I was recently invited to attend a tasting of the spring tasting menu at Restaurant Kevin Taylor. Basically, all I’d like to say right now is- It was phenomenal. Go. Now. It will be a PERFECT date night. Trust me.
But, I’ll tell you a bit more…
A number of Boulder food bloggers were invited to taste their six course May menu paired with cocktails. Kevin Taylor offers wine pairing or cocktail pairing tasting menus, and this recent one is certainly not to be missed.
Our courses were a lot smaller than you’ll enjoy as a restaurant patron, so disregard the bite-sized portions in my photos.
We started with a Foie Gras Mousse on an Amaretti Socca Cracker with Turnip Marmalade and a miso Gastrique paired with a cocktail of Van Gogh Apple Vodka, Disaronno, and Lucien Albright Rose.
That was soon followed by a Lamb and Eucalyptus Soup Shooter with Lime, Pine Nuts, and EVOO paired with a tail of Hendrick’s gin (one of my all time favorites!), Mint, Limoncello, and Lemon Verbena.
Next, we enjoyed Lobster Tartar on Endive, with Mustard Seed, Blood Orange, Basil, and Horseradish, which we washed down with a Bloody Mary Martini with pepper Vodka, Orange Juice, and Micro Basil. I’d like to go on the record and say not only was this my first Bloody Mary of the season, but it was one of the best I’d ever had. I actually grabbed two… (guilty confessions…)
Our fourth course was Scottish Salmon Rillettes on a Sweet Potato Cake with Buckwheat Granola, and an Apple Earl Grey Compote paired with a Stranahan’s Whiskey cocktail with Grapefruit Juice and Muddled Cucumber.
Our last savory dish was a Braised Bison Short Rib with Cumin, Olive Beet Relish, and Prune Puree paired with a Rye Whiskey, Campari, Bitters, and Root Beer Cocktail. Practically a perfect bite. I unfortunately didn’t snap a photo of this cocktail. Hmmmmm… Guess that’s what happens after a number of tails.
Our last course was really cool- It was a “Snickers” according to Kevin Taylor, made with Peanut Butter Powder, Burnt Caramel, and Nougat, and it was the best “snickers” I’d ever had. We enjoyed our glorified cany bar with a Chocolate Martini of Godiva Liqueur, Frangelico, and Baileys.
Restaurant Kevin Taylor is Denver’s only four star, four diamond restaurant. Their $60 tasting menu is an exceptional price for such a prestigious establishment. The optional wine or cocktail pairing will add another $50 on to that, but, as a “connoisseur” of dining experiences, I’d say it’s well worth it.
Restaurant Kevin Taylor
1106 14th St, Denver
As a big fan of whiskey, I had some pretty negative thoughts of Irish Whiskey. I’m not completely sure why, but I was under the impression that Irish Whiskey, unlike American Bourbons or Scotch Whiskies, were like the wild wild west of whiskies and you weren’t going to be certain what they were made of (barley, rye, corn, wheat, potato…). After an evening at Q’s with Robert Sickler, Master of Whiskey, I’ve completely changed my mind.
On Saturday, March 16th, I had the privilege of attending an Irish Whiskey dinner with an expert in whiskey who guided us through a whiskey sample and a play on a classic cocktail for every whiskey-inspired dish. Beverage Director of both Q’s and The Corner Bar Adrian Sutevski used the Bushmills family of whiskies in a number of updated classic cocktails, and Chef Shawn Murrell married each whiskey’s unique flavors with five courses of finely prepared food. At $65 per person, this was clearly one of the best deals (and meals) in town.
We started the evening with a Sazerac made with Bushmills 21 year.
It just so happens that I’m a Sazerac fan. Not just a fan- a super-fan. So, I was very curious to take my first sip, and, I declare: I really enjoyed this Sazerac with Bushmills 21 yr. After the first sip or so, esteemed Mr. Sickler explained to us that the 21 yr is made of a blend of whiskey that aged for 19 years in bourbon casks, 19 years in sherry casks, and then two years in Madeira casks. That essentially means the Bushmills 21 year whiskey is an incredibly flavorful whiskey and happens to work well in a Sazerac, which is traditionally made with Rye or Cognac.
