Sean Beckwith: Some post Food & Wine observations
This week I’m writing about food, booze and parties. I know, that’s a shocker. But it’s not your average raucous week in Aspen. It’s Jason Bourne to Robert Ludlum, the underdog story to Tom Rinaldi, the off-base LeBron James criticism to Skip Bayless. Regardless of how many times I’ve written about alcohol-fueled debauchery, it never fails to delight my (17) readers.
So instead I’m going to do a deep dive into water rights and how they measure water flow cfs. Sorry, that was a lie. Let’s get into Food & Wine.
First off, I don’t do seminars. They feel too much like school and the subject material might as well be calculus. Oh, that’s how you break down a rabbit? Cool. I’ll never use that in a real-life situation. What? Here’s how you make five different kinds of meatballs? Let me stop you right there and leave. Here’s how they make scotch? Here’s how I drink scotch: with a couple ice cubes and a cigar.
Now that you’re aware there will be no learning, let’s proceed. The best cocktail I found all week wasn’t a cocktail at all. It was a taste of Michter’s 10-year rye (currently going for close to $400 a bottle via quick search). If I could afford it, I’d brush my teeth with it.
Most rabid event award goes to Aspen Kitchen’s pig roast Friday evening. At one point I was meandering around holding a plate stacked with lomo and prosciutto in one hand and a whiskey and water in the other. Throw in a couple smoked old fashions, a bone-marrow luge shot and loud music and you get an impromptu office dance off. Side note: If you didn’t know it was a dance off, it was, and I won.
My favorite person of the weekend was my friend Kevin, who took over the Oskar Blues tent at the Smuggler Mine party Saturday. He wasn’t a rep or affiliated with the brewery in any way but saw an opportunity and seized it. Wielding and gnawing on random pork bones, Kevin not only encouraged people to grab freely from the pig but assisted in handing out party favors of beer.
As for the food, the best thing I had was probably the two steam buns I bought at Bamboo Bear for recovery Thursday. Obviously I had some tasty stuff at parties and a Grand Tasting, but those 15 minutes of solace eating barbecue pork enveloped in a fluffy steam bun accompanied by a Mountain Dew with the sun at my back were life saving.
Other notable bites were a cold-smoked salmon with an ice cream-like substance, lamb neck with a mushroom salad at Saturday afternoon’s Grand Tasting and deep-fried cauliflower and the roasted hog at separate Aspen Kitchen events. I thought about waiting in line for the truffle-covered Flintstone meat rib at the Grand Tasting, but it would have taken half the event.
I did go to a sit-down dinner masquerading as a seminar, though. It was not my favorite. If you’re going to offer steak, maybe ask me how I like it or at the very least cook it. I like my steak medium rare and preferably on the rare side, but it was essentially a second Carpaccio course. Also, I didn’t know there was such a bad thing as cheese on salad until I had triple cream cheese on a salad. I even Googled “triple cream cheese” to make sure it’s not just “Whipped Philadelphia Cream Cheese.” It’s not, but it sure tasted like it.
My thing with the culinary side of Food & Wine is a lot of what’s served, while delicious, can be repetitive. People think they have to make food as excessive as possible. I’m not saying avoid risks, but shaving truffles on something or topping it with caviar doesn’t make a dish great. You add Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors and you get an all-time team. You add Durant to the Orlando Magic, you get a shaky team with one really good quality, not something cohesive and memorable.
However, that’s how I would describe this week for locals. Every year Food & Wine comes around and former Aspenites flock to town to work and celebrate with current and former coworkers and friends. It’s not so much about what party you got into or how much swag you accrued; it’s about who you ate and drank with, made a scene with, laughed with, made memories with.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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