I’mmmm baaaack! Nah, just kidding. Just when you all thought you got rid of me, too. I’m only popping back on Feasting Fort Collins for some eating teamwork that Lynsey and I did during a trip to Steamboat. A collaboration of mountains and meals, if you will.
Steamboat Springs holds a very special place in my heart. If I didn’t live in Fort Collins, and if I could freakin’ afford it, I’d love to live in Steamboat. I truly enjoy the long drive over the passes to get there, thrilled to listen to a plethora of podcasts along the way, and I get ridiculously giddy when I start driving through the trees on Rabbit Ears. I LOVE IT.
I make the trek out there a few times a year, mostly every fall for elk hunting season, and then whenever I can find an excuse. This trip was a great excuse to get back out there! It was a weekend of discovering some of the local businesses, the adventures, and of course, the flavors that Steamboat has to offer.
So, get comfy in your Levi’s and grab a camp chair to get ready to drool over some of the delicious things we got our hands on in that awesome little mountain town.
Ok, so – they aren’t a restaurant. However, they are a specialty food business that was homegrown in Steamboat right along with Big Agnes (they’re actually sister businesses). When people think of Honey Stinger, they probably think of trail snacks or the goo that endurance athletes swallow while they’re in the middle of a race. Well, boy oh boy, are you in for a treat because they have something much more than that. Have you ever had a Honey Stinger S’more? Man – that’s camp-life changing.
Honey Stinger has a variety of different waffle flavors; each comprised of two thin waffles with a honey-infused center (and it’s not as messy as it sounds). When it comes to the the best camp dessert ever, toast up your mallow nice and golden brown, just as you would a regular s’more, but pop it in between a couple of Honey Stingers – especially the salted caramel ones – and you’ll never go back to regular graham crackers again.
This is another Steamboat-grown food business that The Boat farmer’s market visitors might recognize. These little cookie crisps are all-natural with whole ingredients, and they are gluten-free too! As a mom, I can see how these would make a great treat for the kids. But as someone with a sweet tooth who is always looking for something tasty to add to my pack for a trail snack, this fits the bill. Truthfully, they actually didn’t make it in my pack. I ate them in the car because they were too tempting. But, kind of the same thing, right? If you’re not driving out to Steamboat anytime soon, you can actually find these at Mugs, The Food Co-Op, and Natural Grocers right here in good ol’ Fort Fun. I highly recommend the pistachio!
If you’re not familiar with Guest Ranch meals, this should go on your bucket list. Many of the guest ranches in Steamboat are high class, top notch dining experiences – even when you spend the day running cattle on horseback. A few years ago I wrote about the meals at The Home Ranch, and they did not disappoint, so I was really looking forward to what Vista Verde had to whip up on their menu.
We stopped by for breakfast only, in which I promptly ordered the lemon souffle pancakes with a side of home potatoes and crispy bacon. The pancakes were branded and the coffee mugs were always full. It was the perfect meal to enjoy right before hitting the trail for a gorgeous hike in the transitioning trees. It left me dreaming of spending a week there in the future for some gourmet cowboy comfort food.
We all know that you can taste a chef’s passion in the food. Uninspired people create equally uninspired dishes. And while there may be a handful of people in the kitchen at Freshies, this is a restaurant where you can straight up taste their zeal for the business. The from-scratch menu features a variety of healthy choices that are perfect for fueling a hike in the summer or a ski run in the winter. Freshies kind of reminds me of The Rainbow here in Fort Collins when it comes flavor, concept, and atmosphere.
I ordered the Croque – toasted artisan sourdough bread with garlic basil eggs and melted aged white cheddar cheese. It was lovely. Although, I had some dish envy over the Avocado Smash the person next to me ordered. Toasted whole wheat bread, topped with smashed avocado, chili flakes, and eggs any style (sunny side up is the best!). It was served with a side of “weeds” which sounds weird, but OMG not weird – delicious. They were tossed greens, parmesan, toasted pine nuts, and sliced grapes with a light lemon balsamic dressing. I would consider that as my go-to dish the next time I go back. And I will go back.
Much like Vista Verde Guest Ranch, Moving Mountains focuses on 5-star amenities that includes catered ski chalet experiences. The meals at the lodge were the grand ta-da of the whole trip. And that’s something since it was all fabulous.
There are a variety of different properties that you can book depending on what you’re looking for and how many people are in your vacation group. There are options for couples to stay in Downtown Steamboat, or large groups for corporate retreats in bigger lodges. Either way, there’s always a catering option.
After a day of hiking and soaking in the relaxing Strawberry Park Hot Springs (one of my all time favorite things to do in Steamboat), we had a group dinner back at the lodge that started with Hors d’oeuvres of field tomato caprese bruschetta, and a cheese and fruit platter with bacon chili breadsticks. And glasses of wine, of course.
