My Valentine and I got a head start on today’s holiday by attending the first ever “Buffalo Love” dinner at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Ky., on Feb. 11. This elegant dinner, catered by Dupree Catering in Lexington, paired six courses with Buffalo Trace products. After guests enjoyed passed appetizers and a special cocktail created for the event (recipe below), Buffalo Trace master blender Drew Mayville led us through the menu, noting what flavors we might expect and how they enhanced the food.
We started with oysters on the half shell garnished with a Bloody Mary granita made with Buffalo Trace’s Rain Organics Vodka - paired, of course, with Rain Organics Vodka. Made from organic white corn, this is one smooth, sweet sip. I’m not a big vodka drinker, but a bottle of this came home with us.
Next up was a bisque made from winter squash and pears, with a garnish of smoked ham. This paired well with Buffalo Trace, the distillery’s signature bourbon; its balance of flavors handled the sweet-and-savory nature of the bisque just fine.
A stronger bourbon was needed to handle the pungent flavor of the next course, a warm blue cheese souffle accompanied by a salad with cherry compote. Confession: I cannot do blue cheese; I’ve been accused of having an “immature palate” when it comes to cheese. But I had no trouble finishing my glass of Eagle Rare Single Barrel. (I did take a tiny nibble of the souffle and would agree that Eagle Rare did as good a job of standing up to it as anything could.)
I thoroughly enjoyed the fourth course, a lamb brochette with charred leaks and a Romesco sauce, which is made with tomatoes, almonds, roasted red bell peppers and garlic. (See the lovely presentation, below.)
This was paired with W.L. Weller, Buffalo Trace’s wheated bourbon, in which wheat replaces rye in the recipe.
Our final course before dessert was a sorghum-glazed pork belly resting atop black-eye-pea Johnnycakes and topped with fried kale. The sweetness of this dish was complemented nicely by the sweetness of Elmer T. Lee bourbon. You could enjoy Elmer T. Lee with dessert, in fact, but our hosts had another treat for us: three bite-sized desserts (a creme brulee, a hazlenut truffle and a shortbread cookie topped with a fig compote, below) paired with Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream, a cream liqueur similar to Bailey’s, but better.
Bourbon Cream is available only at the distillery’s gift shop and in select stores in Lexington and Louisville. A bottle of that came home with us, too.
You will notice that no buffalo were harmed in the making of any of these dishes. While potential caterers sometimes suggest Buffalo wings or bison burgers in an attempt at cleverness, public relations & events manager Amy Preske is clear: ”We never eat the mascot.”
Cheers to Buffalo Trace for a relaxing, romantic and educational evening.
And now, for that cocktail recipe:
1/2 part elderflower/grapefruit liqueur
1 1/2 parts Buffalo Trace bourbon
Combine and shake. Pour into cocktail (up) glass; float 1/2 part sparkling wine. Garnish with grapefruit zest.
This is a great palate-cleanser between appetizers and the main course.