Contrary to popular belief I'm not considering my travels this summer a "vacation". It's work for me whether you like it or not. Because I've been working so hard, I naturally had to take a real vacation to blow off some steam. There's no better place in the world for a little R&R than Aspen, Colorado.
This year our family decided to make a group pilgrimage through the Rockies to attend the food industry's most exclusive event, the Food and Wine Classic. I wouldn't consider myself a "foodie" per se, but I am part of the food television generation. We love to see the innovative cooking techniques and unique ingredients we see on various cooking shows used in the meals we eat. Sorry we're not sorry about it. The F&W Classic is a celebration of everything high-end in the food industry. And even if you're the lowest guest on the totem pole (as we were) you still get the red carpet treatment.
The event's real purpose is to sell wine. Purveyors from all over the world come to Aspen with their wine in order to impress restauranteurs and bar owners looking to pick up new labels. Personally I enjoy drinking the wine more than chatting about it, so to draw in the rest of the consumer population F&W puts together a series of cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs. These are our rock stars, and these demos are an intimate live look-in to our favorite cooking shows. We were lucky enough to see Giada De Laurentiis, Michael Symon, Jose Andrés, and Tim Love up close and in person. On top of that there are two daily "Grand Tastings", which are basically tents full of unlimited beer, wine, cheese, seafood, liquor, deserts, ANYTHING YOU COULD WANT TO INGEST. Take a look at these photos to get a better idea of the scene:
The key to successfully dominating this event is one word: pace. Pace yourself. I, for one, did not pace myself when I took down four glasses of wine during a chocolate pairing at 10am on Friday. I followed that with about a pound of artisan blue cheese, and washed that down with a few Patron mojitos and some Stella Artois. Ok, I was like a kid in a candy shop. By 6pm on Day 1 I was wiped out. Luckily if you've been eating all day there's no need for dinner reservations!
I managed to survive the rest of the weekend despite setting the (unofficial) world record for bleu cheese consumed in a 72 hour period. Making the 6-hour gridlock drive back to Denver, you feel a certain satisfaction of rubbing elbows with food's elite in such a beautiful town. I'm glad that I was able to knock this festival off of my checklist, and even happier to have my family there with me. Will we go again? That remains to be seen. Should you go if you get the chance? ABSOLUTELY.