June 25, 2007
A Proposal for Dining at Tahoe

IMGP1393_edited.jpgYes, the bride was lovely, too, but this is a blog about culinary matters so you get a photo of the wedding cake. The sunset ceremony, uniting Amber Marie Schmidtmann and Alexander Barrett, of Lake Tahoe, was Saturday at Sand Harbor along the lake's east shore.

The reception followed at nearby Big Water Grille of Incline Village. I'm not about to judge a restaurant on the basis of a wedding reception, but the setting, the staff and the menu whetted my appetite for a return visit for dinner sometime this summer. (By the way, when will a restaurant at Lake Tahoe provide showers and a change room for guests who want to end a day of hiking with a nice meal before they drive home?)

At any rate, spacious Big Water Grille perches precariously on the slopes of Diamond Peak, providing continually diverting views of the lake and the surrounding Sierra, tough competition for the cake in grabbing the attention of guests.

Executive chef Jay Veregge oversees an Asian-influenced take on New American cuisine. The wedding menu, for example, included pan-seared ahi with a ginger ponzu sauce, and braised tofu with a Thai curry.

I wasn't all that crazy about the New York steak with grilled asparagus and buttermilk mashed potatoes I'd ordered - the beef was a bit tough - but I sure liked the wine they poured, the complex, supple and lush Columbia Crest Winery 2003 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which customarily sells for $13 and still is a bargain on the Big Water Grille wine list at $30.

Big Water Grille, incidentally, is a regular competitor at the annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival, which for the first time this year will be at the new Village at Northstar. Up to now it's been in Squaw Valley. The program also is being changed to include a cooking camp for children, a farmers market, and an art show in addition to the usual demonstrations, tastings and culinary competitions. The dates are Sept. 14-16. Tickets go on sale July 1. For more information, keep an eye on North Tahoe's Web site.

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