Foodstuff: Cinematic indulgence
At Wildwood Snowmass, food and drink offerings go back to the classics
Forgive me, Al Pacino, for I have a confession: I have not seen “Scarface” or “The Irishman” or “The Godfather,” parts one, two or three.
Still, because my vivid imagination often runs away without me, I like to think I could envision what an organized crime boss might wish to eat while plotting their next hit, tucked into a leather booth in some oaky, smoky haunt halfway underground and surrounded by broad-shouldered suits.
It might be something like an Old Fashioned, for the richness and the history and the ominous confidence of dark liquor in a short glass (these being values I’m assuming all organized crime bosses hold near and dear) and, to eat, warm soft pretzels dipped in smoked gouda and beer fondue (carbs and fats being important fuel for organized-crime-boss activities, probably).
That’s what I started with, anyway, on a visit to the recently-revamped Wildwood Snowmass, where I teamed up with Bar Talk columnist Rose Laudicina to try out the locals-oriented “Last Chair” bar and see if we might pair food and drink to enhance the experience of both (read Rose’s take here).
In a space remodeled to embrace the hotel’s 1960s origins, we had scanned the menu and found a simple, digestible selection of unfussy classics in both the liquid and solid categories; it seemed only right to order as if we, too, were leaning into the ease of decades past.
Which is how I ended up drinking an Old Fashioned for the first time, paired with those warm pretzels and a small red pot of just-gouda-y-enough cheese, even though I had no late-night plans for illicit activity. The pretzels had been recommended by staff, the Old Fashioned selected by me, and I didn’t expect to find myself feeling quite so transported; still, the pairing felt right — missing only, maybe, some comically large cigar to smoke for dramatic effect.
Rose’s starter, of a citrusy “Late To The Party” cocktail and a prosciutto, fig and goat cheese bruschetta, brought a different kind of classic to mind: the rom-coms of the 1980s and 1990s.
Paired with the bright, fresh flavor of the Bee’s Knees, the bruschetta’s sweeter, sprighty goat cheese and fig jam was the very essence of Meg Ryan.
I wasn’t sitting in a hotel above the Snowmass Mall anymore, nor some underground bar in New Jersey. One bite and one sip plunked me squarely at a waterside table in Central Park, hair poofed and shoulders padded, watching Carrie Fisher comb through her Rolodex to find me a suitor in “When Harry Met Sally.”
“(It’s) giving me senses of nostalgia for something I’ve never experienced,” Rose noted, later in the meal.
A taste of the Old Fashioned with the bruschetta snapped me out of it; likewise for Late To The Party and beer cheese. A criss-cross of table pairings didn’t so much make each of the dishes taste different as it made them taste like little at all; citrus and dairy canceled each other out, and goat cheese was not quite the same complement to rye whiskey as it was to botanical gin.
But by then it was time for dinner and dessert anyway: a Nashville hot chicken sandwich for Rose, an Impossible burger for me, then an earnest ice cream sundae to seal the deal.
French fries and sandwiches were the kind of timeless comfort food that didn’t hearken to any sort of era at all, except for maybe my senior year of college when I would get a burger almost every week with a group of friends at our on-campus pub.
An ice cream sundae though? It seemed like exactly the kind of dessert that one might eat as a treat after a busy night of organized crime.
Kaya Williams is a reporter for the Aspen Times and the Snowmass Sun who will embrace any and every opportunity to pretend she is in “When Harry Met Sally.” Email her at email@example.com.