Food Matters: Going Bananas! Monkey fruit love to celebrate Snowmass
FOR A DECADE beginning in 1985, Snowmass went bananas. Each spring the ski area hosted Banana Days, a silly celebration that included exhibition events, a cocktail competition, themed foods, inflatable bananas, and a grand banana scavenger hunt. This weekend, Snowmass celebrates its 50th season, in part by reviving the tradition.
On Saturday, Dec. 16, exactly 1,967 plastic banana cases will be hidden on the mountain, in Base Village, and along the Snowmass Mall (representing the year Snowmass was founded). Inside, find vouchers redeemable for all sorts of prizes, from lip balm and T-shirts to gift certificates, ski demos, and the chance to win a tropical adventure getaway package. (Find full details, including clues for top banana prizes, at gosnowmass.com/50-years.)
In the spirit of fun, I set out to discover just how much locals like bananas.
“I’m a big believer in a banana a day!” says Snowmass Tourism director Rose Abello, who typically eats the tender yellow fruit each morning on the go. “But I’ve gotta admit that the upcoming Banana Days has changed my banana timing. Recently I have taken to bringing my banana to work in this protective banana case. Now I can enjoy it at any time throughout the day.”
So: What’s your favorite way to eat a banana?
“In the Silver Queen Gondola at 9 a.m., to fuel me for a fresh run.”
—Kelley Kingsley, concierge, The Little Nell
“Bite for bite with a spoonful of peanut or almond butter. That said, there’s something about sliced banana in a bowl of Cheerios that’ll get me every time.”
—Chef Jim Butchart, mountain dining culinary director, Aspen Skiing Co.
“In a smoothie, with frozen banana to give it a good base. Keeps your legs from cramping—potassium!”
—Eli Treibick, guy about town
“Sliced and sautéed with a little warm water, ghee, and ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. Reduce down, and it’s an amazing, super-healthy comfort dish for winter.”
—Elizabeth Plotke, owner, Campo de Fiori
“(Chokes on rosé)”
—Amanda Vanderpool, CEO, Upwardly Social
“I let them sit until they are nice and brown and then make a healthy, no-sugar banana bread…almost every week!” —Sara Stookey Sanchez, PR coordinator, Snowmass Tourism
“Growing up in the South, my all-time favorite dessert was banana pudding. My mother was a single working mom with five kids and little time to cook, so we used the boxed Jell-O powder pudding layered with sliced bananas, vanilla wafers, and canned whipped cream—a bit redneck, but oh, so good!”
—Lisa Houston, publisher, Edible Aspen
—Velvet Valentine, personal chef
“After monkeying around, Bananas Foster in Gwyn’s with a glass of Henriot Champagne.”
—Gwyn Knowlton, owner, Gwyn’s High Alpine
“Chocolate-dipped from the world-famous ChocoBanana on the beach in Sayulita, with my hubby, Chase, promptly followed by a mezcal shot and salted cricket. When in Rome!…or Mexico.”
—Aly Sanguily, marketing director and tasting room operations, Roaring Fork Beer Company
“Tempura-fried, served with homemade Japanese purple yam or matcha tea ice cream, drizzled with berry coulis or honey, and dusted with powdered sugar. Sometimes a translucent, fried basil leaf for color and added texture.”
—Adam Norwig, personal chef and caterer, Chef Adam in Aspen
“Banana Schnitte from my grandmother and mother in Austria—my (chef) daughter, Flora, is working to master the process. If there are no freckles on the peel, flavor will suffer; wait another day or two.”
—Chef Andreas Fischbacher, owner, Allegria Restaurant
“My dirty secret, being a food writer, is that I hate fresh bananas! But I’m addicted to banana bread, especially if it has chocolate chips (and) it’s warm. I also love banana chips and eat them by the handful. It’s strange how foods that would otherwise be unpalatable are completely transformed through different preparation methods, in this case, cooking.”
—Laurel Miller, editor, Edible Aspen
“My mother said I ate a lot of banana baby food, which may be why I don’t really like them now.”
—Ronnie Zacapa, third-generation Caribbean captain
“The Banana Crud at J-Bar, best made by Ryan.”
—Jake Schmiddy, bartender, J-Bar
“Guess what’s my least favorite fruit?”
—Michele Kiley, proprietor, Justice Snow’s
“Lots of slices of perfectly ripe banana on good honey-wheat bread with almond or peanut butter. When I hike, I look forward to the food delicacy that I will be having for lunch. I am in heaven eating it.”
—Paula Nirschel, founder, Action for Afghan Women
“With a slingshot.”
—Dave Dugan, proprietor, Base Camp Bar & Grill; Sake; Slice; State 38
“I haven’t eaten a banana in 50 years—I can’t process fruit. But we do a banana bread foster here at the restaurant, which I hear is great.” —Roy Toomey, general manager, Steakhouse No. 316
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Perhaps it’s because we are in the abbreviated days of winter and I instinctively know that the sun is shining down-under. But every January I go through a nostalgic period where Australian wine dominates my mind.