The Non-Restaurant Roundup: Okemo VT
Last week I wrote about the best places around Killington, VT. So when I scrolled through my log from our Okemo trip in 2017, and couldn't find any pictures of food that we went out for, it dawned on and I remembered that we had the most EPIC historic house with a kick ass open fire, vintage cook books, and a formal dining room with enough flatware and party glasses to make the mad hatter go insane.
So rather than round up my favorite places in Okemo, I thought I'd share some tried and true ski house recipes that we cooked up to serve as inspiration for your next ski trip - it's super fun to go out in these little ski towns, but for this trip, staying in was half the fun. The other half was obviously getting out and hitting those runs which I vividly recall feeling were the best on the east coast I had ever experienced. Powdery, smooth, long and sunny. A definite hit versus Killington and not as crowded either.
First, let's discuss the house. A historic farmhouse in Londonderry, VT, this place was a TRUE log cabin. The kind that made you wonder about all the people who came before you, the people who cooked in that kitchen, the people who got to call it "home". From what we could gather, it was a house that stayed within a family for generations. 19th century furnishings, a wood-burning fireplace, surrounded by land and logging, I felt so disconnected from it all.
Exhibit A: me wearing a completely practical vintage Missoni cape with the names of Alpine ski villages all over it, paired with a lama-patterned shirt. DIS-CON-NECTED, yes please!
Then there's the kitchen (heads up, this image not my own. Courtesy of VRBO since my pics don't do it justice). CAN YOU IMAGINE the look on my face when I saw the kitchen? Now you know why we didn't go out to dinner... it would have been sacrilegious!
So, cook we did. We found these amazing vintage cookbooks and obviously took a few stabs at reimagining the recipes, including this cocktail (because, #priorities) called a "Wassail" from the 1965 edition of Suzanne Huxley's 12 Days of Christmas (which you can buy from ebay!!). if you zoom in you can actually see the front boasts "James Beard recommended". Yes, the same 2017-relevant James Beard dictating your open table reservations was actually relevant then, too. In fact, he was legendary (History lesson: he was a cookbook author and chef from the foodie town of Portland who made his mark in the 50s. And before influencers were influencers, he was #sponsored with brand endorsements of his own. More? He founded City Meals on Wheels - think about that the next time you're clamoring to get in at Cosme, Rose's or Blue HIll at Stone Barns).
Back to the wassail (I know, I know - I've waxed on for 15 minutes without even getting to food yet!).... it's a British cocktail that apparently means "cheers" in "Middle English". A base of beer, mead or wine was heated then served with cored/sliced apples, spices, lemon and wine. So before we all started mulling wine, England was wassailing. Highly recommend trying this out on your next trip. This is the basis from the book, but the recipe was definitely an adapted version, making it all the more fun:
- 6 small tart apples, cored and dry roasted until they are white and fleecy
- 3 pints ale at room temp
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg
- 2-3 whole cloves
- thin strips of lemon peel
- 1 pint malaga wine
In a glass bottomed dish, place the cored apples and some water in the dish, and drizzle brown sugar over the apples. Bake at 350 for about 30-45 minutes. On low/medium heat in a large pot, heat the ale, wine, ginger, cloves and lemon peel and let it simmer, not boil, for at least as long as the apples bake if not longer (as long as it's on low heat, it will just enrich the flavor even more). When ready, pour the apples and their liquid into each glass; strain the wassail to remove the spices and pour on top. Serve and cheers! Or, wassail! The perfect apres.
Now, onto the food. I'll start with snacks. It's become tradition for Tae to bring Korean ramen on the trip, and make a big bowl of spicy ramen and rice cakes for everyone as we await a full dinner. Perfect for refueling and recharging after the slopes. The requirement: it must be Korean ramen (like this one)!
Another snack that worked really well for this trip, because of the kitchen, plethora of cast iron skillets and open fire: nachos. Who doesn't love nachos? You get them in all the slope side bars, but when they're made from scratch over your own fireplace, nothing compares. Just grab some chips, and throw on whatever you want. It's literally that easy. We had jalapenos, cheese, corn, beans and chicken on ours.
Whenever we go away, we end up having "family dinner" - be it some kind of pasta dish which I truly revel in cooking up. For this crew, we made fettucine with bolognese sauce and chicken parmigiana.
My recipe for bolognese is my dad's.
- Sautéed carrots, onions and celery (all finely chopped) in EVOO
- Then add the meat (I use three kinds - pork, veal, beef)
- For an easy sauce recipe:
- Sauté 3-4 cloves of garlic in olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot before I add in my canned tomatoes (Tuttorosso crushed tomatoes - was/still is the only acceptable canned tomatoes brand to use in my family).
- Heat it slowly for a long time (2 hours, you can get away with 1 if you need to- the longer, the better) with fresh basil.
- When the meat is done sautéing stove top (once it's browned, but not burned!) add it all into the sauce, WITH the fat/oil (don't you dare throw that away, that is PRECIOUS flavor!), and continue to cook until the flavors blend all together.
I used the sauce from the pasta also for the chicken parmigiana (which was a basic chicken cutlet recipe, baked in the oven with mozzarella and sauce). Hungry skiers, satiated!
Another great dinner we had was fish tacos. Not just any fish tacos, beer battered ones! This dish was inspired by the lazy susan on the dining table (yes, we were inspired by an appliance) ok and maybe also by the alcohol we were consuming...
A fellow foodie in the house came up with this recipe which I believe is a secret one, so while I don't have the specifics to share, I can at least share the idea with you and a link to a similar one here
Ah, and who can forget about breakfast (top right)? Basically, whatever veggies and cheese you have leftover work GREAT for a frittata cooked stove top in a cast iron skillet. This is a great ski house recipe because you can make it ahead the night before ,and heat it the morning of in the oven for a hearty and protein-packed breakfast before you head out to conquer the diamonds.
This was one of the most memorable trips I've had. The house, the views, the conditions, the food were all perfect. Hoping to get back to this gem someday soon.
And what would any ski trip be without toasted marshmallows and a beauty breakdown? Because I know this is completely normal, I set up all my beauty products on the shelf in our bedroom along with my gear/accessories. BUT, i am not alone in my thinking because my fellow housemate brought us face masks (#girls ). read on for the products I tote to every trip.
- On this trip I was particularly into the Neutrogena Hydro Boost (I was going through a lot of salicylic peels for breakouts so needed something gentle and this fit the bill). Other products that I brought (and still stock in my kit) include
- Tom's deodorant - I continue to be amazed by the power of this deodorant, but I now prefer the Powder scent as it's simpler.
- NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer
- SK-II RNA Eye Cream
- Tony Moly hand creams (I LOVEEEE these and stash them everywhere!)
- Klorane Dry Shampoo (tinted type!)
- Nunzio Saviano Hair Sheets - I swear by these for everything. They are a gym bag must, a handbag must. A life must. (Especially after taking off your helmet).
- Last but not least, because I always snag a local beauty product whenever I visit a new town, is Hudson Valley Skincare coconut oil lip treatment . I was obsessed with this and a little went such a long way. Unfortunately I think this was left behind on an excursion that Tae and I took because it's nowhere to be found. But the good news: it's $4 and available online in new flavors (mango and pomegranate!)