So I spent the night tonight at my friend Paul’s restaurant in Denver.
Paul and I were born four months apart. His mother is my godmother. We grew up together. I still remember when we were toddlers and he was so very proud to show me that he had learned how to take off and put on his pants by himself. Yeah. We go back that far.
There is one thing that Paul somehow inherited from my mother. And that is his amazing intuitive ability in the kitchen. Seriously, Paul is the first person who ever fed me bone marrow, which has got to be on the list of my top ten favorite foods. Paul is now the chef and owner of one of the top restaurants in Denver, Encore. His little sister, Aileen, who is also a dear friend of mine, is now the manager, and she’s really gotten the place completely and totally on the right track since the last time I was there. Freaking amazing.
I just spent seven hours there. Literally.
This is pretty much standard for when we come out here. Encore has this amazing kitchen that turns out stuff you wouldn’t have anywhere else, but they also make kickass burgers and pizzas, and most of the clientele come for the burgers and pizzas. So we come, and Paul whips out the most amazing small dishes ever.
He’s also got a new bartender, Adam, who is freaking awesome. He just got into Root about the same time I did, and he’s mixing two cocktails with it now. He also made me one of the best Manhattans I’ve ever had in my life, and a really really fine martini for my mom with a local gin called Rob’s, which I’ve now been promised a bottle of.
That’s the Discrepancy Theory, Adam’s twist on a Vieux Carre, which is Old Overholt Rye, Root, and Benedictine. And my mom’s martini in the background.
Crab with cherry tomatoes and pickled ramps. PICKLED RAMPS. I wouldn’t have needed anything else on this dish. Pickled ramps! Paul also has a giant jar of pickled fiddlehead ferns. Genius!
Oh my god. This ravioli. LAMB BELLY RAVIOLI.
Pork belly over homemade kimchi.
Cassoulet with wild mushrooms and duck liver sausage.
Softshell crab over polenta with broccoli greens
Yellow beet salad.
Duck leg confit. Oh my god. All I have to say is that I had one of the most perfect bites of duck fat I have ever eaten in my life. Everyone should have one before they die.
The duck breast had some awesome things with it, like some asparagus and goat cheese ravioli and some peaches, but honestly, I mostly remember the fat.
This is the gnocchi. They are cooked the traditional way and then sauteed which is why they are all crispy. Yum!
Donuts! Paul’s specialty from the very very beginning of his career have been donuts, and he usually has a donut on his menu. The donuts were really the first thing that got him noticed, when they were featured on the cover of a magazine a few years ago.
Okay, this? This is porn. When I told Paul about the perfect duck fat on my duck, his eyes lit up and he brought me out this. Do you see what it is? It’s POPCORN POPPED IN DUCK FAT. Covered in salted caramel and with hazelnuts mixed it. POPCORN. POPPED. IN. DUCK FAT. Holy crap. Who does that?!
Anyway, if any of you are from the Denver area, Paul is going to have that popcorn plus a gin punch Adam is making on Sunday at the Eat Denver event. Adam brought us a glass of the punch, it was very nice.
I also got to try two amazing local gins, Jackalope and Rob’s. Rob’s made one of the best martinis I have ever had. And I had some Avery’s Maharaja IPA, one of the hoppiest, most incredible IPAs I think I’ve ever had.
All in all, awesome night. So much food. A++ Would nom again. And I’m not only saying it because Paul is one of the most awesome people I know. Tomorrow, I get to meet his daughter, Gracie! Eeeeee.
Mirrored from Antagonia.net.