Dennis F. Stevens dining at Chateau Mouton Rothschild as the guest of Baron Philippe de Rothschild (1978) 

Culinary & Travel Experiences of Dennis F. Stevens,

as published in his Weekly, Celebrity Email Newsletter

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The following travel experiences and restaurant commentaries are in no particular chronological order.  


 ( Part one of Two )



Review # 1  Los Angeles, CA      

My daughter Melbi Lee and I had lunch at Damions Steakhouse, Glendale, CA. Joining us was Jacob Shapiro, former VP of 20th Century Fox International for the Far East and Australasia, and film producer, Gloria Morrison.  


Everyone but me enjoyed one of the restaurant’s signature steak entrees.  I chose the barbequed pulled pork sandwich; known as one of the restaurant’s finest creations.   The barbeque sauce is not dominate, it being slowly cooked into the pork itself.   It reminded me of when Melbi and I used to enjoy baby back ribs at Chicago’s, in Old Pasadena; where you never needed to lick the sauce off your fingers because it was cooked within the ribs themselves.   The Damon’s sandwich was loaded with what could easily be mistaken for coleslaw but was a whole other combination.  That sandwich alone was worth the whole Los Angeles trip.  Tab for four:  $ 227.00.   


The following day Melbi and I had lunch at the Smokehouse in nearby Burbank with Christine Graham and Gloria Morrison.   Christine is a published food and wine critic.  Gloria and Christine had the prime rib, but were only able to eat half and took the rest home in the proverbial “doggie bag,” which is now referred to as the container for overweight morons.   Tab for four: $ 236.00    At one of the finer New York City restaurants, that tab would have approached $ 900.00 


That evening Melbi and I dined at Victor's Square Restaurant. (corner of Franklin Boulevard and Bronson) in Hollywood with Jacob Shapiro.  When the restaurant owner, Bill Gotti, opened the restaurant in the 1980s, after having left Greenblatt’s on Sunset Boulevard, Melbi and I were his first customers.   We wanted to pay our respects but unfortunately choose the one day in which Bill was off.  As usual, the food was outstanding and not pricey.  We learned that Bill’s partner, Rick, who ran the adjacent liquor and wine shop, had retired several years ago.   


Wednesday morning, Melbi and I had breakfast at the Hilton where an omelet; with the ingredients of our choosing, was cooked before us.   Because of the ludicrous price ($18.95 per person plus tip), I cannot recommend it.  The Embassy Suites, next door, serves the same meal for its guests, free.  


I got to the Bob Hope Airport for the return flight to Idaho Falls about two hours ahead of time and everything went smoothly.  I cannot wait to find another excuse to repeat the whole Los Angeles dining experience.  


# 2        The following is from film producer and director Gloria Morrison: 


Dennis:       You never fail to amaze me.   Your adventures in the world are full and amazing!   I think you should be a food critic your writing on cuisine and wine is truly worth the read...for the full ambiance of the restaurant to the layout of the food.  Makes my mouth water and me wanting to get in a car and go there!      --- Gloria 


Gloria:       I’m glad you appreciate my occasional deviations from the political world.   I wasn’t going to include my latest experience in this newsletter, but then I received yours and many similar emails. 


Last Tuesday, I drove the 30 miles to Idaho Falls and checked into the fairly new Hilton Garden Inn, 700 Lindsay Blvd. for a two night stay.  I had a coupon for one free night in a Hilton suite that expired December 31st, so thought I better use it.       


My designated hotel was located off the I-15 just south of West Broadway on Lindsay Blvd.   Grouped together are:  The Le Ritz Hotel & Suites, 720 Lindsay Blvd.;  Residence Inn by Marriott 635 W. Broadway; Hotel on the Falls; and the Hotel on the Falls, 475 River Pkwy.   All these hotels except for the Marriott are next to the Snake River with terrific views.  


Typical of high-end Hilton Hotels, the rooms are large, even for suites, and all the amenities are provided; refrigerator, microwave, flat screen HD TV with all the channels, and free WiFi.   Breakfast is free for hotel guests, cooked to order by chefs who know what they’re doing.  Wednesday and Thursday mornings I had the mushroom, onion, tomato, green pepper, cheese omelet with blueberry pancakes and crisp bacon and sausage on the side.  Delicious.  


