With local chefs continuing to step up the restaurant game, it’s no longer a surprise to find outstanding wine lists, spirits offerings and contemporary menus in Breckenridge. Spencer’s Restaurant takes it one step further with a variety of pairing dinners incorporating a different wine, beer or spirit with each of several courses. Even better? Spencer’s executive chef Jeremy Caprari walks diners through each course, teaching guests how to taste and what to look for in each pairing. Now that’s what we call education.
How do you choose the distillers or the winery?
For most dinners, the vintner or distiller usually approaches myself and/or Beaver Run. Each dinner usually starts with a sit-down tasting. During the dinner, as we go through each spirit, I try to concentrate on the tastes that are pronounced, and move on from there.
Describe a typical paring dinner.
I like to start each dinner with something lighter and progressively move forward in depth. With this lighter start, I try to bring out the citrus notes; the citrus and acids usually help cleanse the palate for the upcoming courses. Then I move into a little darker and more complex spirits, usually bringing out the caramel notes with a course that is a little sweeter; then the entrees follow. I take into consideration the unique flavors of each spirit and use those flavors in the dish, or I’ll go the complete opposite direction and use a contrasting flavor to accentuate.
Later, we move into deeper flavors usually brought through the aging process and careful crafting. At the end stages of the entrees, I
try to layer as many flavors as I can to compliment the spirit. Through grilling, braising or roasting meats I can add various levels of flavor to create distinct flavors that will complement each spirit. The dessert course will be very different depending on the spirit or cordial.
What might the dessert course pairing look like?
With the Mezzacorona wine dinner, our dessert course wine is the Feudo Arancio “Hekate” Passito. This passito is very sweet with an earthy, buttery and almost sour, or tangy, finish. So we are doing a homemade pumpkin- and apple butter-filled beignet with a goat cheese ice cream. This vastly complements all the subtleties this passito brings: the pumpkin for the earthiness, fresh Granny Smith apples for the tangy notes, and the creaminess of the sharp goat cheese ice cream contrasts with the passito’s finish.
Then we can take a look at how different [a beer dinner could be. Avery Brewing’s Mephistopheles’] stout is a powerful and complex beer that was like drinking chocolate milk. We did a dessert called the Devil’s Kiss that was layers of chocolate soufflé cake and various textures including layers of a raspberry gelee and a strawberry Bavarian. The berries cut through the intense flavors of the stout and help the palate discern the difference and complexities of flavors. Then this dessert was topped with a warm chocolate glaze to help bring out the chocolaty-ness of the Mephistopheles.
What is unique about the pairing dinners at Spencer’s?
It has been an honor to be approached by some amazing vintners and distillers from Kunde, Hess, the Balvenie, Avery and our next endeavor with the Mezzacorona portfolio. Each of these companies has taken many years of pride and passion to perfect their craft. Each one is unique in their own way, which allows me the opportunity to create a unique experience when teamed up together.
Give us a little background on you.
I am a third-generation chef, born here in Colorado, but spent my childhood chasing the sun between winters in Florida and summers on Long Island, N.Y. I attended Johnson and Wales in North Miami. And I have traveled and cooked
around the country with and for some amazing chefs. I worked as the Chef Tournant for Colorado Springs’ Broadmoor, the longest standing five-star, five-diamond property in North America.
[Check out this photo of Caprari serving up New Orleans-style classics during the Mardi Gras Ball.]
Where can we find information about future parings?
We do a multitude of advertising from radio ads to the Summit Daily., as well as a lot of in-house promotion through our front desk and concierge. We always take reservations at Spencer’s at 970-453-8755