We had planned to spend Valentine’s Day the way we have most years; cooking a nice meal together at home and splurging on one of our “really good” bottles of wine. We tabled those plans when The Pioneer Woman invited us to spend Valentine’s weekend at her Boarding House in Pawhuska, Okla. She didn’t tell us much about the plans for the weekend, but we knew it promised to be the most over-the-top, romantic weekend that could only be dreamed up by Ree Drummond herself. And it was.
Here are the details (well, most of them, anyway) of our Valentine’s weekend, courtesy of The Pioneer Woman and her incredible team in Pawhuska.
3 p.m. Feb. 14 – The Butterfly Room
When we arrived at The Pioneer Woman Boarding House Valentine’s Day afternoon, we were welcomed by the courteous staff and escorted to the Butterfly Room. On the second floor and facing Kihekah Ave. in Pawhuska, the jaw-dropping gorgeous room was gloriously filled with sunshine. Full of thoughtful touches and feminine teal decor, the Butterfly Room made for the perfect place to relax and unwind on Valentine’s weekend.
It was no surprise that Ree and her team went all out. There were fresh flowers in the room (and roses from Steve) when we arrived. We also found chilled champagne and a hand-written note from The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, herself, along with a gift card to The Mercantile. There was also the sweetest little snack plate we’ve ever seen. It had grapes, crackers, a heart shaped spread, and get this … roses made out of rolled prosciutto and bread sticks. Steve grabbed one immediately, of course.
5 p.m. Feb. 14 – Happy Hour at The Boarding House
The Boarding House hosts a complimentary happy hour each day for its guests. It is always lovely, and Valentine’s Day was no exception. We met the other guests while enjoying a speciality cocktail (a strawberry margarita garnished with a red rose petal) and charcuterie. They even had heart-shaped molded fig jelly on the tray. So over-the-top, and we loved every bit of it! We snacked lightly, as we knew we a seven-course meal was on the horizon.
7:15 p.m. Feb. 14 – Dressed for dinner
After cocktail hour, we dressed for dinner and one of The Boarding House staff escorted us next door to the The Pioneer Woman Event Center. There, we where we were greeted again and seated a candle-lit table for two. Soft music played in the background while our server, Aaron, told us a little bit about the evening’s special menu. He shared that each of the SEVEN courses was being specially prepared for guests of The Boarding House and each would be paired with its own wine. Could this evening get any better? I think not.
7:15 – 10 p.m. Feb. 14 – A special Valentine’s dinner
First course – Savory Black Truffle “Truffle”
Our first course was honestly one of my favorites. It was a savory black truffle “truffle.” Playing off of the Valentine’s Day favorite of a chocolate truffle, Chef Kurtess Mortenson and his team created something magnificent. The round “truffle” you see below is not chocolate. No, this truffle was made of neufchâtel and then rolled in truffle dust to resemble a chocolate truffle. It was served alongside hon himeji mushrooms, a white truffle branch (breadstick), micro greens, and hazelnut soil. Take a good look at that “soil” at the base of the dish. It was made of ground hazelnuts and espresso beans and I wanted to shovel it into my mouth. OK, that wasn’t very lady like, I know.
Second course – Sweetheart Beet Salad
This was the most beautiful dish of the night; almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Our second course was a sweetheart beet salad. It consisted of a roasted and pickled beet “terrine,” candy stripe beet and cabecou “ravioli,” alongside aged sherry vinegar. I was actually excited to see pickled beets, because while I am not a huge fan of beets, I know that anything Chef Kurtess pickles will taste amazing. And they did. I didn’t get a great photo of it, but the purple and pink beets on top were also heart shaped. It was too much, I tell you.
Third course – Duck “In Blossom”
I won’t lie. I still have dreams about this dish: glazed duck breast, leg confit, and a delicious strawberry agri dulce. Garnished with tiny red flowers and served with a little curry-flavored roll, this plate achieved whole new levels of deliciousness. We took our sweet time with this course, savoring every bite and marveling that they had even created a bread to go with each course of this meal.
The duck was paired with a 2015 The Prisoner red blend from Napa Valley, California. This popular blend combines Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Charbono, and beautifully went with the dish.
Fourth course – A Romance in Maine Lobster
This lobster dish was prepared and served in a unique way. The butter poached tail (it’s The Pioneer Woman, you knew there would be butter somewhere) and tempura claw were served over a bed of rib rouge paella, roasted tomato, Jason iberico (a type of cured ham), and mache (a winter green). The chef paired the lobster with a glass of Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay from Napa Valley.
