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Whine and cheesy-ness

Barry Smith

Picture an entire city park covered by a tent, as if the circus has come to town, only instead of animals and acrobats and jugglers the tent covers expensive wines, gourmet foods and lots of expensively dressed drunk people. This is what happens every year around this time, as Food and Wine Magazine holds its annual &quotClassic&quot event here in my little hometown of Aspen. Each year I get to work at this extravaganza of excess in the capacity of an AV Guy. My insider observations follow: Let’s start with a quiz: “A uniquely fruity intensity and buttermilk tang&quot is an expression that one could use to describe -a) Certain winesb) Certain cheesesc) Certain people who would use such expressions to describe certain wines or cheeses I was stationed at one of the many cooking classes taking place over the weekend. I was under strict orders to play music as people filed into the room. I wasn’t allowed to choose this music, but instead had been given a CD containing the cheesiest elevator jazz. Each time I pushed “play,&quot thereby filling the room with this horrible, soulless pablum, I cringed and made an apologetic face to anyone who was looking.At one point, shortly after kicking the jams, someone made their way back to my little corner and pointed to the speakers.”Can you turn this up?&quot he said. “It’s my favorite album.&quotAnd I’m thinking, aha, sarcasm, and I felt an equally sarcastic reply rising up from the very depths of my childish, critical being – it bubbled to my throat quickly, and then it stopped, right there, right before it made it to the tongue, because the look on this guy’s face told me that he wasn’t kidding, that this was not an invitation to a sarcasm throwdown, that this really WAS his favorite album.So I turned it up. Because deep down … I’m a people person. I think the first thing they must teach in “How To Be A Famous Chef&quot school is that the “say a little-put a lot&quot routine is a surefire laugh generator. For example, say “Add a pinch of salt&quot while actually putting in a humorously larger amount. Over the weekend I saw this routine performed with pepper, butter, wine, sugar, barbeque sauce and garlic. It killed every time.At one point, a chef declared that what was needed was a cup of olive oil, and he then proceeded to pour in THE WHOLE BOTTLE! There were audible gasps in the room, as if a rare albino tiger had just charged the stage and attacked him. One of my AV Guy tasks was to film these cooking demonstrations, and whatever I shot through the camera was also projected on two big screens in either corner of the room. My camera and I were both positioned on a piece of stage about a foot high in back of the room. This stage was very rickety, and even the beating of my heart caused a slight jiggling, which, when projected on a ten-foot screen, looked like live earthquake footage.When people ran out of places to sit, the edge of my little stage started looking like a chair. It was all I could do to keep still, so I couldn’t have a bunch of giddy enthusiasts sitting on my stage and getting all squirmy over the jerky-making demo.Right as the show was about to begin, someone took a seat at my feet. I tapped his shoulder and said, “Sorry, you can’t sit there.&quotHe looked at me defiantly and said, “Why not?&quotWhat happened next was just magical – I shooed him away without saying another word. Yes, I shooed him – with a wave of my hand I made it clear that he was on my turf now, and there would be no discussion. Out of my sight, chairless fool. Shoo…He got up and left.Man, whoever came up with that &quotPower Corrupts&quot saying must have been an AV Guy at one point.VT


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