Meredith C. Carroll: Welcome to Aspen, Food & Wine-rs!
We hope neither a June blizzard nor avalanche debris nor charging moose nor an Independence Pass virgin hindered your travel into town (unless you were the Pass virgin, in which case, please seek out and apologize to each of the roughly 900 cars that inexorably crawled behind you for the entire 4,187-foot descent).
You should have received a gift basket upon successful navigation of Aspen’s signature orange traffic cones (the total number of which was just reduced by law to 2,000 from the normal 11,000 as a courtesy to our high-season guests).
Pro tip: Consider redeeming the oxygen therapy coupon before going up the gondola, or even the stairs to Ajax Tavern — not because it’s likely to improve your chances of attaining breath, but it’ll make your false confidence when trying to engage relatably with a local entertaining, or at least it’s a topic that’ll make you immediately identifiable as a non-local (that is, if the CamelBak you strapped on for the walk to Carl’s from the Tyrolean Lodge didn’t already out you).
You may want to make a whole-body cryotherapy appointment, too. While being immersed from the neck down in nitrogen gas that plummets to -270 degrees won’t enhance your time in Aspen, it sends blood to protect your vital organs, which the emergency medical technicians will be concerned about when they’re summoned to your hotel room Saturday afternoon.
Below is the official Food & Wine Dos & Don’ts list that was accidentally omitted from the welcome packet by a now-former summer intern whose parents neglected to explain there are some instances in life in which you are required to work for people who are simply not required to work for you — even in Aspen.
DO hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Hamptons Water Rosé will be available at filling stations around town, with VitaJuwel water bottle holders also entitled to exclusive tequila refills at the official Aspen Mindy-Body-Spirits pop-up wet bar.
DON’T carry around a yoga mat. Right place, wrong weekend.
DO attend the discussion on Aspen’s newly minted ban on flavored tobacco products immediately following the fruit-infused brandy seminar, which is sponsored in part by Dasani Tropical Pineapple Water and Drake’s Organic Spiked Ice Vodkarita.
DON’T drink and drive. For many of you, also please don’t drink and walk. And, while we’re at it, please don’t drink and text, text and walk, or let a “World Cup of Wine” 10 a.m. seminar lull you into thinking it won’t be entirely inappropriate to imbibe professionally for breakfast and then hang out with bathing suit-clad, balloon-clutching preschoolers at the dancing fountain before noon on a weekday.
DO bring your insurance card and a sense of adventure. The Flight for Life to Denver can be especially exhilarating after Rick Bayless’ Sunday morning “Ceviche, Meet Mezcal” event.
DON’T feel guilty about the unavoidable and extraordinary excess over the next several days, including the water used to wash more than 50,000 wine glasses, or the utter waste of over half a million utensils, napkins, plates and cups (compostable, but still). Your reusable Food & Wine grocery tote will magically make it all better*.
*This guilt-relieving statement is for entertainment purposes only and is included in the price of admission.
DON’T leave your garbage lying around. Act like you live here and properly dispose of waste in any of the unsecured trash cans around town, which is to say: all of them (except for the ones that inexplicably make you stick your bare hand into a blazing-hot, bacteria-addled metal orifice where you’re expected to dispatch a latch from a contraption that makes Crystal Pepsi look like an underappreciated invention by comparison).
DO remain “bear aware” during your visit: Don’t feed the wildlife or attempt selfies with them, no matter the Instagram potential (unless, you know, you can get a really good shot).
DON’T ever not wear your Food & Wine credentials, even upon departing Aspen. Lanyards as accessories serve as visual reminders that frats boys aren’t the only ones who can wake up thankful for the act of having woken up at all while simultaneously wishing for sudden death, and also airplane Bloody Marys.
Follow Meredith Carroll on Twitter @MCCarroll. More at MeredithCarroll.com.