The alternate title to this post could have been “rediscovering adventure post-baby.” You see, even as hard as you might try to maintain “a life” in that first year of parenthood, it’s nearly impossible not to turn into a hermit. Sure, there are varying degrees of forced hibernation – you might enjoy a brunch now and then, perhaps even an overnight away, but your independent existence ceases to be. I fought it as mightily as I could, but those tiny humans make it simply impossible to avoid. But now I have a one-year-old. And my little dude’s new-found independence means I can rediscover some of my own too. It’s like I’ve finally made it the end of the long dark tunnel and I can see the light. And it is golden.
So if my last year has been the year of baby, I’m officially declaring this year #TheYearofErin! I feel so ready to get back out and rediscover the many passions that have fallen by the wayside over the last 12 months. I recently took a massive step in that direction thanks to my American Express Platinum Card. This year I’m working with American Express as an ambassador for the Platinum Card to share my experiences with the many benefits available and value provided to Platinum Card Members. One of them being VIP access to super cool events like the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Holla!
the man, the myth, the legend jacques pépin
So last week I touched down a mile & a half above sea level to mix, mingle, eat (and drink!) with some of the best chefs in the world. Did I mention sans baby?? I’ve dreamt of attending this festival for years. It’s basically foodie mecca. And it did not disappoint. For three days, I stuffed myself silly, be it at the Grand tasting tents where you could sample bites from Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2016 (Chef Ravi Kapur of San Francisco’s LihoLiho Yacht Club was representing the Bay Area). You can taste wine from over 150 wineries. It seemed nearly every type of liquor was being poured. It was an all around good time.
barely and koji ice cream sandwiches from the Austin restaurant Emmer & Rye
taylor bay sea scallop with black seabass escabéche
créme fraîche panna cotta
cured deer rice crispy from the Chicago restaurant Elizabeth – sounds disgusting but was actually quite delicious
But when you’re too full to eat and drink you can also actually learn something. I watched cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs like Chris Cosentino, Hugh Acheson, Graham Elliott and Jacques Pépin! You can actually find the recipes for San Francisco-based Chris Cosentino’s New Style Surf & Turf right here. I’m itching to take a stab at braised lamb.
The highlight of the weekend was getting VIP access with my American Express Platinum Card to a By Invitation Only private dinner with celeb chef, Tyler Florence. Tyler and his awesome team put together a stunning menu that included things Watermelon Gazpacho with Marinated Shrimp and Buttermilk Queso Fresco, a gorgeous roast pig and a chic dessert featuring fresh Colorado summer strawberries. And even better – I got to share the experience with my dear friend Camille Styles who was also attended the Classic.
While I was in Aspen for the good eats, I totally soaked in my surroundings as well. Aspen is charming. Hard to catch your breath while walking around – hello altitude – but it is charming. And the surrounding scenery is simply stunning. I had the chance to visit the Maroon Bells mountain range – just a 30 minute drive from town. It was well worth missing a visit to the Grand Tasting tents.
I would also be remiss in not sharing my accommodations because they were a design lover’s dream. I booked all of my travel arrangements on my Platinum Card through the American Express Platinum Travel Concierge, which meant I made one phone call and had all of my flight, hotel and transportation needs taken care of. Boom. Any time saved in mama-land is like gold.
American Express Platinum also has a litany of hotels that offer VIP benefits to Card Members, when booked through the Fine Hotels & Resorts program – things like meal credits, free room upgrades, spa discounts and the like. Aspen’s Hotel Jerome is on said list. I hit the hotel jackpot with this place. Someone described it as the Hunter S. Thompson hotel of Aspen and it proved to be a fitting comparison. The decor was funky cool, a mix of lodge meets swap meet, meets glam lounge. Details ranged from vintage art in every room to elevators wrapped in a patchwork of old leather belts. I loved it all.
Needless to say, this whirlwind of a weekend was the perfect way to jumpstart #TheYearofErin. I was able to indulge in a major passion – food and wine – while enjoying the sweet taste of a little freedom. For a second it felt like little in my world has changed. While I have to admit I was aching to get back to my kiddo by the end of the weekend (that plane couldn’t fly fast enough), it was so wonderful confirm what I’d always hoped; I’m still me.
I just have even more things (and tiny people) that I love now.