I did, however, get to make a few new friends and ingest some wonderful stuff at the recent food-and-wine orgy known as the Taste of Vail. Held primarily at the Westin Resort Vail, this fourth annual weekend-long event featured about sixty wineries and forty Vail-area restaurants. Between seminars and schmoozes, I managed to try some excellent new wines: Trefethen's 1991 Chardonnay, an energetic little number that, with its sweeter fruit flavors, defies the words usually used to describe a Chardonnay (Trefethen's 1991 Cabernet Sauvignon wasn't bad, either); Girard Winery's 1990 Chardonnay (oaky, oaky, oaky); the chewy 1990 Cabernet from Silver Oak Alexander Valley; and a tart 1990 Simi Cabernet. If you're lucky enough to find it, the 1984 Cabernet from Pine Ridge Stag's Leap has rich, velvety tones that will make you long for a mahogany-filled library and overstuffed red-leather chairs.
All of the restaurants knocked themselves out during a massive, overwhelming tasting (although I'd like to see fewer dough-covered offerings). The dish that keeps popping back into my consciousness is the Wildflower's polenta covered with octopus in a toothsome tomato-based sauce. I also had a great meal at the Westin's own Alfredo's, and applaud the kitchen's painstaking chiffonnade treatment of the greens in the spinach salad--what a pleasure not to battle bulky leaves. Alfredo's memorable, pistachio-encrusted salmon ($22) was undercooked just the way I like it and arrived in a pool of sundried-tomato sauce that could inspire poetry. Our other entree, however, suffered from too little liquid: The ravioli stuffed with herbed ricotta ($15.75) was dry on the edges and needed more of the piquant yellow-tomato sauce.
Free advertising: George Hung, who owns Red Pepper Cafe in Aurora, just bought the Parlour, at 846 Broadway; the menu remains the same--except for the addition of prime rib. If it's as good as those Parlour burgers, the prime rib should be a winner...All profits on sales at area Alfalfa's on April 22, Earth Day, will be donated to charity...Little Moscow has closed; the building likely will become another Roma restaurant...The Normandy will host a fourth annual reunion dinner April 26 for diners nostalgic for Pierre Wolfe's former haunt, the Quorum (the building's now occupied by China Cowboy)...Applejack Liquors will hold a tasting of ten Rieslings at the Brown Palace Hotel on April 28; call 233-3331 for details...And the April 26 wine dinner at Tante Louise will focus on whether California Merlots age well. Call 355-4488 for details.