Two words that make me shiver? Not “below 10.” No. Lodge Food. You know, burgers that taste of cardboard – or sawdust – and curly fries that may or may not have any actual potatoes in them. Or, might simply be potato dust and red-brown food coloring.
I can count the decent meals I’ve had skiing on one hand. On less than all five fingers. And all of them were west of the Continental Divide. In fact all of them were in one state. Not NY, not till this ski season, that is. I’ve been known to subsist while skiing on peanut M&Ms. Fast, nutritious (better than a cardboard burger. They’ve got sugar, chocolate, peanuts – genuine protein – while the green ones must count as a vegetable). Now, I’ve got a new ski meal. In fact, two of them. The bean burrito and the veggie quesadilla in the bistro at Plattekill. There are also chicken burritos and nachos, steak sandwiches and fresh (yes, not from a tin and made that morning) soup.
All this is due to Nate Batthany – and if you see the tiny corner where he gets to cook (everything is prepared to order) – you’ll see a miracle. He works in a space about the size of my desk. That is to say 2 X 5 feet. Maybe. He has a griddle and microwave. No stove.
He’s been running the bistro for a couple years – but his first job was at a ski center when he was 11 washing dishes for a ski pass (which might well have violated child labor laws…). He went to school in Delhi doing a degree in culinary arts then traveled around, cooking and waiting tables. He lived in the Yucatan and Chiapas and Costa Rica. Now his food reflects this. It also reflects the fact that he has a largely vegetarian family (step dad, girlfriend and three of her siblings…). Which makes Plattekill one of the few mountains to actually be veggie friendly.
But there are problems. One, the cocoa. I’ve said this before and will say it again. The only thing Alta has on Platte is the cocoa. Made to order on a cappuccino machine with real Dutch chocolate. (Consider this my attempt at lobbying for the bistro to get a cappuccino machine. Who wouldn’t like a real coffee or a proper cocoa?). While Nate insists he needs a stove. Then there’s Nate himself. He’s not the problem, but I found him outside last Friday on a powder day wondering if he could get a run in. Last year he had one hour of skiing. This year he’s determined to better that. But a line is waiting for him in the lodge…