Food & Wine Clams

So, people, it’s the big weekend. The 2018 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. That’s its official name, by the way. Obviously, many, many people don’t have the credential that started at $1,600. As nice as that is, there’s still so much to go around, with plenty of fun to be had on the Food & Wine fringe. 

Talk to any veteran Food & Wine-er and often the best memories happen ad hoc, off schedule, at events they were not originally invited to. So how to navigate?

If you have not already, hit up your better-connected hospitality friends. Make good on promises and barter for leftover invites. Dozens of pop-up brand parties will fill your glass as a guest of a guest. Befriend a sommelier, food critic, food and bev manager, you name it. Walk with and enter with them for face-to-face brand marketing. I think it’s some of what Food & Wine does best. Taste testing a craft cocktail this weekend leads to liquor sales at The Grog Shop the next.

If you’ve got a couple of shekels for a high-falutin’ one-stop deal, go to the Heritage Fire mountainside cookout on Saturday, at 3 p.m. in Snowmass ($150 or $200 VIP). That’s the Cochon555 epic whole-animal feast, all hyper-local food and heritage pigs, and it’s a huge, chef-y, day-long cookout with booths as varied as our local Home Team BBQ, Wines from Germany, Seattle Fish and Fluff Bakery in Houston. I love that name! Certainly puts a new spin on “whole food.” Vegans, you get a hall pass on this one. If you can only stretch to $40 there’ll be unlimited food, drink, and heritage sausage previews at Rustic Grind during the 6:30 p.m. free Snowmass concert tonight. 

Back in Aspen, also priced at $150, you can go to the inaugural new brunch party on the block, the Farewell Feast, Sunday morning 11-1:30 p.m., at the Hotel Jerome. Fresh from the pages of the May issue of Food & Wine magazine, you’ll taste food from 10 of their Restaurants of the Year.

If you hang at hotels, walk around town, people watch and eavesdrop (guilty as charged!) and occasionally help a harried person, you’re sure to get access to something. It may not be a gondola ride with Jacques Pépin or other notables up to the Fiesta de Peru party Saturday or to watch showman Mark Oldman open super-large-format gazillionaire wines or un-cork some Port with heated tongs (yes, all for real), but something good will show up.

Anyone with World Cup soccer fever should blag their way into Jimmy’s Bodega at 7 a.m. on Saturday, while maybe wearing Iceland’s team colors. Guest bartenders shaking espresso Martinis made with Reyka Vodka are the order of the day at the Iceland vs. Argentina viewing party. Yum. I’m Euro, and I’m in. 

Perhaps try a miner’s outfit, without the pickaxe, for the Wine at the Mine party Saturday night at Smuggler. It features drinks from the Denver-based Infinite Monkey Theorem urban winery which hosts the event and William Grant & Sons, who are the Glenfiddich Single Malt and Hendrick’s Gin guys. Sipping those with a Smuggler sunset? Wow. 

Jayne Gottlieb’s Shakti yoga is doing a series of special $35 classes from Thursday. I like the sound of Saturday’s 11 a.m.-noon Champagne Flows and, free to all from 1-5 p.m. Friday to accompany Shakti’s fragrance launch, its “Rosé All Day.” Meditate on that! They’re even doing recovery and detox “Heaven for the Hungover” Sunday from 11 a.m.-noon with replenishing and hydrating elixirs like rosewater aloe and rosemary sparkling water and mindful meditations!

Sounds like the Wines of Spain party changed names to Spain in your Glass, but it’s always a huge crowd pleaser and probably a heavy door at Aspen Kitchen, so you better get to know someone for that.

I’m hoping I can score entry to Joel Gott and the Chickens. Sounds like a pop group, doesn’t it? I made it up. Well, sort of. Gott is hosting a fried-chicken-and-champagne pairing Friday morning. Since Gott makes super-affordable vino and champers with fruits from California, Washington and Oregon and it’s eminently available, it’d be good to taste what pairs with what. 

Anyone got a Big Bird or chicken suit left over from Highlands closing party? I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t let in a chicken? What a photo op! I can write the caption now: “Cluckin’ good.” Only problem is, I don’t know where it is. Text me if you know, please!