Category — WineFest Blogs
Each person’s path of wine discovery is a unique and distinctive journey, but many people have been down this road and some tend to follow well-trodden ways. That’s not to say that this is the main path one must take in order to achieve wine-geek status, but it comes up fairly frequently when the topic comes up.
For the complete article, click here: http://www.snooth.com/articles/commentary/how-to-become-a-wine-geek/?utm_campaign=2865&utm_medium=email&utm_source=all&utm_content=6204#ixzz1K0JEW9Md
April 19, 2011 View comments
Surrounded by pink-shirted volunteers shaking clappers and tambourines, Judge Judy sat under a giant white tent waving her auction paddle at the exclusive Ritz- Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida.
The no-nonsense dispenser of TV justice wore white pants and a peach-colored blouse as she successfully bid $100,000 for 28 magnums of the world’s finest wines at a charity auction for needy children attended by former Private Capital Management LP chairman Bruce Sherman and other financial heavyweights.
“It’s the best party around,” said Judge Judy (real name Judith Sheindlin), a Naples resident who commutes to California on a private jet to tape her syndicated show. “I’ve been involved for 10 years and these people are the most philanthropic and generous.”
For the full article, please click here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-01/judge-judy-bids-100-000-at-wine-auction-as-tambourines-jingle.html
March 9, 2011 View comments
Panaji, Jan 5 (IANS) A woman’s rights group has urged President Pratibha Patil to stop the sale of wine and liquor at government premises in Goa.
In a petition, Bailancho Saad, a woman’s organisation, sought Patil’s intervention to stop a government-promoted wine festival to be held at a multiplex in the capital later this month.
Patil is on a four-day-vacation in Goa.
’As the constitutional head, you are required to uphold the directive principles of the constitution prohibiting state governments from promoting alcohol,’ Bailancho Saad convenor Sabina Martins said in her memorandum submitted Tuesday evening.
For the full article, click here: http://www.sify.com/finance/president-urged-to-stop-liquor-sales-on-government-premises-news-default-lbflEnhaidd.html
February 17, 2011 View comments
NAPLES — Nobody would have dreamed a population explosion of children in Collier County during the past five years.
The recession did not mean families packed up after the jobs dried up.
The number of children living in Collier increased from nearly 55,000 in 2005 to more than 80,000 last year, according to a study commissioned by the Naples Children and Education Foundation (NCEF), sponsors of the annual Naples Winter Wine Festival.
For the full article (with photos and video), click here: http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2011/jan/22/naples-winter-wine-festival-children-needs-study/
February 16, 2011 View comments
Miami Wine Festival Director, Lyn Farmer, tapped 20 of South Florida’s top sommeliers to put their palates and purple tongues to work for a good cause by participating in the “Best in Glass” competition, which was dedicated to judging some of the “best of the best” by-the-glass wine selections and a ramp up for United Way’s Miami Wine and Food Festival.
A panel of ten judged 235 wines in Miami-Dade College’s new Culinary Institute, a state-of-the-art facility due to launch later this year. Thirty-four of them won gold medals and everyone in town will have the chance to taste the medal-winning wines at a local eatery between March 15 and April 15, the official “Best in Glass Month.”
For the full article, click here: http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shortorder/2011/01/sofla_top_somms_judge_united_w.php
February 16, 2011 View comments
It may be located out of town but this year’s main benefactor of the Katikati Avocado Food and Wine Festival (to be held this Saturday) has helped many locals feel comfort when enduring cancer treatment in Hamilton.
Each year, organisers usually select a local community organisation to benefit from the proceeds raised by the popular festival – but this time round Bruce Robinson, spokesman for the festival, said that the new Lions Cancer Lodge was a fitting recipient. “Everybody knows someone who has suffered from cancer,” he said.
For the full article, click here: http://www.bayofplentytimes.co.nz/local/news/festival-funds-to-support-new-lions-cancer-lodge/3936668/
February 16, 2011 View comments
Throughout my career, I have helped with many corporate conferences and events. Although those experiences served me well, I wasn’t prepared for the phenomenal preparation required for the Naples Winter Wine Festival, which is the nation’s most successful charity wine auction. Five years ago, I became a festival volunteer and learned firsthand the amount of work involved. And I truly enjoy every minute of volunteering.
