Picture this: strapping out of your ski boots, enjoying a long hot shower, then heading back up the Highlands Gondola to be greeted by a warm sleigh ride up to Zephyr Lodge. There, levity and laughter await at a farm table with stunning views of the surrounding Sierra Nevada. A monthly affair throughout the winter season, Northstar’s Mountain Table Dinner Series combines the talents of the head chef at the resort with a local Northern California winery. The result? A five-course dinner with five wine pairings. And all was well with the world.
The evening Nick and I attended the dinner happened to be St. Patrick’s Day and spirits were high— both those of our moods and the pour of each wine from Merryvale Vineyards. These were no mere tastings, but generous pours that had barely been half consumed when the next wine and food pairing came along. If you’re picturing a casual gala where you walk away at the end of the night (or should I say sleigh away) with phone numbers from new friends and a fresh appreciation for Merlot then you’re not far off.
If you’re like me, you may not immediately associate fine dining with skiing, but Northstar is changing that perception with offerings such as the Mountain Table Dinner. Nick and I were impressed with the thoughtful pairings — the food truly brought out the wine, and the wine the food. The grilled lamb chop with the unexpected addition of mole was my personal favorite course (paired with the 2014 Carneros Merlot, also excellent) and my favorite wine was the 2013 Merryvale Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc (paired with a prawn cocktail, pictured). The evening began with murmuring of conversation and clinking of glasses, live music in the background, and ended with new friends and roars of laughter throughout the hallway, the Milky Way beckoning to us from the night sky outside.
Perhaps one of the best parts of this series is that Northstar donates a portion of their proceeds to Project MANA to help mitigate hunger in the Lake Tahoe basin. The other best part has to be the sleigh ride (affixed to the back of a snowcat) back down the mountain after dinner concludes. My only complaint? That the Mountain Table Dinner Series isn’t offered year-round. Be sure to keep an eye on the schedule this next winter season and book your tickets in advance for an evening unlike any other in the Lake Tahoe basin. Bon appétit!
Please note: I am a paid ambassador with Northstar California Resort this winter season. All opinions expressed are my own.