It’s a Big World … Not

So we’re giving a site tour to four lovely wedding consultants from A Touch of Bliss in Denver.  We had just come out of #420, one of our largest, most beautiful four bedroom-condos.  We’re walking down the hallway to show them #311, a super nice one-bedroom, overlooking the swimming pool.  Just making conversation, one of the young women, Zoie, asks me, “Are you from Colorado?”

“As a matter of fact I am.” I reply, “I grew up in Littleton.”

“Really?” says Aimee Thomas, another one of these very charming wedding planners, “Where in Littleton?”

“Oh, way down south, almost to the Ken Caryl area”

“No kidding? My mother’s house is in that area.”

I ask where.  She tells me it’s close to Platte Canyon Road. I tell her that we lived near Coal Mine and Platte Canyon.  She acts a little surprised and I say, “It’s a little community called Normandy Estates.  You’ve probably never heard of it.”

The look on Aimee’s face goes from surprised to incredulous.  “Heard of it?  We live in Normandy Estates.”

“NO WAY!” I say, “What street?”

“Ontario”

Gulp.  “Circle or Way?”

“Circle”

“OMG”  At this point I’m starting to shake a little. Ontario Circle is a cul-de-sac and only has about eight or ten houses.  I tell that to the others and they’re all pretty much in disbelief as well.

“6755” I say.

Aimee turns a little pale.  “6755 W. Ontario Circle?”

“Are you kidding me? No way.”

(queue the eery music)

“That’s my house.” she says.

I tell her that we lived there from 1960 to 1972 … moved out 42 years ago.  She tells me the carpet’s been changed.

Yikes Stripes.  Beechnut gum.

Aimee Thomas c

Aimee and Rob, same house, 42 years apart

No, no … it’s today!

Saturday, August 27, 2011 – It’s 11:00 and the groom is asking, “Why isn’t our brunch set up at the pool?”

“Um, your farewell brunch is tomorrow.”

“No, no … it’s today!”

“Uh-oh … well, it says right here in the contract you signed, that brunch is on Sunday the 28th, that’s tomorrow. But if you think it’s today, then I guess it’s today.”

“Good, because we’ve got fifty hungry guests and family members waiting at the pool.”

Really?!”

 

Now Magdalena’s pretty expressive, and she’s certainly shown concern before, but never quite like this.  OMG, what are we going to do?!

“A” number “1” … is Chef Barry available?  Yes, he’s in the kitchen.  Better yet, he has all the food on hand, but hasn’t even started to PREP!  Happily, he’s not your typical chef.  His response?  “Let’s go, I’ll do the best I can.”

All hands on deck … both guys working today from the maintenance department, Chris and Ryan, drop what they’re doing and are immediately moving tables and chairs from the conference room down to the pool.  So is Rob, the GM.  The housemen stop stocking the linen closets with sheets and towels and are now bringing down table linens.  Katie’s gathering up everything we need for the bar.  Antlers front desk staff is pitching in as they’re able.  Magda’s coordinating with Barry, figuring out what we can prep the fastest (turns out to be the fruit tray) and get it down to the pool so the guests at least have SOMETHING.

“Greg, can you bartend?”

“Oh man, I would … I want to … I wish … but I can’t.  I’ve got an obligation I just CANNOT get out of.”

“OK, who then?”

“Rob … you’re elected”

“No sweat, only one problem … I wasn’t really working today.  I just happened to ride my bike in.  That’s why I’m wearing my biking jersey and shorts.  It’s all I’ve got.”

“It’ll have to do.  Can you make a Bloody Mary?”

“Are you kidding?”

Fast forward twenty minutes … some guests are drinking Mimosas, others are munching on the food as fast as it comes out of the kitchen.  The bride’s family has gone from being livid and thinking that we’re totally incompetent, to realizing that we are super-humanly compensating for a mistake that wasn’t really ours.  In minutes, their appreciation is over the top.  Rob’s tending bar in his spandex regalia, garnering more than a few questionable looks.  That is, until people understand “the rest of the story”.

Soon, we’ve served the breakfast burritos that Barry has miraculously put together in nothing flat.  One of the best compliments of the day is when a groomsmen says, “I’m from Texas … we know a thing or two about burritos … and this is the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had!”

Adding to the surreal nature of the morning, at one point Mr. Chatty Bartender Rob asks one of the guests, “So where are you all from?”  “Thunder Bay” is the response.  “No Way!” says Rob, “My BFF George “The Peach” Nickerson is from Thunder Bay!”

“Doc Nick’s kid?  On Algoma Street?”  Ya shoor, yoo betcha.  (just another Vail / small world episode)

Our only regret?  Nobody took any pictures.  Darn.  Oh well.  Bottom line, at the end of the day, we pulled off what would have been impossible for most others, but as they say, “No problem for high steppers like us.”

Although he didn’t focus on the “Miracle Brunch” as much as we might have, here’s a copy of the actual review posted by the groom’s father a short time later …

Recipe of the Week from Chef Angelee Aurillo

Hi Everyone!  This recipe came about on a snowy day, (just like today) and by me not wanting to leave to go to the market (just like today); only using ingredients I had in the kitchen.  I wanted something quick, light and satisfying.  For some reason, the sharpness of mustard was tasting delicious to me…The night before, I had made the Dijon Chicken recipe I posted a few weeks ago.  For anyone who is wondering, our dinner was the Paillard of Chicken with a Dijon Sauce; Sauté of Spinach with Grape Tomatoes and Jalapeños; and Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes…This salad was made with left over Chicken, Jalapeño, Grape Tomatoes and Baked Potato.  If you are making this recipe without these left over ingredients, poke some holes in the potatoes and throw them into the oven on some foil 40 minutes before roasting the chicken.  Using a Roasted Chicken from the market would make this salad even easier!  I would enjoy this salad with some warm bread and a buttery Chardonnay…Divine lunch or dinner!!

