Food & Wine Classics in Aspen 2019 with Team Bravo!

Team Bravo flew into Denver and lunched at Bar Dough run by Chef Carrie Baird from Season 15 Top Chef. Great creative Italian Food. She truly is a Top Chef. 

Victoria, Shawn, & Chef Carrie Baird

We then drove over Independence Pass to Aspen. The scenery was amazing as there is still massive amounts of snow and evidence of avalanches near the Continental Divide.

Snow on Independence Pass (left) /  The Avalanches at Maroon Bells (right)

In Aspen we feel the results of the high altitude. The ski hills are open as Ajax is 11,212 feet high, which is twice the altitude of Denver. Team members Don and Terry tackle the slopes. Don is a great skier and Terry managed to stay in one piece. The temperature in town is 15 degrees warmer than at the mountain summit so sandals were the style of footwear before putting on the ski boots near the lift. The Aspen trees were green in town but the leaves have not even come out near the top. 

Don & Terry Getting Their Sandals Back

Ann made an incredible arugula salad for lunch that day

  • 1 package baby arugula
  • 5 Tbsp. olive tapenade
  • 1 bunch green onions sliced
  • 2 containers of burratta cheese diced
  • 2 avocados pitted, peeled and sliced
  • 2 containers of mixed cherry tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper
  • Tossed with balsamic vinaigrette

We hiked up Maroon Bells which is another mountain and find more signs of avalanche destruction. It’s amazing how powerful Mother Nature is. Park rangers explained that the long winter with freezing temps as late as May caused ice to form in shelves. Once the shelves started to thaw they caused shifting and then the slides ripped trees, rocks, bushes and anything else in the way down the mountain. Good thing for Shawn’s granola for our hike.

Shawn’s Awesome Granola
Most Of Team Bravo Fly Fishing

A friend has been working on restoring a property near Snowmass and invited us for a tour. The property was owned by Jimmy Buffet and then bought by Glenn Frey of the Eagles. It’s a beautiful piece if property on the Snowmass Creek and includes a recording studio. As part of the restoration she also restored the music studio. This is part of an article about it in a recent magazine.

Snowmass Creek to Mad Dog Ranch

The retro-style entrance makes a fitting introduction to this Old Snowmass property, which belonged to not just one but two world-famous musicians who came to Aspen to escape, create, and draw inspiration from a place where the sound of the river drowns out other noise. One of those musicians, Jimmy Buffett, purchased the original house and an adjacent small cabin in 1976; in 1991 Glenn Frey, who had been living in the house next door, bought the property. 

Frey named the place Mad Dog Ranch and converted two log outbuildings that Buffett had built into a state-of-the-art recording studio. He recorded his own albums there and hosted other well-known musicians, too. When he moved to Los Angeles in 2010, he took his studio equipment with him. 


Stopped at the private opening of Aspen “Chefs Club” for wonderful appetizers and of course WINE. Met up with resident chef there Tom Coohill who is also known for his restaurants in Bolder and Denver.

Shawn & Chef Coohill

Shared a glass of wine from “Wade Cellars” and then got to meet D Wade himself. It was a pleasure to meet him and great to see his wines. 

Terry & Dwayne Wade (How Cool Is This)

Food & Wine Tips From Our Seminars

Marcus Samuelson recommends raising your hand high when sprinkling salt and pepper into the food you are cooking. When you do this, it evenly distributes the salt and pepper. 

Andrew Zimmern talked to us about MSG. He feels that this product has been totally misrepresented. According to this master, the cooking industry started  negative rumors about MSG to put Asian restaurants out of business. Sadly, many did close. 
Zimmern uses MSG in most of his cooking. He believes it adds wonderful flavor to most foods.  Using it with salt, enables the cook to use half the usual amount of salt. We will watch this debate as it further unfolds. 

