Over the weekend, the state’s most prestigious — and certainly most gluttonous — food and wine affair unfolded in Aspen, where tastemakers from around the world traveled to the mountains for hundreds of sips, swirls, slurps and swallows. Raking in 5,000 attendees, the 36th Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen showcased on-trend food and beverage samples from top chefs, sommeliers and industry players, along with endless amounts of luxury tastes, from truffles and champagne to lobster and caviar.
However, what made this year’s installment stand out the most was its local presence. With a strong dedication to locally sourced products, Colorado truly shone in the festival’s limelight, thanks to the festival curators, participating vendors and special chef requests. “Part of the goal of the Classic is to encourage people to travel to Colorado, and specifically, to Aspen,” says event marketing coordinator Diella Allen. “We have a close partnership with the city and the Chamber, and we want to promote the local businesses, products, restaurants and hotels as much as much as we can. A lot of the people who come are from Colorado, but a lot of them are traveling in, too, and to keep a well-rounded view of the destination of Colorado’s amazing food, distilleries and beers is part of what the Classic is all about.”
Here are some of the top Colorado-based items that made an appearance — and, for your indulging pleasure, where to find them locally.
Lombardi Brothers Meats
Where to find it locally: King Soopers, Marczyk Fine Foods, Lucky’s Markets
Partnered with the Centennial-based National Cattleman's Beef Association (the group that brought you the slogan "Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner."), Lombardi Brothers Meats supplied juicy steaks and flavorful tastes throughout the weekend. While meat scientist Bridget Wasser butchered gorgeous cuts (which were then donated to nearby organizations), chefs prepared samples, like this unique and beefy take on Hawaiian poke. If you've got the urge to replicate this dish or just fire up the grill for simple summer cooking, look for local brands that Lombardi carries, including Boulder Natural Meats, Colorado Native Foods and Great Range Brand Bison.
Stranahan's Rocky Mountain Single Malt Whiskey
Where to find it: Pearl Liquors, Super Wines & Spirits, Argonaut, Trader Joe’s (790 Colorado Boulevard), King Soopers (4600 Leetsdale Drive, Glendale), and many other Colorado liquor stores
Stranahan’s watermelon and lemon cocktails were a light escape from the warm afternoon sunshine. The refreshing sweetness of the watermelon alongside the syrupy whiskey was the perfect summer pairing, with just a twist of citrus. In Denver, you can sip Stranahan's cocktails at the distillery's bar at 208 South Kalamath Street.
Where to find it: Tickleberry in Aurora (2780 Tower Road), King Soopers, Safeway
Courtesy C2 Photography/Food & Wine
Easily one of the most visually appealing displays of desserts at the Grand Tasting, Tickleberry Desserts crafted a rainbow of different cake-on-a-stick specialties for the taking. Popular flavors like cake batter and cookies ’n’ cream kept those with a sweet tooth returning session after session.
Where to find it: Stem Ciders (2811 Walnut Street), Acreage (1380 Horizon Avenue, Lafayette), Pearl Liquors, Cost Plus World Market, Colorado Liquor Mart, SoBo Liquors, King Soopers
The team from Stem Ciders offered stacks on stacks of cans from its gluten-free repertoire. From the unique A Salted Cucumber to the subtly sweet Raspberry and Off-Dry to Real-Dry, there was a flavor for every cider lover.
Where to find it: Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, select King Soopers
Boulder-based Chocolove was a decadent favorite, serving bites of rich chocolate and salted caramel, along with a new release: pretty-in-pink ruby squares with pinot noir ganache — a sweetly fitting combo for Food & Wine.