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RECIPE OF THE MONTH  September 2002

Wining and Dining at the
Red Cliffs Adventure Lodge

by Annabelle Numaguchi

The view is spectacular.

Every table in the Red Cliffs’ Dining Room offers an unobstructed overlook of the dramatic scenery. Ochre cliffs rise two thousand feet, glowing gold with the evening sun as the Colorado River winds its way through a spring green corridor along White’s Rapid, so named in honor of the White family who originally built the ranch and settled this rugged Eden. Colin Fryer, current proprietor of the ranch and lodge, has wisely constructed Red Cliffs Adventure Lodge to take full advantage of its best feature, the view. Every room in the lodge includes a furnished patio, the terraced dining room ensures that every table looks directly onto the river through immense windows, decks in the restaurant and the winery offer outdoor dining and a venue for private wine tastings, weddings and other receptions, and, finally, the tennis courts convert to an outdoor amphitheatre perfectly situated at the elbow of the bend in the magnificent river. There is no bad seat in the house.

The spectacular view explains why early settlers and Hollywood moviemakers have braved the wilderness to use the ranch, which continues to function as a working cattle ranch. Colin Fryer explains, “I‘m committed to maintaining the western tradition.” Although he still answers “cowboy” when asked about his occupation, his vision has expanded the White Ranch, which was established in the late 1800’s by original settlers to the Moab area, into an adventure lodge where visitors can experience the beauty of the West without having to endure the hardships of its ruggedness. The dining room and winery are essential parts of this worthy project.

The decor of the dining room reflects Fryer’s aim. Upon entering the room, the visitor is greeted by the spectacular view ahead. A glass-paneled wall and vaulted ceiling create the effect of blending the indoors with the outdoors. The cathedral ceiling is supported by three massive, unfinished pine pillars and the room is furnished in blond wood, which all adds to the feel of the outdoors.

The restaurant appropriately features southwestern fare. Katie Victor, manager of the dining room, describes the fare as “hearty cuisine” which comes in large portions, the type of meal to satisfy a cowhand coming off a hard day’s labor at the ranch or exhausted adventure-seekers after a full day of trail riding and river rafting, which are among many activities offered at the lodge. The menu includes a plentiful selection of items that range in taste from the Mushroom Filo Strudel to the Filet Mignon topped with a Sauce Bernaise to the Utah Trout. A good opportunity to sample the food is Sunday, when the restaurant serves an extensive buffet. The dessert selection is copious, but the house special, the Almond Tulie, a sweet confection consisting of a scoop of vanilla ice cream resting in a caramelized almond and honey shell, is a standout. Another decadence worth indulging in is the wine list which features among other options the Castle Creek wines produced from the lodge’s own winery. Visitors can enjoy the opportunity of sipping and sampling the Castle Creek production while admiring the view and relaxing on the outdoor deck. However, the winery itself is worth a visit.

Located on the premises, the large wooden structure houses the largest winery in Utah. Castle Creek invites visitors to observe the wine-making process at their own convenience or on a guided tour. The winery also includes a gift shop, tasting room and large hospitality room with an adjacent deck sporting the same magnificent view of the Colorado. Red Cliffs Lodge caters seminars, private tastings and parties of varying sizes. Although the winery already produces approximately 6,000 gallons of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer a year, the official grand opening is set for this month.

Another event taking place this month at Red Cliffs is the Moab Music Festival’s presentation entitled America the Beautiful, marking the first anniversary of September 11. The program will take place in the new amphitheatre and will include a reading by local celebrity writer Terry Tempest Williams and a narrated piece entitled Conversations with Essie, composed by Utah Symphony Associate Concertmaster Gerald Elias. This composition focuses on Essie White, one of the original owners of the White Ranch, who has humorously recorded her story of running the ranch single-handedly while raising three children. The program celebrates the unyielding American spirit that supported the early adventurers who settled the magnificent wilderness of this country. What better place to celebrate than under the shadow of the dramatic canyon as the setting sun bathes the spectacular view in gold.

And the view really is spectacular.

The lodge is located 14 miles up Highway 128, and the restaurant is open Monday-Saturday from 5:00p.m.-10:00p.m., and a buffet brunch is offered on Sundays from 11:00a.m.-5:00p.m. The winery is open for tours and tastings Monday-Saturday. Entrees range from $10-$22. Discount coupons (10% off) are available at the Visitor’s Center, Chamber of Commerce, etc. For more information or reservations, please call 435-259-2002.

Recipe of the Month

Castle Creek Merlot Chocolate Cake

A dark, decadent chocolate cake with a hint of Merlot (Castle Creek Merlot is a wonderful rich, deep red wine with the essence of choke cherries and raspberries.) Use the best quality and freshest ingredients available. We use farm fresh eggs and Tahitian vanilla. This cake is wonderful served warm with a fresh raspberry sauce poured generously on top while warm and finished with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
2 tsps. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup Castle Creek Merlot (you can use half Merlot and half water for a milder version)
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (good quality, preferably Dutch Process Cocoa)
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream butter, add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, stir in vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture in thirds alternately with the Merlot wine starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until cake top springs back when touched lightly, approximately 40 minutes. (I also know it is about ready when the room fills with the aroma of chocolate and raspberry.)

Raspberry Sauce
2 to 3 cups of fresh raspberries (you can substitute with frozen if unavailable). Cook over low heat to a boil and stir in sugar to taste. Cool, puree and serve. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Fresh Whipped Cream
Pour 2 cups of heavy whipping cream into a glass bowl. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and whip on high for one minute. Add powdered sugar to taste (less is more when preparing fresh whipped cream to really appreciate the flavor of the cream). Whip on high until stiff peaks begin to form.

Courtesy of Red Cliffs Restaurant Pastry Chef, Theresa Carey.

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