Let us gather.
Recently I was invited to attend The Denver Botanic Gardens somewhat hush-hush, new pop-up dinner, Gather.
Hosted quarterly at Denver Botanic Gardens in partnership with Catering by Design and a local chef in the Denver area, Gather is a somewhat new initiative for the Botanic Gardens but it’s open to the public and you should keep your ears open for the next! Past chefs included Top Chef Hosea Rosenberg, Fruition’s Alex Seidel and Panzano’s Elise Wiggins. The dinner I attended was with Chef Daniel Asher of Rootdown and Linger – two of my favorite restaurants in the Denver area.
The dinner is served family style in their Orangery space, with four courses that are seasonally-inspired and creatively prepared just for the evening. It’s BYOB and the cost if $75 per person. The dinner can fit up to 75 people.
Surprised about this lucrative and special pop-up farm-like dinners at Botanic Gardens amongst their beautiful, 45 different garden space? Well, I was. I had no idea.
Furthermore, I also learned about all their other food initiatives they host. They have 600 classes a year and a large portion are food-related ranging from canning, cooking classes, preparing the perfect picnic, plant to plate cooking for children and even an upcoming event called “The Drunken Botanist” which will have a mixology cocktail focus from famed author, Amy Stewart. You can learn more about their programming, lectures and classes here.
Gather – The Evening:
As I’ve written about other farm dinners, I adore family-style eating as you “break bread” together, meet strangers over engaging topics and of course, enjoy a rewarding meal. Gather proved to be a special evening, facilitating all these wonderful components.
We started our evening with a Beet Down cocktail from Root Down’s Mike Henderson, a cocktail service tech. The drink was a beautiful beet red and included gin, aperol, canton ginger liquer, beet juice, mint and lemon juice.
The cocktails were served with a metal spoon that also served as a fork and of course, are reusable so they cut down on waste with regular straws.
Our first course was a simple, yet incredible flavorful salad titled, “Spring has almost sprung” with radishes of the moment, grilled ramps, english peas, beets, salt roasted baby turnips, broken shovels chevre, chili peptias and micro celery.
A special treat during this dish was their hydroponic station from Aero Farms that sat in between our two long tables. Asher encouraged diners to get up and pick greens to add to their salad. Everything on this dish, was picked that day and I loved the interactive piece of choosing some spicy greens from the hydroponic “salad tower”. Talk about a vegetable to plate experience.
Our second dish was the most whimsical and beautiful visually. It was an Andalusian white gazpacho with fresh green almonds, marconas, fiddleheads, chili oil, sweet apple vinegar, rhubarb, cucumber brunoise and micro celery.
The dish was served with all the “toppings” and then the gazpacho was poured on top. This was a thoughtful presentation and playful way to serve our dish.
Our main dish was an interpretation of peking duck with Maple Leaf Farms duck leg confit, hoisin lacquer, White Mountain Farms black quinoa (Colorado quinoa), dried cherries and pistachio.
Finally, for dessert, they served cheesecake outside the box with pineapple mascarpone, Lundberg Farms jasmine rice, pineapple jalapeno jam, macadamia and sesame.
The evening began at 6:30 PM and we left at around 9:15 PM. It was a leisurely evening, filled with great conversation, thoughtful food and a fresh perspective. It felt special to be sitting amongst the beautiful gardens in Denver and sharing with everyone around you (strangers or not).
Learn More: If you’re interested in participating in these wonderful dinners, you can keep tabs on the Botanic Gardens calendar here. Although the next one isn’t on there yet, you can expect to see it sometime around September. Then you too, can be part of these pop-up dinners that celebrate such local, quality food.