Special dinner at Boulder restaurant with Mediterranean roots .
Yesterday Volta Mediterranean Restaurant celebrated its first anniversary with a special four-course dinner, plus suggested wine pairings. It was called the Harvest Menu, not the anniversary menu, but it was served only that one evening. Two of the courses contained pumpkin, underscoring the harvest part, but Greek accents abounded too. I first ate at Volta last December when a group of local food bloggers met there. Click here for my post. Between then and now, my husband and have visited Greece, so I was excited about a meal that would not only acknowledge a local restaurant’s first major milestone but also recalled those days in a country I quickly learned to love. Here’s what was on last night’s menu:
Price check: The Harvest Menu, offered on one evening only, was $50, plus wines. Volta is participating in First Bite Boulder (November 14 to 22), with a three-course dinner just $27. That’s a real deal. Volta’s FBB menu features a choice of six appetizers, five entrées and three desserts.
Vail Harvest Dinner shows off elegance & innovation
For the second year in a row, Kristin Yantis of Vail’s Malen Yantis Public Relations brought a handful of Vail chefs to the Mile High City to present their Harvest Dinner. This year, the location was a suitably elegant private dining room at the Four Seasons Denver. The dinner was book-ended by Grouse Mountain Grill chefs. Paul Ferzacca, now owner of the legendary La Tour, was the opening chef of the on-mountain eatery. He prepared four exquisite hors d’oeuvres. The current executive chef, Colin Meyer did the dessert course. In between, Paul Anders of Mountain Standard, which opened at the start of the 2012-13 ski season, prepared a first course. Flame Modern Mountain Steak’s executive chef Jason Harrison and sous-chef Dagan Stocks, Jr. teamed on to prepare the main course.
I am already looking forward to the third annual Vail Harvest Dinner.
For me, growing up in a family with Austrian roots, Christmas was always the 24th, and the 25th was the day after. The 24th was also my late father’s birthday. As empty-nester, my husband and I have made it something of a tradition to host Christmas Eve dinner for friends and neighbors.
We have no family nearby. My son who lives 360 miles away is the nearest, and he can never come because it’s peak season for teaching skiing, and my husband’s family are mostly in the greater Reno area. No one expects me to prepare what I “always” make, so I do whatever strikes. Also friends always contribute — if they wish and what they wish. Of course, there was abundant red, white and dessert wine of various sorts. I didn’t keep track. I should have used a flash for these few photos, so apologies for dark, dull images.
December 24, 2012 Menu
Appetizers in the Living Room
Caprese on a skewer. Fresh grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil leaf from the pot I’m trying to nurse through the winter.
Guacamole in small phyllo cups topped with a bit of sun-dried tomato
Rice crackers with whipped cream cheese and jalapeño jelly
Buffet in the Dining Room
Glazed ham (spiral cut)
Scandinavian-style braised red cabbage
Parsleyed new potatoes with optional bacon crumbles
Roasted sweet peppers (red, yellow, orange)
Thick home-made pumpernickel bread that was light in color and texture from Jerrie
Bubbling-hot Parmesan “fondue” and sliced baguette from Laura
Vegetarian paella from John
Pecan tart wedges
Sugar cookie-style pastries
Home-made cream puffs with raspberry cream filling from Vivian
Home-made biscotti from Darlene
We had a wonderful evening with people we genuinely care about, and I hope your celebration was festive and delcious — and perhaps more photogenic.
We had Thanksgiving. I cooked. My husband baked. We were 10 at the table. And it was good.
Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and while I generally write about it in entirely too much detail, I decided that no photos of this year’s appetizers, this year’s soup, this year’s turkey, this year’s vegetables and this year’s dessert are required here. Ditto lots of detailed recipes. Friends brought the hors d’oevres (thanks Reed and Sally), also the sweet potatoes (thanks Laura) and a splendid pumpkin pie (thanks Suzanne). But everything else was scratch-made in our kithen, using all-organic and natural ingredients from Whole Foods. And Beaujolais nouveau was the holiday wine of choice:
Hors d’oeuvres: 2 cheese dips, one baked and served with crackers, one cold and served with crudités.
Main Course: Turkey: Brined, roasted and stuffed with an apple-pecan cornbread stuffing. I more or less used this recipe but added more celery, more onion and more apple than the recipe calls for but eliminated the eggs.
Gravy: Half with giblets, half without.
Cranberries: Cranberry-Orange Relish.
Mashed sweet potatoes.
Roasted Harvest Vegetables: New potatoes (black, white, red), carrots, whole Brussels sprouts, peeled and cubed butternut squash, tossed in olive oil and kosher salt and oven-roasted.
Award-winning chef’s “Dinner In the Country” was a 7-course dazzler
Chef Robert N Corey and I have crossed paths at culinary events over the years, notably at the Denver International Wine Festival‘s ‘Taste of Elegance’ chef competitions. More often than not, he has been on the podium for one of the categories. He currently wears several toques. Himself a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he is a culinary arts instructor at Denver’s Johnson & Wales University, runs 12 Seasons Personal Chef & Sommelier Services and every few months puts on a “Dinner In the Country” in a private Niwot home, with farms and ranches not far away.