Fifth course – Wagyu Beef – Chocolate & Cherries
And now, what we’d both been waiting for – our first-ever tastes of finely marbled and aged Wagyu beef. Wagyu beef is a high-grade beef from Japan known for it’s rich flavor. I would like to add that it melts in your mouth like butter. Really. First, we both tasted a bite of the thinly sliced and cooked to medium rare beef filet by itself. Perfection, we thought. Then, we ate a second bite with the montmorency cherries and scharffen Berger chocolate Demi-glace. It was heaven. Followed by a sip of the Caymus Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, this quickly became one of the best and most memorable dishes we’ve had anywhere in the world.
Of course, I can’t forget to mention the sides that came with this course. Accompanying the Wagyu beef was a light and airy manchego potato soufflé and green vegetables ragout. Both were outstanding and completed the meal. Both will live on in our dreams.
Sixth course – Chamomile Granita
Chamomile is typically a fragrance I spray on my pillow at night to help me get to sleep. But tonight, it was featured in an icy cold granita that served as a palate cleanser near the end of our meal. Garnished with a tiny bloom, the granita was served with a St. Supery 2015 Moscato from Napa Valley.
Seventh course – Passionate Pistachio
Our seventh and final course was a dessert to remember. Sadly, my photo doesn’t do justice to the beauty of this dessert. It was pistachio foam lightly placed on top of a toasted almond sponge cake, on top of passion fruit ice. The chef garnished it with red raspberry paper, toasted pistachios, and a tiny flower. This culinary perfection made me want to cry. Aaron poured us glass of Inniskillin icewine, a Cabernet franc, to complete our food and wine pairings. We were the last to be seated, so by this time the other guests had already left. We took our time and enjoyed each bite of this decadent dessert and this special experience with each other.
10 p.m. – Saying thanks and goodbye
When our nearly three-hour dinner came to and end, we thanked our server, Aaron, and the others from The Mercantile who prepared and served our meal. They are an absolutely incredible team and never cease to amaze us with their creativity and execution. Truly, this was one of the best food and wine expereinces we’ve had anywhere in the world. And we had this one right here in little ol’ Pawhuska, Okla.
10:15 p.m. – Back to The Boarding House
We returned to The Boarding House to find our room showered with red rose petals. No really, I mean SHOWERED. Like the whole rose garden. It was very romantic and we just loved the “extra” effort of our friends at The Boarding House.
8 a.m. Feb. 15 – Morning coffee service
The next morning, The Boarding House provided coffee service for us in our room. We enjoyed a relaxing start to our day and saved the tempting pastries for later, as we were treated to breakfast at The Mercantile, as well.
9 a.m. Feb. 15 – Breakfast with new friends
Some visitors to Pawhuska (and new friends) saw us there and we invited them to join us. Steve tried the biscuits and gravy for the first time there (not sure why it took him so long) and I had my two favorites, the veggie scramble and a hot cup of Cowboy Coffee.
9:45 a.m. – Shopping at The Mercantile
We took a few minutes to look around The Mercantile and check out some of the new spring items, including lunch totes, dish ware, and clothing. After a little shopping at The Mercantile, we took our new friends on a little tour of Pawhuska, making stops at the Swinging Bridge, Handy’s, and the site of the Million Dollar Elm.
12 p.m. Feb. 15 – Not hungry for lunch
After a big breakfast (and dinner the night before), we weren’t hungry for lunch, so we just stopped by Pawhuska Hometown Foods for a banana.
1 p.m. – Nap time at The Boarding House
The thousands of rose petals that had adorned our room were magically gone when we returned. It is easy to relax in a room like this. Zzzzzzzz
3 p.m. Feb. 15 – The lodge on Drummond Ranch
Another couple we met at The Boarding House called and we offered to drive them out to The Pioneer Woman’s lodge where Ree Drummond films her popular Food Network Show. The four of us had a great time chatting on the way out to the lodge and it was fun to show them around. Everything was already decorated for spring and the view from the deck was fabulous, as always. When the lodge is open (check for available dates HERE) visitors are invited to take a self-guided tour around the house and take pictures in Ree’s famous kitchen. Ree means it when she says, “Welcome to my frontier!”
6 p.m. Feb. 15 – Dinner with friends
We met our friends, John and Cyndi Kane, at The Mercantile for dinner that night. We always enjoy their company and were excited to catch up and spend time together. Aaron was our waiter for the second night in a row and promptly asked us if we’d mind if Chef Kurtess prepared us something special. We know full well that when Chef Kurtess offers to cook ANYTHING for you, the answer is always a grateful “yes.”
7:30 a.m. – Coffee in bed
We awoke Sunday morning and again enjoyed coffee service to our room. We lay in bed, sipping hot coffee and munching on pastries from The Merc as we reflected on our romantic, over-the-top weekend. Eventually, we got up, got ready and headed to church. Then, it was back to reality for us.
Fortunately, we’re happily married, abundantly blessed, and our not-so-over-the-top reality is something we’re grateful for every day.
Thank you to The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, Chef Kurtess Mortenson, Sondra, and everyone at The Boarding House and Mercantile for a Valentine’s weekend we’ll never forget.