Tasteless | Restaurants | Phoenix | Phoenix New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Phoenix, Arizona
Navigation

Tasteless

There I was, standing in the Grand Tasting park at the 20th Annual Food & Wine Magazine Classic food festival in Aspen last weekend. In one hand, I cradled a glass of Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, a limited production methode champenoise celebrated for its perfumed bouquet and fruit intensity. In...

Local News is Vital to Our Community

When you support our community-rooted newsroom, you enable all of us to be better informed, connected, and empowered during this important election year. Give now and help us raise $5,000 by June 7.

Support local journalism

$0
$5,000
$375
Share this:
There I was, standing in the Grand Tasting park at the 20th Annual Food & Wine Magazine Classic food festival in Aspen last weekend. In one hand, I cradled a glass of Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, a limited production methode champenoise celebrated for its perfumed bouquet and fruit intensity. In the other, I balanced a spoonful of Sterling white sturgeon caviar. The Imperial premium fish eggs glistened with olive and gold colors, exploding with silky saltiness as they burst on my tongue.

For this, a four-day extravagance of food and wine samplings, cooking seminars, celebrity chef interviews and outright indulgence in the tony Colorado village, guests like me shelled out a $750 registration fee. Press from around the world was on hand to cover the upscale gathering.

An aromatically drunken gentleman, burbling in some foreign accent, crashed into me just then, sloshing wine over my shoes, already damp from trudging through grass slick with spilled martinis and littered with discarded shards of imported Parmigiano-Reggiano. He pushed past me to a pouring table, lurching in for another glass of the good bubbly.

And it occurred to me: When will event organizers put a clean, merciful end to what's become the bane of the food world: massive-scale tastings? These once sophisticated sampling sessions are increasingly turning into useless feeding fiascoes.

Really, what worse way to woo us with such pricey delicacies as Ultra Beluga caviar ($120/ounce), Scottish salmon layered with black, red and golden caviars plus crème fraîche ($49.95 for 11/4 pounds) and cheeses from around the world, than to send out bites on tiny cocktail napkins so half the food dribbles down on our shirt fronts? And for those bites, we have to fight with crowds in the thousands, partyers whose primary purpose is to drink, drink and drink some more.

For two hours twice a day last week, F&W opened its tasting tents to hordes of would-be gourmets scrapping and clawing to get their hands on whatever wasn't nailed down. "Occupancy not to exceed 2,800" read one of the three tents stocked with international culinary vendors. Nowhere to sit down, no room to take notes without being knocked over. No class.

F&W knows its crowd. Next year, I suggest they label the event Wine & (maybe some) Food — there were hundreds of spirit purveyors; just a handful of edibles. Most of the nibbles were cheese. Even the Valley's Mark Tarbell sent out an unlikely representation of his talents — homemade mozzarella sprinkled with sea salt and drizzled with balsamic. Great cheese, but lost in the fromage frenzy.

The tasting idea started as a good one. But from now on, when I want to try interesting new foods, I'll make a reservation at a restaurant.

BEFORE YOU GO...
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Phoenix New Times has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.