Confession Wednesday- Aspen Blues

I am going though a bit of Food and Wine Classic withdrawal. The high of being there was, well, very high and, like all good things, it ended and left me hungry for more. Flashbacks to moments of intensity come to mind ranging from returning from a fantastic trip to Paris to taking the bar exam — and the low that followed them is exactly what I feel now. Thrilling or nerve-wrecking, adrenaline brings you to a state of elation that is hard to mimic, much less to maintain.

The weekend was extraordinary, inspiring, stimulating, and in many ways full of contradictions. It put me on sensory overload and whirled my mind and body much faster than its normal pace. It made me crave more- more cooking, more writing, more sipping, tasting, and learning, and certainly more traveling.

And while I nurture my melancholy — or better yet find a way to fulfill my craving, just to play on my last 3 x post , here are 30 Food and Wine Classic moments, quotes, and characters of a high-adrenaline, blues-inducing weekend.

Look for ten best cooking tips and ten recipes from the Classic coming soon! There is no order to my madness in lists here, just listing as thoughts came to mind.

Ten Most Entertaining Chef Quotes

1. Jose Andres: Garlic loves to dance. Garlic is the biggest dancer in the history of all vegetables [on putting cloves of garlic in the mortar to make a paste].

2. Mario Batali: I hate chervil but I love parsley, so I am jumping right into the parsley boat.

3. Morimoto: I wasn’t exactly born like this [pointing out his body size] but I was 4.2 kilos [9lbs 4 oz] at birth- sorry mom!

3. Jacques Pepin [on cutting onions]: The sharper the knife, the less you cry (also the title of a book favorite of mine!) unless you cut your finger of course.

4. Tom Colicchio [on making lamb sausages]: This is not actually lamb, the ground lamb got messed up; it is ground pork. We’re gonna pretend it’s lamb.

5. Morimoto- Mario [Batali- teaching a seminar next door] is speaking too much! [our class on the other hand, Morimoto and 2 sous chefs was a tad on the silent if not boring side, but was Morimoto so one couldn't complain- his creation below]

6.Jacques Pepin:Colorado lamb is the best vegetable I’ve ever had- cooked by Michael Voltaggio at the Quick Fire classic on Sunday morning.

7. Thomas Keller: we have all tasted bland food. Who hasn’t tasted bland food? Why is it bland? No seasoning! And what seasoning we are looking for? Salt!

8. Mario Batali: Liguria has to its East the F country. (referring to France, of course).

9. Sissy Biggers to Michael Votaggio: I heard you are on a no-fly list because you travel with liquid nitrogen. [on Voltaggio’s affinity for molecular gastronomy]- he proceeded to make a frozen sangria with liquid nitrogen as a brunch cocktail during the Quick Fire Challenge, which is impressive because the texture was creamy thick and remember sangria has a high alcohol content which could get to an almost frozen granite consistency, not a creamy frozen one.

10. Jose Andres: America is the land of opportunity even for pronunciation- you get to pronounce things the way you want- on butchering up ‘surround sound’ beyond recognition over the accent.

My personal 10 most interesting, mind-boggling, and entertaining moments

1. Witnessing this lady, two rows up from us, right before the much anticipated Quick Fire competition between Top Chef Masters Champion Rick Bayless and Top Chef Season Six (Las Vegas) Champion Michael Voltaggio, wolf down some serious Micky Ds.

2. Posing for this shot with Thomas Keller, Friday morning after his seminar- very Iron Chef-esk for a guy who is certainly not a poser or a TV chef!

3. Being called ‘sweetie’ by a snarky rent-a-cop young security guy while keeping me from going to the public bathroom because Giada DeLaurentis was there. Twice- he called me sweetie twice just to get a piece of Mr. Pasta-maker’s mind the second time around. [let me explain, we are not sensitive people, but this guy was a real tool]

4. Asking Mario Batali, during his presentation on Ligurian cooking, how he feels about new modern twists on traditional Genovese pesto [I blurted out ramps, cilantro, asparagus, rosemary, and mint- no, not all at once]. He was visibly shaken, if just for the show of it, by such blasphemous thoughts.

5. Listening to Morimoto sing at the end of his Japanese knife skills seminar. That was a highlight-and being able to record part of it (camera battery died) – youtube upload here!

6. Discovering that there is a foodie theme-park, a sort of culinary Disney World- the Blackberry Farm in Tennessee- their Lexus-sponsored stand at the Grand Tastings was incredible.

7. Watching the three young and funny daughters of Jose Andres - Ines, Carlotta, and Lucia – ‘help’ him cook during his Secrets of Salt presentation.

