Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Euclid Hall Inspiration, Grilled Cheese: Camembert with Pear Puree (And A Walk Through LoDo)

It was 5:30 in the afternoon (or should I say early evening) and the babysitter had arrived. We had a quick review of instructions/suggestions, said goodbye to the boys (in a very undramatic way) and we were out the door- very, very happy to spend a night out on the town. It is a rare occasion. 
We met two other couples for drinks at Peak's Lounge, a bar near the top of the Hyatt Hotel, which is known for its spectacular views of the city and the mountains. After a round, or was it two (?), it was time to head out for dinner, located about 8 blocks away. The restaurant, Euclid Hall, is one of three Jennifer Jasinski joints on or near Larimer Street. I was excited to try it. We didn't have reservations so the wait was pretty long. Not to worry though, we hit the bar. And as best as I can recollect, the drinks were excellent. I got the "Rosita"- Republic Blanco tequila, Campari, sweet vermouth, lavender simple syrup and lemon juice. It was an a** kicker...and very good.  
Euclid Hall is definitely not what I would call a vegetarian haven (it's motto is "Crafted, Not Cranked Out" and that refers to their sausage), but it had quite a few options for yours truly. I shared a mushroom poutine and the gingered spring vegetable were excellent. For my main I had a delicious sandwich-- "Griddled Camembert and Pear Preserve Sandwich" which was served with a red grape and basil salad, topped with a sherry vinaigrette.
When I got home I knew I was going to make something like it for lunch. The pairing of Camembert and pear is a really nice alternative to classic grilled cheese. And with the Denver Bread Company a short walk from my house, I can get fresh (amazing) artisanal bread in a snap!  
As for the cheese, I picked up a really delicious Camembert from my local cheese shop, St. Killian's. The people who work there are so incredibly nice.
I found a recipe for pear puree on Epicurious and went with it. It takes about an hour to cook the pears down, but there's very little hands-on time, and it can be made up to 2 days in advance. 
I made these sandwiches on Saturday, the day we were supposed to do an early morning walk of  Lower Downtown (LoDo) Historic District. (Our walk was postponed until later in the afternoon because the Colorado Rockies were playing a game on Saturday and the stadium is located at the end of LoDo....I didn't know the game was going on during our initial descent from the Highlands). 
I've found that LoDo is relatively quiet during the weekend compared to the weekdays when it's pretty crowded. But baseball season has started and the fans were out. Available parking was pretty much non-existent, so we drove back home, walked to our local playground, napped and then ventured back out to LoDo once the crowds died down. We walked around for about an hour and a half, and it was a really nice way to spend the late-afternoon.
If I had to think of someplace that is comparable to LoDo, I think I would probably say the Warehouse District in New Orleans. In fact, I think the two are pretty similar. 
LoDo has some great loft spaces, excellent restaurants, lively bars and some breweries (Wynkoop Brewing Company) too. There's Union Station, which is under repair, and The Tattered Cover-- an amazing independently-run book store. I took a few shots of the neighborhood to give you a sense of our walking tour, but the area is much larger than what I was able to cover on foot yesterday... enjoy! 
Oh, if you want more information on the District, you can take a Denver Microbrew Tour!
Not the best picture of said sandwich...but by the time I uploaded the photos, the grilled cheese was already done...so a re-shoot was not an option!
Roasted Pear Puree (Courtesy of Epicurious)
(I had enough puree for 4 sandwiches)
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
  • 8 Bosc pears, peeled, quartered, cored
Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine honey, lemon juice, and melted butter in large bowl. Add pears; toss to coat. Arrange pears in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast pears 30 minutes. Turn pears to coat with juices and roast until very tender, about 35 minutes longer. Transfer pears and caramelized liquids to food processor; blend until smooth. (Pear puree can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Assembly
1. Cut two slices of bread, each about 1/2 inch thick.
2. Put a generous amount of pear puree on each sandwich (1/4 of the puree for each sandwich).
3. Add three thin slices of Camembert per sandwich (Camembert has a very rich and intense flavor, so you don't need to use a lot.)
4. Close sandwich and brush olive oil on each side.
5. Heat in a panini press/sandwich maker until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted.
6. Eat! 
This really is a very nice alternative to classic grilled cheese. Thanks Euclid Hall for the inspiration. I'll be back soon to see what else you've got! 
* * *
I had a good deal of bread left over the next day, so I made these Parmesan-Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwiches . And, after that, I still had bread left over. (It was a loaf of considerable size!) So I made some fresh pea crostinis and turned the rest of the bread into croutons for Cauliflower Soup with Mustard Croutons
* * * 
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9 comments:

  1. Did you take those first two photos? They are lovely (as are the rest). I love the idea of a roasted pear puree--roasting does so much for so many things, and pear is so good with cheese. I had a pear-blue cheese warm pudding type dessert once in Paris and have always wanted to try my hand at it.

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    1. Thanks Sara! I did. ( I take all the photos unless otherwise noted.) I actually wasn't sure if they were good. I took them with my iPhone, but the sun was setting-- so there wasn't much light inside the restaurant. Then I played around with the exposure on iPhoto. I really want to sit down and learn editing software (like Lightroom)...but that day has yet to come! The pear-blue cheese pudding sounds amazing! Why is everything in Paris so good!? Did you see the most recent Bon Appetit? It's the travel issue and I'm thinking it's time to hop on a plane.

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  2. The more you blog, the more I like! Most bloggers share stories from Seattle, San Francisco or New York. It's very nice to see the Red Rock State featured so prominently.

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    1. Thank you so much. I am really enjoying the Red Rock State :) I've been making great strides at getting out of Denver too-- so I can see the rest of this gorgeous state!

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  3. How beautiful...and I'm not just talking about the boys, I'm craving that pear puree too!
    Miss you, kiss you xxx
    Yana

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    Replies
    1. Hi Yana! I miss you too. I guess I told you that a few days ago-- but I am responding to all my commenters tonight (with a 10 minute time limit)...because then it's back to packing! xoxo

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  4. love, love, love, love your blog posts about Denver. What a gorgeous city-- of course the children and that food are gorgeous too.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Johanna. The city is wonderful (kids are too). Hope you are having a great week!

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