Stanley Hotel Food and Wine Tasting

On Sunday we headed up to Estes Park, where I attended a food and wine tasting at Cascades, the restaurant at the historic Stanley Hotel.  The Stanley is most widely known as the site of the film The Shining, but it has a long and interesting history that predates Jack Nicholson’s famous turn as its resident madman.  The tasting was attended by a dozen Boulder-area food and wine bloggers, and our hosts, Mark Orttel, the Director of Food and Beverage, and Richard Beichner, Executive Chef, provided an extensive and impressive array of dishes and adult beverages over the course of the evening.  My favorite dish was the starter, a deconstructed Reuben that featured a delicate, pastrami-cured salmon, Thousand Island panna cotta, a dill-laced cucumber slaw, and rye croutons.  I loved the textural contrast of the different elements, and the panna cotta was beautifully rich.

The chef talked us through each course, and it was really a pleasure to hear how much thought went into each dish.  Another favorite was a raw vegetable salad of watermelon radish, carrot, Tokyo turnip, fennel, and asparagus, dressed with a clear honey mustard dressing.  Chef Beichner explained that the dressing was made with mustard oil in lieu of mustard, to maintain the clarity, as well as honey and verjus (the juice of unripened grapes).  It was light and nicely balanced.

I normally skip the bread basket, but succumbed to the warm rosemary bread, which I  drizzled with the lemon and shallot infused olive oil.  Worth it.

Here’s a course I want to try at home, with some adaptations.  This was a “pasta” made of zucchini, topped with a San Marzano tomato sauce and some truffled pecorino, served with some little “meatballs” made of rock shrimp.  I loved the “pasta” and will absolutely be trying this with the upcoming summer bounty.  I enjoyed the flavor of the rock shrimp meatballs, but not the texture, which reminded me of shu mai.  While I am a fan of shu mai, I thought the meatballs were a little too soft to complement the rest of the dish.  The zucchini had a perfect texture, and the tomato sauce was full bodied and balanced.

The dessert course was really lovely, with a warm, nutmeg-dusted donut nestled next to a scoop of house-made vanilla bean gelato.  Bruleed grapefruit and an underlayer of salted caramel sauce pulled it all together for a lightly sweet, nicely complex dessert.

Following the dessert course (and some really wonderful ice wine), we were served trays of mignardises (that just means tiny desserts…).  There were some nicely-chewy raspberry chocolate tarts, gold-flecked caramel truffles, and, my personal favorite, assorted macarons.

These were the highlights, and we all enjoyed a variety of wine pairings and assorted cocktails throughout the event.  Really, a beautiful meal.  Kudos to the chef…

The Stanley is worth a visit just to check out the amazing views, including the  mountain view from the porch.  Mark Orttel and Chef Beichner are working to produce menus that will satisfy adventurous diners and elk-gazing tourists alike, and I was impressed with the inventive food.  If you are fortunate enough to be in the Estes Park area, head up to The Stanley and grab some views, then settle in for a meal. We were assured that the only ghosts inhabiting the hotel are of the friendly sort.

I am in the process of doing a blog transfer, as well as undergoing some life transitions, so I have not been posting as much as I would like–expect that all to change very soon, and I promise some new recipes!

Thanks for reading,


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  1. Oh what a lovely sounding (and looking) evening. I'm with you, the pasta sounds delicious.

  2. Oh, what a gorgeous, fabulous meal!

  3. The Stanley is such a special place and it sounds like you were treated like royalty. My son had a raw foods restaurant in Santa Cruz years ago and made incredible zucchini pasta using a spiralizer. I'm thinking of getting one soon!

  4. Lisa @ Snappy Gourmet

    Oh my, sounds like an amazing meal! I'll take one of each of those plates!!

  5. What a great meal! Your pictures and descriptions made me want to dig right in.

  6. Beautiful photos! Thanks for joining 🙂 Hope to see you again soon!

  7. Looks yummy. Can we go there when I visit?

  8. I am definitely going to buy one–I so was so impressed with it, and I try to avoid flour. Would love to try his place!

  9. You get yourself here, and I will show you an excellent time!

  10. cabernet sauvignon

    The food looks great, but I wish I could see pictures of the wine. That still doesn't change the fact that I'd also want to get in on that feast if I could.

  11. I know, I really should have done a second post on the wine and drinks–the wine was mostly house wine (good, but not notable), but the ice wine with dessert was fantastic.

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