The Clever Root

Spring 2018

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s p r i n g 2 0 1 8 | 7 1 Where "Constraint Drives Creativity" Moving the needle still further in the Centennial State are visionaries Patrick Ayers and Seth O'Donovan. In 2015, Ayers began single-handedly working a 1902 homestead at the edge of Steamboat Springs that today includes orchards, low-tunnel gardens, and a green- house for hundreds of crops. The property is overseen by a full-time staff who also raise goats, chickens, and bees. Ayers opened a fine-dining restaurant, Cloverdale, in town last year to feature the enviable bounty of this homestead. It garnered immediate acclaim for elaborate tasting menus com- posed of dishes like rutabaga "pappardelle" with smoked trout, juniper- and pine-scented new potatoes, and lamb sweetbreads with pickled peppers and preserved cardoons. The terroir- driven thrill is in "figuring out which ingredients to highlight" through the microseasons, Ayer explains. "In winter we're going to have more pickles, more root vegetables, more earthy flavors. That's what we have; that's the only way it can be." As the mastermind behind The Guest House in Carbondale, O'Donovan concurs. She and her partners are now raising water buffalo on a ranch—now in its sixth generation of family owner- ship—that already supported game hunting and grazing for both cattle and sheep. They tend countless heirloom and prototype crops in their gardens and woodstove-fed greenhouses there, and also plan to oversee a Biodynamic vineyard to serve a forthcoming boutique hotel. "The entire point is to constrain ourselves to one piece of land," O'Donovan says. When it comes to truly defining the nature of Colorado cuisine, O'Donovan believes "the constraint drives the creativity." "We're starting to ask the hard questions," she says. "What do you do about sugars in Colorado? All we produce is honey, so we're putting in hives. What do you do about oils? We're using land-produced fats like lard. What about spices? We're forag- ing a mixture of herbs from our property and calling it 'land spice.'" As Rosenberg puts it, "We have to work a lot harder here—but there's so much more we can do with what we have." PHOTO: MCCALL BURAU PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO: DANIELLE ZIMMERER A recent item on Cloverdale's ever-changing, ten- to 14-course tasting menu: pear and butternut squash pops. Mercantile Dining & Provision in Denver's Union Station operates as a fast-casual market, deli, and coffee bar. ■cr

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