The Fort in Morrison, CO is one of the finest restaurants in America and a Colorado Treasure. A replica of Bent’s Old Fort, the “modern” rendition sits alongside Red Rocks Amphitheater above Denver and creates “New Food of the Old West.” Part of the treasure is the one-of-a-kind character that is Sam Arnold, founder and purveyor of this unique establishment. Sam has created a restaurant that is not only fantastic dining, but a real experience. You don’t so much show up and wait for a table as you go back in time to the fun of the old west, mind you, an old west that has precious little tee totaling (anyone who coins a recipe for a Jim Bridger or a Hailstorm Mint Julep shares very little in common with Colorado Springs founder General William Jackson Palmer). This isn’t a kitchy Tombstone, AZ shoot ’em up kind of place. It’s a place where actual artisans come and create and sell their creations, a place on the National Register of Historic Places because of it’s historical accuracy.
In 1997, Sam introduced his cookbook, The Fort Cookbook: New Foods of the Old West. For aspiring gourmands, it is tragically out of print. But if you can find one, it makes a fantastic gift. The book is a great read, not just for those seeking rattlesnake recipes or how to inject a banana with Bacardi 151… but also how to tomahawk a bottle of champagne or what the proper dinner is for a female black bear named Sissy. It’s fun!
Here is an example: Sam’s “Craneberry” (sic) Sauce, so named because the original name of cranberries was “Craneberries”. It’s a piece of cake, and could provide a lot of fun around the table with that talkative aunt from the Midwest…!
2 quarts washed and diced fresh cranberries
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup toasted and diced Pecans
One Shot Grand Marnier
Wash, and dice the cranberries, preferrably in a food processor. Place the cranberries in a large stove pot along with the sugar and the water and heat to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes stirring frequently enough to keep the cranberries for burning on the bottom.
Dice and toast the pecans for 2 to 4 minutes, making sure you do not burn them.
Remove the cranberries from the heat and stir in the pecans. Stir in the shot of Grand Marnier. This will likely create a large sizzle and possibly a splatter when you add it. Thoroughly mix together, add to a serving bowl and chill for at least 6 hours before serving. You can also bottle it in the same manner as a jelly, jam or preserve.