Chef Angelee Aurillo

Roasted Chicken, Grape Tomatoes, Salad tossed in a Dijon, Lime, Jalapeño and Honey Vinaigrette (Serves 4)

Dijon, Lime, Jalapeño, Honey Vinaigrette

2T Dijon Mustard

1/4c Lime Juice

2t Honey

¼ of a Jalapeño, minced

1/2c Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4c Vegetable Oil (mix the two oils together)

Salt

Roasted Chicken (OR both breasts from a market roasted chicken)

2-3 Skinless Chicken Breasts

Vegetable Oil (Or Non-Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

Garlic Powder

Paprika

Potato “Croutons”

2 Baked Potatoes, cooled, peeled and cut into a “crouton” size dice

Vegetable Oil

Garlic Powder, Salt& Pepper

Mixed Field Greens Salad

Mixed Field Greens for 4

10 Grape Tomatoes, quartered

1 small shallot, thinly sliced

Salt& Pepper

Preheat oven to 350*.  Bake the potatoes until soft through the center.  Rub the chicken breasts with oil and Garlic powder.  Sprinkle with Paprika.  Fold the thinner end of the chicken under so the chicken breast has the same thickness.  Roast in the oven for 18 minutes or until cooked through.  Let the chicken cool slightly.  Keep warm and slice the breasts into four portions just before serving.  After slicing, sprinkle the slices with salt and pepper.

While the chicken is roasting:

Make the croutons: Dice the cooked potato into “crouton” size cubes.  In a bowl, add the oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Add the cooked potato cubes and toss well to coat.  In a sauté pan, cook the potatoes over medium heat until browned on all sides.  Keep warm until ready to serve. 

Make the vinaigrette: In the bowl, in which you will be tossing the salad, whisk together the first four ingredients.  (I like to put a damp cloth or damp paper towel under the bowl to keep it from moving while whisking.)  In a slow stream begin adding the oil while vigorously whisking until you have a nice emulsification.  Add salt and put aside, reserving a bit to drizzle over the chicken.  Or sometimes, what I like to do is use a jar with a tight fitting lid with all of the vinaigrette ingredients inside.  Vigorously shake and serve…Super easy.

 In the bowl with the vinaigrette, add the tomatoes, shallots, the mixed field greens and half of the potato “croutons”.  Gently toss together.  Divide the salad onto 4 plates.  Sprinkle the remaining “croutons” and fan  the chicken at 6:00 (as if you were looking at a clock), sprinkle with a bit of salt and freshly cracked pepper (if you so desire), drizzle the reserved dressing across the chicken and serve…Try to have some of the tomatoes visible on the salad; it adds great color.  Enjoy!!

Recipe of the week

Hello everyone! After a long and exhausting day on the mountain, it is sometimes nice to have a quick, early dinner and relax for the evening.  I just made this recipe and don’t think it took me longer than twenty minutes.  It is quick, delicious and filling, which will make relaxing in the hot tub that much easier!  Pair with a dry Chardonnay or if you are daring, a crisp, Rosé to complete this dish! – Chef Angelee.

Paillard of Chicken served with a Sauté of Spinach, Grape Tomatoes and finished with a Dijon Cream (Serves 2)

Paillard of Chicken

2 Chicken Breasts, *pounded thinly* between 2 pieces of Saran Wrap

1T Unsalted Butter, melted

¾ c Bread Crumbs

1tsp. Garlic Powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

2.5T Vegetable Oil

Dijon Cream

1 c Heavy Cream (If you do not wish to use heavy cream, substitute chicken broth)

1.5T Dijon Mustard

½ t Garlic Powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

Sauté of Spinach and Grape Tomatoes

1.5T Unsalted Butter

14 Whole Grape Tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

½-1 lb. Fresh Spinach (I only had a 1/2 lb. which is why I used that amount…you can add more if you wish)

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large Ziploc bag, mix the bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper (to taste).  In another Ziploc bag, add the melted butter and then add the chicken to coat.  Put the coated chicken into breadcrumb mixture and press to coat.  (Let the coated chicken rest for a few minutes on a plate while the oil is heating.)  Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the vegetable oil.  Once it is hot, (but not too hot because the breadcrumbs will burn), add the paillards.  Once they begin to brown around the edges and they begin to ‘curl up’, turn and continue to cook.  Cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.  (I like to salt breaded foods when I turn them because the salt is best absorbed then.) Remove from pan and put on a rack over a plate or cookie sheet to rest.  Wipe out the pan leaving a tablespoon of browned bits.

Add the cream and garlic powder to chicken pan.  Reduce heat to low to begin reducing the liquid.  Once it nicely coats the back of a spoon, add the mustard.  Mix well and leave on warm until ready to serve.

Heat another sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the butter and the tomatoes.  Sauté the tomatoes until they just ‘pop’, then add the garlic and spinach.  Let the spinach barely wilt, add salt and pepper to taste and leave on warm until ready to serve.

Put the tomato and spinach sauté on a plate.  Add the paillards of chicken, coat with the Dijon cream.  Serve and enjoy!

*When pounding out chicken breasts it is best to turn over the breast, pounding the underside versus the top part of the breast.  You need not pound as hard and it will flatten much more easily.