Food & Wine Classic notebook: ‘Food, nature two ways to like your life’

Staff reports
The Aspen Times

The crew of The Aspen Times and our editor for our upcoming EAT Aspen magazine spread out around the Food & Wine Classic venues Saturday and here’s what they found out:

Reichl: Food, nature two ways to like your life

Ruth Reichl has been writing about food and restaurants for decades for myriad publications, but she never made a stop at the Classic because she didn’t work for the magazine that hosts the event.

But now that she’s not working for a competitor, she and Food & Wine magazine Editor Hunter Lewis sat down Saturday morning to talk about the changing landscape of food journalism and writing.

Reichl read a few passages from her most recent book “Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir.” She looked at the role of the kitchen in the home, including the mountaintop glass house she’s built in the Hudson Valley.

Her kitchen is the center of the house, but it is small by most standards, and that’s how she wanted it.

“My feeling about why it’s important to have a beautiful kitchen, first of all, I think you just cook better in a space where you’re happy,” Reichl said. “But I also think, and my whole philosophy about food is, there are a million reasons to be miserable every day. There are terrible things happening in the world, and we know about them almost instantly.

“I think it behooves us as human beings to find reasons to be grateful to be alive and reasons to be happy. And I think food is one of those things. Food and nature are two of the easiest ways to like your life.”

—David Krause, The Aspen Times

Learning a few lessons during Boulangerie Brunch

Early, day two, the St. Regis courtyard is filled with imbibers ready for the Boulangerie Brunch presented by Nina Compton, Ludo Lefebvre and our ex-local Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy.

Apparently, the French see brunch a little different than our Sunday tradition of French toast, eggs benedict and mimosas. We were served chilled coconut cantaloupe soup, coq au vin and an excellent Tahitian vanilla rice pudding — all paired with wines also hailing from France ranging from white to burgundy to champagne.

After laughing, eating and sipping for 45 minutes, I learned four key things: 1) Use cocoa powder in all your French stews, 2) make cuts in your bay leaves to release the flavor before use, 3) drink champagne with some sugar content to avoid acid reflux and, most importantly, 4) I love Riesling!

— Amy Laha, The Aspen Times

Dig It: Marcus’ Home Party

Marcus Samuelsson nailed it — for me and many others in a nearly standing-room only ballroom at the St. Regis Aspen on Saturday afternoon.

“You in a bad mood? I’ll fix it,” he declared.

And that he did.

With rocking music, some New Zealand tribal chants, a team of true culinary pros backing him up and some great audience interaction, Samuelsson cooked up his own version of a home party, closing with some sage words about scallops: “Seafood is mood candy.”

— Rose Laudicina, The Aspen Times

Patron Tequila Presents Drinks at Home, Perfected by Patron

When I was waiting in line and everyone around me said they book this event every year because it’s so much fun, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. Sponsored by Patron, the seminar in the courtyard of the St. Regis is part instruction, part do-it-yourself cocktail party and part lubricated mayhem.

Attendees sit at tables set with all the cocktail making accoutrements and ingredients needed for personalized Jalisco Mules and Classic Margaritas, along with a ready-to-drink, tequila infused sangria. According to co-host David Alan, author of “Tipsy Texan: Cocktails and Spirits from the Lone Star State,” drinks in “barlandia” are created by three different methods: shaking, stirring and building. We practiced all three methods with the help of the shakers, stirrers, strainers and mixologists wandering the room. Then, of course, there was sampling. The margarita was my favorite. However, my table mate Nancy Weber, EVP of Marketing for Meredith who oversees the seminar, preferred the mule.

“This event is such a great expression of what food and wine is to people. I love the camaraderie between chefs, wine exhibitors and attendees. And, when you need a break from wine, you can have Patron,” Weber said.

Your secret tip for the day is from co-host Stephen Halpin, who is manager of trade education and mixology for Patron. When adding an effervescent mixer, like ginger beer, to a built drink, put your stirrer spoon in the middle of the glass. Pour the liquid on the stem of the spoon. The spirals in the spoon will keep your mixer from bubbling up, so you don’t’ lose the fizz.

— Allison Pattillo, special to The Aspen Times