At food festivals past, I've learned more than enough about new cooking tips and techniques I should be doing — but what about things we shouldn't be doing in the kitchen? At his seminar in Aspen, Cal-Italian maestro Michael Chiarello tackled spicy dishes from Calabria, Italy, but also took the time to touch upon a number of culinary no-nos. While some were highly specific and others were more general, many of his kitchen don'ts were revelations. Find out what they are when you read on.
One of the highlights of the weekend at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen was a party on Saturday night hosted by Wines of Germany. At the event, I sipped countless Rieslings and was blown away by how much I enjoyed the crisp, refreshing, and somewhat floral whites. Rieslings are affordable, versatile, and very food-friendly. I drink them all the time, but am wondering: what's your take on the wine? Many people find them to be too sweet, but tons of dry Rieslings exist! Do you sip them?
The final event of the Food and Wine Classic is a pork showdown known as the Grand Cochon. Cochon 555 is a roaming culinary competition that takes place in 10 cities across the nation. In each of the cities, five chefs are given five heritage pigs; they have to make the most creative and delicious pork dishes. The winner from each city heads to Aspen to fight it out for the Prince of Porc title. After an entire weekend of eating and drinking, it was hard to stomach all 10 dishes, but I did manage to taste a lot of them. Here's an inside look at the porky party.
While the celebrity chef demos and wine sommelier seminars are some of the things I look forward to at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, there's nothing quite like the tasting tent. Or tents, I should say. Three gigantic tents fill Wagner Park, and inside, you can find everything from orange wine to tasty tacos to top chefs. Here's a glimpse at what I saw earlier today in the tents.
At his live cooking demo in Aspen, Ming Tsai revealed that he's mixing things up for the ninth season of Simply Ming on PBS. This time around, the show's going to be called Simply Ming: On the Fly.
"I'll be combining my love of Iron Chef and just regular cooking shows," he told the audience, recounting a visit from guest chef Jacques Pepin two weeks prior. "We had two mystery ingredients to work with; he played my sous chef, and I played his. Jacques said, 'Chef, I'm your commis,' which, if you don't work in a restaurant and don't speak French, might make you think: Jacques Pepin, a communist?"
As with Iron Chef, all the dishes on the PBS show will be made off the cuff. (Not one to be bitter about his loss, Tsai acknowledged, "I made a rookie mistake — too much stuff on a plate is no good.") "The best part of the show is that since it's done on the fly, I don't have to write 120 recipes like I normally do, and neither do the guest chefs." This season, that'll include the likes of Andrew Zimmern and Jonathan Waxman.
After a glut of redundant reality TV shows, I'm looking forward to a new cooking show with a change of pace. Do you feel the same way?
This morning at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, chef John Besh took the stage and discussed the new cuisine of his beloved New Orleans. The hands-on chef, who describes his cooking style as "chaotic," cooked up an amazing-looking shrimp and heirloom tomato gumbo, black pepper blue crab, and deep-fried soft-shell shrimp.
He talked about the history of the city and how its wide variety of settlers, from the Spanish to the French to the Vietnamese, added to the colorful cuisine that NOLA is known for. "Everyone that comes to the city adds and leaves something to the food. The Spanish brought the sofrito, the French the roux, the Africans and Native Americans — they all helped build the food of New Orleans."
Besh also provided some tips on how we can incorporate the spirit of NOLA into our own kitchens. Find out what they are, after the break.
Food & Wine Editor Kate Krader may be the darling of the restaurant world, but when it comes to wine, that's the domain of Executive Wine Editor Ray Isle, who not only runs the magazine's wine section, but also organizes all of the wine seminars and tastings at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic.
We managed to snag Ray away from his busy schedule for a moment to ask him about his favorite regions and values, which wines he thinks are overrated, and what we should look for next time we hit up winery tasting rooms. See what he had to say when you keep reading.
Earlier today in a white tent at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, Tim Love grilled up some big meat. The cowboy chef from the Lone Star State has a very specific steak-cooking method. He uses premium cuts of beef (his current fav is the Italian-equivalent to Wagyu) and is not a fan of marinades. "You want the meat to taste like meat. You don't want it to taste like Worcestershire sauce. If you want to taste Worcestershire sauce, have a shot of it with your steak," the chef joked. To check out his technique for perfectly grilled steak, read on.
From egg-in-a-nest grilled cheese to mac-and-cheese grilled cheese served out of a truck, the humble childhood classic is one of today's biggest food trends. But what do you get when you pair the lowbrow sandwich with wine, a beverage best known for its refined sophistication? Thanks to an Aspen seminar led by cheese expert Laura Werlin, I discovered the answer: pure gastronomic bliss.
Laura offered not only a number of steps to re-creating such sensory nirvana, but she also shared her favorite grilled cheese and wine pairings.
- Before selecting grilled cheeses to pair with wines, taste each cheese you plan to use in its natural, unmelted state, alongside the wine you plan to pair it with.
- Be sure to test the pairings both with and without a cheese's rind; a washed or blooming edible rind can tend to make wine pairings taste soapy.
- When enjoying a cheese and wine pairing, always taste the wine first; cheese affects how wine tastes much more than the other way around. Start with a first sip of wine, then take a second to calibrate your palate and allow it to adjust to the wine's acidity and tannin; then take a bite of your cheese, followed by another sip of wine.
For some of Laura's favorite pairings, read more.
One of the most popular cooking demonstrations at the Food & Wine Classic every year is hosted by Top Chef judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons. However, today's seminar was a little different, as Colicchio had to go to the hospital and couldn't make it. Luckily, another bald chef was on hand to stand in for Colicchio: Iron Chef Michael Symon!
Symon and Simmons cooked one dish each using the same ingredients, except Symon's dish was savory and Simmon's dish was sweet. The featured ingredients were pistachios and basil. While he cooked an amazing-looking ricotta and egg yolk ravioli, Symon got to talking. To see what he had to say about cooking with kids and more, read on.