As with my previous stay at the Fort Hall Casino and Lodge, near Pocatello, I borrowed a laptop computer from a friend and spent the two uninterrupted days writing the first 20 pages of the third screenplay in the Robin Templar caper trilogy.   As any Hollywood writer, producer, director knows, the first 20 pages are the most important in that they set the characters, story plot points, and direction for the entire story.   It’s not unusual for far more time to be spent on these 20 pages than the remaining 100 pages.  Having your every needs catered to by a competent hotel staff helps produce an atmosphere conducive to creative writing.  


Within walking distance of the Hilton (I chose to drive) is one of Idaho Fall’s top rated eateries, Jakers Bar & Grill (851 Lindsay Blvd.), a small restaurant chain indigenous to Idaho and Nevada.  


That first night, I was in the mood for some company for dinner so I invited old friends, Roger and his wife Connie to join me.  Roger is one of those BYU-Idaho professors who makes his home in Idaho Falls and commutes to Rexburg.  His wife, Connie is a buyer for Fred Meyers, located in the Country Club Mall.   Roger and I met when I was a occasional journalism guest lecturer at BYU-Idaho, lecturing on media bias.  


Although Jakers opens for dinner at 5 p.m., I made a 7:30 p.m. reservation and met Roger and Connie at the small restaurant; which was jammed, even though it was Tuesday.   We were immediately seated in a dimly lit booth; more suitable of a romantic setting than a social gathering among old friends.  Neither of my guests partook of coffee or adult beverages but had no objections to my doing so.  I ordered my signature cocktail, a Jack Daniels Manhattan.  It was perfect.  Everything was off to a good start. 


The exterior of the building doesn't look like a restaurant, especially not at night, but I didn’t have any trouble finding it.  The atmosphere is a little old school with dark wood paneling, green carpets, and such; a throw back to old times.   They also have what they call a "Smart Menu," smaller portions and reduced prices for some of their entrees.  You don’t see this too often, and I’m glad a see an upscale restaurant doing this.  It’s the equivalent of a senior discount, but with a more youthful, high-tech slant. 

In the bar, a quad of large, flat screen TVs are available for your sports viewing, and for the most part you can choose the game you want to watch. 


At Jakers, the meal always starts with the freshly baked, addictive scone-like hot dinner roles, unlike anything I’ve ever had; very flat (as if the dough didn’t have enough time to rise) leaving the delicious dough flavor prominent – WOW.  Each serving came with plenty of butter and preserves to compliment the rolls.  


The menu contained many mouthwatering choices and the wine list was top drawer.  For an appetizer, Connie had the tuna; Roger the lobster mac & cheese with chipolte and both seemed impressed.  Roger’s commented that his pasta was rightfully gooey and succulent like pasta should be and loaded with thin slices of green jalapenos with he particularly liked.  Connie exclaimed that she was very pleased with her tuna, a signature appetizer of the restaurant. 


I had the lobster bisque which was very tasty and just the right consistency with plenty of tasty, flavored lobster.   I washed this down with a glass of Cakebread cellars, Napa Valley Chardonnay.  


For the main course, Connie went for the fresh Clear Spring's thoroughly deboned Idaho trout.  How can you go wrong ordering trout in Idaho?  She got it charbroiled with the orange-saffron lemon cream sauce and exclaimed that it was excellent.  And the portion size was just right, not too big.  She had the spinach salad and the sweet potato fries as her sides.  Shaking her head in amazement, she said the sweet potato fries were excellent and spinach salad fantastic.  


Roger had the aged Kobe beef steak cooked medium rare.  Although his cut of beef had never been anywhere near the coast of Japan, it was well seasoned and thus gave Roger the illusion of having a Ruth’s Chris or Omaha Steakhouse experience. 


Judging by the late hour and taking a chance that I might still get a medium rare to rare prime rib,  I went for the 12 Ounce center cut.  I was not too late.  Obviously not a “prime” cut of beef, nevertheless the seasoning together with the creamed spinach and horseradish made it a memorable meal.  Asking for extra horseradish, I mixed some of it with the spinach.   Try it sometime. 


In fact, it was perhaps among the best prime rib I’ve had outside of the high-end restaurants of New York City, Paradise Island, and Los Angeles.  It was as good as I’ve ever had at Lowry’s Prime Rib; and that says a lot.   I chose a glass of Coppola cabernet as a pairing.  


Although a very good and extensive soup and salad bar, kept fresh, clean and tidy, was available for $2 extra, Roger and I ordered al la carte a large Caesar salad, the original creation of Ceasar Cardini (1896 - 1956); made tableside and which we shared.   The salad was perfection. 


