Saturday, June 26, 2010

Aspen Food and Wine Festival: The Day Chef Nobu Blew Our Minds

Day two promised to be a clone of day one.  Some demos, some slam dancing in the grand tasting tent,  a good dinner with good beverages.  No signs, omens or portends indicated the course the day would take.  A rapturous dinner was in store for us, our palates graced with a taste of near perfection.  
Copious amounts of caffein washed away the lingering effects of last night’s wine pairings.  Jacques Pepin, the master of classic culinary techniques, was the first event I had scheduled for the day.  The buzz, from both excitement and the coffee, made the 20 minute wait interminable.  Eventually the doors were thrown open and we were allowed in.  Jacques Pepin and his daughter Claudine gave a demo.   using their line of caviar as an ingredient.  If time has diminished Jacques Pepin’s knife skills, it was certainly not noticeable to us mere mortals.  Besides having mad skills, he is consummate educator and entertainer.  The years have honed his stage skills to razor sharp edge.  His blend of wit, wisdom He is also one of the nicest and most gracious people in the culinary world.  His sense of humor had the audience laughing through out the event.  The dynamic between Jacques and Claudine was a little, weird.  Well, to be exact, the dynamic between Claudine and Jacques was a little, weird.  Couldn't tell if it was a forced frustration with Jacques just for show, or if it is their normal relationship.  The champagne bottle not cooperating with Claudine's sabering attempts did nothing for her mood.  
After another trip through the mosh pit of the grand tasting tent, Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons gave a demo.  They seemed to really enjoy cooking together as they whipped up dueling lamb dishes.  Tom cooked a loin of lamb stuffed with homemade merguez sausage, while Gail made a quick dish using store bought merguez.  Chef Colicchio's main message of the demo was for home cooks to learn how to butcher meat themselves to save money and have more flexibility.  

For a change of pace, I left the world of cooking demos and headed over to the spirit world.  The kind of spirits than can be reached with a cocktail shaker, not a Ouija board.  The mixologist Tony Abu-Ganim took us on a historical tour of drinks made with gin.  It was a fun romp through Ramos Gin Fizzes, Aviators and Corpse Revivers.  It was an entertaining presentation.  The cocktails certainly helped boost the amusement factor.

A few hours later, I made my way Matsushisa, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa's Aspen restaurant.  I was prepared for a nice dinner paired with some good Sakes.  I was not prepared for the food we actually ate.  Each course got increasingly wonderful.  Everyone at the table was simply agog as the great was improved upon.  We thought we reached the pinnacle with the black cod cooked with miso butter.  We were wrong.  The Kobe beef course that came next brought us to the summit.  Richly flavorful and tender as a mother's kiss.  It was hard to wrap our minds around the concept of ethereal beef, but chewing it was close to chewing air.

We all floated back to our hotels, buoyed by the culinary afterglow of  a truly supernatural meal.


Chefs Resources said...

Wish I could have been there! It sounds like a fabulous event to attend. Thanks for sharing.

Trix said...

What a cool event, how lucky you are! Is it weird that I think out of all of it I would most like to have attended the gin-through-the-ages event? Mmmm.