The last time OAK had a Pig Roast dinner I was busy guiding a private tour, so, I can’t say I was totally disappointed to miss it because I was showing some lovely ladies a fantastic night out on the town. But, I did wish I could have been there. When I heard they were having their fourth seasonal pig roast on December 5th, I made sure it was on my calendar. After attending the Milagro Tequila event it was more than clear to me that OAK knows how to hold a feast of an event.
I was dining alone that evening and walked in to the cocktail hour to find a lot of people standing around and chatting, snacking on OAK’s famous fried pickles, and sipping a Blood and Sand. A server immediately brought me one made with Johnnie Walker Red Label, Cherry Liqueur, Punt E Mes, and Orange Juice. This was a great start. I’d only ever had one Blood and Sand and it was on one of my cocktail tours, actually. It was nice to be reintroduced to a cocktail I enjoy very much.
The evening’s pig roast was a four-course Berkshire and Whiskey dinner. Master of Whiskey Robert Sickler selected five whiskeys to be paired with Chef Steve Redzikowski’s pig-centric menu. I looked around, saw my friend Jessica of Mountain Sun, and sat down at her table. I had intended to take photos and write about the meal. That’s all. It turns out I feel like I made new friends with the lovely couple across from me. Alex and Kate were seated at the same table as my friend Jessica. I sat across from them and we quickly got to know each other over a good meal, and conversation really got interesting when they mentioned they own a wooden Chinese pig roasting box called a Chinabox, which I’m assuming looks like THIS.
Soon after being seated our first course arrived. I snapped a photo of the kitchen just before being served Pork Head Terrine, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Rye Toast, Golden Raisin and Apple Jam paired with a taste of Bulleit Rye and a Holiday on the Bayou- Bulleit Rye, All Spice Dram, Apple Juice, Lemon, Honey.
So… it turns out I don’t really like terrine. At least not at this point in my life. After 18 years of vegetarianism, terrine is a little far out there for me. But I did eat at least half of it, so.. baby steps. The gourmands at my table spoke very highly of the terrine, whereas I don’t have a history of terrine tastings to compare, so I’m taking their word for it and saying it was a really nice terrine.
I did, however, love the cocktail (what a surprise:). I’m a big fan of Rye and always keep Bulleit Rye in my home bar because, in my opinion, it is one of the best bangs for your buck when it comes to rye. Especially when you drink as much rye whiskey as I…
But, back to the Berkshire and Whiskey dinner…
Next to our cocktail was placed a tasting of Bulleit Rye. It soon became clear to me what owner Bryan Dayton meant when he greeted us all and told us a substantial amount of alcohol was going to be served to us that evening and that we didn’t need to drink it all. This was, in fact, quite true.
Our second course was fantastic- Housemade Chorizo, Steamed Mania Clams, Pork Belly, Fingerling Potato Salad, Harissa paired with one of OAK’s signature cocktails: a 14th Street Soda of Bushmills Black Bush, Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps, and OAK Ginger Beer. OAK makes really interesting, flavorful house made sodas. Some are alcoholic, others not. But, they’re bottled and served like a soda should be served- they pop the top for you like the good old days.
Allow me to introduce you to Alex and Kate- You’ll see them behind the soda.
I really enjoyed this dish. I’ve been experimenting at home with Harissa after my dad suggested it to me, so it was a nice surprise to taste one of my favorite chef’s use of this Saharan spice blend.
Next came a Thanksgiving-sized family-style feast of Bourbon Glazed Pork Ribs, Cheddar Grits, Rancho Gordo Baked Beans, and Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Banana. We got to pass bowls around the table and take seconds if we wanted. That was very cool. Very cool indeed. It was also great that the food was gourmet-homestyle-delicious-fall-seasonal-BBQ. I sure hope that’s enough words to describe this part of the meal.
To quench our BBQ-ribs-thirst we tasted some George Dickel Barrel Select with a cocktail of that whiskey called a Cascading Ribbons, which was made with Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur, Cherry Grand Marnier, Mirto, and Orange Bitters. We were getting drunk, I think…
And then came dessert. Brown Sugar Caramelized Brioche, Avalanche Creamery Blue Cheese, and Pecan Ice Cream paired with Oban 14 Year. Please and Thank You.
Now, there were some bartenders out in Portland Cocktail Week who referred to Oban as a “gateway Scotch.” Oh well- so be it. It’s a really nice Scotch. Pair that with Brioche, (which, by the way, I’ve officially banned from my kitchen due to zero self control), Avalanche blue cheese, and pecan ice cream, and you have a sweet and savory dessert accompanying a fine Scotch.
