Elise Wiggins struts "Summer Local Week" at Panzano

Elise at the ranch.jpg
Lori Midson
You've heard it all before: the local, sustainable, organic, farm-to-table, eco-conscious culinary buzzword chant that chefs, foodniks and food writers dispense to ballyhoo the food movement of the moment. Some chefs are professionally rehearsed in the hyperbole, despite the fact that a peek in their walk-ins raises skeptical eyebrows -- and the commercial delivery trucks parked in their alleyways point to bulk warehouses rather than dedicated locavore farms.

But there are other chefs -- kitchen kingpins like Elise Wiggins, the exec chef of Panzano -- who practice what they preach, and beginning today and continuing through Sunday, July 31, Wiggins is swaggering "Summer Local Week," seven days of eating dedicated to celebrating the state's food riches. She's created a four-course menu, available at both lunch and dinner, that utilizes nearly 100 percent local ingredients, and her dishes are all designed to be paired with Colorado wines, beers and cocktails.

In addition to her local-centric tasting menu, Wiggins plans to roast a Triple M Bar Ranch Colorado lamb on the Panzano patio during the day, while simultaneously giving out tastes of Rocky Ford melon sorbet. Best of all, five percent of sales from the tasting menu will be donated to the Denver chapter of Dress for Success.

And speaking of that tasting menu, here's the lineup:

First Course

Pan-seared scallop with grilled local corn, prosciutto and basil
Pairing: Infinite Monkey Theorem Semillon

Second Course

Grilled Caesar salad
Pairing: Avery White Rascal

Third Course

Whole roasted rosemary Colorado lamb, gnocchi, walnuts, mint pesto, dried pomegranate and goat cheese
Pairing: Guy Drew Syrah

Dessert Course

Rocky Ford melon sorbetti
Pairing: Infinite Monkey Theorem Black Muscat

The tasting dinner -- food only -- is $25 per person at lunch and $39 at dinner; with pairings, lunch is $38 and dinner is $52. To make reservations, call 303-296-3525.

Location Info

Panzano

909 17th St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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8 comments
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GFTW
GFTW

I guess the scallops come from Chatfield Reservoir.

Lori Midson
Lori Midson

If you read the post, it says "NEARLY 100 percent." 

I'm happy to supply a definition of "nearly" if need be.

GFTW
GFTW

Yeah, I read that. But scallops are the MAIN ingredient in that dish. But, oh, we'll throw in some LOCAL corn! Locavores are so full of shit, and the whole movement is silly.

Offthetopofmyhead...
Offthetopofmyhead...

Summertime crispy sweetbread salad.  Local arrugula, mustard, olive oil, corn, bell pepper, shallots, garlic, and parsley.  Lemons for juice, salt & pepper would have to be trucked in, I'm guessing.

GFTW
GFTW

Yep, or maybe Frank Bonanno. But if it was, I think that would be mentioned.

Mantonat
Mantonat

It could easily come from Il Mondo Vecchio or could be made in-house.

GFTW
GFTW

Or Rocky Mountain Oysters. :P I'm also curious where the prosciutto comes from.

Mantonat
Mantonat

I think it's a little unfortunate that a menu stressing local ingredients has a seafood item as the very first thing you read. But there's also a big difference between being "locavore" and simply attempting to build a menu with as many Colorado ingredients as possible. The locavore movement is based on a dogmatic adherance to eating food that comes from within a specific radius - 100-200 miles, say. It's one thing to say "look at all this great stuff growing in Colorado!" and another thing entirely to say "I am philosophically opposed to supporting the industrial system that is behind the growing and shipping of almost everything you can buy in the average market or restaurant."

The only things I see on the menu that probably don't come from here are the scallops, the pomegranates, and the walnuts (most likely). A true locavore would also question the source of the staples used in preparing the food: oils, salts, spices, citrus fruit, etc.

A good local ingredient to sub for the scallop? How about sweetbreads?

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