Many people decide to splurge on the catering option when they’re on vacation, because, well – they’re on vacation and for some people, the last thing they want to do is go grocery shopping, cook and clean up. Moving Mountains takes care of all of it so you can relax and enjoy your stay.
After we had time to enjoy the appetizers and conversation, we gathered together in the dining room for a three course dinner that featured many of the flavors from Steamboat.
The first course was a dish of roasted beets served on mixed greens with spiced pepitas, goat cheese and a white balsamic vinaigrette.
Many of the ingredients are sourced from the Farmer’s Market and local farms. These beets sure were! A dirt-fresh beet gently roasted has a nearly addicting flavor. Paired with goat cheese, and you have a wonderful way to start an evening with friends.
The second course was a mixed grill of local elk medallions, Routt County beef tri tip steaks, Achiote marinated halibut steaks (from Canada, not Steamboat obviously), grilled peppers stuffed with wild mushrooms, corn and tomatoes; and roasted sweet potatoes.
I could not get enough of the mixed grill, and was thrilled to savor some of the elk medallions. If there’s one flavor that I will always associate with Steamboat, it’s elk and it’s why I love the area so much. The local tri tip was also incredibly flavorful and tender. Many people might perceive Steamboat as a ski town, and it rightfully is, but there are so many ranches in the area too. Steamboat is a true Wild West experience – cattle, cowboys and all. Beef from a local ranch is a must on your plate when you’re around these parts.
Dessert was Palisade peach pie and vanilla ice cream. That’s quintessential Colorado for you! And you can’t pass up on Palisade peach season, either. Despite being full to the brim with elk and beef, this slice of pie didn’t last very long on my plate. Tender sweet peaches tucked into a buttery, flakey pie crust, all with that home-baked flavor. It was delightful.
But wait, there’s more! Our meals with Moving Mountains didn’t stop at dinner. The next morning we woke up to a full spread breakfast buffet with tea and coffee (including cappuccinos), Palisade peach, strawberry and white chocolate scones, fresh fruit, yogurt and homemade granola cups, Swedish oatmeal pancakes with lingonberries and sweetened whipped cream, and thick cut bacon – of course.
Nobody wanted to pack up and leave after this. We did so reluctantly, and the minute I got home, I started looking through some of the lodges and counting friends that we could gather for a Steamboat vacation and split the cost together. I may be selling organs to do it, but my hell – this is now on my bucket list of things to do. WORTH IT.
When Kristin told me I got to go on this trip to review the food, it was like winning the lottery. Seriously. I may not be a nature person, but an eating person. Plus, I got to skip the camping part and arrive in time for the swanky accommodations and food. Oh, the food. This trip was like my honeymoon after taking this job–all new and fresh good things before having to get back to real life. Here are my highlights:
After driving 3 hours I was greeted with a lunch that I had pre-ordered from Cruisers. I had the “BIG EASY” Muffuletta sub. Since taking this job I try to order a restaurant’s specialty item and this was so obviously it. I can take or leave olives but this meaty and spicy sub was the perfect lunch to start to an incredible experience. Fresh bread and ingredients, this is a far cry from a chain sub shop. They deliver all day and night and in addition to subs, they offer salads, smoothies, and popsicles.
A twist on classic Mexican, Salt & Lime is located in the old Rio space, still with a fantastic roof top patio. Now if there’s one thing I know, it’s 1990s song lyrics. But if there’s two things I know, it’s 1990s song lyrics and Mexican food. This isn’t Mexican food. This is whatever is the level above that, which we really need to get together and find a name for. I became food drunk and it had nothing to do with the Casa Margaritas, though they were amazing and I can say that with certainty because I had 7 of them. If I had my way, I would still be sitting on that rooftop patio. I will let the pictures of Naked Guac, Tuna Tostada, Toritos Poppers, Califlower Hash, Rice & Beans, Al Pastor Tacos, Chicken Tinga Tacos, Carne Asada Tacos, Vegetale Tacos, Pork Belly Tacos, and Original & Nutty Churros that contributed to my intoxication do the talking……
Fun fact: I’m an amazing order-er. I’ve mentioned it before, but really I can’t say it enough. People always want what I ordered when food shows up. It’s like a hidden talent, except in that it forces me to share which isn’t my favorite. That aside, I shared my lunch with perfect strangers because it was that good. After dinner the night before at Salt & Lime, it would have had to be something special for lunch to make me care, but care I did. Chicken Fried Chicken atop a bed of….wait for it….mac & cheese. I know, right? My lunch plate out-shined the apps which is unfortunate because anywhere else they would have been the star of the show.
So, yeah, I guess you could say it was a good trip. If you’re into this kind of thing. 😉