Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Snowing This Week

We've primed the pump for the ski season with talk about ski gear, 100 words for Snow and now we'll prime it even more with an Alta snow storm.  There's plenty of buzz when this happens and with web cams, Twitter and Facebook, you can get nearly by-the-minute reports when it starts snowing. If you want more details, check out weather professional Jody Saeland's post about this storm.  If the change in seasons over the weekend didn't have you thinking about getting ready for ski season, the first snow storm should.  Check our social media sites tomorrow for pics of what the storm brought overnight and remember Alta opens in less than 60 days!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

100 Words for Snow

Yes, We Do Have a Hundred Words for Snow
The popular belief that there are a hundred words for snow in the Inuit language has led to some
Photo: Nick Rice
  controversy, and has even been called urban legend by some doubters.  Alta, however, is the world mecca of powder skiing, and our language really does have a hundred words for snow.  The rules of our game allow nouns, verbs and adjectives, for conditions, features, terrain, etcetera, of the white stuff… and so here are our hundred words for snow, in the Alta language.  To add your own word to the list, please make a comment below, by November 1, 2013.  We’ll update the list weekly on our Facebook page, and we’ll have an Alta Lodge ball cap for every friend who contributes a word that makes the list!

  1. Bed Surface
  2. Blizzard
  3. Blower
  4. Boilerplate
  5. Bony
  6. Bottomless
  7. Buffed
  8. Bulletproof
  9. Bumped Out
  10. Butter
  11. Carvy
  12. Cement
  13. Chalky
  14. Champagne
  15. Chunder
  16. Cold Smoke
  17. Concrete
  18. Corduroy
  19. Corn
  20. Cornice
  21. Creamy
  22. Crud
  23. Crust
  24. Crystals
  25. Dank
  26. Death Cookies
  27. Debris
  28. Deep
  29. Dendrites
  30. Depth Hoar
  31. Drifts
  32. Dumping
  33. Dusting
  34. Dust on Crust
  35. Facets
  36. Firm
  37. Flakes
  38. Fluff
  39. Flurry
  40. Freshies
  41. Gnar
  42. Grabby
  43. Granules
  44. Graupel
  45. Groomer
  46. Hard Pack
  47. Heavy
  48. Hero
  49. Ice
  50. The Kind
  51. Lake Effect
  52. Mank
  53. Mashed Potatoes
  54. Metamorphic
  55. Moguls
  56. Needles
  57. Névé
  58. Nuking
  59. Orographic
  60. Pellet
  61. Pillows
  62. Pounding
  63. Pow
  64. Powder
  65. Puffy
  66. Puking
  67. Rain Crust
  68. Recrystallized
  69. Rime
  70. Ripples
  71. Roly Poly
  72. Rollerballs
  73. Sastrugi
  74. Scratchy
  75. Showery
  76. Skied Out
  77. Skiff
  78. Slab
  79. Sleet
  80. Slick
  81. Slide
  82. Slippery
  83. Slope
  84. Sludge
  85. Sluff
  86. Slush
  87. Snow (hello)
  88. Soft Pack
  89. Spindrift
  90. Stellar
  91. Styrofoam
  92. Sugar
  93. Sun Cups
  94. Surfy
  95. Surface Hoar
  96. TG Crystals
  97. Trace
  98. Wind Buff
  99. Wind Crust
    100.Wind Slab

Photo: Billy Haas

Photo: Billy Haas
Photo: Nick Rice
Photo: Nick Rice

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chef Sam's Soba and Tofu Noddles

Alta Lodge Chef Sam Wolfe
Alta Lodge Chef Sam Wolfe is always coming up with new items for our menus.  Using his creative flair for food that is influenced by his vast travel experiences, he delights us with surprises.  He has recently added soba noodles to our summer Sunday Brunch menu.  Over the summer, Sam and his wife spent a month traveling in Japan.  He shares his impressions below along with his soba and tofu noodle recipe.

