5th Annual Holiday Dinner
With all that the holiday season brings, one of the highlights is to eat and drink in good company. On Tuesday, December 13, the Crafty Ladies gathered to celebrate their 5th annual holiday dinner. To keep in the holiday spirit, the kitchen staff at Highland Tap was sure to pull out all the stops to pair with the hop-forward brews by Melvin Brewing Company and tart selections from Crooked Stave. While sours and hops provide a challenge for chefs when conceptualizing a menu, Chef Eli Odell and staff prepared a six-course meal with ultra fresh ingredients and innovative combinations.
Each of the ladies and their guest for this special dinner received a glass of Killer Bees by Melvin as they arrived. Melvin representative Travis Cook described Killer Bees as “honey nut cheerios in a glass.” Following a welcome by Katie O’Shea was the first course. The Wild Sage Brettanomyces Saison by Crooked Stave was paired with a lemongrass corn soup topped with peekytoe crab from Browne Trading in Portland, Maine. Chef Eli had the crab overnighted and it arrived at Highland Tap and Burger the afternoon of the dinner. Since he grew up eating this crab and seafood on the east coast, he loves to incorporate it anytime he has the chance to fly it in.
The next few courses featured local ingredients, a medley of seafood, as well as some dishes you typically wouldn’t catch on a standard menu. “For the holiday dinner, I like to bust out shrimp the size of your head,” Chef Eli says. “We also use some special cuts of meat you wouldn’t use all the time, like the lamb venison.” Chef Eli explained that venison, the fourth course of the holiday dinner, would be tough to keep on a menu year-round per say but is fun to utilize in these special occasions.
Chef Eli admitted that since craft beers have an intense, extreme flavor profile, the prominence of the craft beer scene in Colorado presents a challenge for chefs. Since Melvin Brewing creates predominately hop-forward beer and Crooked Stave is “the king of sours” according to Chef Eli, he definitely had his work cut out for him. He said that the key, which he kept in mind while planning this menu, is to go outside the box and beyond people’s comfort zones flavor wise and utilize the spicy, bold flavors.
A clear crowd favorite was desert, a house-made donut with raspberry sauce coupled with hot chocolate made from scratch topped with Frangelico whipped cream and crushed pretzel and salt. Although it was the sixth and final course and many rich, flavorful dishes had come before it, clean plates were carried from the dining room back to the kitchen.
To see more photos from the holiday dinner, check out the Crafty Ladies Facebook Page!