One of the best things about the Aspen Food & Wine Classic is The Grand Tasting: three tents filled with kitchenware suppliers, restaurant reps, and most of all, dozens and dozens of winemakers offering samples of their product. The famous and non-famous alike milled about, stopping at whatever booth struck their fancies, whether it was snagging an autograph from The French Laundry's Thomas Keller during his book signing, or savoring a taste of $3,700 a bottle port at the Premium Port Wines station. The only problem is with so much choice, how does a girl whittle down her tasting options? Let's just say judicious use of the spit bucket is key.
Focus wasn't a problem at the festival's closing event, the Cochon 555 tasting at the Jerome Hotel. Ten chefs presenting their interpretations of sustainably produced pig, washed down with wine. Let me just preface this by saying I love pork in all forms: Bacon, rillettes, sausage, or chops, I am an equal-opportunity consumer of all things porcine. Vietnamese-style crab and pork sausage? Yum. Morcilla-filled empanadas from Seattle's Lark restaurant? Yes, please. A dizzying array of charcuterie from Los Angeles's Osteria Mozza? I couldn't fill my plate fast enough.
But then I realized that there were still seven other stations to try and I was already getting full. I limited myself to just a few bites of pork dumplings at one place, a spoonful of pork-skin topped cassoulet at another, and a forkful of sausage pasta at another—but I was beginning to lose it. There was just no way one person could reasonably consume this much pig in one sitting. I soldiered on—I am an intrepid food journalist, dammit!— forcing down a bite of a pork Reuben sandwich and nibbling on a crostini topped with pate and Iberico ham. But when I was presented with a shortbread and crackling ice cream sandwich, I had to surrender. No more. For the love of all things good and healthful...No. More.
It was a fitting end to a weekend of great food, wine, and chefs. My next post will be about my new life as a vegan. Just kidding. Not even an overdose of pork ice cream could do that.