Culinary creativity was at the forefront of Sugar Pine’s most recent Farm to Plate dinner at The Lyon’s Farmette. Executive Chef Carrie Grenier bubbled over with excitement as she personally addressed the dinner crowd, conveying her complete devotion to good product in the culmination of her dishes with an enthusiasm and passion that I rarely see. The food was a complete reflection of her love for creativity, yet the simplicity of the ingredients shined through as a testament to the quality of product. Sugar Pine is such a wonderful fit for her talent and creativity, allowing for a sense of risk that adorns the strong culinary foundation and attention to detail they demand. Sugar Pine provides “a bespoke, epicurean experience,” without pretense and with a profound sense of play that proved completely refreshing and whimsical. From the beautiful decoration and plating to the inventive experimentation with form and flavor, Sugar Pine provides a complete experience for the diner and I personally left feeling inspired.
The four course dinner opened with an organic Duck pastrami with potato and cauliflower rye crumb roasted croquette, candied beets, pickled cucumber chips and a lavender mustard, that wrapped this dish up beautifully, providing a subtle bite to complement the salinity of the duck pastrami. The croquettes were flavorful and crisp and I found myself using them as a means to transport the pastrami, cucumber and mustard. This dish was surprisingly light and a perfect opener to the meal.
Our second course was a local forest floor mushroom cappuccino garnished with crispy kale dusted with truffle and parmesan, toasted wild rice and rosemary milk froth. Not only was the plating gorgeous, the bowl resting atop a plate of fir tree accents, but this dish was absolutely phenomenal. As a lover of mushrooms of any variety, I was already prepared to enjoy this dish, but I was blown away and the complex intensity of the flavors. The “cappuccino” was a creamy soup base with several full wild mushrooms suspended within and garnished with the wild rice and kale which provided a textural variation that elevated this elegantly plated dish. I was enraptured by the plating and flavors of this dish and am currently devising a plan to figure out the secret recipe. I may be obsessed. But in all seriousness, wow, delicious.
The third, and main course, was an Anderson Farm free range chicken confit, grilled vegetable terrine with Haystack Mountain goat cheese, arugula pesto, and an ‘everything bagel’ spiced flour de sel. The chicken confit was the star of this plate. The briny unctuousness was mouthwateringly delicious and the arugula pesto paired nicely. I was slightly underwhelmed by the terrine of roasted vegetables and goat cheese which was served at room temperature. I found that the brine of the confit chicken begged for a counterbalance and something to cut the salt slightly. However, the execution of the confit was spot on.
Lastly, the dessert course was an heirloom carrot and candied rose petal bouquet tartlet with a Palisade peach mascarpone, torched pink peppercorn and a homemade vanilla bean marshmallow. Honestly, I tend toward rich decadent, often chocolate laden desserts, so this was a breath of fresh air for me. I was blown away at how amazing this dessert was, the tartlet has an almost graham cracker taste but was far more rustic and satisfying. The tartlet coupled with the roasted peaches and the homemade marshmallow was delicious. As full as I was at that point, I couldn’t stop eating and entirely cleaned my plate. Another standout dish from Sugar Pine.
Attending a dinner at the The Lyon’s Farmette is like walking into a lush hidden garden spotted with foodies and cute farm animals.The Farmette has proven to be a mainstay in the Farm to Table movement, providing a beautifully maintained venue for chefs and foodies to continue this evolving discourse of taste and the demand for local. Chefs play around with produce sourced directly from the farm or others in our region when possible, creating a culinary journey not just to please our palettes, but to catalyze the devotion towards local and regionality. I highly recommend attending one of their dinners featuring a rotating selection of chefs and caterers.
The whole concept of the Farm to Table dinner has become essential to the Front Range’s burgeoning agricultural drive. Connecting the culinary scene to the very roots that support our region’s production of both produce and livestock, the possibility of leaning toward localism has become more prominent and has become a source of creative inspiration for our local chefs and foodies. Not only does this support the local economy by boosting the demand of regionally specific goods and produce, it founds a larger drive toward responsibly sourced and seasonal products.
Sugar Pine, owned by Heather and Robert Stansel, is completely in line with the philosophy that links amazing culinary talent to localism, providing a stage for creativity and devotion to good product that continues to please their clientele. From my perspective, as imperative as the food and culinary ability is to a great catering company, the people make it what it is. Everyone I met from Sugar Pine was not only kind and friendly, but enthusiastic and inspired.