Park City, Utah

Photo: The Viking Yurt
Photo: The Viking Yurt

After an exhausting day of skiing, it’s time for dinner. You’re thinking about a hearty meal, a perfectly paired wine, and a view of the snowy slopes. But you’re not heading into a warm lodge like most people who spent the day playing in the snow. You’re boarding a sleigh to travel back up the mountain for your meal.

You pass snow-covered pine trees and snow-grooming machines as you ride up Park City Mountain. The sleigh is pulled by a slow-moving snowcat; you’re bundled under heavy blankets in the back. As you climb higher and higher, you begin to see other ski mountains and the sparkling lights of Park City in the distance. The dark sky is dotted with thousands of stars. Plus a glowing yurt—yes, an actual yurt—stands in front of you.

The Viking Yurt is a domed, wooden-framed structure that sits at 8,700 feet atop the mountain. The design of the portable, tent-like building is based on the houses that nomadic tribes use in Mongolia. But this is one is a restaurant. Wooden beams, garland, and flickering candles decorate the interior. Long wooden tables are set with pewter dinnerware. A baby grand piano sits in the corner. A wood stove warms you up quickly. But just in case you’re still chilly, someone hands you a glass of glogg—a berry drink spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg—as soon as you remove your gloves.

Photo: The Viking Yurt
Photo: The Viking Yurt

After you warm up and meet your fellow diners, it’s time for the six-course meal to begin. A rich butternut squash soup is the first course. Since you decide to add wine pairings, an oaked Chardonnay from California arrives with it. The wine also goes well with the next course, a smoked trout and fennel salad. Cleanse your palette with sorbet after the appetizers and pause before your entrée arrives. Tonight, it’s braised short ribs with Jarlsberg potatoes and winter vegetables. The spices go perfectly with a Tempranillo from Paso Robles. Then the cheese course is served on an Aspen slab with fruit.

Though you’re probably quite full by now, there’s always room for dessert. Especially once the inside of the yurt starts smelling like strudel. A Tawny port, which was aged in wooden barrels, is poured first. Then a warm pear strudel, sprinkled with powdered sugar, arrives. A fast-melting mound of lingonberry ice cream sits beside it. Except for the piano, the yurt falls silent as everyone devours the final course.

Four hours after climbing the mountain, it’s time to bundle back up and return to the base. Though it’s now even colder on top of Park City Mountain, you don’t even notice the dropping temperature with a full belly and snuggly blankets. By the time the snowcat arrives back at the Legacy Lodge, the glowing yurt feels like a bit of a dream. A dream you’d happily return to the rest of the winter.

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