It’s also worth mentioning that Jakers has an extensive vegetarian menu.  This is a welcome change from most restaurants which provide a nod to healthier eating by adding one or two vegetarian items on their menu.  The restaurant also provided a gluten-free menu.  Popular is the Teryaki vegetables with the mushroom melt sandwich. 


For desert the three of us shared the mudd pie.  This thing was HUGE.  I am not exaggerating when I say it had at least a pint of ice cream in it.  They say it's desert for two, but it literally could have served four.    


Although patrons do bring their children, Jakers is not kid friendly. 


Since the Hilton’s Great American Grill (where the free breakfast is served) is not open for lunch, Wednesday I drove all the way to 2150 Channing Way to have lunch at my cousin Dixie Murphy’s Idaho Falls restaurant, Dixie's Diner .  


A classic retro 50s atmosphere with a broad menu, the popular diner draws repeat business from both local customers and those passing through. 


Where else can you get a cherry Coke phosphate and the Aloha chicken sandwich with fresh Yukon gold potato chips?   But save room for a 50s style milkshake or ice cream soda.  


The last time I ate there I had the Reuben sandwich, which was great.  This time I had the Cobb salad which was made with freshly grilled chicken.  I followed that with the diner’s popular meatloaf, blended with all kinds of delectable goodies.  It was superb.     


Wednesday evening, since I enjoyed their breakfast so much, I decided to try the Hilton’s own restaurant; The Great American Grill ; which is kid friendly. 


First, I stopped at the Lobby Bar, located next to the main lobby and serving premium beverages in a relaxed atmosphere.  I ordered my usual, a Jack Daniels Manhattan, and looked over the wine list.  The wines by-the-glass didn’t impress me but the bottles were a different story.  A number of varietals not available in Rexburg caught my eye.  One, a hard-to-find 2008 Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, jumped out at me.  I decided to order my meal based around this wine.  What I didn’t drink during the meal, I would take back to my room for later consumption. 


I wasn’t all that hungry so I skipped the salad and went straight for the Sweet Onion bisque, made from scratch with caramelized onions and mushrooms; with chicken broth, heavy cream and egg yokes.  All puréed in a blender until smooth and then poured into a deep but narrow soup dish and covered with melted cheese.   The soup was accompanied by the restaurant’s signature hushpuppies that had bacon and cheese in them and were much better than the regular bread you get everywhere else, except for Jakers of course. 


For the entrée I ordered the Philly cheese steak and was expecting something with small steak strips.  I was wrong.  It was chunks of ribeye and it was delicious.  I felt I got a ribeye steak for a mere $10.  The Jordan Cabernet was a perfect pairing and the warm banana based dessert was also outstanding. 


# 3 Jackson, Wyoming:

 As promised, below is my delayed review of the Blue Lion Restaurant , Jackson, Wyoming, where I had a delightful dining experience the evening of 03 January 2014.  I hope it will prove helpful to those planning to visit the world-class ski and resort area.  


The dining opportunity came after about four and a-half hours spent in Wilson, Wyoming (a suburb of Jackson) with Liz Cheney-Perry, her husband Philip Perry and the Cheney for Senate Campaign Committee.  As I’ve written before, it was during this meeting that (with only 17 percent support in the polls) Liz decided to withdraw from the senatorial race.  


Although it’s only 73 miles from Cheney’s home to my humble apartment in Rexburg, my agreement with the campaign committee allows me to stay overnight if returning to Rexburg required travel after sundown.   Since it was after 5:30 p.m. when the committee meeting broke up, that meant an overnight stay at my favorite Jackson hotel, The Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa ; together with dinner at a restaurant of my choice; all charged to the campaign, which was flush with money.  


Fortunately, considerable contributions came in from many states, including Wyoming.   The Cheney war chest was greater than her popular opponents; but that didn’t seem to help. 


I’ve reviewed the Rusty Parrot Lodge and Spa in a previous newsletter so I won’t go into that small, but sensational hotel and its’ Wild Sage Restaurant.  You can look it up on Google, if contemplating staying overnight in Jackson.    


A week before January 3rd, I had made a reservation at the Blue Lion Restaurant for 8 p.m.  At 6:30 p.m., awaiting my reservation time, I decided to go down to the hotel’s cozy bar / lounge for a few adult beverages before driving the short distance to the restaurant. 