This particular evening was so deliciously fun at OAK that I’m already looking forward to their next Roast. In 2013, actually, there will be four Roasts at Fourteenth:
- March 26th- Rioja Roast
- July 9th- Bubbles Roast
- October 9th- Beer Roast
- December 4th- Mezcal and Cider Roast
I already have those dates on my calendar.
Superstorm Sandy smashed into the east coast, including my home state of New Jersey, and destroyed many things in her path. Having spent so many summer days on the boardwalks at the Jersey Shore, I felt a huge feeling of disappointment seeing the images online. If you know me, or have even met me just once, you know I make an interesting face and have a certain tone of voice when I tell you I’m originally from NJ. But, this superstorm destroyed so much- it made me feel sentimental for parts of Jersey, and my parents still live there, so I felt quite connected to the storm and its aftermath.
Chef Theo Adley, also from New Jersey, coordinated a benefit dinner at Mateo Restaurant Provencal in Boulder. Chef Adley assembled eight of the best chefs in Denver and Boulder, one of the craftiest creators of all things cocktail, and a uniquely Boulder baker, who, together, performed a nearly perfectly orchestrated culinary symphony. I attended this nine course feast and enjoyed it so much more than I had imagined.
This was a superstar line up: Kyle Mendenhall of The Kitchen Community, Hunter Pritchett of Luca d’Italia, Kelly Whitaker of Pizzeria Basta, Max MacKissock of The Squeaky Bean, Theo Adley, Jen Jasinski of Rioja, Bistro Vendome, and Euclid Hall, Jenna Johansen, Steve Redzikowski of OAK at Fourteenth, and Sean Kenyon of Williams & Graham. Tee & Cakes provided a delectable cupcake to finish up the meal and make for one of the largest dinners I’ve had in quite a while.
I had the honor and privilege to dine with Z Cuisine chef/owner Patrick DuPays and his lovely wife Lynnde, which, besides offering great company, provided me an interesting perspective to dining. I really don’t dine out with chefs- I feature them on my tours. So, as each of the nine courses arrived, it was quite an experience for me to taste them with Patrick and Lynnde.
Each course at the Battle of the Pans was fantastic, so rather than offer a detailed critique or review, here are some photos of the evening. Please note- these were shot in low light (except Chef Redzikowski’s dish because I wandered into the kitchen for a few minutes), and I’m no professional… but, you’ll get the idea.
Thanks so much to all of the chefs for coming out (many on their day off) and providing a fantastic feast, and thanks to all of the guests who, through ticket sales and an auction, raised money for victims of Superstorm Sandy. It’s unfortunate that a major storm brought them all together in one kitchen, but we diners all felt very fortunate to taste a dish from so many acclaimed local chefs.
Anyone who spends time with me knows how very much I love Oak at Fourteenth. The food, libations, owners, and staff make this one of the best places in town for a cocktail, small plate, happy hour, formal sit-down dinner, late night… It’s always great, but somehow, I think it managed to move up a notch.
I attended a Milagro Tequila make-your-own cocktail “class” and dinner, led by Gaston Martinez, a brand ambassador of Milagro Tequila. As a weekly guide of my own cocktail tours, I’ve tried a fair share of tequilas. But, this was my first in-depth experience with Milagro.
When I say the “class” was led by the brand ambassador, that means that a real tequila aficionado came to Oak, set up the Acorn Room with all things Milagro, and spent two hours or so introducing us to the Milagro brand of tequilas. As a note: I paid the $40 to attend this event and was not asked to, nor offered anything free to write a glowing review.
The attendees met at 5:30 in the Acorn Room, Oak’s private dining room, which was all decked out in Milagro Tequila swag.
There were Boston shakers, muddlers, ice buckets, and all the ingredients needed to make three signature tequila cocktails, such as blackberries and sage, pineapple and basil, cucumbers and jalapeños, cilantro, bitters, freshly made sour mix… I hadn’t actually been expecting to be muddling, let alone to be amongst a group of twenty muddlers, so, let’s just say I was stoked upon arrival.
Oak’s esteemed staff started passing their signature Crispy Fried Pickles & Green Goddess Aioli, Key West Shrimp and Grits with Tabasco Butter, and a welcome cocktail called “The Freshest Margarita” made with Milagro silver, lime juice, and agave nectar.
After a couple welcome beverages, we gathered around the table for a nice greeting by Oak owner and crafter-of-all-things-cocktail, Bryan Dayton. Then, Bryan set us loose with Gaston who got us right to work making our first cocktail: The Mercadito (You’ll find all cocktail recipes at the bottom of this post).