Our first course was Black Bush Cured Salmon and Orange Fennel Slaw on a Soda Bread Crostini.
I had never had soda bread as a crisp crostini, and now I want to see this presentation on menus. The Salmon and slaw were light, delicious, and went well with our next take on a classic cocktail: A Mint Julep with Black Bush.
The Salmon was followed by Whiskey Seared Shrimp on Organic Seared Greens with Potato Frites and and Irish Sausage Vinaigrette.
Everyone at the community table commented that the shrimp was cooked perfectly, which it was. We also wanted to have a bowl full of those potato frites to nibble on with our next cocktail- an updated Negroni.
There was definitely no shortage of great food and drinks, as we moved on to Whiskey Molasses Glazed Pork Belly on a Parsnip Apple Hash with Arugula and Dried Cherries paired with a Manhattan made with Bushmills Single Malt 16 year.
Robert Sickler explained to us that the Bushmills Single Malt 16 year is made of barley, water, and yeast that is distilled and aged for sixteen years in Bourbon casks, sixteen years in Sherry casks, and then married in Port barrels. It definitely made a nice Manhattan…
Our final savory dish was Smoked Angus Beef on a Gold Potato Cake with Caraway Braised Cabbage, Crispy Leeks, and a Guinness Reduction.
This was served with a Sidecar made with Bushmills Single Malt 10 year.
I could hardly eat anymore by the time our final course, dessert, arrived. But, as we all know, there’s always room for dessert.
We finished with Honey Bread Pudding with Creme Fraiche Ice Cream, Candied Orange Zest, Whiskey Caramel Sauce, and a Bushmills Irish Honey Coffee.
This was the first dinner like this I had attended at Q’s and I’m looking forward to enjoying another. Sampling each whiskey on its own and then in a cocktail while being guided through each whiskey’s unique flavor by a whiskey master brought a great understanding and appreciation to Irish Whiskey. The entire meal was well orchestrated and I’d suggest signing up to the Q’s newsletter so you have a chance to attend their next event.
In case you haven’t heard through the grapevine, A Bolder Table has teamed up with Sean Smith, a chef at Boulder’s esteemed OAK at Fourteenth, and will be hosting monthly vegetarian dinner parties at my downtown Boulder loft. Once a month, we will be inviting six guests to join us for a unique dining experience. January 28, 2013, was our first.
Sean decided to give our first dinner an around-the-world theme, and treated all of his menu planning, prep, cooking, and plating as if he were working in a restaurant. That essentially means we had one of the best “home cooked” meals ever.
Our guests arrived by 7:30. There are rules guests must follow if they’re invited to one of our parties, and rule number one is you must arrive between 7:15-7:30. Dinner service starts shortly after 7:30 and late arrivals are not allowed because they interrupt the chef’s flow. The second rule is you must participate in social media (facebook, twitter, instagram, etc.) at least twice during the dinner. The third rule is the easiest to follow: Have fun.
And fun was definitely had by all. Sean invited his friends Lorraine, her fiance Jesse, and their friend Brian, visiting from NY. I invited Matt, who’s not on social media so I think he broke one of the rules, Anne, and Tim. Together we made eight.
Our first course was Caponata and Bruscetta, which was, like every course, absolutely delicious.
As soon as Sean told the table what we were about to eat, we all realized we weren’t just at some fun, cool dinner party. We were dining in a private dining room with a professional chef who had put a lot of thought, energy, and love into a four course meal.
…and the wine was flowing…
Our second course was Coconut Curry Soup. Savory Spice Shop’s medium yellow curry was the secret ingredient in this course and, if I’m remembering correctly, the table was pretty silent while spooning this into our mouths.
The third course was a cornmeal crusted red hot marinated tofu (which had been frozen, thawed, and pressed), creamy blue cheese polenta, and braised greens.
