& Travel Experiences of Dennis F. Stevens,
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.
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:
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
patrons do bring their children, Jakers is not kid friendly.
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 .
classic retro 50s atmosphere with a broad menu, the popular diner draws repeat
business from both local customers and those passing through.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
dining opportunity came after about four and a-half hours spent in Wilson, Wyoming (a suburb
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
that point, there was nothing else but for me to do but invite her to join me, She readily agreed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
oaky chardonnay with flavors of vanilla, butter and even caramel (from the oak)
turned out to be a terrific paring.
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.
the main course, we agreed that the accompanying wine should be the Premonition
Cellars, Russian River 2010 Pinot Noir.
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.
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
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.”
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.”
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
dessert, we all opted for the homemade peach and apple cobbler, the fruit
obviously being recently released from storage facilities in Yakima, Washington.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
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,
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.