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Perfect pair – Falling Creek

Cassie Pence
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ARROWHEAD – Like all successful marriages, the food and wine at Falling Creek complement one another, enhancing the entire taste experience at the Arrowhead restaurant.General manager Chris Randall and his assistant Stuart Hinton have compiled a list of more than 300 international “food-friendly” wines, while Executive Chef Darrell Jensen’s “simple food is good food” philosophy is a wine-friendly approach to cooking. For diners, it’s a perfect pair. “We don’t do any real wild combinations or use crazy ingredients,” Jensen said. “But that’s not to say we’re unimaginative.”Jensen points to his grilled dry-aged New York steak and sweet potato entree as an example of how simple ingredients can become extraordinary with the right preparation. The sweet potatoes are roasted with herbs and then tossed with fresh arugula to dress it up. The bitterness of the lettuce heightens the sweetness of the potato.”A nice red wine with the filet and all these flavors go great together,” Jensen said.Jensen stays away from overpowering flavors and food high in acidity, which can detract from a good bottle of wine. Instead, his kitchen magic is more delicate. His seared sea scallops appetizer with truffle mashed potatoes and lemon-thyme dressing is a good example. When making the mashers, he boils potatoes with the garlic, removing all the cloves’ sharpness. The truffle oil then embellishes the mellow garlic.

“I use subtle flavors that if you are looking for it, you’ll find it,” Jensen said. “I do things in the back that the customers may or may not notice. They just know it tastes good.”Beyond the gateAlthough Falling Creek is located in a gated community on a golf course, the restaurant is absent of the stuffiness and high prices one might expect from a country club atmosphere. This is most evident when reading the wine list, which features selections from $17 to $795. For the exact same bottle of wine, Falling Creek’s prices are substantially lower than other valley fine-dining restaurants.”Wine should be drunk,” general manager Randall said. “And in order for wine to be drunk, it needs to be priced appropriately, fairly.”Randall’s passion for wine began with his restaurant career at Brennan’s of Houston and then Ambria of Chicago. He’s traveled to Europe half a dozen times visiting wine producing regions, as well. His list features wines from Spain, Italy and France and the U.S., including multiple vintages and rare bottles. Stylistically, Randall looks for wines that are balanced and slightly more acidic.

“It works as a palate cleanser,” Randall said. “The acid is setting you up for your next bite.”One of his favorites is the 2002 Domaine Jean Pascal Puligny-Montrachet “Les Enseigneres,” a white burgundy, which complements the many seafood entrees on the menu, like chef Jensen’s roast grouper with couscous, green beans, lemon, olives, capers and tomatoes.Around the world with wine dinnersTo stir excitement about Falling Creek, a relatively new-comer to the culinary scene, the restaurant has been hosting wine dinners that take diners around the world from France to Spain. The next one is March 16 and travels to the Tuscan region of Italy. Dinners feature four-courses each paired with a glass of wine for just about $50. “We’re not looking to make a killing on these dinners,” Jensen said. “We want to provide an atmosphere where people can come in and try us for the first time. And even with or wine dinners, we don’t deviate from our philosophy that simple food is good food.”



Tuscany on tapFalling Creek hosts a Tuscan wine dinner March 16, featuring four courseswith pairings for around $50. For more information, call the Arrowheadrestaurant at 926-2111.

Kid’s tasting menuFalling Creek offers a kids four-course tasting menu, serving them cheese quesadilla the minute they sit down. Next comes a salad of celery, carrots and apples with ranch dressing, and then the little ones choose an entree from a list of favorites, including pasta with butter and parmesan and chicken tenders. Last is a chocolate sundae.Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14640, or cpence@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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