Team Bravo! Exploring the Food & Wine Classic In Aspen 2015

Team Bravo!

Team Bravo! arrived in Colorado a few days before the 32nd Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. This year is another sold out event and it helps kick off the summer season for the town of Aspen. The weather was fantastic with sunny skies and 80 degree temps all week.

After arriving, we shopped for some basic supplies for the house: Beef Tenderloin, Caviar, Wine, etc, and then headed out for a hike. At almost 8,000 ft., it will take us Michiganders awhile to get used to the altitude. As we drove up toward the historic ghost town of Ashcroft we saw a large Cinnamon Bear! OK, we were still in our car when we encountered the big guy, but it was still exhilarating especially recognizing we all share the same goal, the pursuit of fine food! The hike was amazing, with warm weather, (something we haven't seen in Kalamazoo for a while) and snowcapped mountains as a backdrop. We packed a picnic of rustic bread and chicken salad made with olive oil that we enjoyed on the back deck of a camp house that was across the street from the old mining town.

The Bear                                     The Hike

After hiking, we went back into town to attend a private party for restauranteurs and chefs, sponsored by American Express. We encountered an amazing cappuccino artist who draws portraits in coffee foam with a toothpick. Shawn and Nancy got an amazing foam drawing of their dog. The food was delicious: Buratta Cheese, Sliders, Truffled French Fries and more. We can't eat too much because we were lucky to get reservations at Matsuhisa for dinner. Chef Nobu's world famous Black Cod did not disappoint, and the Soft Shell Crab offerings were sensational. It's was a feast worthy of Food & Wine!

Nancy with her dog sketch        Buratta Cheese Spoons & Truffle Fries

The next morning, Terry and Whitney woke very early for The Celebrity Chef 5K Charity Run to raise money for Wholesome Wave. This nonprofit strives to create a vibrant and sustainable food system that's available to all. Both Terry and Whitney did great considering the high altitude and mountainous conditions. After the run, we were off to seminars and wine tastings where Terry ran into Joel Gott the famous winemaker from Napa California. He has supplied Bravo! with his delicious Cabernets and crisp Sauvignon Blanc for quite a few years.

Terry & Whitney pre 5k               Winemaker Joel Gott

Our first seminar, "Meeting the Masters" with Chefs Andrew Zimmern, Gabrielle Hamilton, Jose Graces and Marcus Samuelsson discussed their ongoing successes in the hospitality industry. It was nice to listen to these successful people as they discuss current restaurant trends and issues that also effect restaurants in Kalamazoo, including how to leverage technology and social media, staying relevant in this competitive industry, retaining and mentoring staff, and understanding trends.

Shawn's next class was with Chef David Chang whom we have admired for years. David brought the noodle bowl into the lime light with his New York restaurants. We have enjoyed making his recipes at home for years. David demonstrated the many ways to use an egg. His Chawan Mushi is a seafood custard topped with caviar which we will interpret into a Bravo! special in the near future!

On to the grand tasting tent where there is more wine than you can shake a glass at. Inside is Carlos Salgado, one of Food & Wine Magazine‘s Top 10 Best New Chefs, cooking one of his specialties, Scallops Aguachile (Chile Water) with Serrano, Hoja Santa and Squid Ink. A unique blend of flavors that is sweet and acidic with a touch of heat.

Also cooking was James Beard award-winning, Michelle Bernstein, who was preparing Foie Gras Mousse, Sweetbread Tacos & Sea Urchin; all of which were amazing.

Chef Bryce Shuman with his spin on caviar blew us away. It may sound simple to pair caviar with buttermilk, but his technique of reducing the buttermilk to create a light wafer and then adding a touch of crème fraîche was amazing.

Chefs Carlos, Michelle & Bryce

Drew Barrymore was also in the tent pouring her new line of wine, Carmel Road. Her bubbly personality was equal to the wine and full of fun. Terry had a great time outside of the tent With Chefs Eric Ripert, Marcus Samuelsson, Jacque Pepin & Andrew Zimmern, all great Masters of the Art of cooking.

With Chefs Eric Ripert, Marcus Samuelsson, Jacque Pepin & Andrew Zimmern

Another seminar that we attended was "American Cheese and Wine All-Stars" with Laura Werlin, one of the country's foremost authorities on cheese. She is a James Beard award-winning author of six books on the subject.

