Corner House Fall Tasting Puts Me in the Mood of the Season

There was something special about this experience in the wide and varied dishes we got to try during a recent media tasting showcasing the new Fall menu at Corner House.
When we conceptualized and hosted chef events through FORK, a key component of those was to have the chef introduce their food, whether it was presented family-style or in courses, and tell us their inspirations for each dish, where notable ingredients came from, their overall food philosophy.
We instinctively knew this mattered – the stories behind things – and that people care and connect in a more meaningful way to the experience when they’re able to hear those stories directly from the person who created the dishes.
Because that happened during this tasting, it, along with the incredible food, enchanted me.
Take the crispy chicken thigh, with balsamic onions and Spanish rice.
I noticed how the rice was clumpy – in a good way – and also had a slight crunch.
These two characteristics are indicative of authenticity.
Cocolon [co-co-loan] – which is an important element of rice cooked in the Ecuadorian style – is the name for the crunch.
I know this, because I’ve eaten my fair share of rice cooked by my Ecuadorian mother-in-law.
There’s even a restaurant in Guayaquil, Ecuador by the name.
You first add the rice to the butter and/or oil to toast it – like the method for risotto.
Some hardcore cocolon enthusiasts add a step at the end, after all the liquid has been absorbed, turning the heat up high for 30 seconds or so, to create a full layer of this crunch on the bottom of the rice.
It’s my husband’s favorite part.
When I asked the chef if he had any Hispanic [Spain and Portugal] or Latino [Latin America] in his background, he told the story of growing up in a primarily Mexican part of Denver, and learning much about the culture.
The story helped me understand his food more, and endeared me to it.
The other standout dish was the mussels with San Marzano broth.
Such an incredible dish in fact, that when I got home from the tasting, I immediately added it to our Things That Will Change Your Life for the Better list.
I wrote:
“I’ve eaten mussels at many places in my time, and none – not even the ones I once had with chorizo in the broth [as we all know, chorizo is hard to beat] – have come close to the beautiful flavor in this dish. Put grilled ciabatta with chive aioli on the side for dipping, and it’s stratospherically good.”
We tasted many other things, including a couple of frisee salads – one with fried egg, which to me, is a perfect thing to put with a lettuce-based salad – as well as the Alamosa striped bass with lima bean and braised frisee, which was warming and hearty; great options for the non meat-eaters.
We also got to try a couple of desserts – a peach cobbler, and a s’mores [you had me at s’mores] panini.
Both were wonderful, and just a matter of mood as to which you’d choose when dining there.
Chef explained to us how important meeting the dining needs and preferences of the neighborhood are, and I loved hearing that.
So many chefs are hardheaded [she says lovingly] – as most artists are – about executing their vision in their work.
I understand this, but when it comes to restaurants, a happy middle way has to be achieved.
People have too many dining options to return to a place that doesn’t fully consider them.
Just as a great writer considers the reader – while still telling the truth as they see it – a great chef does the same for their diners.

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