A scan through the program for this month's Food & Wine Classic in Aspen (June 18-20) is as close to a culinary-trend cheat sheet as you'll find. For a more in-depth look we asked Food & Wine restaurant editor Kate Krader to break down the year's biggest trends—and we tell you where to taste them, right here at home.
Krader "This year no one can get close enough to their farmer [including chefs]."
Taste It Dine on roasted red and yellow beet carpaccio with sheep's milk feta at Fruition Restaurant (www.fruitionrestaurant.com), where chef Alex Seidel was just named one of the country's best new chefs by Food & Wine. Elsewhere, nosh on radishes from the farm with house-made butter at Black Cat (www.blackcatboulder.com), Oxford Gardens greens with pancetta, almonds, and chèvre at Café Aion (www.cafeaion.com), Colorado quinoa and grilled rapini at the Kitchen (www.thekitchencafe.com), and house-made nettle fettuccine at Salt (www.saltboulderbistro.com).
Krader "Regional Italian keeps coming...it's proved to be an economy-proof situation."
Taste It Enjoy the hand-cut pasta at Frasca Food and Wine (www.frascafoodandwine.com), a restaurant inspired by the Friuli region in northeast Italy, or the wild boar ragu at Radda Trattoria (www.raddatrattoria.com), a spot inspired by the Tuscan municipality.
Krader "There's a focus on American regional, and specifically Southern and Midwestern [cuisine]. The Midwest is the most interesting place in the country right now. Grits are huge, and chefs are frying whatever they can."
Taste It Try the Memphis ribs at Steuben's (www.steubens.com), fried chicken livers with house-made hot sauce and pickles at Interstate Kitchen & Bar (www.interstaterestaurant.com), and the Asheville biscuit sandwich with turkey, Havarti, and honey mustard at Rise & Shine (www.riseandshinedenver.com).
Krader "We call this the ADD restaurant situation—pop-up restaurants where...people say, 'Oh, I want to try that,' but then it's gone."
Taste It Track down the Denver Cupcake Truck on Facebook to find its latest location (then order a zippy lemon cupcake), or look for other local food trucks: Pinche Tacos (www.pinchetacos), Comida (www.eatcomida.com), and the Biscuit Bus (www.denbisco.com). Sign up for one of the Hush (www.hushdenver.com) underground suppers, and rub elbows with the chef crowd for tips on the next 50 Top dinner.
Krader "Dessert and pastry is becoming a little more recognized. We're seeing places you would usually pass on dessert that now you go specifically for dessert."
Taste It Indulge in the New Orleans-inspired chicory soufflé, baby beignets, and "prah-leen" ice cream at D Bar Desserts (www.dbardesserts.com), pineapple-macaroon tart at Duo Restaurant (www.duodenver.com), and the grown-up whoopie pie with brûléed, house-made marshmallow at Fuel Cafe (www.fuelcafedenver.com).