Recap: A Grazing Life “A Night on the Ranch”

Saturday, August 26, RMFR paid a visit to Corner Post Meats to partake in “A Night on the Ranch” the legitimate farm to table dining experience from A Grazing Life. Although it was originally scheduled to be the last farm tour and dinner this summer, due to such an outpouring of support and popularity, founder, Mike Preisler is adding two additional dates. Saturdays, September 23, chef Franco Ruiz and Fruition Restaurant and September 30, chef Scott Hybbeneth with Carboy Winery will bring some Denver flavor down to round out the first season. Tickets will be available at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, September 1.

The event begins with a meet and mingle style happy hour to allow for the guests to get acquainted, peruse pamphlets and information on local small businesses and enjoy tastings from Sette Dolori Winery, located in Black Forest, Colorado.

Preisler gathers everyone together to introduce the evening’s featured chef, Jay Gust from Pizzeria Rustica and TAPAteria. Then proceeds to lead everyone onto the trailers to start an informative, 90-minute guided tour of the property.

Members from The Westin A. Price Foundation take in the tour.

As we roll past the poultry, Preisler discusses the symbiotic relationship that Corner Post maintains with the wild life and natural elements. He also broaches the subject as to why dark meat is actually better than the more sought after, store-bought white meat. Preisler explains that the deeper color is an indication of healthy blood flow from a chicken that receives proper exercise.

We continue on toward “wine and swine” getting the opportunity to pet the pigs, sample more vino and take in the scenery.

Horses gallop by the trailer ahead of a drove of cattle and we circle back around the ranch to pick out a signature glass from an assortment of chalices and take our seats. When we arrive WireWood Station is set up on the porch to serenade guests (a killer cover of The Eagles song “Hotel California” stands out) and loaves of bread from The Sourdough Boulangerie await diners on the communal table.

Soon after the first course arrives, a pureed roasted squash and chiles soup with succulent slices of pork jowl and a lightly crunchy corn relish.

“That’s the best pork jowl I’ve ever worked with,” says chef Gust.

The second course comes out on large platters to share family-style and the rest of the meal follows suit. Plates pile high with an earthy quinoa and kale salad with charred beets from New Roots Farm in Pueblo, Colorado, topped with a herb vinaigrette.

The third course, our entree, showcases pickled beef tongue and braised pork shoulder with roasted leeks, green peppers, squash and potatoes from Frost Farm in Fountain, Colorado. Luscious pork jus and honey crisp apple ginger chutney offer balanced finishing touches to the hearty dish.

The fourth course brings a savory dessert with roasted delicata squash and AVOG peaches with honey from Blue Raven Farm in Pueblo, Colorado. The starchiness from the squash offers a crust-like consistency which reads like a fibrous variation on peach pie.

As dinner begins to wind down some guests give in to a second helping of sweets as they find warmth from the fire pit and roast s’mores. Preisler gladly hands out goodie bags, which lands us a couple of bottles of Venice Olive Oil Co. to take home, and Corner Post distributes orders taken earlier in the evening to giddy buyers, like ourselves.

“Last Saturday was the perfect end to an awesome summer,” says Preisler. “Chef Jay did such an incredible job and it’s great to work with a chef that is so passionate about his ingredients. Not to mention he used pork jowl and beef tongue, two of my favorite cuts of meats. It was also great to see our guests so enthralled with the ranch tour. Having people leave with an education and connection to their rancher is why we do it all. And the music rocked!”

Chef Jay Gust admits that he is enamored with the quality of the product he was able to work with for the dinner and in awe of the ranch itself.  Corner Post continues to rotate their livestock around the property which allows the animals to cultivate the land leaving their surroundings better than the way they were found.

“I absolutely loved it,” says Gust. “The way they’re doing the ranch and property management is just brilliant. They’re thinking outside of the box. It’s a breathtaking property and a really great event with a lot of good people. I had a blast. The more exposure they can get the better. Hopefully they can start changing how people operate their ranches and result in a better product. That’s something we want to continue to support.”

Left to right: Chef Jay Gust and founder of A Grazing Life, Mike Preisler.