There was a very attractive lady, dressed in a business suit, perhaps in her late forties or early fifties, sitting alone at the bar and a younger couple seated at a nearby table.  I planted myself one stool away from the attractive lady. 


The bar / lounge doesn’t always have a designated fulltime bartender.  Instead the Maitre‘d doubles as the bartender.  If the bar gets busy the Maitre’d is joined by the head waitress; both of which are highly trained barkeeps. 


The Maitre’d took my order, a Jack Daniels Manhattan (up, with a glass of ice on the side).  Noticing that the attractive lady two stools over was finishing her Martini (the olives were the hint) I told the bartender / maitre‘d to give her another, as well.   Seeming appreciative, she gestured that if I were so inclined I could move to the stool next to hers.  Being the old sod I am, I wasted no time making the move.  


We were in the middle of introducing ourselves when the efficient bartender / maitri‘d delivered the drinks.   I gave him my credit card and told him to run a tab.   


Sandra, the lady I found myself next to turned out to be a senior manager of the Salt Lake City accounting office of Ernst & Young.  She was in Jackson to do an audit, which was expected to take three or four days.  


I asked her who she was auditing but as is Ernst & Young’s policy, this information was privileged and I wasn’t one of the privileged.  After giving her my name, right in front of me, she Goggled it on her ubiquitous iPod and seemed somewhat startled with by number of pages of information that showed up under that name; fortunately, none of it criminal.   


Next, she asked for a look at my driver’s license, which I provided.  After checking me out thoroughly in return she merely provided me with one of her business cards.  Sadly, I didn’t have the technology on me to run her name.  All I had was a ten year old cell phone that didn’t’ even have a camera in which to snap a picture.  I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps it was time I upgraded.     


After ordering a third round, I casually mentioned that I had an 8 O’clock reservation at the Blue Lion and would have to be leaving soon.  Her reaction was one I didn’t expect.  “The Blue Lion,” she exclaimed!  “That’s my favorite restaurant outside of Manhattan, New Orleans, and San Francisco!  How did you manage to get a reservation on a Friday night?”  I explained that I had booked early.    


At that point, there was nothing else but for me to do but invite her to join me,  She readily agreed. 


The Blue Lion is a delightfully snug restaurant located in the middle of downtown Jackson at 160 N. Millward St., across from Miller Park, where there is ample street parking.  The restaurant itself is a charming old cottage built in the 1930s; a cozy converted residential home and although expanded over the years, not pretentious; just very comfortable with terrific atmosphere.  


Taking my car, instead of her rental, Ms, Wright and I arrived about ten minutes to 8 p.m. and were immediately seated in the main downstairs dinning area (there is a second floor for overflow crowds).  The place was jammed, as usual.  The restaurant only seats 60 diners in the winter, and by opening the outside deck, 80 in the summer. 


While putting in our wine order, we ordered a round of our usual cocktails; my Jack Daniels Manhattan and her dry Grey Goose Martini this time with onion instead of olive together with a lemon twist.  The wine we started of with was a bottle of Mer Soleil, Saint Lucia Highlands, CA 2010 Chardonnay; not the most expensive chardonnay on the extensive wine menu, but nicely resolved and exquisite.  


Sipping our cocktails, we poured over the extensive menu.  The decision was complicated by all the excellent choices.  Finally, we made our decisions.  To start off, Sandra would have the Thai seafood fritters, a lobster, crab and shrimp rolled into a Thai style dumpling, deep fried and served with a spicy soy sauce.  I went for the Grilled Wasabi Elk Filet; an elk shoulder tenderloin marinated with a mixture of fresh herbs, garlic, fish sauce and chili sauce; grilled rare, served over a sliced seaweed salad and finished with wasabi vinaigrette. 


The oaky chardonnay with flavors of vanilla, butter and even caramel (from the oak) turned out to be a terrific paring.  


For the main course, Sandra chose the Grilled Elk Tenderloin, grilled to temperature, sliced and finished with a wild mushroom port sauce.  When I saw the roast rack of lamb on the menu, I couldn’t help myself.  Where else can you get a New Zealand lamb rubbed with Dijon mustard, seasoned with bread crumbs and then baked; served sliced with a peppercord-rosemary cream sauce and jalapeño mint sauce.  


With the main course, we agreed that the accompanying wine should be the Premonition Cellars, Russian River 2010 Pinot Noir.   Great pairing.  


