THE FOODIE FILES: Après Appetites

By on February 23, 2016

From bloodies and sloshies to sushi and sausage, investigating new and old ways to prolong that powdery feeling.

Top: The Venison Carpaccio at Osteria is the author’s latest après ski obsession. Left: Slow things down as you sip on a Basil Martini at the salumi bar at Osteria. Right: The Poke Salad at Sudachí is a layered tower of sashimi. (Photo: annie fenn, md)

Top: The Venison Carpaccio at Osteria is the author’s latest après ski obsession. Left: Slow things down as you sip on a Basil Martini at the salumi bar at Osteria. Right: The Poke Salad at Sudachí is a layered tower of sashimi. (Photos: Annie Fenn, MD)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – The dictionary defines après ski as the social activities that follow a day’s skiing. Around here, après is used more commonly as a verb. Although I’ve been getting out to the Village to ski quite a bit this year, I haven’t had the time to stay and après most days. With just one month left to the ski season, however, I decided it was time for a crash course in where to eat, drink, and relax after the lifts shut down.

Back in 1994 when I purchased my first Jackson Hole Mountain Resort season pass, deciding where to après was easy. Most ski days ended at the Mangy Moose or the beloved Village Café (RIP). My tribe usually favored the VC for the ski bum vibe, the New York style slices of pizza, and the cheap draft beers. And yes, drinking shots in unison on the shot ski was usually part of the fun.

Fast-forward a few years. The VC has shut down but Teton Village has exploded with options for prolonging the feeling of a great ski day. The Moose is still a lot of fun, but now it’s always packed to the rafters. As are a lot of our favorite watering holes: Teton Thai, I’ll be back as soon as things quiet down. And my après priorities have changed—gone are the days of lining up at the shot ski and finding the cheapest chicken wings. I want a decent glass of wine, some healthy-ish food, and somewhere with a relaxed vibe to hang out with my ski buddies.

Most civilized après ski

If great food and a mellow atmosphere are amongst your après priorities, duck into Il Villaggio Osteria between 3 and 5 p.m. Normally packed during lunch and dinner service, Osteria is an oasis of calm at this time. Order a basil martini or my new favorite wine by the glass: Don Cosimo Catarratto, a white varietal from Sicily that’s crisp and dry with lemony notes. It pairs perfectly with the Tuna Tartare and the Oven Roasted Olives. There are chicken wings (calabrese-spiced) on the menu, but Chef Serge Smith is also mixing things up with new dishes, like my latest obsession, the Venison Carpaccio. The thinnest slices of venison are topped with celery leaves, savory granola, shavings of fiore sardo cheese, and drizzles of coffee oil. Actually, just give me a whole bowl of Smith’s coffee-infused granola and I’ll be happy.

Après sushi? Yes, please

For the best deals on sushi, hop on the START bus (because we all know that après and driving don’t mix) to Sudachí and snag a seat at the bar between 5 and 6 p.m. Ask for the happy hour menu and enjoy half-off sushi and drinks, $3 hand rolls, and $8 bowls of ramen. Or check out the Japanese pub-style Izakaya menu offered Saturday through Monday. Big appetites will love the Steamed Buns, topped with crispy pork belly, hoisin sauce, and cucumber salad. The Poke Salad has completely won me over as the perfect après ski dish: a layered tower of avocado, steamed rice, ogo, mixed greens, and furikake, all topped with a generous serving of expertly prepared sashimi.

Après with the kids

When my little rippers were younger, finding a kid-friendly place to après was paramount. Cranky and on the verge of collapse from all the junk food they ate at ski school (thankfully, I hear the food has gotten much better), the kids après session was all about getting good food in their bellies and for me, a glass of wine in hand. Now parents have really great options for après-ing with the little ones.

Head to the Alpenhof Bistro and order them a pot of Alpen Fondue. Kids of all ages love plunging skewers of apples and bread into melted cheese, and there’s plenty of room to spread out with a big group. Or pile the kids up in the designated playroom at the Spur in Teton Mountain Lodge. Take turns with your friends supervising their chill-out time on the cushions. While they nosh on nachos, you can sip on the famous (best in the valley?) Spur Bacon Bloody Mary and enjoy a plate of Mushroom Toast—roasted mushrooms piled onto toasted potato bread topped with melted cheese and truffle vinaigrette.

