By Eileen Ogintz
COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. — What’s wrong with starting Sunday Brunch with desert?
It’s hard to resist when Banana Fosters, plum Calvados crepes, bread pudding, apple cobbler, ice cream sundaes, strawberry buttermilk panna cotta, raspberry mojito cupcakes, snickerdoodle crème brulee, even a vegan chocolate pot au crème are there for the taking, along with strawberry shortcake, gluten free orange cake, key lime pie….
The thing about the famous Sunday Brunch at the historic and iconic Broadmoor in Colorado Springs—and unlike many other bountiful buffet brunches–is that everything not only looks delicious but tastes delicious too. No wonder there was a waiting list of dozens for this Sunday!
My two daughters and son-in-law all had attended Colorado College in Colorado Springs and The Broadmoor Sunday brunch had been a special treat when mom and dad were visiting. That’s why when we were spending the weekend at Cloud Camp, one of the Broadmoor’s Wilderness Experiences at 9200 feet, my daughter Mel asked if we could have brunch at The Broadmoor before heading out.
One friend recalled that her son, then six, described brunch as “so much delicious food in my mouth” that he couldn’t eat any more.
We felt the same way—starting with oysters (east coast and west coast!), shrimp and crab legs, all varieties of eggs—what would you like in your omelet–made to order. Plus eggs benedict, hash browns and all the usual breakfast sides including every variety of pastry and muffins and freshly made biscuits and gravy (my Texas-born husband couldn’t resist!), waffles with strawberries and crème or perhaps grand Marnier sauce, pancakes, bacon and sausage, smoked salmon and bagels
But I figured I’d go for the more unusual brunch offerings—the shrimp and snow peas salad, the carved-to-order beef, ham and turkey with appropriate pan gravies, the smoked trout, perfectly mashed potatoes, cheese blintzes, all kinds of salamis (Cabicola or Bessola?) ,all varieties of cheese, southern fried chicken with creamed spinach, Carolina brisket with collard greens, mashed potatoes, smokes trout—and, yes, there was gluten-free pasta as well.
We had to pace ourselves…and hope the hikes we had done the previous two days at the Broadmoor’s Cloud Camp would keep the calories from settling on our hips. Every calorie was worth it!
The afternoon before, Chef Jonathan Frakes, who oversees the excellent food at The Broadmoor’s Cloud Camp and the Emerald Valley Ranch, and Randi Powell, who was cooking for us at Cloud Camp, gave a Cooking Club demonstration that drew a lot of guests just before cocktail hour.
Apparently Spencer Penrose, who built the Broadmoor—and the original Cloud Camp for his friends, including the Cheyenne Mountain Highway up that was called the “Million Dollar Highway” when it was built in the mid 1920s—liked to have a cooking club with his friends—a tradition that continues today at the Broadmoor with a gentlemen’s food club for locals.
Frakes explained that the menu style at Cloud Camp mimics what Penrose might have served his guests with a soup starter (Manhattan clam chowder or pumpkin soup, for example) followed by a main course (Rainbow Trout or Coq au Vin among the choices) followed by a salad (greens, walnuts and beets or strawberries and tomatoes) And after the Main Course, before desert—as was Penrose’s style, a “surprise,” this night a seared steak served on greens. Delicious! Desert was strawberry shortcake, chocolate cherry bread pudding or pie (Lemon icebox.)
When Cloud Camp first opened, Frakes said, there was also a cheese course but that proved too much for the guests, he said. He added that at Emerald Valley Ranch and the Fish Camp, the menus are simpler, more ranch style. And there is always a kids’ menu available, with some adults choosing those comfort-food selections –a burger perhaps—with kids opting for the adult menu.
Guests, he noted, want food that meets their dietary needs, is locally sourced and tastes good but “they don’t want to be intimidated.”
“We need something for everyone,” he explained, and at Cloud Camp, a 45-minute drive up a rugged switchback Cheyenne Mountain road from The Broadmoor, there’s no easy chance to retrieve a forgotten ingredient.
“We try to be prepared for every contingency,” he said.