Rob invited me and my husband to yesterday evening’s “Dinner In the Country,” which displayed Corey’s style that is at once sophisticated and earthy. He calls his food “nouvelles classics” and uses natural, organic ingredients, cooks them with care, plates them with an artist’s eye and an engineer’s precision, an ethic and aesthetitic truly combining both old and new culinary practices. One of the guests was Bob Munson of nearby Munson Farms, who said that all the produce and herbs were picked that very morning, some by himself.
We started with hors d’oeuvre and Carbo Cava Brut sparkling wine, then sat down at two tables that together could accommodate just 20 guests, so congenial conversation lasted through the evening. By the time the guests assembled, most of the cooking had been done, but eight Johnson & Wales students did much of the perfect plating of complicated, multi-ingredient dishes for which Corey is well known. Jesse Slaughter, whose regular gig is at Hapa Sushi in Cherry Creek, performed sommelier duties. Continue reading Country Dining With Chef Rob Corey→
All the recent buzz about brackets in these parts has involved NCAA basketball — at least as long as the University of Colorado and Colorado State University were still alive in the first division. But foodies have had their own brackets to obsess about: Westword‘s Street 16.
The “tournament” started with Boulder, WashPark, Highland West, LoDo, South Broadway, Uptown, Havanna Street and South Federal on one side and Cherry Creek, Upper Larimer, Tennyson, Larimer Square, Capitol Hill (6th & 7th Avenues), Bluebird District, Golden Triangle and LoHi on the other.
After the first round, the foodie neighborhoods still remaining are Boulder, Highland West, Uptown and South Federal on one side and Upper Larimer, Tennyson, CapHill and LoHi on the other. The results so far show how eclectically wonderful the metro area’s dining scene has become, and how wide-ranging the tastes of Westword readers are, when the longer established dining districts of Cherry Creek and Larimer Square didn’t make it past the first round.
There’s still time to winnow the remaining eight to the final four, so start picking. You can’t vote on this blog, but I think you can by clicking here. If not, go to Westword‘s Cafe Society blog and click your way to the ballots. I can’t wait to see the results.
Being from New England, I was indoctrinated with the story of “the first Thanksgiving,” the one when Pilgrims and their Indian friends broke bread together in 1621 in the newcomers’ gratitude for making it through a year in the New World with the help of the original inhabitants. No matter that Thanksgiving didn’t exactly happen that way and, in fact, did not become a national holiday until 1863, when President Lincoln somehow managed to turn his attention away from the Civil War long enough to sign the holiday into law. Historical facts aside, I buy into the Pilgrims and Indian story because I want to.
Preparing Thanksgiving dinner was the first holiday meal I relieved my late mother of, and I have prepared a lot of Thanksgiving dinners since. To me, it has always been a sitdown dinner and is my favorite holiday. Since moving to Colorado in 1988, the most poeple we’ve ever had at the table was 20. The fewest was eight — and that was this year.
A number of regulars from years past of moved away, and some (including my son) just couldn’t make it this time. We’ve fallen into a Thanksgiving rhythm, that includes wine and hors d’oeuvre in the living room, followed by soup, turkey-plus and dessert in the dining room. During a good Nouveau Beaujolais year, Joseph Drouhin’s wines what we drink. are what we drank. And here’s what we ate:
Cold shrimp three ways
Two cheese & crackers
Reed’s Prosciutto rolls “with love”
I originally had place settings for 12 but only eight soup plates for my Royal Doulton Rochelle bone china. I bought four more of this vintage pattern from Replacements.com, so now, I always make soup for a sitdown holiday dinner to amortize the cost.
Brilliant green Florentine soup made with fresh spinach, shallots, vegetable stock and spices — and swirled with heavy cream just before serving.
The turkey was a bit of a surprise. I bought a fresh natural Diestel turkey (not organic, but free range and natural) from Whole Foods. Turned out that the neck and gizzards in the cavity were frozen. Since poultry can’t freeze from the inside, either Diestel put one over on Whole, Whole Foods put one over on me — or both. It was a fine turkey, but I do resent paying fresh prices for a previously frozen product. I need to talk to the folks at Whole Foods. (Saturday note: I did check with Whole Foods, and they told me that only the inside of cavity is “shell frozen,” but that it is otherwise a fresh, never-frozen bird. The giblets freeze from being in that cavity. Good to know!)
Carved turkey (white meat, dark meat, skin), with fresh cranberry sauce showing in the lower lefthand corner.
My friend and neighbor Vivian is an extraordinary baker. She always prepares the desserts — and this time, because we were only eight and not the customary 14 to 16, she made just two.
Th-th-that’s all folks!
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.