For dessert, we both chose the Russian cream and raspberries; which Sandra paired with a glass of Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley 2010; and I with a glass of Stags Leap Artemis; both Cabernet Sauvignon blends loaded with enough tannins to continue aging for years to come.  The Blue Lion offers several great wines by the glass, which they keep fresh and tasty by connecting the opened bottles to a unit that tops them off with nitrogen or argon gas; the waiter wasn’t sure which.  


The history of the Blue Lion is interesting.  In 1974 Maury Holms bought the house and turned it into a fondue restaurant called The Tourist Trap.  Karen Scott bought it from Maury in 1976 and started The Blue Lion.  Karen learned to cook at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris; a culinary school founded in 1895.  This being her first job, she was sad and blue that she finally had to go to work.  Her birth sign was Leo, thus The Blue Lion. 


Today the Blue Lion is owned by Ned Brown who will gladly tell his story to anyone who will listen.   Ned left Southern California after high school to attend college in Colorado, strictly for the skiing.  He worked in restaurants during that time period and decided he wanted to open one of his own, in a ski town of course.  At first it was going to be either Aspen or Vail.  Then, during his senior year of college he came to Jackson to visit and ski.  As Ned puts it, “That was all it took and here I am.” 


Ned explains, “When I arrived in the summer of ’78 I began looking around for a possible restaurant location.  The Blue Lion just went on the market.  After purchasing it I was planning on serving BBQ or Mexican food.  After talking to the seller (Karen) and her chef I decided to stay with her French menu.”  


The first 10 years The Blue Lion served lunch and dinner.  After 10 years the dinner business picked up so much Ned decided to just concentrate on dinner.  


When the check was placed in front of me I noted that it totaled $298.  With an overall 15% tip (20% on food and 10% on adult beverages, including wines) rounded off I mentally calculated that the total would be closer to $340.  As I was going for my credit card, Sandra reached across the table and grabbed the check.  “It’s on me,” she said.   I protested stating that the Cheney Senatorial Campaign would be picking up one-half the tab.   Her argument was that Ernst & Young would be picking up 100 percent and that she was treating me as a potential client.  


Under similar circumstances, one of my film career mentors, TV director Duke Goldstone, always said, “Protest only once then keep your mouth shut.”  Since she actually had the better argument (100% vs. 50%), I kept my mouth shut.     


Review # 4

     On Wednesday I brushed the snow off the car, poured a bottle of HEET into the gas tank and made the drive to Jackson Wyoming for a meeting with the Liz Cheney senatorial re-election committee.  


My services for the committee (writing, producing, and directing the campaign’s radio and TV spots) are voluntary; however the committee pays me .32 per mile plus my hotel and meal expenses; the latter of which I take full advantage of. 


Fund raising is going well, albeit most of the funds are coming from outside Wyoming.  She’s still way behind her Republican opponent in the Wyoming polls. 


When staying overnight in Jackson, I usually stay at the Rusty Parrot Lodge, downtown Jackson (with its large, posh suites & 40 inch flat screen TVs)  and eat at the Wild Sage Restaurant , located within the lodge, and which restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Dinner at the Wild Sage is quite expensive running from $40 - $100 per person.  However, the food is well worth the price and the vast wine list is to be envied.  


Known for its wagyu tenderloin (that’s the expensive dish), lamb chops, outstanding fish dishes, Buffalo steaks and burgers from bison’s raised at Ted Turner’s Montana ranch, and full service bar, being a small restaurant the Wild Sage is usually packed.  


Like Jackson itself, the Rusty Parrot is a paradox: A family-run 30-room lodge that's one of the top small luxury hotels in the world.  It caters to the traveler—not the tourist.  The owners and staff delight in sharing inside information about the town and area they love.  Their passion for Jackson Hole and personal attention to guests just isn't found at larger hotels. 


Even the name is surprising—parrots aren't the first animals that come to mind when you think of Wyoming wildlife!  The story of how the Rusty Parrot got its name has evolved into a campfire tale.  The only way to get the real story is from Ron Harrison, the owner.  When you stay at the lodge, you can see the Parrot behind the front desk…and get Ron to tell you the real story. 


Entering the Wild Sage I discovered that Chef Seth had the night off.  It was then that I got on my cell phone and called Nani’s Cucina Italian Restorante to see if Chef Daniel Luna was on duty.  Finding out that he was, I drove the few blocks and enjoyed a great home cooked Italian dinner at Nani’s.  Chef Luna cares about his craft and it shows in what is presented on the plate.


