TASTE OF THE WEEK: Mell Vodka & Palisade peaches @ home

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John Lehndorff

It’s clear that Mell Vodka is different as soon as you see the non-label on the plain, clear glass bottles. According to the minimal verbiage stenciled on the glass, Mell Vodka is “Not distilled 100 times … not even five. No diamond dust filtration. No side deals. No strong arming. … No kickbacks. No games. Just decent vodka.” 

These are Western Slope-distilled spirits designed to be the “well vodka” at bars and restaurants in Colorado. More critically, it is one of the first vodkas sold in returnable, refillable bottles delivered and picked up like milk on your front porch. Now it’s available at a handful of retailers including Hazel’s Beverage World. 

My interest in vodka is seasonal. I fill jars with perfectly ripe sliced fruit like the Palisade peaches available now. I cover them with vodka, seal the jar, stick it in the back of the fridge, and taste it in a month or two. Later I may add a vanilla bean or some mint leaves.  

I always used the cheapest vodka available until stumbled across Mell Vodka, distilled in Hotchkiss by the folks at Peak Sprits, a highly regarded source of exceptional spirits including Caprock Peach Eau de Vie. I’ve participated in high-end vodka tastings and while I tasted clear differences, they mostly taste like vodka. In most cocktails few of us could identify the type of vodka used.  

Made from grain and Colorado apples, Mell has a clean, rounded flavor without any harsh notes or industrial aroma. It tastes similar to most “name” domestic and imported vodkas, but is much less expensive. 

Eventually, I’ll strain the peaches out and blend the infused vodka with a sweetener to make a light cordial for holiday gifts or to sip on snowy nights.

Boulder County Farmers Market

What to do with too many peaches

Freeze peach slices, dehydrate peaches or just make jam. If you prefer your peaches peeled first, don’t use a peeler. Bring a pot of water to a rolling simmer, drop whole peaches in and move them around for a minute or less. Remove peaches and cool in ice water. After that, the peach skins will simply slide off.

Use fresh peaches now in a simple weekend cobbler. Serve with Greek yogurt, whipped cream, crème fraiche or mascarpone cheese. 

Palisade Peach Cobbler 

3/4 cup unsalted butter

4 to 5 cups peeled, sliced ripe peaches

Juice half a lemon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup half and half 

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour 

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup local honey 

Optional: Tiny pinch of ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt about 5 tablespoons of butter. In a bowl, toss peach slices with lemon juice, vanilla extract and melted butter. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan. Spread prepared peaches evenly in pan. 

Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup sugar and sprinkle over peaches in pan. Melt the remaining butter, add to cream and egg and mix well. Mix flour, almond flour, baking powder and remaining sugar and salt in a bowl. Add in egg-milk mixture and stir until smooth. Do not overmix! Spread over peaches. Warm and mix honey and optional nutmeg and drizzle over batter. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

CULINARY CALENDAR

The price we pay for delivered dining

The Boulder-owned Nosh Delivery platform will only deliver food from the 15 restaurants that collectively own Nosh now through Aug. 23. These eateries want to focus our attention on the damage national delivery services inflict on restaurants with fees above 30% and poor customer service that makes the restaurants look bad. Nosh Boulder — teaming with the City of Boulder — charges restaurants only a 15% commission. More than 100 local restaurants regularly use Nosh for food deliveries. 

Gathering for peaches, barbecue, tacos 

There aren’t a ton of peaches grown on the Front Range, but the 22nd annual Lafayette Peach Festival is back Aug. 21 on Waneka Parkway west of Public Road. More than 30,000 pounds of organic peaches from Morton’s and Tate Orchards will be available along with peach pie and cobbler. … Lafayette’s Liquid Mechanics Brewing celebrates its seventh anniversary Aug. 20-21 with an outdoor music and beer gathering. One special release beer for the event is Candy Bar Anarchy Project, a bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial stout infused with peanuts, chocolate, nougat and salted caramel.