Food & Wine Classic: Candy-coated controversy inside tent | AspenTimes.com

Food & Wine Classic: Candy-coated controversy inside tent

Texas chef Tim Love gets the crowd amped up for shot roulette during a Food & Wine Classic seminar in the cooking tent. Of the 10 shots, nine were tequila and one had canola oil.
David Krause / The Aspen Times

Does the world need a piece of candy inspired by President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban? One misguided chef thinks so.

Indeed, Delysia Chocolatier’s absurd “State of the Union” box of chocolates is so objectively stupid and so clearly ill-advised that it’s hard to believe it exists. Delysia’s chef-owner Nicole Patel is at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen to launch the new box, which includes a chocolate truffle inspired by Trump’s ban on visitors from majority Muslim nations. Really. She describes it as “a Tahini baklava, a Middle Eastern creation inspired by a controversial executive order and travel ban.”

I’m not a chocolate expert. But I’m certain nobody wants or needs this boutique candy company making jokes about a racist policy that’s leaving refugees to die overseas. I suggested as much to Patel on Friday at her booth in the Grand Tasting Pavilion. She responded: “I mean, it’s a fact that this happened. We’re remaining unbiased. We just took the facts and emulated that in chocolate.”

But why? Why on Earth would you want to emulate a divisive president’s most divisive policy in chocolate? Why pick this fight?

“When you come to an event like this, people want to see things that push the envelope a little bit,” Patel said. “But we’re not making light of anything.”

Her Trump-themed display in the Grand Tasting Pavilion includes a chalk sign reading “Take a Piece of the Wall” and the new collection also features an “apricot cigar cognac”-flavored chocolate named “Rocket Man” for Kim Jong Un and a beats-and-dill truffle “with Russian flavors inspired by a so-called ‘witch hunt,’” riffing on the investigation into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia.

“We’re taking chocolate where no confectioner has gone before,” Patel said in a statement announcing the Austin-based chocolatier’s Trump-themed launch. “It’s been a joy to create chocolates that so wonderfully reflect how chaotic our political happenings can be.”

Sweet. Well, this is the state of America in 2018: a box of f—ing chocolate is inviting your outrage. Thanks, Delysia.

Andrew Travers

Pairing Perfection

I had to wonder what would unfold during a seminar called “Coffee Bean Meets Cuisine,” as my experience with the two is limited to my morning latte and muffin or a late-night espresso and dessert. Fool! The duo of Dean Fearing, Lexus culinary master for the weekend’s experience under the St. Regis tent, and world barista champion and director of cafe experience at Blue Bottle Coffee Michael Phillips, showed us what’s what when it comes to pairing coffee and food. The last pairing served (after two amazing starters): warm lobster tacos with yellow tomato salad and jicama salad served with the delightfully refreshing “Bourbon Bourbon Fizz.” The cocktail, crafted with cascara (essentially the cherry of every coffee bean), Bulleit bourbon, sparking water and a lemon wedge for garnish, really was the perfect “coffee bean” complement to the succulent lobster taco. A dish I wish I could re-create — and I do have recipes courtesy of Lexus and the St. Regis — I am not sure I will ever do the food or drink justice. Again, a nod to the Food & Wine Classic for standing tall above all others.

Jeanne McGovern

True Grit

A sign that Heritage Fire is truly a locals’ favorite (and that locals know how to prepare for anything Colorado’s crazy weather throws at them): The crowd did thin out a bit when the rain started to pour down, but most attendees just put on their raincoats, ducked under a vendor tent or popped up an umbrella — and partied on. Meat Fest 1, Mother Nature 0.

Jeanne McGovern

Texas steakman Tim Love gets crowd going

From an F-bomb in his first two sentences to ending the seminar with tequila-shot roulette, anyone who walked into Tim Love’s Saturday afternoon seminar a bit sleepy from a day of drinking was re-energized about 30 seconds in.

With Van Halen’s “Where Have All the Good Times Gone” blaring and Love’s Texas personality booming, he set the tone early: this 45-minute seminar was about fun and dialogue. On the way they got a lesson in how to manage the grill to make a perfect steak.

“Everyone thinks they can grill a great steak,” Love said. “It’s only grilled OK until they take one of my classes.”

The common mistakes people make are moving the meat around too much, he said, and not utilizing the heat.

“The biggest thing to grilling is patience. Put on the meat, settle in, make a cocktail and be patient,” he said. “Moving it around screws it up. But as important, when you move it, put it in a new spot each time because you always want it cooking on a hot space.”

Pulling a couple folks from the crowd to help during the session, they were rewarded with tequila shots.

But the kicker came at the end. Looking for 10 volunteers, those who raised their hands thought they were going to get a taste of the finished product.

Instead, they were blind-folded and presented with a shot glass — nine had tequila, one had canola oil.

Love explained that on his first time at the Classic 11 years ago, he was cooking at a local hotel and at the end of a long day asked for two shots of chilled Crown Royal. Lost somewhere in translation, the assistant returned with two shots of chilled canola oil.

With Lenny Kravitz’s “Let Love Rule” pumping on the speakers, the 10 took their shots and the “loser” was immediately identifiable by the look of disgust on her face. Her reward: a full swag bag of Love’s merchandise and a hug from the host.

David Krause

Bacon Makes Everything Better

When Kosta Browne and Casa Tua joined forces for a late-night party Thursday, the question was what would reign supreme? Wine, fancy small bites, the crowd? Hands-down it was the bacon-wrapped shrimp passed appetizer. Yup, bacon rules.

Jeanne McGovern


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