Team Bravo! Attends The 30th Food & Wine Classic in Aspen 2012

The following is an excerpt from Terry’s trip journal

We arrived on Tuesday to get used to the high altitude and the high life. Had to whip up some mayonnaise for lunch sandwiches to get us fueled up for Aspen; then off to the market for supplies (Caviar, burrata, herbs, mache, etc.) and to pick up Shawn and Nancy at the train station in Glenwood Springs.

We cooked lobster and beef tenderloin with sauce charon for dinner to get our bodies ready for the week. Ann made a great Caprese Salad with the Burrata Cheese. Burrata is a specialty mozzarella and is perfect for this salad. The inside of this mozzarella is soft with a creamy soft buttery center.

The Miami Heat lost to Oklahoma Thunder 94 - 105

Wednesday: We awoke and cooked applewood smoked bacon to go with some berries for breakfast, and then simmered lobster shells for stock to be used later in the week. Good morning Aspen!

Grottos HikeGrottos Hike

We took a beautiful drive toward Independence Pass which has recently opened for the season and stopped for a short hike to the Grottos. The Grottos are an amazing formation of large rocks that have fallen into the upper Roaring Fork River. These rocks have formed canyons that rarely see sunshine and as a result the base area is layered with many feet of ice. It's a great way to cool off after a hike. Note: The last property along Highway 82 just before the Independence Pass gates belongs to Kevin Costner.

 

Thursday we golfed down valley in a canyon not far from the Colorado River! This requires rethinking golf (lighter air, drastic elevation changes and stunning views that make it difficult to concentrate). I lost over 3 sleeves of balls but had a fantastic round.

American Express invited us to a private kick off party at the famous Matsuhisa restaurant. The attendees include chefs Nobu Matsuhisa, Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless and many more world famous chefs and sommeliers.

After the kick off party we stopped at the Aspen Brewing Co. and enjoyed sampling their line up. Good beer but not as great as our Bravo! handcrafted beers. We couldn't stay long as we had a special invitation to try a new restaurant scheduled to open the following week called the Chefs Club.

 

The Chefs Club Restaurant is a new concept at the St. Regis in conjunction with Food & Wine Magazine. Their thought is that if 1 chef is good then 4 chefs would be great. This season's menu has 4 of Food & Wine Award Winning Best New Chefs. They are Aldea's George Mendes (2011), New Orleans chef Sue Zemanick (2008) James Lewis ( 2011) & Alex Seidel (2010). Chef Sue Zemanick's Veal Osso Bucco, and duck-confit crostini were outstanding.

Friday 6:45 5K run

2012 is the 5th anniversary of FOOD & WINE's charity initiative, Grow for Good, which supports local and sustainable agriculture. To celebrate, Bobby Flay hosted a 5K Charity Run benefitting Wholesome Wave. Shawn & I had a great time participating in this event and I achieved my time goal and came in 6th place for all runners over 50 years old.

 

We attended a seminar on Tech Talk/Social Media Marketing at the Hotel Jerome. Last year more people bought smart phones than PC's or Mac's. Social Media just may catch on like that whole internet thing (not to mention sliced bread).

 

The Private Trade Grand Tasting Tent is open and our two key finds are organic truffle and honey and Deep Rose wine by Isabella Mondavi. Look for these at Bravo! in the future.

 

Our next seminar

Pairings: An Insider's Guide by Sommelier Marnie Old

Her book, Wine Secrets, is a great collection of practical wine advice for beginners.

Things I Learned:

  • Wine is like sauce on the side
  • Salt neutralizes acidity and sourness in wine
  • Sugar amplifies acidity and neutralizes sweetness
  • Raw foods pair with un-oaked wines
  • Classic food (tomato sauce) = Old World style wines (Chianti)
  • Recent foods (BBQ) = New World styled wines (Malbec)

Dinner is at Matsuhisa and we tried most of the items on the menu. The Black Cod With Miso, Rock Shrimp, Lobster Salad and more. One of the night's specials was hearts of palm (pasta style), shaved asparagus and tomato sauce. This will be served at Bravo! in the near future.

