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My last day at the Aspen Food & Wine Festival was just as fabulous as the first two however I was sad to see the weekend end knowing that it meant we were heading home.  What an amazing time we had!  I’m already dying to go back.

On our second night we enjoyed a fabulous and oh-so-satifying meal at Nobu’s Matsuhisa restaurant.  Everything about the meal was amazing from start to finish!  And the people watching was pretty great too.  Emeril, Fabio and Hugh Acheson were all in the house.

On day three we went and saw Susan Feniger do a demonstration.  She’s so entertaining and fun!  After that we had our last run through at the Tasting Pavilion where we ran into our Seattle friends/chefs Cormac Mahoney and Zoi Antonitsas of Madison Park Conservatory.  I also managed to get one last celebrity chef photo with Top Chef Just Desserts judges Johnny Luzzini and Danielle Kyrillos.

Here’s hoping I get back to beautiful Aspen again soon!

How cute is Nobu?! My new best friend:)

I’m not sure where to start really…this place is amazing! I’ve wanted to go to this event for YEARS but haven’t been able to until this year. We got into Denver last night around 4:45pm and made the 3.5-4 hr drive to Aspen which was gorgeous. Once we got here it was just past sunset and we checked into the beautiful St. Regis where I immediately spotted Top Chef winner Paul Qui outside:). So fun! After a wonderful and relaxing dinner at Brexi across the street, we made our way to the SKY bar to meet up with fellow Seattleites Cormac Mahoney and Zoi Antonitsas of Madison Park Conservatory (Cormac is here featured as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs!). A few drinks later we stumbled home and woke up this morning a little later than planned.

We started the day at Limelight for the Brunello di Montalcino: Tuscany’s Greatest Reds tasting. 10am? Why not?! Perfect time of day to throw back some of the finest wine:). At the end of it I realized I really do love the Altesino “Montosoli” that we’ve been drinking! That and the Il Palazzone and Antinori “Pian delle Vigne” are definitely on our “to buy list”.

Next we were off to the Private Grand Tasting located conveniently across the street:). There we enjoyed food and wine without the big crowds. Although we probably should have branched out, we couldn’t help but visit some of our favorites…Duckhorn, Freemark Abbey, Étude and then some newbies that we really liked…Monte Real, Barrymore (yes…it’s Drew Barrymore’s and it’s great!) and some Greeks…Mantinia and Ktima Papaioannou…delicious!!!

After a nice little break in the room we headed downstairs to see Mario Batali only to be told that we were too late (boo!) but that we could sit in on Emeril’s demo. Not bad…he is a classic after all:)

Next was Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons for the Top Chef: Salty & Sweet. Who doesn’t love those two?! Together they used the same ingredients to make a savory and sweet dish…looked great!

Tonight we’re headed to Steakhouse No. 316 for a tasty steak and then home to get rested and hungry for tomorrow!!

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Madison Park Conservatory – Seattle, WA

I’m not sure why it took me a year to find this place but I’m glad I finally found it.  Owners Bryan Jarr and Cormac Mahoney, once a chef at Sitka & Spruce, have nailed it with this spot!  You might recognize Chef Zoi Antonitsas (yes she’s Greek…we’ve been friends from first sight:)) from Season 4 of Top Chef or from her expansive resume including working for Tom Douglas at the young age of 16 yrs old to Zazu in the CA wine country and Marjorie in Seattle.  What’s even more impressive is that she’s self-taught (with the help of Tom of course).

Do yourself a favor and check it out.  The upstairs bar serves the whole menu as well as drinks that are unlike any you’ve had before.  I can’t remember the name offhand but there’s a Bitter Stormy – their take on a Dark & Stormy that is SO tasty!  For food, I highly recommend the beef tongue, yes tongue…it’s divine and will forever change your preconceived notions about it.  It transformed me:)  The whole trout is amazing…so flavorful and delicate.  For dessert the olive oil ice cream with sea salt on top is delicious.  Might sound a little weird but I swear, it’s great!  Enjoy!

A peak inside the kitchen right behind the hostess’ desk

smoked trout Croquettes, romesco sauce, aioli

Risotto bolognese, red wine poached farm egg

whole Idaho Trout, pine nuts, capers, currants, brown butter *(My favorite dish hands down!!!)

herb roasted Ribeye steak, fingerling potatoes, blue cheese butter

Ummm…yes please!

lemon and créme fraiche bread pudding, huckleberry

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