It was late night, and we both were exhausted and soaking wet. Benny motioned to me and poured another embarrassing amount of really good red wine into my pint glass. I was washing dishes and Benny was meticulously wiping down his work station. In spite of feeling beat, we were in great spirits. As we were recapping the stunning dinner we had just shared, Patrick burst loudly into the kitchen and said something in drunken French I could not understand. I was in heaven.
Benny Kaplan, Chef/Owner of Shazz and Patrick Dupays Chef/Owner of Z cuisine had somehow gotten their greedy, talented hands on a rare organic Mule Footed Pig. The Mule Footed Pig is a rare heirloom breed that has almost been squeezed out of existence by commercial farmers seeking leaner, more uniform ‘factory’ pigs. Benny and Patrick could have split this treasure up, serving this amazing meat in their respective restaurants, and in doing so they could have driven their reputations even higher, but instead they decided that they would rather celebrate this ‘score’ in style. They invited 40 of their closest friends to Shazz on a Tuesday night (Benny is always closed on Tuesday night) and they threw down– one of those ‘No-holds-barred, no-detail- spared, inspired’ kind of throw-downs. From what I can remember the menu went something like:
Pate of pork shoulder and duck liver, house made lardo, with crostini
Fresh made andoullie sausage with seared Alaskan sea scallops
Potatoes Gratin De Cabasa
Pork Belly sliders
Standing Pork rib roast
(The standing roast changed my life)
Chocolate covered bacon rolled in candied pecans
I finished the last course standing at the hot grill with Patrick arguing about technique and discussing American BBQ, drinking wine, and eating right off the fire. I had abandoned the dinning room completely.
I don’t think we got out of there until almost 3 in the morning. Benny had let his whole staff go and we handled the clean up. All of us had to work the next day, but it was worth it. It was one of those meals you have dreams about, a forever standing bench mark in your mind of what is possible when the stars align and the magic happens. The other thing I walked out of there that night with, besides a hangover, was a promise from Benny to work with me on a whiskey dinner. Months later we talked and tossed around some ideas. We wanted to utilize all the elements of my whiskey in the cooking, not just drink the whiskey, but to eat it as well. We brainstormed and rejected the ideas too adventurous for civilians, and decided on a exciting walk through the flavors associated with the whiskey. This is what we came up with.
Duck Prosciutto, Duck Liver Pate, Fried Duck Heart
Stranahan’s barley salad, Goat cheese, Barley Vinaigrette
Stranahan’s Whiskey Barrel Smoked Rib Trio
Lamb rib, Pork Spare rib, Beef short rib, House-made Stranahan’s BBQ sauce, cole slaw
(ribs smoked with wood from Stranahan’s barrels)
Stranahan’s Whiskey tasting hosted by Head Distiller Jake Norris
Apple bread pudding
Stranahan’s toffee sauce
I can’t promise that Benny will let you wash dishes when it is over, but I can promise you that you will love every bite and leave with more friends than you came in with.
The dinner will begin at 7:00 p.m. It is four courses plus cocktails for $50 per person. Please call Shazz directly for reservations as they will not be available through Opentable
4262 Lowell Blvd
Denver, Colorado 80211