Top: One of the perks of choosing to après at the Bodega? Chef Joel Tate will fix you a housemade brat. Left: Dip a skewer into cheesy fondue at the kid-friendly après environs of Alpenhof Bistro. Right:  Ask Andy, a barkeep at Bodega, to pour you a refreshing Greyhound Sloshie. (Photo: annie fenn, md)

Top: One of the perks of choosing to après at the Bodega? Chef Joel Tate will fix you a housemade brat. Left: Dip a skewer into cheesy fondue at the kid-friendly après environs of Alpenhof Bistro. Right: Ask Andy, a barkeep at Bodega, to pour you a refreshing Greyhound Sloshie. (Photos: Annie Fenn, MD)

Go old school at Steigler’s

It’s always a treat to slip into a booth at the Copper Bar in Steigler’s Austrian Restaurant and take in the old school atmosphere. A fire is always crackling in the fireplace that separates the bar from the dining room and owner Peter Steigler greets you as if you were a long-lost friend. Photos of Peter’s ski racing Olympic gold medalist brother, Pepi, adorn the walls near the bar, packed with locals still donning ski pants. Ask the bartender about the selection of Austrian wines and try something you’ve never had before. Order off the bar menu, starting with a cast iron skillet of Chippolota Pfandl — 10 mini veal bratwurst in puff pastry served with haus senf, the addictive house mustard. The Burgermeister is a splurge at $19, but it’s one of Jackson’s best burgers made from beef tenderloin ground in house, topped with bacon and Gruyére cheese, and it easily feeds two people. Don’t skip dessert: I can’t go to Steigler’s without getting the Apfel Strudel with vanilla rum sauce, as good as any strudel I had while dining in huts in the Dolomites.

Village Cafe vibes

Missing that special après ski vibe you could only find at the VC? If you call yourself a ski bum, then you probably already know about Bodega. I’ve been popping into Bodega a few times a week ever since Fine Dining Restaurant Group took over Teton Village’s only gas station/convenience store and turned it into a wine shop, butcher shop, gourmet take-away, and bar. With a killer après ski special of a draught beer and brat for $9, Bodega has become THE place to keep that happy powder day feeling going; the tiny five-seat bar is constantly full and spills out into the parking lot. Ask bartender Andy Warren to pour you a greyhound sloshie made with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Only thing I’m not so sure about is Andy’s attempt to bring back the old classic “Trendy Bitch,” from the VC’s heyday: Red Bull, orange soda, Black Velvet and whiskey—I’ll leave that one for the eager youth to ingurgitate.

Other friendly faces at the Bodega include former Rendezvous Bistro Executive Chef Joel Tate, who is now presiding over Fine Dining’s latest offerings: butchery and charcuterie. Tate mans the butcher shop Wednesday through Sunday and personally fixes up your house-made bratwurst sandwich. It’s incredibly delicious and really hits the spot after a big ski day.

Perks of après-ing at Bodega: getting to take home Tate’s fabulous sausages. I highly recommend the bison mozzarella, jalapeño cheddar, beet and wild rice, the Reuben, and those little maple and sage breakfast links. Let’s face it—as much as we all miss that classic basement bar next to the tram, we never had food this good at the VC. PJH

After delivering babies and practicing gynecology for 20 years in Jackson, Annie traded her life as a doctor to pursue her other passion: writing about food, health, sustainability and the local food scene. Follow her snippets of mountain life, with recipes, at jacksonholefoodie.com and on Instagram @jacksonholefoodie.

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About Annie Fenn, MD

After delivering babies and practicing gynecology for 20 years in Jackson, Annie traded her life as a doctor to pursue her other passion: writing about food, health, sustainability and the local food scene. Follow her snippets of mountain life, with recipes, at www.jacksonholefoodie.com and on Instagram @jacksonholefoodie.

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