What was the best part of last weekend’s 24th annual Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen? Could be rubbing elbows with renowned chefs such as Giada De Laurentiis and Emeril Lagasse, sipping chilled albariña in the Spanish wine tent, or getting a glimpse of Food & Wine‘s 10 Best New Chefs. But more than anything, it’s the creativity that crackles in the air and the cooking tips dolled out by celebrated chefs that leave me champing at the bit to try new products, recipes, and techniques. (Already, since returning home Sunday night, I’ve baked Jacques Pépin‘s almond cake with fresh berries and rum-laced syrup. Next up: José Andrés‘ grilled watermelon steak—yes, grilled melon—with pistachios and micro greens.)

It’s not easy getting fresh seafood in Colorado, not to mention a decent selection of hard-to-come by varieties, but New York superchef Daniel Boulud (Daniel, Café Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne, and Daniel Boulud Brasserie) gives us hope. During his French Summer Style cooking seminar he gave a shout out to Browne Trading Company in Portland, Maine, for delivering premium caviar and seafood by mail. Nice to know that here in Denver, 1,000 miles from the nearest coast, we can source the red mullet fish called for in Boulud’s crispy rouget with black olive mosto and arugular pesto recipe. www.browne-trading.com.

Over the weekend both Suzanne Goin (Lucques in Los Angeles) and Boulud encouraged festival goers to savor the summer tomato crop by making an easy and delicious tomato confit. The recipe below is from Bouloud’s Cafe Boulud Cookbook. Boulud says the tomatoes will keep for up to two weeks if covered in oil and refrigerated.

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled, split, germ removed and finely sliced
  • 10 basil leaves, torn
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • 2 bay leaves, broken
  • 20 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon sugar

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 200°. Line a baking sheet with foil and pour about 2 tablespoons olive oil evenly over the pan. Sprinkle the oil with salt and pepper. Strew a little of the garlic, basil, thyme, and bay leaves over the oil. Cut each tomato lengthwise in half and carefully, with your fingers or a tiny spoon, remove the seeds. Lay the tomato halves cut side down in the pan, wiggling the tomatoes around so that each tomato has a floss of oil on its cut side. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the tops of the tomatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, sugar, and remaining garlic, basil, thyme, and bay leaves. Slide the pan into the oven and bake the tomatoes for 2 ½ hours, or until they are very tender but still able to hold their shape; turn the tomatoes half way through and open the oven for just a second every 30 minutes to get rid of the moisture that will build up in the oven. Cool the tomatoes to room temperature on the pan. When the tomatoes are cool, transfer them to a jar, stacking them neatly. Pour whatever oil remains in the pan over the tomatoes and then, if you plan to keep the tomatoes longer than 1 or 2 days, pour in enough olive oil to cover and refrigerate.

At Saturday’s Moët Hennessy USA luncheon, winemakers introduced a swarm of media types and wine lovers to the crown cap, a beer bottle-like top that replaces the cork on bottles of Chandon étoile brut and rosé sparkling wines. Why swap out the cork on a bottle of bubbly? Guaranteed quality says winemakerTom Tiburzi, explaining that the tops eliminate cork taint (the taste and smell of wet cardboard that affects 1 in 20 bottles). To me, trading a little pomp and circumstance seems like a small price to pay for an unspoiled bottle. Want to see what the hype is all about? Order a couple bottles from Mondo Vino (3601 W. 32nd Ave.) or Applejack Wine & Spirits (3320 Youngfield St., Wheat Ridge).

—Amanda M. Faison

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.