…and that wine kept being consumed… and stories… oh, man, the stories…
If I were just focusing on the meal, I’d say, “Finally, Sean served dessert.” Or something like that. But this dining experience was so much greater than a group seated around a table eating fantastic food. This was a group who hadn’t all known each other before but all eight of us came together in a way that forges friendships. Every one of us was so genuinely enjoying each other’s company that our final course, an Earl Grey Pot de Creme, was just the end of the dining part of the evening before heading upstairs into my loft with a few more bottles of wine. And remember… what happens in my loft, stays in my loft, so that part of the story is left for you, dear reader, to imagine.
Sean and I will be holding monthly dinner soirees for the coolest cats in Boulder, and I’ll be sharing photos from our events to tantalize your taste buds. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a recipe for any of his courses.
Citrus season is upon us, and lucky for me, a local Boulder chef wanted to preserve some ripe ruby red grapefruit in a mint simple syrup right here in my house. I got to watch, take some photos, and will eventually get to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Not such a bad deal for me…
Chef Sean Smith plays with fire at Boulder’s esteemed OAK at Fourteenth. Recently, we decided to collaborate on a few food projects, and preserving grapefruit in mint simple syrup is one of the first recipes in a series that will be featured here on A Bolder Table.
- 10 pounds of ripe ruby red grapefruit
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh mint
- 1 cup sugar- not the refined crap. I prefer Vegan Cane Sugar
- 1 quart water
- 2 quart or 4 pint jars for canning
Sean started by preparing the jars for canning. This is a boiling process to kill anything that might cause spoilage, and I’m not a canner, so please don’t just trust me when I say to boil the jars for 15 minutes or so. To avoid botulism, check out these canning tips.
While the jars are boiling, bring the quart of water to a boil in a non-reactive pot. When it’s rolling, add the sugar, lower the temp a bit, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add most of the mint to the sugar water, reserving a few sprigs for later, take it off the heat, and let it steep for 20 minutes.
Then it’s time to supreme the fruit, or remove the skin, pith, membrane, seeds, and segment it. This takes a little time, and gets juicy, so be prepared to capture that grapefruit juice in a bowl.
Fill each jar slightly more than halfway with the grapefruit, layering with the reserved mint. Remove the mint sprigs from the simple syrup and pour evenly into the jars.
Process each jar as you properly should, and allow them to cool at room temperature. Enjoy at some unknown date in the future.
I don’t know if I’d ever been as full upon walking into a restaurant as I was when Allie and I spur-of-the-moment decided to check out The Populist. We had been out to lunch at Rooster and Moon and had some more time to wine and dine before she headed to work, so we stopped in to The Populist for a cocktail. As soon as we entered the gorgeous space we knew we had to order at least one bite of food, and you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve been there before. It’s inviting.
I adore their menus, first of all. That’s usually a pretty good sign. Not always, of course, but when so much attention to detail is shown on paper, there’s a good chance it’s being achieved in the kitchen as well.
Rob Corbari, the head tender of my favorite spot, the bar, made us some cocktails. This man has a beautiful bar. Simply gorgeous.
Allie had a Whiskey Sour and I sipped on a Presbyterian, which was Bourbon, ginger, and soda.
Let me just say that this is in no way a real restaurant review- It was such a brief visit and we were so blown away with this place that I’m going back- soon- for a full meal, photos and all. This is just a teaser…
Rob suggested we try the apple and parsnip soup with jalapeño caviar. He knew we weren’t hungry, so he assured us there was no cream or crazy buttery goodness going on in this soup. I’m having a hard time believing him- This was one of the most decadent soups I’ve had. I hope it’s still on the menu when I return. Also, they poured the soup table-side, which is a presentation I enjoy very much. I had to include a photo of that even though it’s blurry. Sorry folks, but, you get the idea.
Next, we nibbled on smoked trout rillettes with mustard, red onion, pickled cucumber, and capers with creme fraiche on pancake disks. Wow. This was a seriously nice plate and we were completely stuffed when Rob, sneaky tender that he apparently is, placed one more order for us…
No matter how full we were, there’s no way we could resist devouring a poached egg on top of a bacon apple jam with lardo toast (or something like that… I think I went into a food coma and blacked out, so my details might be slightly off…)
But, I discovered my new favorite place and I’ll be back soon with an appetite, camera, and hopefully a designated driver.
The Populist- Kitchen and Bar
3163 Larimer St. Denver