Located a couple of blocks off Jackson’s downtown district at 175 W. Jackson (suite 229), this is a great location to get out of the chaos but still be close to it at the same time.

Recently remodeled, it’s far from the posh ambience of the Wild Sage, but now gone are the red and white checked tablecloths.  In are wood tables and black chairs along with upholstered red banquette seating.   Walls are parchment colored.   There are three seating areas:  in the bar at the high perch stools or at standard height tables in the dining room or on the deck in the front.  

On the front of the double sided menu you'll find openers and small plates that can be easily shared; such items as bruschetta to focaccia flatbreads to clams or mussels to an assortment of salads to salami or cheese plates.  On the back side you'll find an assortment of pastas to entrees that include things like bistecca, eggplant, risotto, fish (including freshly caught trout), and rack of lamb.

But to start, you will be presented with a basket of two kinds of fresh homemade bread.  The bread is wonderful and both olive oil and balsamic vinegar are on the table to use as you wish.  

I ordered the fresh chopped romaine salad with Gorgonzola dressing, walnuts and prosciutto (served on a nicely chilled plate).

Then I had the Zuppa di vongole - plump, perfectly cooked steamed clams in a spicy red broth.  For the Pasta, I had the capelli d’angelo (angel hair) with the carbonara  sauce; all cooked to perfection.  


For libations, I had a Jack Daniels Manhattan followed by several glasses of different Italian wines, including a Prosecco sparkling wine made from the Glera grape.  The wine list could definitely be improved although I enjoyed a pretty good Barolo. 

I sat at a table in the bar and the bartender was my server.  He had a great Italian accent; knew the menu and didn’t miss a beat in the perfect timing of my courses.  Everything was served at the right time and temperature.       


For the main course, I had the rack of lamb.  It was cooked to perfection with all the right seasoning and garnishment.  For desert I tried the Teton Tiramisu.  Sensational.     


And, in a classic "don't you love it" success story, Chef Daniel Luna was working in construction just ten years ago when the downturn forced him to change career directions.  He started in Nani's kitchen as a dishwasher and worked his way up under the previous chef's tutelage then attended culinary school.  Now he turns out the rustic, simple, regional Italian dishes that have been Nani's long time focus.  Locals long loyal to Nani's with whom I’ve spoken say the good food has gotten even better with Chef Luna's presence.

Review # 5 Alta, Wyoming

Last Sunday I met George Gillett, Jr., his wife Rose and two of their four sons at their base office to the Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming.  I was there at the insistence of George who volunteered to help get my legs back.   My intent was to make two quick runs on the intermediate slope than head back to Rexburg, a mere 45 minute drive.  George assigned one of his sons to ski behind me so that in the event I fell, the son could get me back on my feet. 


With an hours rest in between, the two runs went smoothly with no falls and only a brief breather halfway down the slope.   Then George insisted that a mere two were not enough and challenged me to make two more runs.   The third run took place after lunch at the Grand Targhee Resort, which is a nice hotel and restaurant owned by the Gillett family (together with the more upscale Sioux and Teewinot hotels, but hardly a deluxe facility.  Instead, it’s more rustic, typical of such lodges but very comfortable at $189 per night, per room (up to four per room at no additional cost).  


A tip:  Unless you’re staying at one of the Alta hotels, parking at Grand Targhee can be a bitch.  By that I mean, if you’re willing to walk, there is ample parking.  Little doubt, there is a need for parking structures adjacent the lifts.   However, if you’re staying at one of the Grande Targhee hotels, you need not worry, you have assigned parking.  Additionally, there are three lifts just to the rear of the hotels, one for each level of your skiing ability.  


After lunch, and the needed rest, I was ready to tackle my third run on the intermediate slope.   It was this, the third run when I began to wonder if my legs were going to continue holding me up.   I made about five stops before reaching the bottom.  I should have called it a day then and there.  Instead, I stuck to my goal of four runs and after an hours rest once again caught the lift to the top. 


I fell twice before reaching the bottom.  Each time it was when attempting to come to a stop.  In attempting to stop, I tend to whip to my left digging in with the inside edge of my right (downhill) ski.  In both falls, I just didn’t have the strength in my right leg to stick and hold the edge and my skis went out from under me.  Fortunately George’s son was there to get me back on my feet.  (I never could have gotten up on my own).  After the second fall, for the first time in my lifetime of skiing some of the most advanced sloops on the West Coast, I was frightened.  I just wanted down.  


