Under the Tent: The opening day
June 19, 2014
So it's Day 1 of the year's longest weekend, and by all accounts it looks like the 2014 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen will be blessed with beautiful weather.
This year, the Classic is a two-season event, with the summer solstice ushering out a sensational spring at 4:51 a.m. tomorrow. That means the longest weekend will also feature the year's longest day, with the sun rising at 5:41 a.m. and setting at 8:37 p.m. giving us, wait for it, 14 hours, 55 minutes and 47 seconds of sunshine. Use it wisely.
If you are up early, reading this by, say 6:00 a.m. or so, you should rush over to the Rio Grande Park and register for the first official event of the Classic, the Food & Wine Classic 5K Charity Run to benefit Wholesome Wave. The run has become a great kickoff to the Classic and is an outstanding way to start the day: a healthy trot through the West End and up the Rio Grande Trail while supporting a great cause.
Feeling good? Then it is time to head over to the first seminars of the day. Though there is a lot to choose from, it is hard to resist Jacques and Claudine. The pere et fille chef combo has become the closest thing to having Julia Child back at the Classic. They are a French institution, and today at 10 a.m. in the cozy confines of the St. Regis Hotel they will be breaking eggs. Literally. Their seminar, "The World of Eggs," will no doubt show you how to separate the yolks from the whites.
The initial Grand Tasting will follow, and be careful out there. Be a local and look for the Woody Creek Vodka folks, and be sure to get your fill of Acqua Panna and Pellegrino.
Lunch is key, so be sure to grab a bite. New this year within spitting distance of the Grand Tasting Tent are Jimmy's Bodega (those cocktails on the cover of the Aspen Times Weekly looked tasty, didn't they?), R&R from the folks at the Regal and Hops, a beer bar with an outdoor-table setup in the mall. People-watching is a free activity from all three locations.
Post-lunch I'd head for a wine seminar, and there are few places prettier than the site of the soon-to-be ex-art museum. Those tents by the river resonate with the sound of flowing water: a great place to sip some Sonoma Pinot Noir with Mark Oldman.
I'm going to wrap my afternoon with Tapas back where I started my day, in the St. Regis Hotel with the Spanish maestro Jose Andres. Jose, fresh from his annual Thursday-night Spanish wines and food party in Snowmass Village, will be showing us the simplicity of great small plates. He, like Jacques and Claudine, is a treasure and one of the chefs who make the Classic what it is.
Eat, drink and most of all, be merry.