Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nescafe Dolce Gusto Event @ Root Down

There's a huge part of my life that I can't believe I've actually never mentioned on the Rocky Mountain Oyster.

I am a major, major coffee addict.

From the time I wake up until the time my body has absorbed a significant quantity of caffeine, everything around me is an irritating, blurry, unbearably complicated and exhausting trainwreck. Coffee is the backbone of my existence, and I'm very happy with that.

So I couldn't pass up a recent invitation to combine coffee with incredible food from Root Down, which is one of my favorite restaurants in Denver. See my review of Root Down (9 of 10 stars) from April.

The event was a "Foodie Feed Up" organized to promote Nescafe's Dolce Gusto line of single-serve coffee makers.

Prior to this event, the only other blogger I'd met was Ms. Sizzling Cupcake, so it was great to meet a bunch of fellow bloggers and not feel like a self-conscious dorkface when I took pictures of all the food.

We started out with wine and five of Root Down's standard appetizers.

Seared Colombian Arepas:
Seared Colombian Arepas

These arepas, made from corn flour, were filled with mozzarella and topped with poblano-pistachio pesto, something they call achiote crema, and pico de gallo. In other words, its a corn-based grilled cheese. They were good but nothing special.

Sweet Potato "Falafel":
Sweet Potato "Falafel"

I guess they put "falafel" in quotes because it's a falafel in looks alone. The sweet potato base is mixed with a variety of spices and vegetables, fried to perfection, and topped with lemon-tahini Yogurt, Israeli salad, sesame seeds and chile oil. I've had these at Root Down before and they're very tasty.

Lamb Sliders:
Lamb Sliders
The mini burgers were topped with aged cheddar, harissa aioli, and arugula. They were outstanding, with a much simpler and more delectable flavor profile than the Buffalo Sliders that I've had before at Root Down. The lamb was incredibly rich and well seasoned. The giant helping of organic sweet potato fries and mint-garlic yogurt dipping sauce disappeared fast. 

Organic Butternut-Ricotta Gnocchi:
Organic Butternut-Ricotta Gnocchi

Besides the gnocchi, this plate contained mushrooms, spinach, black currants, shallots, chile flake, brown butter, sage pesto and pecorino. While the gnocchi itself had a lovely creamy-sweet flavor and perfect texture, I really didn't care for the appetizer as a whole. Everything was a bit greasy and there were too many flavors and textures on the plate.

Devils on Horseback:
Devils on Horseback
The name "Devils on Horseback" isn't very descriptive; the small bites are comprised of date and goat cheese stuffed peppadews, wrapped in serrano ham, and served with smoked paprika-sherry gastrique. Peppadews, by the way, are a variety of small, sweet-and-spicy peppers native to South Africa.

I wrote about my love of the Devils on Horseback on my previous Root Down review, and they were just as insanely good at my second taste. Hands down my favorite appetizer at Root Down, and certainly one of the best in Denver overall.

While we were enjoying the appetizers, Root Down's Kitchen Manager, Daniel Asher, spoke to our group about Root Down's philosophy and practices in sourcing the restaurant's ingredients.  He encouraged us to understand where our food comes from, and to make informed choices about sustainable and local produce and meats.

It was then time for dessert:

Almond Fluffernutter. Flourless Chocolate Cake, Cashew Caramel Creme Almond Corn Flake,
Bruleed Fluff, and Candied Citrus
Banana "Creme Brulee" Pie. Peanut butter-chocolate crispy crust
and sweet whipped sour cream
Croissant Bread Pudding. Whiskey Butter Sauce
& Sour Cream Ice Cream
Apple & Butternut Squash Cheesecake. Ginger Anglaise,
Black Tea Reduction, and  Walnut Ice Cream
I only tried a very small bite of each; the decadent banana "creme brulee" pie was my favorite.

We then had a coffee demonstration for the Dolce Gusto:
Dolce Gusto Coffee Presentation
Nescafe's Dolce Gusto machines are a line of single-serve coffee makers that appear to have more versatility and a much wider range of beverage options than many other single-serve coffee makers. I had no idea, but most coffee-house espresso machines operate at around 150 to 215 psi; the Dolce Gusto operates at 215 psi (for reference, that's about seven times the pressure in a car tire). The machine makes both hot and cold beverages, including espressos, cappuccinos, chai lattes and iced teas.

I tried the Cappuccino Skinny, which had a smooth and mild flavor, a nice froth, and came in at only 50 calories per serving. My husband tried the Mocha, which he enjoyed, and the Nestea Peach Iced Tea, which was very sweet (though Nestea is normally very sweet in all forms its sold in). Also keep in mind that the Nestea Peach Iced Tea is sweetened with sugar and aspartame, and contains artificial flavors and vegetable oils. All the coffee-based flavors had a much simpler ingredient base.

Nescafe also sent each of us a Piccolo, which is one of five of the Dolce Gusto machine varieties.

For more information:

Nescafe Dolce Gusto:

Root Down:

Disclaimer: The event described above, including the complimentary coffee maker, was fully paid for by Nescafe to promote their Dolce Gusto coffee makers. All opinions are my own. 


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