One look at me and George Gillett, Jr., wisely saw that I was in no shape to drive home.  A gourmet diner and wine connoisseur himself, George liked to dine with other such connoisseurs who shared his enjoyment of the same and he wasn’t going to let me get away.   He comped me a room at the Grand Targhee Resort  and insisted that I dine with he and wife Rose at a delightful restaurant with a spectacular view from every table, The Lost Horizon Dinner Club, high up on the Grand Tetons at 755 E. Alta Road.  


The food was home cooked, made from scratch.   With a smile on her face, Rose recommended the baby back or beef ribs.  I was skeptical.  The ribs couldn’t be smoked since where would they get the wood without the prohibitive cost of having it shipped since it’s against the law to harvest any wood in the Teton National Park.  Was I in for a surprise. 


I ordered the beef ribs and Rose the baby back.  The ribs indeed had not been smoked.  Instead they had been rubbed down with the usual combination of herbs and spices and then some onions, peppers and other ingredients placed on top of the ribs.  But here’s the secret. 


The ribs were then wrapped in a polymer plastic wrap to lock in the flavors and moisture then put into the oven at 250 degrees for however long it takes.   250 degrees was well within the tolerable range of the polymer.  The result is moist, tasty, perfectly cooked ribs so tender and juicy that you could take out your dentures and merely gum the meat. 


George went for the pulled pork sandwich stuffed with coleslaw, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and Monterey Jack cheese.  It really looked great.  We all shared a huge Caesar Salad, made at the table that even Caesar Cardini would have been proud of.     


For dessert, we all opted for the homemade peach and apple cobbler, the fruit obviously being recently released from storage facilities in Yakima, Washington.   


To George and I, the restaurant’s major asset was its wine list.   World class wines sold with a markup of only two times wholesalel (most fancy restaurants markup their wines three times wholesale).  But more than that, many of the wines on the list were purchased eight or ten years ago and the prices reflected the retail price at that time.  George ordered two bottles, a Corton Grand Cru Pinot Noir Cote de Beaune (Burgundy) and a Chateau Latour (Bordeaux).   I estimated that the price we paid was only slightly over today’s wholesale; perhaps fifteen to twenty percent.   A steal. 


Finding such bargains is half the fun in seeking out such treasure trove restaurants.   I thank you owners Chuck and Shigeko Irwin, for a fine dining experience.   


It took me two days to recover.  Still, my legs feel as if someone took a baseball bat to them.  Hopefully, I will be in shape to try it again next Sunday; the day after my 75th birthday. 


No. 6:       My sister, Charlotte Riviera, sent me the following email on my birthday:  


Dennis:       Hope you have a nice 75th Birthday.  I would stay off of the ski slopes if I were you.        --- xoxo, Sis.  


Charlotte:       You’re right.  Although the ski season is far from over, Sunday at Grand Targhee was probably my last run.  


I met George Gillett at his Grand Targhee (Alta, Wyoming) office at about 11 a.m. Sunday (23 March).  We made one run on the intermediate slope then had lunch at the Grande Targhee Resort.  Lunch, of course, consisted of the resort’s iconic hamburgers with fries, on the outside patio.  Weather was perfect. 


After lunch, we made one more run, only this time on the advanced slope.  In my present physical condition, in no time, I knew I was over my head.  All I wanted was to get down safely. 


The history behind Grand Targhee is really quite fascinating.  I’m hoping that one day I will find the time to write a book about it; which book would be a history of the area, the indigenous Indian tribes, Chief Targhee and the Indian wars that began after his death at the hands of the Crow, in the early 1870s.  


The original inhabitants of the Eastern Idaho area were the Shoshone, Bannock, Blackfoot, and Crow Indian tribes.  The Grand Tetons were called the Tee-Win-At by the Shoshone, meaning "high pinnacles". 


Targhee or Chief Targhee by 1867 was known as “the great head chief of all the Bannock people.”  He led his people through what may have been the grimmest period of their history as they were forced from their traditional nomadic ways and into a life of hard labor and farming on the newly created Fort Hall Reservation (near Pocatello). 


Chief Targhee was truly a great chief admired for his strong character and integrity.  He was honored by euro-Americans and native-Americans alike.  He held the peace while his people suffered from starvation and abuse resulting from the shameful acts of both the United States and Idaho Territorial governments.  He was killed while hunting for food by the Crow in the winter of 1871 – ‘72.  Upon his death, the Bannock fractured into several bands bent on war with the euro-Americans that eventually led to the demise of a significant proportion of the Bannock. 


