On Tuesday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m., the Denver Botanic Gardens hosted one of its “Gather” dinners, featuring a seasonally-inspired four course meal from Root Down & Linger‘s fabulous executive chef Daniel Asher. I am a huge fan of chef Asher, and was so happy to grab a photo together with him during the evening:
This one the first of the Gather dinners at the Botanic Gardens Robert and I had attended, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Served at long family-style tables in the Garden’s beautiful Orangery, the setting was lovely, even though it was an unseasonably cold (okay, freezing!) evening.
The centerpieces were a casual collection of pretty spring flowers, adding color to the overcast skies:
On to the food! The first course, “Spring has Almost Sprung” was a scrumptious combination of radishes, Aero Farms baby greens, grilled ramps, English peas, beets, baby turnips, carrots, chevre, chili-spiced pepitas and seabeans. Wow! So light, yet so full of flavor – and beautifully plated too.
Aero Farms uses what they call aeroponic technology to grow leafy greens, herbs and micro greens without sun or soil, in a controlled greenhouse environment. I have to say, their greens tasted so fresh and flavorful.
The second course was Andalusian White Gazpacho – a yummy combination of pureed and chopped green almonds, marcona almonds, fiddleheads, rhubarb, cucumber and celery, with a drizzle or two of chili oil and sweet apple vinegar.
Main course was “An Interpretation of Peking Duck”. I am a huge duck fan, and this dish didn’t disappoint – it was amazing. A base of tat soi (sort of an Asian collard green), topped with black quinoa tossed with dried cherries and pistachios, and on top of that was duck confit brushed with hoisin sauce – all garnished with purple scallions. OMG, what an incredible combination of flavors.
The quinoa came from White Mountain Farm, right here in Colorado. I have heard we are one of the largest producers of quinoa in the US! The tat soi also came from a Colorado organic purveyor (Circle Fresh Farms). So great to find out about all of these high quality providers of organic, fresh produce near to Denver.
Our final dish of the evening was cheesecake – another one of my favorites. It’s tough to top my Aunt Dee-Dee’s cheesecake recipe (in our cookbook, A Well-Seasoned Kitchen), but Daniel Asher’s cake came close. It did have a few very unique ingredients (for cheesescake) – jasmine rice, macadamia nuts, and the topping was pineapple jalapeno jam and sesame seeds!
We sat with some very nice people, and made some new friends. A truly memorable evening at the Denver Botanic Gardens – we are looking forward to attending another Gather dinner soon!