Chef Patrick Ayres aims to put Colorado on the culinary map while supporting the local food system.
You might say that “roots run deep” at Cloverdale Farm and Restaurant. For the past several years, chef and owner Patrick Ayres has been on a culinary journey that brought him back to his home town of Steamboat Springs, where he reconnected with not only his personal roots, but also the roots of agriculture and “real food.”
Born in Baton Rouge, La., Ayres moved to Steamboat with his family at age 13. He started working in restaurants in high school, moving from busser to waiter and eventually to the kitchen, where he discovered his love for cooking. That passion led to a return to Baton Rouge to attend Louisiana Culinary Institute. He then went on to become executive sous chef of Canlis in Seattle.
Recently, Ayres’ journey came full circle when he moved back to Steamboat with his wife to raise their kids and pursue his dream of establishing a locally based farm-to-restaurant business in the Yampa Valley. “We knew there would be challenges given the climate and short growing season here—and a lot of people thought we were crazy—but we also knew it could be done,” he says.
Ayres and his team (including farm manager and master gardener Britni Johnson), spent two years experimenting with the farm—testing the soil, figuring out what they could grow and how, and adjusting their strategies based on what they learned. In July 2017, Cloverdale Restaurant opened a few miles down the road from the farm in a restored 100-year-old home, now on the Steamboat Springs Register of Historic Places. The farm provides the restaurant with fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs, honey, eggs and goats.
Vertical Arts Architecture worked with Ayres to transform the interior of the once-condemned building into a unique space with a “classy but comfortable” atmosphere. “We wanted to pay homage to the building’s history while also creating a fresh look that reflects the farm-to-table concept,” says the firm’s founder and principal Brandt Vanderbosch. Some of the striking design features include the host stand’s antique bathtub claw feet, an original stained-glass window peering into the kitchen, and the bar’s steel shelves that sit in front of the home’s original windows, allowing sunlight to filter in behind the liquor bottles, creating a special glow.
The restaurant features an ever-changing five- and 10- to 14-course tasting menu. Cloverdale aims to serve only locally sourced food—either from its own farm or from other producers in the Steamboat area. The bar menu, like the food, is seasonally appropriate and always evolving.
Ayres says the commitment to serving up what’s freshest from the farm is a fun challenge that yields creative results. For example, “At the beginning of summer, all that’s ready is lettuce,” explains Ayres. “So last summer we had to come up with all kinds of ways to use that surplus—which was really fun because we realized just how many interesting things you can do with greens. We came up with dishes like lettuce soup, lettuce-wrapped meats, and even a dandelion greens sorbet with pickled kohlrabi, which was a big hit.”
Yet for Ayres, the farm-to-table concept is about much more than the food itself—as delicious, fresh, and exciting as it may be. “My goal has always been to put Colorado on the culinary map, but I also believe we have to play our part to reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable food system,” he says.
Fortunately, what’s good for the environment is also good for our bellies—and here in Colorado, that concept is growing right along with the fresh, tasty produce on Cloverdale Farm.
207 9th St.
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487
Dinner served Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
1 ½ ounces Golden Moon gin
3/4 ounce lemon juice
½ ounce homemade Colorado raspberry syrup
¾ ounce Dolin dry vermouth
1 egg white
Dry shake all ingredients for 30 seconds.
Add ice to shaker and shake again for 15 seconds.
Double strain into coupe and garnish with oregano flowers and dianthus.
2 ¼ oz Golden Moon gin
¾ oz lemon juice
¾ oz local honey syrup (equal parts local honey and water)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake for 30 seconds. Double strain into coupe and garnish with sweet alyssum flowers.
1 cauliflower head, florets removed and sliced thin
1 shallot, sliced
2 tbs butter
1 cup dry white wine
2 quarts water
1 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste
Melt butter in a saucepan and add the shallots and a pinch of salt. Sweat shallots until translucent, careful not to allow any coloring.
Add cauliflower and again season with a pinch of salt. Sweat until the edges begin to soften.
Add white wine and reduce by half.
Add water, cover with a parchment lid, and simmer until the cauliflower is cooked all of the way through.
Add cream, bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes. Simmer too long and the soup will turn brown.
Remove from heat and blend for 3 minutes or until completely smooth. Pass through a fine mesh strainer.
Season with salt if necessary.
2 grapefruits, peel removed and trimmed of pith
1 cup grapefruit flesh (segments)
¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice
¾ cup water
¼ cup sugar
½ pound cold butter, diced
Salt to taste
Blanch the grapefruit peels in a small pot of boiling water for 30 seconds to remove some of the bitterness.
Combine the blanched peels and the remaining ingredients, except the butter, into a pot. Bring to a simmer and reduce the liquid by half. Place the mixture into a blender and blend on high for 1 minute. Begin to add the cold butter, one piece at a time to emulsify. After all butter is incorporated, let blend for 30 more seconds and then strain.
Season with salt and let cool. Will thicken as it cools.
Reheat soup and ladle into bowls.
Drizzle with grapefruit butter and garnish with a fresh nasturtium leaf for a peppery note.
Also, if desired, roast some cauliflower florets for an additional garnish.
Lindsay Nicole Mitchell is a freelance writer and marketing communications consultant based in Colorado Springs. She has written for Southwest Art and other regional magazines and websites. lindsay-mitchell.com.
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