- Ellyn hosted a wonderful evening around the theme Rocky Mountain High, inspired by her travels.
- The creativity reached new heights, with each course revealing layers upon layers (strata if you will) of information about the Rockies, the region, and the local cuisine.
- In the Part 1 post we took a close-up view of the Drinks and Appetizers. The Ks used blue spruce needles to flavor simple syrup (yes, this was cleared by the botanical experts) which, when mixed with gin, made an excellent Bristlecone cocktail. The Guys made a sculpture of flavored goat cheese and homemade sourdough whole wheat crackers, plus a magnificent Denver Omelette Fritatta done in the style of a tortilla Española.
- This time we will detail the Main Course and Dessert. Have a peek at the overall menu, to refresh your memory.
Drinks – Kathleen and Karen: Bristlecones – a gin-based cocktail; and assorted wines
Appetizers – Greg and Dan: “Mountain Goat” Cheese Spread with Herbs and Lemon with Sourdough Whole-Wheat Crackers; Denver Omelette Frittata with Grandma’s Chili Sauce
Main Course – Ellyn: Roast Trout Stuffed with Lemon and Herbs; Seared Venison with Black Raspberry Sauce; Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries; Baked Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
Dessert – Ilise and Ann: A Rocky Mountain Ski-scape featuring Chocolate Layer Cake with White Chocolate Mousse Filling and Chocolate Fudge Frosting
The Playlist: The playlist in Part 1 offered a mixed bag of pop, rock, folk, and country tunes which celebrated the Rockies, mountain living in general, and high times in all forms. Give it a listen here.
We’re going to set a different mood for Part 2. The playlist here is a 3-movement excerpt from An American Symphony, Charles David Denler’s modern classical piece from the album titled Portraits of Colorado. It is performed by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Listen to the whole thing here.
“Field” is represented by a lovely platter of seared venison loin, finished with an amazing black raspberry sauce bringing a welcome burst of summer’s bounty to the dead of winter. Bonus: The berries are from Ellyn’s garden, frozen from last year’s crop. Smart woman. She did a masterful job balancing the meaty, slightly gamy (in a good way) aspects of the venison with the bright, tart, and fruity sauce.
The side dishes were fan favorites as well, especially the horseradish mashed potatoes. Mmmmmmm!
How did she do it? Let’s hear from Ellyn herself:
Roast Trout Stuffed with Lemon and Herbs: For the trout, I simply took butterflied whole trout, rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then stuffed with lemon slices, rosemary and thyme. Roasted at 400 until done. (AJ note: Other possible herb combos are: oregano-basil; dill-parsley; and sage-parsley.)
Baked Horseradish Mashed Potatoes:
Begin with 8 pounds peeled and cubed red potatoes. Boil until tender. Mash with butter and half-and half until creamy. Add salt and white pepper to taste . Add prepared white horseradish to taste. Mix thoroughly. Let cool until you can add an egg without scrambling it. Add one egg; mix well. Put potatoes into well-buttered baking dish. Add pats of butter evenly over top of potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 375 or 400 until browned on top. You can use broiler to do extra browning if you want.
Seared Venison with Black Raspberry Sauce - from Jess Pryles
Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries - fromJulia's Album
Please click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
And then it came to Ilise as in a dream … Rocky Mountains → Snow-covered mountains → People go skiing on snow-covered mountains → And sometimes they see wildlife on those snow-covered mountains as they ski past. Boom. And just like that Ilise’s vision of a snow-covered Rocky Mountain ski-scape was born.
We’ve had other artistic and architectural dessert constructions at past themed dinners – Karen and Kathleen’s onion domes from the St. Petersburg Winter Palace, Greg and Dan’s beachy boardwalk tableau, Ellyn’s garden mud pies with (delicious!) dirt, plants, and worms. The time was right for Ilise and me to – literally – make a scene with our dessert course. Please cast your eyes upon our snowy display made of chocolate layer cake; white chocolate mousse; chocolate moose; chocolate bear; edible trees; moose pops; white chocolate shavings; and mounds of fluffy white (whipped cream) snow. And skiers. Phew, there’s a lot going on! Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
Let's conclude with a relevant quote from John Muir, influential naturalist and early advocate for the preservation of America's wilderness.
Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.