While attending a seminar with Georgia-based Chef Hugh Acheson, we learned shrimp is one of the most sustainable proteins you can consume not only because their frequency in reproduction, but also, farming shrimp ensures a method of production that does not harm the ocean and its wildlife like endangered corals or sea turtles.

Another wine that hit the tents in Aspen can be delivered with your Jimmy John’s.  Yes, that’s correct, Jimmy John’s sub shop has their own wine and they say it pairs well with their sandwiches.

Jimmy John’s Wine was nowhere to be found at the Wine for Quadrillionaires seminar led by wine expert Mark Oldman. This tasting featured seven of the world’s finest wines, including Stag’s Leap Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon and Penfold’s Grange Bin 95.  Don and Tami were well entertained by Mr. Oldman’s stories and insights.


Our friend Tami with a Stag’s Leap Cask 23 in a Melchoir size bottle

A Melchoir holds 144 glasses (94 bottles)

One of the top 10 new chefs was Chef Bryan Furman known for his Barbeque in Atlanta and Savannah Georgia. His Cracklin BBQ was truly perfect. Tender, yet moist and the perfect amount of smoke. Well done Bryan!

Yes, single serving size bottles of wine are popular and rightly so. You can even find pre mixed Prosecco Bellini that were surprisingly good.


Chef Carla Hall With Shawn

Chef Carla Hall moderated a table discussion for the trade attendees with some great thoughts about future restaurant trends. When I ran into her later at the wine tent the discussion continued between the two of us. I was touched by her wonderful words of praise about Bravo and our staff.  She enjoys stopping to see us when passing through Kalamazoo. Hope to see you again soon in Kalamazoo Carla.

Chef Junghyun Park of New York had a Wagyu Tartare Imchi, Fiore Sardo with black pepper that put a new spin on a classic.

D’Arenberb Australian wine has been around since 1912 and the Dead Arm Shiraz was memorable for me several years ago. The term “Dead Arm” comes from the disease Eutypa lata which is common in many older vineyards. Eutypa Lata causes grape canker which slowly kills one of the branches of a vine. This reduces the yield of the vine and intensifies the flavor. The grapes for the Dead Arm Shiraz come from these vines in the McLaren Vale region of South Australia. The wine is very rich and full bodied.  Chester Osborne is one of Australia’s most influential winemakers, and his personality goes with it.

2019 Top Chef winner, Kelsey Barnard Clark prepared fried chicken and biscuits with pimento cheese spread. These are her tips:

  • Crystal Hot Sauce from Louisiana is her favorite
  • She double fries her chicken starting at 325 degrees and then crisps the chicken up at 350 degrees
  • Don’t crowd the chicken in the fry pan or it will not brown on the outside.
  • When making biscuits, the ingredients have to be frozen
  • Combine butter and flour in the food processor until it looks like little peas
  • Folding the pastry over and over again gives it flakiness
  • Use egg wash on top of biscuits (not butter which will melt and float around the biscuits)
  • Use a convection oven and the rack closer to the top to get them golden
  • Duke’s Real Mayonnaise is her favorite
  • Add a bit of sour cream and old bay seasoning which is onion, garlic and celery seed powders together
  • Scone recipes are the same as biscuit recipes but with berries folded in
  • Flour the berries and add sugar to the egg wash.
  • Never use self-rising flour
  • Take biscuits off the cooking tray because they will keep cooking
  • Pull biscuits apart, never cut them.

Kelsey learned to do ceviche for the quick fire challenges because they take less time. She learned a lot at judges table which is really two hours, not the few minutes seen on TV. Follow Kelsey on Instagram at #KelseyBarnardClark.


