Saturday, August 18, 2012

Intro to Aspen Food & Wine Classic

I’ve been attending the Food Network South Beach Food &Wine Festival and the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival for years, so when the opportunity came up to cover the Aspen Food & Wine Classic, I was excited. I had heard nothing but good things about this event and was ready for my first trip to Aspen.

It wasn’t easy getting to Aspen. I had to take three flights just to get to Vail, where I was meeting my friend Lisa. She had decided to drive up and the timing worked out perfectly to pick me up at the airport and make the scenic one and a half hour trip to our bed & breakfast in Aspen.

We didn’t arrive until about 9:00 pm and had to change quickly to get to two of the first night’s parties. The first was downtown on the rooftop of the Dancing Bear. We saw Rick Bayless, but most of the other guests had already departed by the time we arrived, so we just stayed a short while before getting back in the car and heading up the mountain.

The Jose Andres Wines of Spain Party was at a private mansion (currently listed for sale at $28 million) that was as spectacular on the inside as it was when we pulled up to the valet in the driveway. We went to the bar to try Jose’s Sour before sampling some wines and the barbecue of chorizo, skirt steak and some of the best pork sliders I’ve had.

Lots of the celebrity chefs were at the party, including Marcus Samuelsson, Giada de Laurentis, Tom Cocchlio and Andrew Zimmern, who I had met in South Beach and interviewed recently for an article. It was a fun atmosphere as the “official” festival had not started and everyone was pretty relaxed.

We left the party around midnight to get some sleep for a very early wake up call. Lisa had agreed to run the 5K with Bobby Flay charity run and I was in charge of taking the photos.  Despite the fact that she hadn’t been running regularly and hadn’t really adjusted to the altitude, she did pretty well in the race. The real winner, though, was Samuelsson, who was the first chef to cross the finish line.

After the race, the runners were treated to a breakfast of Pure Protein bars, Figi Water, bagels and champagne.  Lisa hung out for a bit while I went down to a local breakfast hangout called Poppycock for a fun interview with Belvedere head Vodka’s Head of spirit creation and mixology, Claire Smith. We had a great time and I left ready to face a full day (and night) of Aspen Food & Wine Classic activities – after a downed some of Poppycock’s famous Old Fashion Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes.

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