This summer my wife Margot and I were lucky enough to visit Japan. I thought non-stop about food, and rarely about my job. It was pretty much the perfect working vacation. I have a food highlight reel that continuously loops through my memory. A favorite reruns prominently features noodles. Udon, somen, ramen, and my current food crush, soba.  Unlike its three cousins, it is made from buckwheat and contains no wheat at all. The noodles have a dense, earthy and rich flavor. They are nicely amplified by a sweet soy and mirin rice wine dipping sauce. In the summer, as an antidote to the intense heat and humidity, soba is served cold. The presentations, sauce and flavor are unique to the different locales. At the Zao hot spring resort, along with the soba, we enjoyed mugs of a delicious and unique tea. I later learned it was the noodles' cooking liquid. My favorite soba was served in the small temple town of Yamadera, two hours by train from Tokyo.  There are 1,015 stairs and they ascend through fog, ancient cedar forest, and cliff-perched pagodas. In the 16th century it was a frequent stop for Basho, the traveling haiku master. No doubt he feasted on the local specialty, cold soba served in woven bamboo baskets with pickled forest vegetables and ponzu sauce. We have been serving a similarly inspired soba noodle and tofu salad at our Sunday summer brunch buffet.

Soba and Tofu Noodle Salad
Alta Lodge Soba and Tofu Noodle Salad

Serves 8

12 oz dry soba noodles
2T sesame seeds.
3T chiffonade fresh mint
1 block firm tofu
1 cup thin sliced green onions
1 cup pickled English cucumbers

Vinaigrette ingredients:
1 cup mirin rice wine
3 T soy sauce
2 T lemon juice
pinch red pepper flakes
2 T sesame oil

Cook the soba noodles in boiling water, stirring continuously until al dente; about two minutes. Drain the noodles, rinse in cold water and plunge in ice water. If you are using the noodles immediately, you can drain them.
Cut tofu into small cubes, sautee to semi crisp with a splash of soy sauce, tossed with 2 T sesame seeds, and cooled in the fridge.
To pickle the cucumbers, pickle them by thin slicing, sprinkling with 3-to-1 sugar to kosher salt, and letting sit for an hour or so, then coarse chop them.

Sesame-ponzu vinaigrette:
Reduce the mirin under high heat until it thickens and bubbles vigorously. Reduce heat to low, whisk in soy, lemon juice. Remove from heat, add red pepper flakes, and chill. When cold, using a hand blender add the sesame oil and emulsify. Layer the soba, tofu, green onion, mint, and cucumber into a bowl. Finish the layer with two ounces of the vinaigrette, repeat.  Garnish the top with the remaining ingredients, and the sesame seeds.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Looking for New Ski Gear?

September usually marks the time of year when people start thinking about the upcoming ski season.  Ski publications have their gear issue ready to print or it's already available on news stands.  There are several publications with gear reviews, some with 2013-2014 ski testing done by the pros during last ski season.  If you're a skier who doesn't want to test skis on a variety of conditions (most of  us fall into that category) then the gear reviews are worth looking at.

April Alta Demo Day
Once you have identified your skier profile, you can see what skis might suite you best. If you're a female skier who rips on the off-piste, there will be several recommended skis for you.  Do you prefer to ski groomed slopes?  There are plenty of carving skis with descriptions for each. If you have only one pair skis rather than a quiver, it might be worth trying two or three skis before settling on one. 
If that's not an option for you, price may drive the decision or else it's what skis your local ski shop has in their inventory.

One of the most important purchases a skier can make is a good fitting boot.  If your boots don't feel good or if you're not getting the support you need, it doesn't matter what kind of skis you have.  If you are unable to to "feel" the skis on the snow due to a poor fitting boot, your skis will not perform to their capacity.

Ski clothing is always evolving as fabrics become more technical.  Staying warm without bulk and having garments that breathe and wick moisture are important benefits. If you have not updated your ski wardrobe in a long time, you may be missing out on a more comfortable day on the slopes.

And if your skiing season is one or two ski trips per year, consider packing your boots and renting skis.  You'll have more updated choices each season without the hassle of ski baggage on the plane.