Sunday, June 20, 2010
Aspen Food and Wine Festival: So it Begins
Next on the agenda was to enter the cornucopia of chaos, The Grand Tasting. All I could say was wow and I am so glad my pass allowed me early access. Walking past the blocks of eager foodies ready to snap their jaws shut on whatever in on offer, I felt a wave of relief flow through my body. I would have about 45 minutes to make my way around the tasting while it was much less crowded. There was not much food on offer, but what was there was extraordinary. One standout was Blackberry Farms from Tennessee. The salumi made by Michael Sullivan was some of the best I have tasted. The man is passionate about his craft and it was entirely evident in his products.
The Grand Tasting Tent was awash in a sea of wine. There were enough areas, varietals, and styles available to keep an oenophile busy for weeks. I did not have weeks, so I just headed to what looked the most interesting. I was not disappointed as I discovered some new areas and producers to explore further. I really like the wines from the Alto Adige, an area in northern Italy. Those will receive some further exploring when I get home.
Mario Batali was next on the list. He cooked some relatively easy dishes from Linguria. He is very entertaining to watch. So entertaining in fact that you learn some great things without even noticing. Mario loves to impart his demoes with the whys and hows of Italian food culture and philosophy. This background gives the audience deeper insight into the whys and hows of Italian cooking.
Morimoto wowed the audiences with his nearly supernatural knife skills. Cutting paper thin slices of daikon radish or butchering a fish faster than you can tie your shoes resulted in the sounds of hundreds of jaws hitting the ground in unison.
The evening was capped off by an Italian dinner put on by Amex. The food created by the chef had a hard time competing with the wines presented by Sergio Esposito of the Italian Wine Merchants. Sergio's discussion of the wines became more, shall we say, spirited, as the night went on. Don't know what could have caused that, there were only like 7 wines poured with dinner.
The excellent company at the table capped off a stellar night as I made my way back to my hotel. Those four blocks seemed to have gotten longer during dinner.