8. Having brunch (and dinner) at Montagna at the Little Nell. Outstanding food, with or without the Food and Wine Classic- lemon ricotta pancakes with a fresh raspberry syrup were memorable. [Montagna always being there gives me some comfort!]

9. Being asked who Thomas Keller is while waiting for Tom Colicchio’s seminar by a lady who could list the entire cast of Top Chef for the past 6 seasons. The TV is an amazing thing.

10. Drinking this margarita, topped with soy-lecithin made salt foam, made by Jose Andres himself during his seminar. I was lucky!

Ten Characters we met at Aspen Food and Wine (no stereotyping here- simply reporting the facts)

1. An irritated lady who lives part-time in Aspen and part time in Florida with a blinding rock on her left ring finger, who scolded us with a ‘pffff, first timers!’ because we didn’t have sun block on our arms while waiting to get into the first Grand Tasting.

2. The older unassuming gentleman who sat next to us in Jacques Pepin’s seminar who came to the Classic as a guest of Bombardier because he just bought a jet airplane from them.


3. The vastly overweight doctor foodie man who bid and won 30 minutes of assisting Rick Bayless in the Quick Fire Challenge for a mere $10,000- to be donated to good cause- Cook for the Cure by KitchenAid. The same man paid 15,000 last year at the same event to sit at the judges table.


4. The hedge fund Turkish guy who lives in Cincinatti and came alone to ‘unwind’ during this event.

5. The three daughter and a mom from Chicago who don’t have a clue what Alinea is, nor Blackbird, Avec or Frontera. [I'm not even saying these places are good- they simply have not heard of them. My only assumption is that their entire 'dining out' budget for the year or for the past few years was spent on this event.]

6. The wine distributor lady from Wisconsin who very rarely takes a day or two off drinking, dates a car racer guy, and instantly sends off any picture she takes with a chef to her friends.


7. The California real estate middle-aged lady (read- flawless hair, fake tan, breast implants, blinding white teeth) who is Italian, extremely easy to talk to, and is ‘best friends’ with Marcus Samuelson (who, btw, led South Africa’s booth at the Grand Tasting pavilion).


8. The New York stock broker guy, husband of a Patron representative, who skipped all of the day seminars to golf and promised to be partying till 4 in the morning.

9. A Minessota couple who stopped in Black Hawk o

n their way to Aspen and won $380 and felt the need to leave the Classic early to hit the casinos on the way back too.

10. One of the very few Colorado residents we met, a woman who lives in Lafayette (very close to Boulder) who goes to the Boulder Farmers Market to eat the potstickers not to get the produce, and who thinks that Frasca’s food is simply not all that. She said that right as she finished recommending the potstickers.

That is the dish from the Food and Wine Classic…for now. Any favorites? More coming soon!

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  • Monet

    Wonderful post. I am going to have to find a way to get here next year. Living in Colorado and not attending this amazing festival now seems like a crime. I loved your chef quotes…I can't pick my favorite!

  • Lauren @

    Wow! How did I miss this? I'll go with you next year Monet. Meanwhile, if there are other events in Colorado, please give me a shout. I live in Golden. :)

  • Lauren Zabaneh

    Loved this post! I would LOVE to be able to attend such an event. what a treat. I think my fav things were the chef quotes and the stupid rent-a-cop incident. hilarious! great blog, girl. keep it comin'

  • Bethany

    I had so much fun reading this post and living vicariously through your experiences at Aspen Food and Wine. That margarita looks amazing…I remember how incredible that foam is! I sure could go for one of those babies right about now! BTW…the photo with TK is EPIC!!!

  • Patrick

    WOW love the post! man i am SO JEALOUS !!!!!!!!! the aspen food and wine festival is the epitome of ALL food festivals in the US!! THIS LOOKS AWESOME

    Looks like you had a BLAST!

  • islandeat

    Hi, Andra. Your post was just hilarious. Your descriptions of the other attendees make me both want to attend in the future and avoid this event like the plague, if you know what I mean. The McD-gobbler alone was too funny. Thanks, Dan

  • Steve

    Sounds like this was an amazing foodie event.

  • Magic of Spice

    Fun post…love the quotes:)

  • Pierce

    I have bene reading your blog for awhile and I just had to comment, I am loving this post!!

  • Dawn

    Incredibly interesting and envy inducing post. I love the quote from Andreas about garlic; he makes me laugh every time I hear him talk.

  • Lori Lynn

    Rocky Mountain High!
    Thanks for reporting, very entertaining.

  • CiXeL

    those mulberries you were looking for? they grow in south florida at the miami-dade fruit and spice park and in many people's yards in miami.

  • Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet }

    What a wonderful and fun experience. Thank you for sharing!!

  • Anonymous

    I cant believe i made the list! #6 Yeah! check out my fb page – you are there girl!
    Love your blog -