Is a boozy breakfast good for a conference? Plus, how a TV celebrity chef wins stomachs in real life.
Wine at 10 a.m.? Well, yes if you've signed up for wine expert Leslie Sbrocco's Wine Jeopardy seminar at the Aspen Art Museum. Fortified by a ham and cheese sandwich and a coffee, I stumbled bleary-eyed into the session, where Sbrocco—Thirsty Girl founder and frequent Today Show guest—was enthusiastically hosting a wine-centric version of Jeopardy, complete with buzzers, theme music and one-liners that are a bit saltier than Alex Trebek's, i.e., "acid is the bra of the wine world—it makes everything perky."
Sbrocco led a tasting of several wines, including a delicious Ribolla Gialla Sant'Helena di Fantinel from Italy and a 10-year-old Madeira that was sweet enough to have for dessert. In the end, it was six wines well before noon—which made the audience members a little more forthcoming (read: louder) with answers to the trivia questions than they had earlier in the class.
Next was a lunch hosted by Stella Artois and Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais. Oysters with horseradish "snow," tiny little grilled cheese and pimento sandwiches and glasses of ice cold Stella greeted me at the rooftop party. The sun was shining, the beer was flowing and the guests chattered happily as plate after plate appeared family style at each table.
Blais somehow managed to incorporate four of my favorite food groups (sea urchin, bone marrow, burrata, and lobster) into the meal, so I was very, very happy: there were perfectly cooked lobster and burrata rolls, roasted bone marrow served with fresh little clams on top, and black garlic spaghetti tossed with sea urchin, crab, and fennel sausages. Good thing, too because I needed something to soak up all the wine and beer I managed to drink before 1 p.m.
"This lunch today is a big deal," says Blais. "You can't just take it for granted that you did well on a TV show, you have to feed people in person. So for an event like this you really have to deliver."
Well, Richard, you did. That was delicious. Now excuse me while I go take a nap.
CLARISSA CRUZ is the Fashion Features Editor of O, The Oprah Magazine. She is the former Style Editor of People magazine and has written for Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, Food & Wine, and Budget Travel. @clarissanyc1