The Sweetest Thing

Ned Archibald channels Willie Wonka every winter.

I have to admit it: Every year, I look forward to chatting with Keystone’s head pastry chef, Ned Archibald, about his Chocolate Village. The man is just so darn enthusiastic about things like six-foot-tall white-chocolate trees with blown-sugar ornaments and his epic chocolate fountain (flowing better than ever this year, thanks to the addition of a little cocoa butter and salad oil) that it’s hard not to get caught up in all the excitement. And I wouldn’t be the first: Plenty of people go to Keystone every year to check out what’s new in Archibald’s village.

This year, he says, is “the best ever.” The village has been slightly scaled down due to changes in the Keystone lobby. “It has a much cleaner look to it, where I think people can see more of the little details; before, it was a little overwhelming to the senses,” Archibald explains. He’s continued the tradition of adding an element or two; this year, it’s a few bright presents under the aforementioned white-chocolate tree — which has received a renovation in the form of entirely new ornamentation. “The tree only had blue and silver decorations,” Archibald notes, but in honor of Keystone’s new gondola, he added dark-chocolate gondola cabin ornaments as well as smaller hand-blown (and hand-painted) sugar ornaments.

“Little things like that,” he says. “Over the years, I’m looking forward to making everything just a little better.”

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This weekend is your last chance to gawk at the Chocolate Village before Archibald and his assistants pack it away until next year. The village will stay up through Sunday, January 4, in the Keystone Lodge lobby; for information, visit http://keystone.snow.com.
Dec. 19-Jan. 4, 2008

 
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