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Ready your taste buds, Aspenites

Janet Urquhart

Aspen should have just enough time to finish digesting the gastronomic success of this year’s Food and Wine Magazine Classic before the July 10 Taste of Aspen brings fine dining to the street.Featuring the cuisine from a host of local restaurants, live music and raffles, the inaugural summer version of the Taste of Aspen will promote tourism and the local restaurant scene, according to organizer Rob Ittner.The town got a taste of the event last winter, when Ittner helped revamp Wintersköl’s outdoor food vending by local restaurateurs. His original vision for the Taste of Aspen, though, was as a summertime happening.”About this time last year, my managers and I sat down at a post-Food and Wine managers dinner. We kind of said, you know, this town really needs a food and wine event that is about Aspen,” recalled Ittner, co-owner of Aspen’s Rustique and Range restaurants.Food and Wine showcases chefs from around the country and wines from around the world. Ittner envisioned an event with a focus on Aspen’s reputation for fine dining.”The idea was to have an event that kind of mimicked Food and Wine, but was about Aspen,” he said. “With the Taste of Aspen, we hope to create an event like Food and Wine in both its popularity and quality, but focusing specifically on the many dynamic chefs and restaurants that make Aspen the culinary destination it is.” The Taste of Aspen wound up debuting during Wintersköl, but it will be a semiannual affair, with summer and winter events.Sponsored by the Colorado Restaurant Association (of which Ittner is president) and well as Land Rover and Volvo, the Taste of Aspen will shut down the block of Hopkins Street between Monarch and Mill – the resort’s “restaurant row.” From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., restaurants from around town will serve samples of their cuisine from colorfully decorated booths lining both sides of the street. Tickets, priced at $1, can be redeemed for food samples. The various taste temptations will require from one to seven tickets.The association is seeking a liquor license for the event that will allow the serving of wine and beer, as well.It will be a family event, though, Ittner stressed. Wrist bands will identify adults who can be served alcoholic beverages.The Taste of Aspen will feature offerings from: Elevation, Genre Bistro, Iguana’s, Jimmy’s, Kenichi, L’Hostaria, Matsuhisa, Merlin’s, Mogador, The Mother Lode, Olives, Range, Rustique, The Steak Pit, Takah Sushi and Willow Creek.”Aspen is such a great food town,” Ittner said. “It needs an event like this.”It’s the opportunity to really put Aspen even more on the map as a global destination for dining,” he added. “That’s really been one of my goals as a restaurateur here.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.


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