Reporters’ notebook: From Martha to the virtues of potato chips and wine and enjoying your veggies, Day 1 was a welcomed return
Martha, Martha, Martha
All hail the Queen! Martha Stewart celebrated the forthcoming publication of her 99th book — “Martha Stewart’s Fruit Desserts: 100+ Delicious Ways to Savor the Best of Every Season: A Baking Book,” due out in October — by demonstrating three recipes to a packed audience in the Paepcke Park seminar tent on Friday morning.
Donning a pink sweater embroidered with a whimsical reminder keep “Knives on the Right,” the domestic legend proved that she still has the golden touch at 80 years young.
Stewart made quick work of assembling a rustic apple crostada with cheddar cheese crust; red grape cake with whipped crème fraîche; and “Ruffled Pumpkin Milk Pie,” while sharing stories of cooking with Snoop Dogg and her 10-year-old granddaughter, Jude, infused with her signature dry wit. (Butter, it turns out, hydrates dry hands here at altitude in a pinch—“Just don’t touch my upholstery” afterward, she quipped.)
Stewart’s showstopper was the finished pie: Buttery phyllo enrobed in silky, sweet pumpkin custard as a clever spin on the Thanksgiving tradition? It’s a good thing.
— Amanda Rae, “Food Matters” columnist, Aspen Times Weekly
No meat, no problem
I feel like the visceral reaction people have to plant-based food is more about the assumption that it’s a statement about meat.
Marcus Samuelsson, whose new restaurant will only have one meat dish, put it better than most Friday when he said plant-based food isn’t supposed to taste like chicken, it’s supposed to taste delicious.
The teff gnocchi he made with lobster mushrooms, broccoli stem pesto and homemade cheese made you forget the dish didn’t have a protein. Excited as always to share his native Ethiopian ingredients, teff was the grain part of his Greens and Grains seminar. The crowd may have been muted (it’s not your fault, Marcus, asking people who’ve been power drinking and eating in the sun to rally in a cool tent is difficult if not impossible), but the excitement over the burgeoning meatless movement could be felt in Samuelsson’s Q&A after the cooking demo.
It’s hard not to want explore the possibilities for eschewing meat when you’re privy to Samuelsson’s infectious energy for vegan food, and its potential effect on fine dining, for even an hour.
And I’m not talking about the Impossible Whopper. The lens through which we view vegetarian dishes needs to be refocused to making the ingredients sing as their best self, not contorting them to taste like KFC.
— Sean Beckwith, The Aspen Times
Getting a little chippy
Beer has beer nuts, wine has cheese, but what about a crunchy snack? That’s where Wine Chips (winechips.com) comes in with hearty lattice-cut chips in creative flavors, meant to pair with wines. Given the 10 a.m. time for the seminar, I can report, they are even a winning combination for breakfast. We sampled six different chips made just for this event hosted by Ray Isle, the executive wine editor for Food & Wine magazine, and Jonathan Pullis, master sommelier. Oh, and with eight wines.
My favorite pairing was the first, Bollingers with Master Reserve Sea Salt chips. And, according to Isles, “French fries and Champagne are one of the best pairings on the planet,” so that makes sense.
It also tracks with Wine Chips. Pullis, who is a partner in the business and the wine director at 7908 in Aspen, says their top pairing is Champagne with one of their three varieties of salty chips.
While it may seem counterintuitive, we learned the acidity and saltiness in the chips actually pulls back on the acidity in wines, allowing you to pick up more fruit nuances in your wine.
Our process was to sip the wine, taste a paired chip, and then taste the wine again. Chardonnay isn’t usually my first choice, but when paired with Chef’s Baked Potato Chips, it was sublime. Proving Isle’s points that each palate is unique and good food can make wine taste better. The wine itself, a 2019 Benovia Russian River Chardonnay, may have had something to do with that as well.
To recreate this experience get some Wine Chips and three bottles of wine — yes, the chips have general pairing recommendations — grab some friends and have your own, laid-back tasting party.
– Allison Pattillo, The Aspen Times
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Aspen Words’ literary conference and festival is back in-person after a pandemic hiatus and a move from June to autumn.