The key learnings from her seminar were:

  • Wine is affected by cheese more than cheese is affected by wine.
  • Grazed cows produce a yellow cheese because of the beta carotene in their diet.
  • Buffalo do not process beta carotene like cows so their cheese is whiter rather than yellow.
  • Sheep's milk cheese "sweats" more than cow or goat cheeses when it gets to room temperature.
  • Sheep's milk cheese has a "sandy" texture.
  • Pinot Noir is a very cheese-friendly wine.
  • Bigger cheese is paired best with a bigger wine.
  • Cheese tends to exaggerate the tannins in wine.
  • Cheese gets creamier as it ages.
  • In America, people tend to describe cheese, "like a brie" or "like a cheddar."
  • You have the right pairing if when you taste the wine, and you want another bite of cheese, and then another sip of wine…"

  • Whitney with Laura Werlin

    On our last dinner of the Food & Wine we felt so lucky and inspired from all the talented people we saw, that we cooked a great dinner. Besides Team Bravo! we invited some friends that we have met during the festival. We call it the Guy's Dinner.

    2015 Guy's Dinner

    Baked Shrimp with horseradish and pepper jack cheese
    Scallops with Caviar, Brussels sprout slaw and Patron cream sauce
    Gazpacho Colorado style
    Stuffed zucchini blossoms with goat cheese and pesto oil
    Beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes and corn and edamame salsa
    Grand Marnier Soufflés

    Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio
    Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon 2000

    After some great sleep we woke up for our Sunday morning "Mystery Box Cook Off." The seminar started with splits of Prosecco for everyone to pay tribute to Jacque Pepin on his 80th birthday. The cook off pitted chef Carla Hall and her sous chef Detroit Piston Bad Boy John Salley against Chef Andrew Zimmern and his sous chef Pink. This was a very entertaining seminar that had everyone jumping in their seats with laughter.

    Quotes & Recipes from the Food & Wine Classic In Aspen 2015
    "Prosecco should be called Prozaco" Mark Oldman

    "Let meat rest 10 min minimum after grilling and finish with a little salt & acid (lemon juice)" Tim Love

    "For easy poach eggs, use a muffin tin with 1 Tbsp. water and bake @ 350 for 13-14 minutes giving for firm whites runny yolks." Justin Chapple

    Eggs Florentine

    Start by poaching eggs in a muffin tin with 1 Tbsp. water in each cup & crack eggs in Bake 350 for 13-14 min

    Hollandaise Sauce
    4 Egg yolks in blender
    1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
    Pinch fresh Paprika smoked or Spanish
    With the blender running gradually add warm clarified butter

    Lightly sauté spinach in butter with garlic
    Put cooked spinach on English muffin
    Top with poached egg and Hollandaise Sauce

    Chipotle Sauce For Steaks
    2 cups barbecue sauce
    1 qt. veal stock
    6 Chipotle chilies
    ½ cup sugar
    2 cups V-8 juice
    2 T butter (whole)
    Salt and pepper to taste

    In a heavy saucepot, carefully heat sugar until it caramelizes and is golden brown. Add chilies and stir several minutes until soft. Add V-8, stock, and barbecue sauce and place pot on very low fire and simmer sauce slowly until reduced by half. Strain through fine strainer and reserve. Whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper

    Chawan Mushi
    4 servings

    2 teaspoons instant dashi powder
    2 cups warm water
    3 large eggs
    ¼ cup salted roasted cashews, coarsely chopped
    4 ounces lump crabmeat, broken up
    1 scallion, cut into fine matchsticks (2 inches)
    4 small shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and caps very thinly sliced

    In a medium bowl, whisk the dashi powder into the warm water until it is dissolved. Let the sediment settle, then pour the clear dashi into a large measuring cup; rinse out the bowl. In the same bowl, using chopsticks, very gently stir the eggs until blended, without incorporating too much air. Stir in the dashi, then strain the mixture back into the measuring cup.

    Divide the cashews between 4 shallow 1-cup bowls. Top with the egg mixture and wrap each bowl in plastic. Carefully set the bowls in a steamer basket set over boiling water and steam for 14 minutes or until the custards are set. Immediately transfer the bowls to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

    Unwrap the custards. Top with the crabmeat, scallion and shiitake and serve.

    Dashi powder is a flavorful dried Japanese stock made with dried bonito fish flakes and konbu seaweed. Look for it at Japanese markets.

    Almost-Instant Strawberry Soft-Serve With Pistachios And Mint
    Total 15 min; Makes 3 ½ cups

    1 ½ lbs. frozen strawberries
    ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
    ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
    Kosher salt
    Chopped toasted pistachios and mint sprigs, for garnish

    In a food processor, pulse the frozen strawberries with the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and a generous pinch of salt until the berries are finely chopped. Puree until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes; scrape down the side of the bowl as needed. Spoon into glasses and garnish with chopped, toasted pistachios and mint sprigs.

    MAKE AHEAD The soft serve can be frozen in a metal container for up to 2 days. Let soften slightly before serving.