Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I have been attending the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen every year for the past 11 years. Some would envy me, others would pity me. When I was with my former employer, the large wine distributor, the event was hellish for me, before during and after. The details of the stress would bore the average reader, but suffice to say, that I was put in a position where I had to please all the people, all the time, and as we all know, "you can't." This year was very different for me. Working for a small distributor, with only a few wines at the event gave me the chance to experience the event the way it was meant to be enjoyed. I tasted some great wines, sampled some delicious food, chatted with lots of old friends, and of course people-watched. Allow me to recap the tasty, the funny and the downright absurd - Food & Wine 2009...
First the important things - the wines and the food. I tasted a lot of good wine last weekend. Some standouts include the new Benziger Signaterra line of wines, including the 2008 Shone Farm Sauvignon Blanc, the 2007 Bella Luna Pinot Noir, and the 2006 Three Blocks, a Bordeaux style blend. The Benzigers farm biodynamically, and the Signaterra lines symbolizes the link between the three forces of earth, nature and man. A nice bargain line is the Folie a Deux Winery's Menage a Trois line, which makes a white, a red and a rose' by blending unexpected grape varietals, such as Gewurtztraminer in the rose'. All retail for about $10. The Rolly Gassman wines from Alsace were new to me. I tasted the 2007 Pinot Blanc, the 2006 Riesling, and the 2004 Pinot Gris. All three were lovely, recognizably Alsatian wines, but with a bit more residual sugar than one would expect from this region. I did not find this to be a fault, on the contrary, it gave the wines a nice richness. They run in the $30 - $40 range. Rolly Gassman wines are also produced biodynamically.
I found the food in the tent to be less over-the-top than in previous years. Not as much foie gras or caviar as in the past. The food seemed slightly more down-to-earth. No less delicious, just not so excessive. A reflection on the state of the economy? A desire to change our ways from past excesses? Either way, I didn't mind. The American Lamb council served up yummy lamb tostadas, cheeses from all over the world abounded and the lobster meatballs were perfect with the Patron Tequila Bloody Marias for breakfast. Lots of sushi too, which you will never hear me complain about. Which brings me to my next point - Sake' is the new...sake'! I don't know much about sake'; if anyone knows of a good book or course on it, please let me know. But I do know that I am hooked! This is not your grandmother's bag-in-the-box hot sake'. I'm talking about the small-batch, artisan-produced, expensive, sake's that are served cold or at room-temperature. My favorites were the Wandering Poet and the Divine Droplets. I can't tell you any more about either, because all the writing on the bottles is in Japanese!
On to some of the sillier parts of the event. The cell phone hug is huge here. Not familiar with it? Follow these simple instructions: Walk along while talking on your cell phone; see an aquaintance you have not seen in ages; smile,hug with one arm while continuing to talk on your phone; continue walking. It's all the rage. Then of course, there's the people-watching. Aspen is always a great place for this activity, but during Food & Wine, it's at it's best, with all the industry celebrities out and about. For foodies and wine geeks, running into Giada De Laurentiis is as good as seeing Angelina Jolie in person. Mario Batali might as well be Ben Affleck. My best friend, I'll call her Treena, is obsessed with Bobby Flay. So Bobby-stalking is always part of the event for us. Treena, at first dismayed at not being able to track him down in the first few days, was overjoyed to find out the reason for his absence - he had been called away at the last minute to cook for the Obamas! Check out this video of the Commander and Chef.
Reporting from Aspen, Colorado, this is Alexa Bond, signing off...
Coming soon....look for big changes to this blog. A new name, new content, still lots of fun.