Grand Targhee Resort's name includes both a reference to Grand Teton Mountain and Chief Targhee. 


All of this ran through my mind as, with George Gillett’s encouragement, I merely tried to get down the mountain.   I pulled up about over 200 to 300 yards to rest.  George was very patient.   This slope was five times the challenge as the intermediate slop and ten times the challenge of the beginner runs. 


Fortunately, I finally made it down without falling or smacking into a tree.   George encouraged me to spend the night in Alta, but I opted for my own numbers mattress at my humble Rexburg apartment.  Since I was starting back on the 45 – 50 minute drive at approximately 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon, George suggested I stop off at Driggs for some ribs before continuing on.   He had just the place in mind; one of only two restaurants in Driggs with a liqueur license. 


The Royal Wolf (63 Depot Street) is one of two watering holes in Driggs where you can actually have a cocktail.  Idaho Law limits liquor licenses to one per thousand adult residents despite pleas to Idaho's legislature to come out of its Blue Law era.  The pub also has MicroBrew Specials every day.  The bar staff keep the conversations entertaining and liquids flowing, including on Sunday.  The kitchen staff does a fantastic job if you're not still running in Autobahn's left lane.  The poblano wontons are an excellent starter.  The burgers & fries (with a choice 27 toppings), tacos, salads, fish, steaks, ribs are all great!  Belly up to an Idaho Spud with fifteen toppings to choose from.  Like some spice, Frank's sauce will kick it up a notch! 


The valley rap is go to the Wolf and be with the Tree Huggers!  The fact of the matter is you'll find naturalists, fishing guides, hot air balloonist, ski bums, semi & retired eclectic individualists of all ages all in one place.  Lunch & dinner.   Drinks and late night pub sandwiches are all good (I ordered one of the sandwiches and took it home).   But it’s the wide selection of beers that many people come for.     


Instead of my usual Jack Daniels Manhattan, I chose the Guinness Stout accompanied with the small Cobb Salad and rack of smoked pork baby back ribs smothered with traditional BBQ sauce served with coleslaw and home cut fries.   


Knowing I couldn’t eat nearly one-third of it, I ordered a fill rack and took the rest home with me in the proverbial Styrofoam doggie bag; along with most of the Cobb salad.  


While I was seated and served my Guinness immediately, I seemed an unusually long time before by Cob Salad arrived and even longer before the baby back ribs arrived.  However, in tasting the ribs, the wait was well worth it.    I was dying to discover the cooking process of the ribs, but unfortunately did not.  


Everything is fresh and made from scratch, although some fish dishes (like the calamari) are shipped frozen, most come from local fish farms in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah and are only a day old, as is the popular buffalo burgers from the Ted Turner ranch in Montana.  The Carolina chicken sandwich is also popular.  


The wine list contains some good, but inexpensive wines with a few real gems. 


The two pool tables are popular as is the deck.  Hours are from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.  Atmosphere is:  NOISY!  


A word about Driggs and Idaho State liquor licenses.   The population of Driggs is approximately 1,700.  If you include the farms in the immediate area the population jumps to approximately 2,000.  That allows for two restaurant liquor licenses of which the Royal Wolf is one.  Driggs has 21 restaurants of which two serve world class Tai food and in which many tourists passing through have rated very high.   


It’s impossible to nail down the number of actual dinner restaurants in Rexburg; because most of them are specialty and fast food outlets catering to the university students.  However, excluding fast food establishments (being a college town, Rexburg has them all), I count approximately five which could use a liquor license but do not have one.  One of the five is of course Applebee’s and the other four are Mexican themed restaurants which are mixing their Margaritas with white wine instead of Tequila; an abomination.     


I find it interesting why it is that these five restaurants do not have liquor licenses.  With a population of approximately 28,000; 15,000 of which are BYU – Idaho students; Rexburg is eligible for up to 28 liquor licenses issued to bars, restaurants, hotels, etc. 


The reason why you cannot find a cocktail lounge in Rexburg is because whenever such licenses come on the market in the Rexburg area, they are automatically purchased by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints.  That’s right.  When you consider other small towns where the Church does this, The Mormon Church is the third most liquor licenses holder in the state.  Numbers one and two in ownership are two hotel chains and forth is yet another hotel chain.   The Church sits on their licenses to prevent hard liquor from being served within the immediate area; although beer and wine is served within the City.