Food & Wine magazine has declared this “the year of the cocktail,” and the theme gets recognition at the 24th edition of the Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen. Tony Abou-Ganim, a gold medalist in mixology (he won top prize at the 2003 Bacardi-Martini Grand Prix World Finals in Turin, Italy) will give a course, The Perfect Cocktail Party. Kim Haasarud will sign copies of her new book, “101 Margaritas,” (and serve up a batch, probably of No. 2, the Grand Gold) Friday, June 16, at 3 p.m. at Explore Booksellers. And Steven Olson is likely to mix up some mezcal in his seminar, Spanish Superstars: Mezcal, the Spirit of Mexico. But don’t expect the mixed drinks to drown out the taste of vino and vittles. The usual array of superstars chefs (Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud) and wine connoisseurs (Rory Callahan, Mary-Ewing Mulligan, Dan Philips) will get plenty of space on the stage to talk ribs, affordable Bordeaux and dishes from Spago and Del Posto. For the less focused foodie, there is always the Grand Tasting Tent.
Since 1993, the Neil Diamond tribute band Super Diamond has had it fairly easy, capturing Mr. Diamond in all his shimmering, over-emoting, soft-rock glory. But tribute bands probably never think that the tributee is going to do something crazy like mess with the persona that was strong enough to copy in the first place. Diamond, however, did just that last year. After a decade of mostly silence on the recording front, Diamond released “12 Songs,” an album that expertly captures the singer’s strengths while doing away with the schlockiness that made Diamond so easy to caricature. “12 Songs” makes no stabs at hipness, but strips Diamond down to his essentials, the emotional voice and the song-writing. (Producer Rick Rubin had done this before with Johnny Cash.) According to one band member, Super Diamond was hoping to work up some of “12 Songs” before their two-night stand at the Belly Up, Thursday and Friday, June 15-16. The question is, how do they pull off this new Neil, having perfected the old Neil?
John Lasseter’s name may never ring like that of America’s signature animator, Walt Disney. But Lasseter, over the last decade, has become the world’s de facto leading creator of animated films. The 49-year-old Hollywood native, and vice president of Pixar Animation Studios, wrote and directed the two “Toy Story” movies and “A Bug’s Life,” and was executive producer of “Monsters, Inc.,” “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles.” Lasseter seems certain to extend that track record with “Cars,” now in theaters. The story is of Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), a revved-up stock car that gets stuck in the backwater of Radiator Springs. The message is about leaving the fast lane and finding lasting values in a slower-paced life. Along for the ride are Bonnie Hunt, George Carlin, John Ratzenberger, and Paul Newman, as a cranky Hudson named Doc who forces Lightning to stick around Radiator Springs until he remedies the damage he’s done.
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