Cheese Lady Laura Werlin

What is Food & Wine without a Laura Werlin cheese and wine pairing? At this year’s offering, two cheeses stood out from the crowd. “Detroit Street Brick” from Zingerman’s Creamery in Ann Arbor, Michigan is a pasteurized goat’s milk cheese with embedded green peppercorns and a lemony quality. “Blue Jay” from Deer Creek Cheese in Glacier Point Wisconsin is a pasteurized cow’s milk and cream cheese with embedded juniper berries. Laura reminded us to taste the wine before the cheese because cheese affects wine more than wine affects cheese and to always take two sips of wine because the first sip clears your palate and the second sip calibrates the palate. All of the wines were nice and the standout was the 2014 Grgich Hills Estate “Violetta” Late Harvest dessert wine from Napa Valley, California.

Another cheese worth mentioning was El Roble “Campollano Oveja con Trufa Negra” which is an unpasteurized sheep’s milk cheese from Castilla – La Mancha, Spain that is injected with black truffles not truffle oil. It was paired with 2016 Celler del Roure “Safra” from Valencia, Spain.

Anthony Giglio, (pronounced GIL-e-o) the self proclaimed wine wise guy is a writer, educator and comedian. He worked as sommelier at Windows on the World for two years. In his seminar, Breakfast of Champions: Spanish Edition, he imparted a few pearls of wisdom. His hangover cure is a cooked chorizo, Spanish ham and cheese sandwich. He believes Spain represents the greatest wine values on the planet. His five S’s of wine tasting are: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Swallow. Salt and fat will change everything and at the Fancy Food Show in New York he will be debuting his “Sidegig Super Salt.”

Josh Wesson, sommelier and restaurant owner invited Monica Samuels “the Sake Samurai” and Garret Oliver American brewer and beer author to join him in a pairing contest. “Battle Bots” was the pairing of three wines, three sakes and three beers with prosciutto and melon, aged manchego cheese and hot Italian sausage. The winners were: 2017 Covenant Wines “Blue C Viognier” from Israel paired with the aged Manchego cheese; Kawatsuru “Crane of Paradise” sake from Junmai, NV paired with the hot Italian Sausage; and Brooklyn Brewery “Rose de Ville” Sour Ale from Brooklyn, NY paired with the prosciutto and melon.

We were able to taste Chef Paxx Moll wonderful flavors without having to travel all the way to Puerto Rico. Paxx has a new flavor fusion that hits all your flavor sensors.

Charles Bieler the name and winemaker behind one of our bestselling wines at Bravo “Charles & Charles” has turned Washington’s old-school dirt into New World fruit.

The Aspen Food&Wine Classic is well known for many things but to us time in the tasting tents has always been an opportunity to meet wine merchants and wine makers from around the world. Through the year’s we have met some of the stars of of wine making. Our highlight this year was meeting the matriarch behind Chateau Biac. This small estate is undergoing a regeneration of its once renowned excellence by Youmna Asseily and her family. It is located on the Langoiran limestone plateau along the Garonne river not too far from the city of Bordeaux. The family is well along in the restructuring of the vineyard which called for adapting grape varieties, clones and root stock to each part of the vineyard’s unique and diverse terroir. We tasted the Chateau Biac reds which are quite good even at their young age and cannot stop thinking about the Secret de Chateau Biac a very special presentation of late harvested Semillion which more recently is blended with some Sauvignon Blanc grapes. This wine shows the might of the vineyard and the brilliance of its stewards. Our meeting and multiple visits under the tasting tents led to an invitation to Youmna and her support team to join us for Sunday supper at Chez Parfet. We provided the meal and they brought the wine. Soon we hope to offer this wine at the restaurant.    


On Saturday night it’s our turn to cook and we have been inspired by food, classes and people we meet. Every year we have a theme for our dinner and Don suggests “Comfort Food!” We decide to make it Aspen comfort food and kick it up a notch or two.

Chez Parfet House comfort food Aspen Style

Deviled Quail eggs, Blinis, and Caviar


Butter Poached Lobster Rolls on Naan


Chicken Pot Pie With Puff Pastry and Edamame


Deconstructed Beef Stew with Sliced Beef Tenderloin


Donuts with Chocolate


Grand Mariner Soufflés

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