10 Hot Topics From Aspen Food & Wine Classic 2017

I would be remiss if I let this summer float on by without sharing with you some of my experiences from the Aspen Food & Wine Classic held by Food & Wine Magazine in glamorous Aspen, Colorado.  This was my 5th year to attend, and it is my absolute guilty pleasure of the summer.

  • Frosé.  We all know that rosé has exploded onto the culinary scene, so it was fun to see a whimsical twist on the drink in the guise of frosé, or frozen rosé.  When Real Simple magazine proclaims frosé the “it” drink of the summer, how can you not try it?

  • There is a Game of Thrones wine.  Yes, you heard me right: former winemaker for Williams Selyem and fourth generation farmer, Bob Cabral, is a big fan of the series and produces a Chardonnay, a Red Blend and a Cabernet Sauvignon to match the strength of the characters and their kingdoms.  So you can sip on GOT while routing for overthrow of Cersei Lannister.  Now if only you could get the throne as well…

  • The hottest restaurant in Austin does not serve BBQ but raw fish, and is not called Uchi.  Food & Wine magazine tapped Yoshi Okai of Otoko as one of the best new chefs of 2017.  Kyoto-born Okai serves a traditional multi-course Japanese meal, and his sample of Binchotan Hamachi won my vote for Best of the Grand Tasting.  I cannot wait for my next trip to Austin to check it out.  (Check out my Austin post at https://www.texaztaste.com/austin-eats/.)

Chef Yoshi Okai from Otoko in Austin.

Binchotan Hamachi: Japanese Yellowtail with Smoked Tamari and Fennel Fronds

  • San Antonio is finally recognized as a foodie city.  My hometown of San Antonio (warning: I may be a bit biased) has always had wonderful food but consistently gets overshadowed by the glitz of Dallas and Houston and the trendiness of Austin.  I am thrilled for Rico Torres and Diego Galicia of Mixtli to have broken the puffy taco ceiling.  With a name that means “cloud” in the native language of Nauhautl, Mixtli serves 12 people a ten-course menu that changes every 45 days.  Get your ressy quickly at http://www.restaurantmixtli.com.

Chef Rico Torres of Mixtli with Yellowfin Tuna Crudo Tostada, Cacao & Dry Chiles, Pickled Pineapple and Leche de Tigre.  Photo cred goes to my fabulous sister, Francie Mannix, editor of The Scout Guide of San Antonio and the Hill Country.

  • Curtis Stone is shaking up the culinary scene once again in LA with Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant.  He explained that you walk thru the butcher shop to get to the restaurant because he feels it is important to see where your meat comes from.  Curtis started his career as a butcher in his native country of Australia before embarking on a successful career cooking in Michelin starred restaurants.  His restaurants, Maude and (now) Gwen Butcher Shop, have been on my bucket list.  Not to mention, he is pretty easy on the eyes.

Chef Curtis Stone of Maude and Gwen Butcher Shop.

  • Pork is the new black.  It was everywhere, from bacon on a stick to the whole pig.  In fact, Chef Tim Love claims that, “pork is not that expensive, so you should just buy the good shit.”  Good advice.

A beautiful presentation for bacon on a stick.

  • Speaking of…Tim Love is pretty good at tossing a saddle of lamb into the audience.  Should you opt to cook it, coat in oil (peanut preferably) and his Bad Ass Rub: 2 t kosher salt, ½ t black pepper, 2 t guajillo chile powder, 1 t fresh rosemary, ½ t ground cumin (better yet, toasted cumin seeds), 2 t smoked paprika, and 1 t thyme.  Be sure to drink copious amounts of white wine while cooking and maybe a tequila shot or two.

Chef Tim Love.

  • Drinking criminally good wines with Mark Oldman is the most fun you will ever have at 10 am in the morning.  Or at any time for that matter.  Wine writer Mark Oldman conducts the most entertaining class at Food & Wine and it usually includes some champagne sabering and a costume.  It doesn’t hurt that he passes out a ton of swag.  I still have my one from last year…a luggage tag that says, “Not 100% Sober”, a quote by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Drinking criminally good wines with Mark Oldman could land you in Soused Stated Prison.

Me with Mark Oldman in my Mark Oldman hat I won last year in his class.

A wine keg of an 18 liter “Melchior” of Benovia wine.

Some in the audience opted to sample the wine directly from the source.

  • Pairing wines with tacos can be a delicious and lively affair. In sum, champagne tastes good with anything (well, doesn’t it always?), but pinot noir and mole is an amazing pairing.

What wine to pair with tacos?  The shrimp ceviche with mint and watermelon radish was sublime with the Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve.

  • You can make a meal from your favorite cocktail.  Justin Chapple, star of Food & Wine’s Mad Genius video series, along with help from TV personality, Tamron Hall, shared his favorite kitchen hacks while making Bloody Mary burgers.  Follow his recipe below and buy his book, Mad Genius Tips: Over 50 Expert Hacks and 100 Delicious Recipes, on Amazon.

Bloody Mary Burgers.

Justin Chapple and Tamron Hall.

Justin Chapple’s Bloody Mary Burgers

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 brioche hamburger buns
  • Mayonnaise, red leaf lettuce, sliced tomato and American cheese, for serving
  1. In a bowl, using a fork, gently stir the ground sirloin with the horseradish, tomato paste, hot sauce, Worcestershire, celery seeds, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Using 2 lids from 1-quart takeout containers, press one fourth of the beef mixture into a perfect patty (you can see a demonstration of this technique here). Transfer to a plate. Repeat to form the remaining 3 patties.
  2. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Season the patties lightly with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat, turning once, until medium rare, about 8 to 10 minutes (or longer if you prefer a more well-done burger). Transfer the burgers to the buns, top with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and cheese, and serve

All photos (with the exception of one by Francie Mannix) by Marci Symington for texAZtaste.com.

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  • Betsy Roudi

    Loved this entry Marci. I felt like I was there too! Maybe next summer. Love your commentary.

    • TexazTaste

      Love ya, Bets! We certainly had early nights without the Roudis…you were missed!

  • Sylvia Canelos

    I feel like I got a real insider’s view of the Festival. Thank you and great job!

    • TexazTaste

      Thanks, Syl! Hope you summer was great!

  • Cece Hanlon

    Thank you for sharing your summer food experiences! I think we will have to start watching Game of Thrones. Our son was watching it last night and informed me it is in the seventh season. We have a little catching up to do! Look forward to seeing you in the fall!

    • TexazTaste

      Hi CeCe! Thanks for the comment! GOT is awesome!! Now that you will be an empty nester, will you be in AZ much? Hope to see you soon!

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