Drinking gold in Beaver Creek | PostIndependent.com

Drinking gold in Beaver Creek

Cassie PenceVail CorrespondentGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Illustration by Dawn Beacon/ Vail Daily

BEAVER CREEK Every year, for the last 25 years, confident winemakers from around the world submit 4,000 wines into the San Francisco International Wine Competition to see how their grape gumption fares.Out of the thousands, only 100 to 150 wines receive a double gold from judges, and starting on Thursday, the first-ever Beaver Creek Wine and Spirits Festival will pour only the gold.Wine gets a double gold if all the members of the panel that are judging say its a gold, Anthony Blue said, the director of the festival.Most people in the wine industry consider the San Francisco International Competition as the most prestigious, he continued.Its pretty definitive. The people who are judging are pretty well respected, Blue said.In addition to the double-gold wines, winning spirits from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition will also be served at the festival. The spirit competition, like the wine, is noted all over the world.And it makes sense, when we judge, for example, over 100 single malt scotches, Blue said.Blue is a wine, food and lifestyle writer, hes on the radio and on T.V. Some might recognize his name from Bon Appetit. For 20 years he was the publications wine and spirits editor, and he directed its tasting panel. If you eat it or drink it Blue is an expert on it. Now Blue and his company, Blue Lifestyle, produce wine and food events across the country.Pairing the double-gold wines and spirits with food, Blue has invited three guest chefs from San Francisco to cook at the festival: Frenchman Hubert Keller, Joseph Manzare, an Italian from the Bronx, and Richard Sandoval, who cooks Latin fusion. The food promises to be eclectic with this group, Blue said.The festival opens with Cocktails and Comedy on Thursday, featuring comedian Craig Shoemaker, and of course, appetizers and wine.The festival then moves into three interactive days of eating, drinking and checking out the scenery at Beaver Creek. There will be guided hikes and fishing followed by three-course lunches prepared by one of the guest chefs. Splendido at The Chateau will host a dinner, and Grouse Mountain Grill will host a brunch.Blue will host seminars, mini workshops as he describes them. He intentionally keeps them small, around 20 people, and in the past, attendees have really gotten into it. This time around, Blue will discuss riesling a wine thats rising in quality since the days of the sweet Blue Nun.Its fantastic food wine, he said. Its definitely hot right now. People are switching from chardonnay to riesling and its a good thing for the end of summer.And on Saturday, people can try more than 40 double gold wine and spirits and graze on signature dishes from both Beaver Creek chefs, as well as Keller, Manzare and Sandoval, during The Best of San Francisco Tasting at the Vilar Center.

Manzare, who owns Zuppa, Pescheria and The Globe in San Francisco, is making panini bollito at the tasting. Kobe beef brisket boiled in herbs, like garlic, peppercorn, bay leaf and onions, is topped on tiny Italian rolls and served with mild salsa verde or spicy salsa picante.Its kobe brisket, so there is an even layer of fat going through it. And when its boiled, its super tender, like that end piece of meat you love to eat from a steak, Manzare said.He first saw this type of sandwich in Tuscany at a market in Florence.There are hundreds of people standing in line, but theyre not really standing in line, theyre squeezing into this little corner to wait for these sandwiches, and the guy is slicing away, and thats all they sell is these paninnis, he said.Manzare was born to cook Italian: His family originally hails from Bari in Southern Italy. All of his restaurants in San Francisco, if not traditional Italian, adopt some spirit of his homelands cooking. Growing up in the Bronx, his father would shop in Italian neighborhoods, then drive across town to a certain bakery for bread or to buy cheese from a particular monger.He was really picky, like most Italians, Manzare said.First from his dad and then from Wolfgang Puck, Manzare has learned that using the best ingredients is what matters most in cooking. He likes Italian food because of its simplicity. You find a nice piece of halibut, he said, right out of the water, cook it on a wood grill with some lemon and olive oil and voila its done.

Keller, co-owner of Fleur de Lys, one of top fine dining restaurants in San Francisco and Las Vegas, specializes in French cuisine with a Mediterranean accent, like his marinated venison loin served with sauteed in pineapple julienne.Sandoval, born in Mexico City, Mexico, cooks modern Mexican at several restaurants across the country, including Maya in San Francisco and Tamayo in Denver. Dishes like Pechuga Adobada appear on his menus: chicken marinated in adobo served with roasted corn, manchego cheese dumplings, cilantro pesto and warm pico de gallo.But unlike how the wines arrived at this festival, there is no competition among these Bay area pals. The city, Manzare explained, invites healthy camaraderie, which is like no other place hes worked. In fact, his restaurant Globe serves as the industry hang out. Open late, its the only place chefs, buss boys and restauranteurs can order a real meal after 10 p.m.San Francisco is the closest knit chef communities in the country if not the world, Manzare said. Everyone gets along and we all hang out.Cassie Pence is a freelance writer based in Vail. Contact her at cassandrapence@gmail.com.

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