- Bob Burden (above left), Beaver Run Restaurant, Breckenridge – Sautéed herb-rubbed lamb loin topped with micro greens and enoki mushroom salad tossed in pinot noir dressing, with Bing cherry and pomegranate demi-glace and forest mushroom bulgur risotto.
- Jake Linzinmeier, Chair 8, Telluride – Wild mushroom consomme, cappuccino-style topped with a celery root and potato foam, with goat cheese biscotti.
- Tim McCaw, Zach’s Cabin, Beaver Creek – Coquille St. Jacques (above right, seared scallop and brandied curry cream atop puff potato, which one of the Zach’s crew described to me as duchesse potatoes and five different mushrooms — lion’s head, shiitaki, baby portabello king oyster and oyster).
- Aaron Taylor, Keystone Ranch Restaurant – Venison strip loin with mushroom duxelles, stuffed with mushrooms and foie gras, with wild ramp potato risotto, huckleberry compote and mushrooms.
I had a heck of a time marking my ballot from four excellent dishes. Burden’s lamb was super-flavorful, and the demi-glace was sensational. Linzinmeier’s “drinkable” soup was imaginative to the max. McCaw’s scallop was perfectly seared, brown-crusted on top and delicate in the center were a straightforward flavor that worked beautifully with the subtly complex mushroom mix. The stuffing for Taylor’s venison was a rich counterpoint to the venison, and the mushrooms and compote tamed it all down a tad. In the end, Linzinmeier took “Best Dish” honors, and McCaw was voted the “Best Food & Wine Pairing.”
Speaking of pairings, the chefs created their mushroom dishes to pair with the following wines:
- 2005 Buena Vista EVS Pinot Noir for Burden (tied for “Best Wine” honors)
- 2004 Wattle Creek Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for Linzinmeier
- 2005 Clos du Bois Reserve Chardonnay Russian River Valley for McCaw
- 2004 Geyser Peak Reserve Alexander Valley Meritage for Taylor (Geyser Peak’s 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, served during the reception, tied for “Best Wine”)
- Crab cakes with Meyer lemon relish and tarragon aioli
- Cocoa seared pork tenderloin
- Heirloom tomato and California artichoke on puff pastry, with opal basil pesto
- Sesame seared ahi tuna, with wakame salad and pickled ginger, crisp lotus root and wasabi-scented soy sauce
- Tempura calamari “lollipops”
- Tomato-lemongrass coulis shooters
- Duck confit spring rolls with California raisin chutney
- Niman Ranch steak tartar on crisp potato gallettes
- Citrus-scented lobster and jicama salad with vanilla Anglaise
- Spicy Baja ceviche and taro chips
- Niman Ranch tri-tip with warm tortillas
Then there were the desserts. I thought I’d died an gone to heaven when I ate Wen Chocolates’ offerings. The Mission Fig chocolates were great. Then there were pecans in chocolate that were even greater. Then there were the several teas in dark chocolate — a formula for the longevity if ever there was one, especially with red wine — that were so good that I think I ate myself into a coma!