 

Saturday: The farmer's market is on Saturdays and some great fresh produce is starting to appear. We were looking for ideas for a dinner party we were hosting that evening. As we browse, we ran into Michael Symon and Bobby Flay, also shopping. We talked about the 5K race and the effects of high altitude. Bobby runs marathons and was still surprised by the thin air.

Four Decades of Silver Oak

Don attended a private tasting featuring the two Silver Oak wines from eight vintages spanning four decades. The tasting was hosted by David Duncan, son of one of the founders. In total there were twelve glasses of wine, each with a special story. Importantly the wine was all poured from magnums that had been standing for a few days. Don has provided us with the following summary of the tasting.

 

The name Silver Oak comes from the siting of the original winery. It is located between Oakville and the Silverado Trail. In their first two decades of wine making the founders focused the production on the single varietal of cabernet sauvignon. The winemakers have always held the goal of only releasing Silver Oak wines that have a fully developed "velvety soft texture." This requires one of the most extensive aging processes in the industry. Each vintage is aged 24-30 months in the barrel and then cellared for approximately 18 months in the bottle. Additionally, the winery has established exclusive partnerships regarding their corks and oak barrels.

 

Silver Oak produces two appellations, Napa Valley and Alexander Valley. Recent vintages of Napa Valley have been blends in the Bordeaux style where cabernet sauvignon is blended with merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. Alexander Valley vintages are 100% cabernet sauvignon. The family has also branched into other varietals (merlot, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc) under the label Twomey. These wines were not part of the tasting.

 

During the one hour tasting I was able to compare and contrast some very impressive wines. I was struck by the drinkability of the recent vintages. And I was very impressed by how well developed the older vintages were. We were offered both appellations from four vintage years ('94, '97, '01 and '07). It was very informative to compare and contrast the styles within the same year and then from the different years. There were noticeable differences in color, aroma and taste. There were no disappointments in tasting these wines. Each was extraordinary. My biggest disappointment was to learn that many of the older vintages are sold out. Given that they produce only 25,000 cases of Napa Valley and 75,000 cases of Alexander Valley buying closer to the release dates will assure access. By the way the 2008 vintage will be released in August 2012.

Cooking Seminar American Classics By José Andrés

I had to sign up for Chef José Andrés class on American Classics because a) I Think José ROCKS b) What does a Spaniard know about American Classics? c) I know he is a food historian who teaches at Harvard. d) All of the above. Answer is: D and the seminar did ROCK.

 

Who else could make Smores by roasting marshmallows over flaming Kentucky Bourbon and sugar and then sipping on the now alcohol free concoction?

Back to the Grand Tasting Tents and Shawn got to meet the "Beer Chicks".

 

The Beer Chicks are beer sommeliers Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune. Their book, The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer, was published in November of 2009 (The Penguin Group, New York, NY) and their new book, The Naked Brewer, Fearless Homebrewing, Tips, Tricks & Rule-breaking Recipes will be published in October of 2012.

 

They live by the motto: Beer is Good!

Another seminar In the Kitchen with Top Chef Paul Qui

explained how to make dashi stock.

  • Steep kombu in water for 10 minutes (don't boil)
  • Add bonito flakes and turn off heat
  • Let bonito settle to the bottom.

We get to cook dinner tonight for 16 of our friends

 

Shrimp Cocktail Assorted Cheeses

*****

Meatball Trio

Traditional pork and BBQ Lamb with red curry sauce

Yellow Fin Tuna with sesame and soy wasabi dipping sauce

*****

Seared Foie Gras And Blackberry Glaze

With Char Grilled Duck Breast Salad

*****

Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Morel Mushroom sauce

Lobster Spring Rolls

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

*****

Grand Marnier Souffles with Crème Anglaise

 

Sunday 17th: Team Bravo Departs for KZOO, reality

& a break for our cholesterol levels.