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Taking the high road to Aspen for the Food & Wine Classic

By Dave Buchanan

Next week the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen celebrates its 30th year in Glitter Gulch and I’ll be there, trying to blend in.

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Food & Wine magazine and its advertising agencies, I’m attending again this year as a working guest of the Food & Wine Classic.

Well, me and scads of reporters, journalists and photographers, many of whom actually will be working and others, well, enjoying the Food & Wine Classic.

Everyone always asks about the crazy parties taking place around town but we (meaning the singular I) rarely get invited to the best or craziest parties since those typically are reserved for sponsors, really tight friends of sponsors, or well-heeled, really tight friends of sponsors.

But that’s cool, since I’ll still knock elbows with my share of celebrities and semi-celebrities and receive cordial invites to more events than I can make, including the always entertaining Wines From Spain barbecue at José Andrés’ house, the unique Smuggler Mine outing (or inning, since it’s a party inside a real working gold mine) and other get-togethers taking place inside and outside around Aspen.

But in spite of reaching out to a wide audience, most of this sold-out week isn’t for the masses. The Classic is geared toward what others have called the 1-percent (or maybe 2-percent) since the remaining 98 percent can’t afford $1,225 (not including lodging and meals) for three days of revelry, no matter how close you may get to Mario, David (Chang) or Michael (Nischan).

This certainly is not a knock on either the Classic or the haves. Since its resurrection in 1946 from ghost town to a ski town, Aspen has honed its reputation for attracting the beautiful people and this week is a continuation of that amazing run. One look at the well-tanned shoulders, the expensive pedicures and the Sophie Theallet sundresses and you realize it’s simply Aspen in summer.

And it’s not like the people aren’t fun to be around. Generally the crowds are pleasant but perhaps a bit harried as they hurry from venue to to venue, often on a tight time schedule, despite the occasional festival goer (which you find at any festival) too impatient to stand in even the shortest line. Mostly, though, it’s the loafers-sans-socks crowd trying to relax between text message, emails and notes from the Right Coast.

The world may be going to the devil but the road is lined with great wine and well-sourced food.



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