Tuesday, June 5, 2007

To Aspen

Begin the day with 1985 reserve champagne and continue the first hour of tasting with nothing but '85 vintages from around the world.

This is how we began our visit to the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen. Hundreds of wines from around the world were sampled during the weekend festival. We spent two hours exploring the delicacies of the Spanish wine experience. One entire tent was dedicated to Spanish wines. We sampled some incredible wines at incredible bargains. Chile, Spain and South America have some great values right now on some really outstanding wines. Many of these wines we have at Mercy for your pleasure.

Food and wine pairings were a big topic of discussion in many of the seminars. The experts all agreed that the axiom of white with fish and red with meat no longer stands up. Pairing the wine with the accompanying sauce is more appropriate. Many lighter reds are more appropriate with fish. Find the taste that you like the best and "go with it". You certainly wouldn't want to drink a very big red cab with a light, delicate fish. Here is a good rule of thumb we discovered: big tasting food, big tasting wine; light, delicate food gets a more delicate lighter wine. Most interesting of all, a wine that may not taste great as a stand- alone drinking wine may taste incredible with a companion food. Food and wine pairing is about the resulting incredible flavor one gets in one's mouth when the wine and food are combined.

Sitting and watching famed Chicago chef, Charlie Trotter, cook modern day versions from his cookbook written 10 years ago, it is no surprise he is considered one of the best chefs in the US today. It was a rare experience to be in a class watching this master work his magic. His cookbooks are well worth having in your food and wine library. The weekend was capped with a party hosted by Food and Wine Magazine with cooking and tasting stations by the top 10 new chefs in the U.S. From New York to San Francisco and everywhere in between, this was one of the highlights of the weekend.

Aspen abounds with great restaurants. Just to name a few amongst the many there:

Kenichi: Great Japanese food, some of the best we have had. Happening place. When you go there ask for the owner, Billy. A wild man!

Rustique: Country French, incredible food, warm family style environment; Aspen at its best!

Sysygy: Gourmet Continental, elegant contemporary dining. Wonderful fish.

Jimmy's: Hearty steaks, great for drinks even if you are not dining. 75 tequilas! Wow.