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9 Best Things at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic

Justin Cogley Food & Wine classic - P 2013
Justin Chapple
Chef Justin Cogley

The just-concluded culinary festival had plenty of tasty bites to offer from chefs like Michael Voltaggio.

There’s plenty that’s rich at Aspen’s Food & Wine Classic, a four-day event from which this reporter still is recovering. There’s a treasury worth of foie gras medallions, red seas of Syrah, tributaries of tequila and so much Iberian ham one imagines Spain to be completely kosher.

But not all there to be seen is to be ingested. Aspen is a really funny place, beautiful, yes, but also darkly comic. It’s a little like one imagines Stabiae, the seaside getaway for the Roman emperors, would look like had they lived in America and been really into skiing instead of swimming. Here are the 10 best things this reporter saw and/or ate. 

Octopus Ceviche, Parsnip, Salsa Papanteca

Chef: Alex Stupak, Best New Chef, 2013

Stupak, a man who looks like Robert Pattinson and cooks like Jeremiah Tower, turned out these little cups of spicy octopus, a variation of which is on the menu of his New York City restaurant, Empellon Cocina.

Poulard, Liver, Seaweed Vinegar, Coastal Herbs

Chef: Justin Cogley, Best New Chef, 2013

There’s nothing like poulard, liver, seaweed vinegar and coastal herbs on a hot Aspen day after a few bottles worth of red wine. But Cogley, a former professional ice skater for Disney, has a gentle touch here and at Aubergine, his restaurant in Carmel, Calif.

STORY: What was Ali Larter Doing at the Food & Wine Classic?

Abalone, Asparagus, Bone Marrow, Yuzu Chili

Chef: Jamie Malone, Best New Chef, 2013

It’s counterintuitive to find a superlative seafood restaurant in Minneapolis, but Sea Change, Chef Jamie Malone’s 3-year-old restaurant there, fits the description. Her abalone dish was refreshing, rich and complex with a hint of heat.

Slow-Cooked Beef With Turnip Pretending to Be Beef

Chef: Michael Voltaggio, Best New Chef, 2013 

This dish was from a Lamborghini-hosted dinner with Ali Larter, so it tasted even sweeter. But Voltaggio's super-tender beef accompanied with a beefy slow-roasted turnip wasn’t so bad either.

Baby Blue Pig Pants

Chef: Chris Cosentino

Chris Cosentino, chef at San Francisco’s Incanto, is pig-obsessed, so it makes sense he girds his loins in baby blue pig pants. Not pictured but present was a T-shirt that read “Porc.”

STORY: Five Things Learned from the Food & Wine Classic

Goat Ssam

Chef: David Chang

This slow-roasted goat was served slightly more broken down but not quite. Pretty much guests at the Best New Chef’s party could wrap bits of it up in lettuce, thereby creating a ssam, which Chang has described as an Asian burrito. (It’s also the name of one of his New York City restaurants, Momofuku Ssam Bar.) According to Chang’s sous chef, a man strangely called Slash-Rudy, Chang and his team decided to get as gnarly as possible, since at the neighboring stall, Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud were plating extremely elegant cuisine.

Dominus To Go

Chef: Oenophile Bicyclist

Most people put an old milk crate on their bike if they want to jerry-rig a basket. But if you live in Aspen, you put a crate of Dominus 2009, a renowned wine that goes for $169 a bottle.

Cock & Bull Cocktail

Chef: 213 Nightlife

Most people started drinking wine at around 10 a.m., passed out for a siesta and resumed at 6 p.m. But for some, it was impossible to be moderate in consumption. One of the reasons: the Cock & Bull cocktail, by the mixologists from Los Angeles’ 213 Nightlife, contained Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Fresh mint, Amaro and Pedro Ximenez sherry. No man stood a chance.

Highway to Hell

Chef: A 10-year-old wearing a Budweiser shirt

This was, by far, the most awesome thing in Aspen. It was around 3 p.m. on a Saturday. This kid and his brother were sitting in front of the Loro Piano store. The kid singing was incredibly sunburnt. He was wearing an XXL Budweiser shirt. He was playing, mostly, to an admiring cohort of fellow pre-adolescents.