Last night we hosted the Cowboy Gathering “Ballads & Stories” at our sister restaurant, Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House, in the Ranch Room. It was a benefit dinner for the Cave Creek Museum put on by Wild West Days’ Johnny Ringo and his partner in crime, Jean Glass.
The place was packed, as it was a sold-out event, and there was wonderful feeling in the crisp autumn air. It was as if the stage was set for the showdown at the O.K. Corral. You could see the best of Arizona’s cowboys as they meandered around the room, pausing every now and then to see where the others were in the crowd. There was Marshall Trimble, Bob Boze Bell, Charlie LeSueur, Dolan Ellis, John Wayne Anderson, quick-draw Lance Headlee and a cast of other scoundrels. Everyone was aware of them and were just waiting for them to strike! No, not from a gun, but a guitar and a mouth full of tall tales and ballads.
We quickly put everyone at ease as Bob Boze Bell took the stage and told them to sit down, shut up and get ready to have their bellies filed with gourmet vittles from Chef Montez and his chuckwagon crew. Montez and his crew prepared a starter course of a mélange of salads: W started with Rattlesnake Egg Pasta Salad, Butternut Squash, Roasted Chilies & Pumpkin Seed-Sage Pesto, Mesquite Grilled Potato Salad with Caramelized Onions & Chive Bacon Vinaigrette, Avocado Quarter Stuffed with Mango, Lime & Rock Shrimp Salad:
Next up was an Entrée Duo of Campfire Grilled Salmon Medallion & Sarsaparilla-Braised Beef Short Ribs, Charred Tomato with Ancho Chili Sauce & Avocado Salsa, Sweet Potato-Tortilla Hash & Wood-Grilled Chayote Squash. All were paired with house-baked Green Chili & Jack Cheese Corn Muffins, Savory Biscuits & 4-Onion Baguettes:
Ahh, our plan worked… The guests were now too full to be ornery and were in the mood to kick back in the saddle and ponder at what was on the horizon.
As Marshall Trimble started to speak and pick at his guitar, we were all transformed to a black-and-white life of the open range on the Sonoran desert. The sounds of crackling fire and the song of a true Western cowboy set the mood. A certain magic imbued the air because we were in Cave Creek, surrounded by massive wooden beams bearing the likeness of the historic Cartwright Ranch. From one cowboy to the next, they told their stories and sang their songs, insuring that the Wild West in all of us will surely live on.
And, if you ever get an itch to fulfill your dreams, just saddle on up to the bar in a tight pair of Wrangler jeans.