vegetable Samosas; Onion, Mango & Peanut Chaat; Spiced Potato and Chickpea cakes; Skewered Chicken Tikka; Cucumber & Yogurt; Goan-style Mussels.
My favorite was the Paneer (the mounds at the bottom of this picture). Paneer is like a soft home-made cheese that is served with naan bread, dried fruits and nuts).
Soup & Salad: Spiced Cauliflower Soup; Mango, Tomato and Red Onion Salad; Spinach and Mushroom Salad; Naan bread
This must have been my favorite course. I honestly loved every one of the things on this course. I hear that Cauliflower is the vegetable of the year (like Brussel Sprouts have been for the past couple years).
Entrees: Tandoori Masala Lamb Chops; Fresh Tomato and Onion Chutney; Pea and Mushroom Pulao; Sweet and Sour Pineapple; Balti Chicken Vindaloo; Masal Chana; Dhal with Roasted Garlic; Mango Chutney; Monkfish and Okra Curry; Hot Lime Pickle; Vegetables with Almonds.
All of this was good for different reasons. I would say my favorite was the lamb. It seemed to have a perfect flavor crust and was cooked perfectly. If I was going to go back for more or wish I could order one item on it’s own, it would be the lamb.
Dessert :Creamy Rice Pudding; Carrot Halva; and Drunken Oranges – which also had a ginger cookie. (I totally forgot to take a photo of this because I was so darn full and was complaining about how my pants don’t fit anymore).
I was sort of disappointed in the desserts. But I was also sort of glad I was. I was so full of all the other meal. The fact that the desserts weren’t my favorite – I didn’t have to feel bad not cleaning my plate.
We had left it up for discussion if we would hike back down or ride the lift. We opted to “slide” back down. We didn’t have sleds (and we didn’t steal any trays – despite someone suggesting that). So we slid down the mountain on our butts. It was totally fun. There were parts when we got going pretty quickly others we had to stand and get to the next steeper part of the mountain.
I will go back for certain next year. I will try another theme (they also have Italian, Bavaria, New Year’s Eve, Spain and Randonee). http://www.arapahoebasin.com/ABasin/mountain/bml-dinners.aspx They sell out quickly so I better check my calendar now! Who wants to go with me?