from the kitchen

Good Shepherd

By Amanda Rae / Photography By Draper White | November 30, 2017
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C. Barclay Dodge, chef and co-owner of Aspen’s Bosq.

Bosq delights diners with artistic yet unfussy dishes celebrating local ingredients

At Bosq, Chef-Owner C. Barclay Dodge’s menus read like love letters to local ingredients. Case in point: A recent special dinner at the 40-seat restaurant (an auction prize donated to Theatre Aspen’s annual fundraising gala) sourced almost entirely from Sustainable Settings biodynamic farm and ranch in Carbondale.

Founders Brook and Rose LeVan agreed to supply choice cuts of their grassfed beef; Dodge explored the Carbondale property the afternoon of the event, seeking further inspiration.

“It was too late in the season for fresh, spring-green asparagus, but a tall stalk was going to seed,” says Brook LeVan. “Barclay pulled out his jackknife, shaved off a little piece, tasted it.” The chef ended up making asparagus-stalk foam to accompany the beef on the plate.

After strolling the LeVans’ five-acre medicinal herb garden, nibbling on plants such as tulsi (holy basil), calendula and Echinacea, Dodge snipped some clary sage, which he used to infuse ice cream for dessert. “Everything they grow is hyper-flavorful—my mouth was going off like a pinball machine,” he says. “I was flying.”

Among the standout dishes of the evening were potatoes roasted in a nest of compost-rich garden soil. “We took Brook’s dirt,” Dodge says. “I’ll never forget it. He said, ‘I’ll allow you to have this dirt.’ To him, it’s the foundation to everything he does—he calls himself a ‘soil builder.’” Dodge swaddled the potatoes in muslin and surrounded them with the soil. “As it cooked, this organic smokiness came through,” he explains. “It accentuated the taste of the potato.”

Photo 1: Erin’s Acres greens, cured duck breast, chanterelles, beets in hazelnut soil and crisp maple leaves
Photo 2: Dodge with his wife and co-owner, Molly.
Photo 3: Much of Bosq’s menu draws inspiration from Dodge and Koppelman’s travels.

Down to Earth

It’s this connection to and reverence for the earth that informs Bosq, located on the Mill Street pedestrian mall since June 2016. Fittingly, Dodge drops the word “nude” frequently in conversation—it’s his favorite description of the restaurant’s rustic, freeform style, honed in concert with Sous Chef Rachel Koppelman (formerly of The Little Nell).

“We call what we do ‘New World cuisine.’ We’re not bound by tradition,” says Dodge, an Aspen native. Although signature contemporary Chinese dishes (roasted Peking duck; crispy sweet-and-sour eggplant; shrimp toast) and a classic American bar burger remain from the opening menu, Bosq reveals international influences from his and Koppelman’s extensive travels and life experiences.

By way of example, wild King salmon with cauliflower “couscous,” charmoula and green olives with a tomatillo foam hints at the Moroccan-spiced molecular gastronomy Dodge showcased at his first solo venture, Aspen’s late Mogador, ( in the early aughts, following a stint at the legendary El Bulli in Spain. Similarly, Bosq’s beloved salmon crudo and butterscotch pudding hark to his run as executive chef of Pacifica Seafood and Raw Bar.

Dodge sources directly from a variety of regional growers besides Sustainable Settings, including Two Roots Farm in Missouri Heights, Aspen TREE at Cozy Point Ranch and Thistle Whistle Farm and Zimmerman Pork Farm in Hotchkiss. Paonia-based Farm Runners also delivers seasonal product to the restaurant. “Whatever the farmers have for me,” he says, “I work with that.”

As a diner, I’m enticed by elements of surprise in Bosq’s dishes: Octopus with white almond, lemon, saffron, charred eggplant and squash blossom, or soft-shell crab turned jet-black with coconut ash. Generally I scoff at national “trends” like avocado toast, but Dodge’s version—the fruit mashed with lemon and garnished with flaky salt, paper-thin slices of radish, and crumbled Cotija cheese, served on artisan bread—exhibits an intrinsic passion for composition.

This winter, Dodge and Koppelman plan to combine sturgeon with oysters and introduce layered tasting menus that manifest the Rocky Mountains. (After all, bosq is abbreviated Spanish for “woods.”) “Half of the time, we don’t even know what’s going to be on the menu,” Dodge says. “We just get in here and cook.”

Photo 1: Beef tartare, turnip, leek ash, harissa sabayon and kale chicharróns
Photo 2: Sturgeon, celeriac, warm oysters and parsley root with smoked hazelnut milk.

Erin Cuseo of Erin’s Acres in Old Snowmass values the energizing partnership.

“Barclay’s appreciation for seasonality and quality is very apparent, and we always want to be sure he has our best product,” she says. “We’ll hand-select every leaf because we know the quality of the dishes he’s creating.”

As a result of this attention to excellence, Bosq’s menu changes almost nightly. Sharing the evolving story of the local foodshed with such creative fervor has earned the restaurant—and Dodge—adoring fans, including Betsy Eberle Fifield, founder of Locavore USA, who intends to host educational CSA dinners at the restaurant next summer.

“He puts a spin on his dishes, which elevates the farm-to-community dining experience to something cosmopolitan,” she says. “I enjoy Bosq because it represents the way I like to eat: with small plates, shared plates, and an unusual mix of surprises. It has intimacy, biodynamics and extraordinary flavors.”

Adds LeVan, “We were artists before we were farmers, so we appreciate him recognizing the work we do in the soil and with all of life. He does it justice on the plate.”

GO FIND IT!
Bosq 312 S. Mill St. 970.710.7299 BosqAspen.com

Bosq’s austere interior evokes the natural world.
Article from Edible Aspen at http://edibleaspen.ediblecommunities.com/eat/good-shepherd
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