Whether it's the parties, the charity events, or just the damn good food, the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen is one of our favorite weekends of the summer. So without further adieu, Curbed Ski breaks down the best quotes, bites, seminars, and baller late-night shin-digs from 2014.
Best Quotes/People Watching of the Weekend:
1. Ming Tsai: "The best words in the world are all four letters. Food, wine, Sexx."
2. Michael Symon on using salt: "Some people say, 'I don't cook with any salt and everyone says my food is delicious.' You're fucking lying. Your food tastes like shit. Season liberally to pull out flavors from the food."
3. People-watching: This a favorite FOOD & WINE activity, and this year didn't disappoint. Plastic surgery gone wrong and luggage-worthy sun-damaged skin amongst women of a certain age on the prowl for a Sugar Daddy never fails to entertain (as well as horrify).
1. José Andrés served up mini iberico pork burgers with piquillo peppers, alioli and iberico bacon at the Wines from Spain party. We're pretty sure everyone went back for thirds, at least.
2. A collection of amazing wineries, called the Spire Collection, poured some knockout wines at an exclusive happy hour at the Little Nell. We couldn't get enough of Vérité's 2004 La Muse out of Sonoma County, a full-bodied Merlot with a nice finish and we flat-out loved Anakota's 2009 Helena Dakota Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
3. Amidst all the wine in the grand tasting tents, we also found our new favorite tequila. Boulder-based Suerte Tequila puts out three outstanding liquors: a smooth blanco, a reposado with hints of butterscotch, and a full-bodied anejo that will make you never drink Jose Cuervo again. Drink them neat or enjoy an easy margarita with fresh lime juice and agave nectar.
Top Three Seminars:
1. Classic Conversation Series, Food Memories, with Jacques Pèpin, Jonathan Waxman, and Marcus Samuelsson, moderated by FOOD & WINE Editor in Chief Dana Cowin: To see three pivotal figures of American culinary evolution sitting having an informal discussion is already gold. But hearing them talk about their earliest food memories, epiphanies, and hilarious-yet-humbling early career missteps was worth a trip to Aspen in itself. Pèpin recalled recycling a single, coveted piece of wartime chewing gum amongst his brothers over the course of a week; Waxman recounted failed careers as a car salesman, among other things, before turning to professional kitchens in his late twenties, and Samuelsson talked about the time, as a young line cook in Switzerland, he spent days preparing a dish that was close to his heart, only to have his chef feed it to his dog.
2. In Hot Water: A Dive into Dumplings and More, with Ming Tsai: Chef Ming Tsai is always a hoot to watch, but this seminar was made particularly good with his lighthearted take on a sake sangria and perfectly browned scallion pancakes. Even better was the cheering competition Tsai instigated against Richard Blais and Company in the room next door.
3. Mountain Wines, Mountain Cheeses, with Laura Werlin and FOOD & WINE Senior Wine Editor Megan Krigbaum: Werlin's lighthearted-but-educational seminars are always a sell-out, but this one was special because it featured some esoteric picks made in very small quantities by cheesemakers in alpine regions around the world (including the Pyrenees, Swiss and French Alps, Rockies). Standouts were Challerhocker (say HOLLER-hocker), a nutty, buttery, Swiss alpine style that's widely available, and "The Kiss, (Berner Muentschi), a decadent, double crème cow's milk number from the Bernese Alps.
1. The Wines of Spain kickoff party was pretty spectacular. Take a look, over here.
2. The Belly Up Aspen hosted two special events this year; the Woody Creek Distillers/Carte Blanche Wines party with musician Black Joe Lewis rocked the house, as did "Live from FOOD & WINE," featuring food by Denver chef Alex Seidel and libations from Hendrick's Gin.
3. The Denver-based winery The Infinite Monkey Theorem hosted the "One More Time at the Mine Party" and it was the place to be Saturday night. Known for their beer, Oskar Blues cooked up delicious tacos and the cocktails slinging from Aspen-based Justice Snow station were delicious.
-Laurel Miller contributed to the research and writing of this piece.
-The American Express Restaurant Trade Program produced the trade programs at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen.
· Peek Inside the Mansion of FOOD & WINE's Hottest Party [Curbed Ski]
· The 18 Hot Spots for Drinking & Dining in Aspen [Curbed Ski]
· All FOOD & WINE 2014 Coverage [Curbed Ski Archives]