We did an excellent job of covering the bases (as we tend to do so well) during our vacation: hitting the slopes, beers up at Roundhouse on the mountain, live music at Whiskey Jacques, a bit of snowshoeing at Galena, hot buttered rums in the Duchin Room at the famous Sun Valley Lodge. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.
While there were so many fabulous parts of the trip, one of my stand-out memories is without a doubt our brunch at Cristina’s in downtown Ketchum. I had been admiring the iconic ‘Cristina’s’ cookbook in homes around Seattle and it has always been on my list of must-tries. That’s the crazy thing about best friends/foodie-partners-in-crime, Cait already had it on the agenda without me saying a word.
Not to overuse this description, but similar to The Walrus and the Carpenter, Cristina’s feels like a scene out of a Nancy Meyers film (read: “It’s Complicated” and “The Holiday”). I was just waiting to spot Meryl Streep and Steve Martin laughing over cappuccinos and scones by the fireplace. (In fact, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz ate there the day after us.)
We were given samples of freshly baked lemon bars by a friendly employee when we walked in and I was sold. We resisted the urge to put our faces right on the display case, even though the ribs, the pasta dishes, and the pastries and elaborate cakes were all calling our names.
Seated in a lovely round table by the fireplace, we had a great vista for people-watching and for scoping out the dishes coming out from the kitchen. The place was packed for Sunday brunch with friends and families, all unwinding after the holiday rat race. The cozy environment and the icicles hanging outside demanded a hot chocolate and their version couldn’t have been more decadent, with a big scoop of freshly whipped cream floating on top. While I sipped my frothy concoction, we buzzed through our bread basket (Or was that just me? Sorry guys…) The basket included thin flatbread-like crackers with sesame seeds, cinnamon monkey bread, and classic, chewy baguette slices. I’m not sure if it was just the atmosphere or if there was a magic trick involved, but the butter was cold and especially delicious, and made even better with a little sprinkle of salt.
We picked out our brunch entrees from our charming, hand-written menus, updated daily with specials. Looking to try something both salty and sweet, Cait and I split the Orange and Cinnamon Bread French Toast with Mixed Berries and Whipped Mascarpone and the Omelet with Italian Sausage, Mushrooms, and Fontina. The French toast was comforting and perfectly sweet, with hints of cinnamon and fragrant orange. It really made a difference to get a bit of French toast, some berries, and some mascarpone in the same bite to get the full effect. Our omelet was fluffy but hearty, and very satisfying. I’m a weirdo about breakfast/brunch and don’t like any green vegetables to be involved (completely irrational, I know), so thankfully Caitlin obliged this because the cheese/mushrooms/sausage combo hit the spot.
Carly, Caitlin’s doppelganger (and younger sister), opted to share the Eggs Benedict and Omelet with her friend Kelly. The eggs benny looked delicious, done in a very classic preparation with thinly sliced ham with crispy edges. No reason to mess with a good thing. Celeste, my bohemian style icon and mother to Carly and Cait, ordered the Frittata with Broccoli, Onions, Fior di Latte (Mozzarella made from cow’s milk, instead of buffalo’s milk) and Red Sauce. She liked the frittata, but was a little disappointed in the amount of red sauce dominating the dish. Laurie outsmarted us all and went rogue, ordering things out of the display case: Ribs (which I LOVE served cold for breakfast), Chilled Prawns, and a Shredded Celery Salad with Olives. She, too, seemed very content with her choices.
Even though I know we would’ve cleared our plates regardless, we made sure to leave no carb unturned as we were heading up for a half-day of skiing post brunch and we needed the sustenance (right?). Sleeping in and tucking into a Sunday brunch is such an indulgent tradition and one that I cherish so much, and to get to do it with some of my favorite people in such a beautiful place made it that much better. Should you be visiting Sun Valley anytime soon, make sure you stop at Cristina’s (and please tell Meryl I say hi).
Cristina’s, 520 2nd Street East, Ketchum, ID, (208) 726-4499, http://www.cristinasofsunvalley.com, Open Monday-Saturday 7 am – 5:30 pm, Sunday Brunch 9 am – 3 pm