Food & Wine Classic: Under the tent |

Food & Wine Classic: Under the tent

Kelly J. Hayes

Welcome to Aspen. Today is opening day of the 33rd Food & Wine Classic (like I had to tell you), and the weather gods have grinned upon us.

Let’s get right to it. Opening day begins with the Classic 5K Charity run. Hopefully you had a chance to sprint — OK, jog — the uphill portion of the Rio Grande Trail following in the jet wash of the likes of restaurant moguls Bobby Stuckey, Marcus Samuelsson and Richard Blais, all of whom are hard-core runners.

The start time for today’s first round of seminars is 10 a.m., and you can’t kick it off any better than by spending an hour or so with Jacques and Claudine. That would be the Pepin Pere et Fille, who will initiate the weekend by contributing some family recipes at the St. Regis. Jacques, who shares a birth year (1935) with the Dalai Lama, will turn 80 years young in December, and the Food & Wine folks are celebrating him in style with a special top o’ the mountain salute at the Publishers Party. By invitation only, of course.

At the same time over at The Little Nell, Laura Werlin, the effervescent and be-curled part-time Aspenite (she splits time between her Main Street abode and her San Francisco home, lucky girl) shows off the best in American cheese paired with exceptional wines. The wines include a 2013 Black Kite Cellars Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir (look for Black Kite in the tent for the first time this year — a real treat) and a 2012 Three Sticks Durell Vineyard Sonoma Chardonnay from wine impresario Bill Price. These will be paired with the amazing artisan cheeses that Laura, a James Beard winner for “The All American Cheese and Wine Book,” brings us from the best cows, sheep and goats in all the land.

There are a pair of Grand Tastings today and, for my money, the first and the last of the weekend are always the best: The first because of the anticipation and the last because you can see the finish line. Yes, the entire Classic is a lot like the 5K. You’ve got to pace yourself.

Devin Padgett, the maestro who has made this event what it is (sure, there are others, but no one — no one — sweats the details like Devin, who produces the Classic through his Basalt-based Dev-Inc and is the magazine’s director of special projects) is giddy about some new stuff in the tents. At the first tasting, he said to be sure and check out the following:

• Miami’s marvelous Michelle Bernstein in the courtyard at the Lexus location.

• Try some Barrymore wines from Carmel Road (yes, that would be Drew Barrymore, the grand daughter of the great John Barrymore).

• Hit the Korean Airlines booth for some Bibimbap, a signature dish of Korea.

• Go to Jamaica for an Appleton Rum slushie (a good one on a hot day).

• Continue the world tour with a trip to Canada for a “Pure Canada” maple sno-cone.

• Be sure to stop by the Wines of Spain tent.

• Check out the new Clos de Tech pinot that T.J. Roberts is producing out of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

• Get blingy with it by sipping the love of Jay Z’s life, the Armand de Brignac (Ace of Spades) Champagne.

Do all that and you’ll have a good jump on the weekend. Cheers.


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