Midway through making my Mercadito (a cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro cocktail), I switched settings on my camera… as a side note…
The Mercadito was paired with our first course- Chicken Tacos with Guacamole.
One tip we learned from Gaston about our first cocktail, which had jalapeño, was that a cocktail that is spicy on the lips is too spicy. Apparently, that’s a fact, and it created some great conversation with those around me. By the time we had muddled, measured, poured, shaken, strained, and sipped our first cocktail, it felt like we had gathered around a table with old friends. It was clear the evening was headed in the right direction.
Then it was time to move on to cocktail #2- The Veracruzana. This one was particularly fun because we had to muddle pineapple, which quickly turned into pineapple juice after a few moments muddling. I shared in some giddy-as-a-schoolgirl enthusiasm with the women across the table from me.
We sipped The Veracruzana while enjoying Braised Short Ribs with Jalapeño & Peanut Relish.
Moving on to the third course… it was time once again to get muddling. Blackberries and a pinch of sage turned into a gorgeously fragrant jam-like medley in our glass.
The Carpe Dia was our third and final cocktail, paired with Grilled Chicken Tenders & Shishito Pepper Skewers with Pomegranate Molasses. Yum.
I had the honor and privilege of sitting next to one of Oak’s bartenders, Audrey, and I assure everyone at the table had a similar smile upon seeing Oak’s presentation of the skewers stuck into a log. It’s one of the coolest food presentations I’ve seen and hope to see it again at Oak.
But anyway… back to the booze. We weren’t done drinking our third cocktail (fourth if you count the welcome drink, and I had two of those, so… uh oh…) We were presented a tasting of three award-winning select barrel reserve tequilas- a silver, resposado, and añejo.
Gaston dusted the reposado with cinnamon, the añejo with cocoa, and brought out a plate of fresh mint that we got to slap (or spank) before adding a leaf to the glass of silver tequila.
I had such a good time that evening and look forward to Oak’s next culinary event. You can find out more about special events on the bottom right side of Oak’s website oakatfourteenth.com, or on their Facebook page facebook.com/oakatfourteenth. I’m going to do my best to attend their next event and hope to see you there, too.
THE FRESHEST MARGARITA
2 parts Milagro Silver
3/4 part Milagro Agave Nectar
1 part fresh lime juice
Combine all three ingredients in a Boston shaker glass. Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a slice of lime and salt (optional).
2 parts Milagro Silver
3/4 part Milagro Agave Nectar
1 part fresh lime juice
4 cucumber slices
1 pinch cilantro
1 thin jalapeño slice (or 2 if you’d like it spicy)
Muddle lime and cilantro in a Boston shaker glass. Add remaining ingredients, shake vigorously with ice, and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a slice of cucumber and a sprig of cilantro.
2 parts Milagro Reposado
3/4 part Milagro Agave Nectar
1 part fresh lime juice
4 pineapple chunks
2 basil leaves
3 dashes angostura bitters
splash of ginger beer
Muddle pineapple and basil in a Boston shaker glass. Add the remaining ingredients (except the ginger beer), shake vigorously with ice, and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Top off with ginger beer and garnish with a basil leaf.
2 parts Milagro Añejo
3/4 part Milagro Agave Nectar
1 part fresh lime juice
2 sage leaves
Muddle the fruit and herbs in a Boston shaker glass. Add the other ingredients, shake vigorously with ice, and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish the cocktail with a blackberry and a sage sprig.
Turning 21 is an exciting time, and it was a lot of fun to bring a group of college friends around town on a private birthday tour celebration for a taste of great food, libations, and delectable desserts.
We started at Tahona Tequila Bistro for a flight of tequilas- blanco, reposado, and añejo, as well as a taste of a coin-style margarita made with the three different tequilas.
We then walked to Aji for some Latin American appetizers: ceviche, blue corn dusted calamari, an empanada, and a mojito.
Our third stop was The Pinyon for fried chicken (of course), trotters on a house-made english muffin (The Pinyon is the only place in town serving trotters, by the way), and some 48-hour brisket. We sampled a couple beer cocktails while watching the esteemed chefs prepare each course.
Finally, we went to OAK at Fourteenth for a cocktail by Boulder’s illustrious Bryan Dayton, paired with a sample of their desserts.
As a tour guide, I must say that birthday tours are exceptionally fun. The group doesn’t just sit at one restaurant for a few hours- we progressively eat our way through town on a culinary exploration with friends. Happy 21st! I hope Local Table Tours made it memorable.
