Flagstaff House will receive forty pounds of Rainier cherries

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Last month we asked which Denver restaurant would make the best use of forty pounds of cherries from Washington, and Cafe Society readers served up some juicy suggestions for places that could use the fruit to make cherry pie and cherry beer .

Now we know the cherry-picked winner of the bounty: Flagstaff House. Executive chef Mark Monette will be using the cherries in a five-course tasting menu at the historic restaurant in mid-July.

Rainier cherries are a special variety from the Pacific Northwest that only grows four to six weeks a year, prized for their fresh taste and crisp mouthfeel.The Washington State Fruit Commission is spreading the word about the fruit by giving a heap of cherries to one restaurant in all fifty states; past recipients include Vesta Dipping Grill, Untitled in New York and Alice Waters's Chez Panisse. "A lot of people don't get to experience them, so we're making it easy for people to taste these cherries," says Torie McIntyre of Seattle's GreenRubino PR.

And Monette is happy to help out. "I'm all about the beauty and the bounty of fresh produce," he says, so when he was offered fresh Rainier cherries, "I said, 'Sign me up!' To me, Rainier cherries are amazing."

What can diners expect from his tasting menu? The recipes haven't been finalized, but the chef is looking forward to cooking duck confit with a cherry reduction and local bleu cheese, and dipping Rainiers in dark chocolate as petits four.

To see a list of last year's recipients, visit the Northwest Cherries website. For reservations at Flagstaff House, go to the Flagstaff site.

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