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January 10, 2014

Grazing Atop Killington

Alpenglow

For skiers, slopeside food options have long been the culinary equivalent of a barren tundra: curly fries, hot dogs and nachos. Then again, as Killington Resort president and general manager Mike Solimano quips, "People say they want health food, but they keep buying cheeseburgers and fries."

ChowderLast night, 150 or so people who took the K-1 Gondola at sunset up to the resort's new peak lodge — a years-long project that opened just before Christmas — listened intently to Solimano as they also munched on the chowder, sliders, shrimp cocktail and mac-and-cheese boats that make up the new frontier of Killington lunch fare.

The challenges of building a six-sided lodge at 4000-plus feet aside, Killington's food and beverage staff worked to include as much local food as possible in the new menu.

Instead of cheese fries, the skiers lounging on leather couches or gazing out the lodge's floor-to-ceiling windows can tuck instead into bowls of creamy seafood chowder topped with smoked bacon (pictured); zesty chipotle-apple turkey chili; specials such as roasted swordfish and sautéed scallops; and, yup, cheesburgers, albeit made with locally raised meat and topped with Vermont cheddar. Or, they can belly up to the bar for a pint of Shed Mountain Ale or a hot cocktail of ginger brandy, orange slices and cinnamon.

Bison

Alas, the luscious curls of bison we snacked on — served atop crostini, then kissed with aioli — is not on the regular menu here, but makes appearances at other Killington eateries, including the remote Ledgewood Yurt.

It was all something of a revelation for this "Killington virgin" (as someone called me) who has long been put off by the cluster of snack bars, nightclubs and touristy-looking places along the Mountain Road. As long as I can take the gondola back down, I might become a regular.

The Killington Peak Lodge is open until 3 p.m. daily.

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