It has been many, many months, but OAK at Fourteenth has finally reopened, returning to Boulder one of the best dining experiences available, period. As a hungry local, I’ve had the sensory pleasure of sitting at a table, the bar, and the chef’s bar on a somewhat regular basis and it is often difficult for me to leave because I’m enjoying myself so immensely.
Chef owner Steve Redzikowski and libations expert and owner Bryan Dayton orchestrate a food and drink symphony that is each time equally perfect yet uniquely different. Pictures may say thousands of words, and they’ll hopefully tempt you to be treated to an almost fantastical culinary experience.
Check out these larger photos of Bryan Dayton playing with an ice ball he set on fire as he perfected the ice “cube” for a cocktail at our table.
OAK at Fourteenth- 303.444.3622
1400 Pearl Street, Boulder CO, 80302
Photos courtesy of Giovanni Castillo.
On a recent dining tour, Greg, the esteemed beverage manager at OAK at Fourteenth, made a unique new cocktail for us called a Valentine Fizz (it is February, after all).
You’re definitely going to have to get over to OAK for this cocktail because, even if you have all of these ingredients at home, it’s nice to have an expert do all of that shaking!
OAK’s just sweet enough and too complex to really describe Valentine Fizz has: Gin, Campari, Rose Water, Egg White, Lemon, Cream, and Peychaud’s Bitters, sweetly drawn in the shape of a heart.
And the sweetest detail of all- when we finished our cocktails, the heart shape remained at the bottom of the glass.
Some bars in Boulder are starting to serve ROOT, a pre-prohibition style spirit that is sure to please anyone who likes the flavor of root beer. In fact, root beer, a prohibition non-alcoholic beverage, got its start from Root Tea, an alcoholic spirit. The folks at Art in the Age say it best, so I’ll quote:
“Here at Art in the Age, we thought it would be interesting and fun to turn back the clock and recreate a true pre-temperance alcoholic Root Tea. We’ve even made it certified organic, since back then, everything was organic. This is the opposite of corporate culture. It’s a genuine experience rooted in history and our own landscape. It is a truly interesting and contemplative quaff. Certainly like nothing else we have ever tasted before. It is NOT Root Beer flavored vodka or a sickly sweet liqueur.”
I recently got to taste ROOT in 10 or 11 different cocktails at Colorado’s First ROOT Cocktail Competition and realized just how versatile this spirit actually is. If you enjoy the flavor or root beer, I can pretty much guarantee you’re going to like this spirit. it is available in Liquor Mart if you’re adventurous and enjoy dabbling in mixology at home.
One of my favorite restaurants in Boulder is Oak at Fourteenth. I’m not just saying that because they are a featured stop on Local Table Tours. I’m saying that because… well, because of a number of reasons.
First, the Fried Pickles. I’m serious. I could eat fried pickled from Oak every day for the rest of my life. The panko battered pickles are perfectly fried, subtly crunchy, and paired with a Green Goddess Aioli that complements the pickled taste of pickles.
I recently enjoyed a number of small plates on their midday menu, which, by the way, is a great reason to love Oak- they are open for midday food, which is somewhat of a rarity among restaurants of their acclaim in Boulder. I snacked on some pickles, Wood Oven Roasted Cauliflower, and my meat loving friends split the Meatballs (which were then talked about all afternoon as the “best” meatballs they’d ever eaten).
As everything was so fantastic, we held on to the menu and placed some more orders.
I could have eaten the Crispy Rock Shrimp all day…
And I think the biggest mistake I made was sharing the Yellow Fin Tuna Tataki with friends. I mean that! This is worth trying. It comes on a bed of cucumbers and is so light, fresh, and delicious.
But, what I find coolest about Oak at Fourteenth is that you can tell a man in a vest what type of spirits you prefer and he can create something unique with flavor profiles you enjoy.
I am a big fan of rye and like to taste new cocktail creations beyond the sazerac. New cocktail creations is what you’ll get at Oak. Besides their pre-prohibition-era cocktail menu, the beverage manager, Greg, is talented enough to ask you a few questions about your tastes and get to work creating something unique for you. I have never had the same cocktail twice while at Oak.
Greg knows I enjoy rye, and though I can’t remember what he used to create my cocktail (there was port, I remember) he chose local Denver-based small batch Leopold Brothers Maryland Style Rye Whiskey. I love supporting local restaurants when I dine as well as when I bring small groups on culinary walking tours, and I especially enjoy seeing the restaurants support other local businesses as well.
Oak at Fourteenth is very easy to find: 1400 Pearl Street, Boulder 303.444.3622