Under the Tent: Taking it in | AspenTimes.com

Under the Tent: Taking it in

Kelly Hayes
Under the Tent

A smoking-hot (literally and figuratively) Friday at the Food & Wine Classic gives way to Saturday, the hump day. Since I spent the majority of my time Friday imbibing, I think I’ll focus on food today.

The Tent

Over the years, the wine scene has remained largely unchanged in the tents. That is to say, as trends come and go (“Anybody remember Viognier?” Bobby Stuckey asked during his seminar), the setup is basically the same. But the food keeps getting better and better with each passing year.

A major change was made last year to take the best new chefs out of the Hotel Jerome, where they combined for a group dinner, and put them in pairs in the tent for each grand tasting. It allows everyone to get a chance to taste a dish from these up-and-comers. The key is to head over there, (the southwest corner of the West Tent), early on, before the crowds and lines begin to form. It is a great way to see this year’s class up close and personal.

Another change for this year is the inclusion of a round robin of Aspen’s restaurants. The energy that the local community brings to the tasting tents is palpable, and it is special to incorporate our vibrant dining community with the event in this manner.

What hasn’t changed is the food in the Wines of Spain Tent. Javiar from Basalt’s Tempranillo Restaurant has been pairing the mussels and the fine Iberico Jamon and Manchego cheese for the tent for 20 years now. Still, it may be the best bite (and for sure the best bite with Spanish wines) in the Grand Tasting Tent.

If celebrity chefs are your thing, it doesn’t get much better than Thomas Keller, of Napa’s French Laundry and New York’s Per Se. Keller, one of the food world’s real gentleman, will be live and in person at the Kitchen Aid booth this afternoon at 5:45. As if a sweetener was needed, he will be giving away copies of his Bouchon Bakery Cookbook to the first 25 folks who show up. Look for the line.

Lexus has become a nexus for lovers of food and drink, bringing in chefs over the past few years from some of the great culinary destinations in America. This year, the featured chefs are from Rosewood’s Mansion on Turtle Creek. Today, the tent in middle of the courtyard will be serving pastrami ruebens, beet-cured sturgeon and poached salmon. And right next door is a sweet little bar pouring some of the best small-batch bourbons and making cool cocktails.

Speaking of bourbon, the boys at Breckenridge Distillery are here as well, and they have star chef David Burke pairing food with their spirits. Burke will be opening a new restaurant, David Burke Kitchen, here in Aspen on the corner of Galena and Hopkins this December. That is, if the old Gap building rises on schedule.

Anyway, too many bites to mention, and I have yet to get to the tacos from the Yucatan or the seafood from Louisiana.


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