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Uncorking a fine food and wine weekend in Aspen

Day one

June 12, 1999
Web posted at: 10:53 a.m. EDT (1453 GMT)

By Wendy Wolfenbarger
CNN Interactive Food Editor

ASPEN, Colorado (CNN) -- Thousands of bottles of wine, an ample supply of superstar chefs and a stomach full of tempting treats is not just any food fest, it's the Food & Wine Classic

With the backdrop of the spring green Rockies, the 17th Food & Wine Magazine Classic kicked off Friday. The fest is pricey, over $600 for admission, not to mention the cost of flying in and out of a small mountain town with about 5,000 others.

Cheese Course

But for those who make the trip, the payoff is delicious. Attendees are able to meet seen-on-TV chefs, have them sign cookbooks, ask them which type of tofu is best.

"We've been talking about doing this for years," said Mary Ann Jasker-Thompson of Seattle. She said she and her husband both enjoy cooking and are looking for ideas they can take home.

On their to-do list, a class on Indian curry by Madhur Jaffrey, grilling by chef Bobby Flay and seminars on Australian and New Zealand wines.

In between high-energy cooking demonstrations and more subdued wine classes and reserve tastings, are "Grand Tastings" where about 300 vintners pour seemingly endless samples of their wines for consumers.

Tucked in between the tables of wine, bread and cheese (to clear the palate) are plenty of chances to fill up on foods from exhibitors promoting their gourmet goods. A walk through the tasting tents offers nibbles of lemongrass soup, smoked salmon, ginger ice cream with almonds and lemon cheesecake laced with rum.

Holly Myers of Vowie, Maryland is attending the festival for a third year. Her husband Jeff has been twice. "I enjoy the cooking more whereas he enjoys the wine," she says

Food & Wine's one-after-another schedule of classes and tastings is not exactly relaxing," she says. "Sometimes you almost feel so tired it feels like work, but it really ends up being enjoyable. In years past, at the end of the day, we just collapse."

A gastronomic treat: Preview the nation's top food and wine fest
June 7, 1999
Chat transcript: Chef Bobby Flay discusses great grilling
May 26, 1999
Culinary world celebrates excellence at James Beard Awards
May 4, 1999
Dessert book tops Julia Child Cookbook Awards
April 15, 1999
Food & Wine selects 1999's best new chefs
April 7, 1999
Food festival reveals Chinese appetite for Australian exports
October 15, 1998

Food & Wine Magazine Classic at Aspen
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