For the full article, click here: http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2011/jan/11/naples-winter-wine-festival-long-time-volunteer-sh/
February 16, 2011 View comments
Within the scope of the 15th Gourmet & Wine Festival, 30 wine producers who are members of the Rheingau regional branch of the VDP will be presenting wines of the 2009 as well as of older vintages. The presentation takes place on Sunday the 6th of March 2011.
In addition to dry Riesling wines, the traditional spring presentation of the association of premium wine estates will also feature ÜPinot Noir as well as top-quality sweet botrytis wines from various vintages. The VDP Rheingau wine producers will be pouring their wines personally, and are available to enter into discussions and provide information. Guests of this year’s event are the Spanish associations Enólogos AG and vinogusta.com, who will be presenting wines produced by 30 outstanding Spanish wineries.
Find the full article here: http://www.wein-plus.com/magazine/+11.01.2011+Presentation+in+the+monastery_fn6113.html
February 16, 2011 View comments
AMHERSTBURG — Another piece of the United Communities Credit Union Complex has a sponsor.
It was announced at Monday night’s town council that the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival has paid $20,000 for naming rights to the indoor concession. Debi Croucher, head of the Amherstburg Community Foundation and president of Indaba Marketing, called the wine festival a “landmark festival” in southwestern Ontario and said the fundraising arm of the complex is pleased to partner with them.
For the full article please visit click here http://www.amherstburgecho.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2924239
February 15, 2011 View comments
Over 12 million children in American are at risk of suffering from malnutrition. That is approximately one out of every six. On any given night over 350,000 of them will go to bed hungry. That is shameful in the world’s wealthiest country and an absolute travesty considering the billions of dollars we donate to foreign charities. “Share Our Strength” (“Strength.org”) is a nationwide organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger in the United States. They sponsor and promote a wide variety of fund raising efforts including bake sales, restaurant dine-outs, gourmet dinners, and their very popular “Taste of the Nation” Series of food and wine extravaganzas held in various cities across the country.
On July 30th, I attended one of these, The Taste of Miami, held at the Ritz Carlton Resort on Key Biscayne. There, Celebrity Chef Allen Susser (continuing his successful 20-year reign as honorary chairman) brought together an incredible array of over 40 of Miami’s top restaurants, catering companies and confectioners. The incredible food ranged from sushi to sweets with everything in between. A few of my favorites were: Chef Allen’s seared scallop on short rib hash, escargot Provencal from Au Pied De Cochon, Smith & Wollensky’s beef tenderloin, cornmeal crusted oysters from Bulldog Barbeque Bizcaya’s braised short ribs on cheesy grits, charred pork belly from the Fountain Bleu. The Grill on the Alley’s prime rib sandwich, chocolate chip lollipops from Cookies by Shar and We Take the Cake’s rum and key lime frosted cupcakes.
Although mainly a culinary event, there was also a large enough assortment of wine there (compliments of Southern Wine & Spirits) to pair nicely with the food. Some that I particularly enjoyed were the Gloria Ferrer’s Blanc Noir Sparking Wine, Moreau & Fils Chablis, Pommery’s Champagne, Ferrarri-Cerano’s Tre Terre Chardonnay and Siena red (Sangiovese) blend and Vougeot Clos due Prieure, an absolutely extraordinary white burgundy.
In addition to the monies raised from ticket sales, Share our Strength also benefitted from the proceeds of both a very spirited live auction and an extensive silent one. Incredible trips to the Caribbean and the Champagne region of France highlighted the live auction while the silent featured large format bottles of wine, gourmet foods, luggage and sports memorabilia.
All and all… The Taste of the Nation/Miami was a wonderfully enjoyable evening helping what has to be one of the most deserving charities around! Contributed by LAT, aka Jimmy Olsen, Jr.
August 1, 2010 View comments
New Orleans Wine and Food Experience – 2010
The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience is known to the organizers, staff and volunteers as “nowfe”. As far as the festivalgoers are concerned, it’s more like “WOW” (fe)! This event packed extravaganza takes place every year over Memorial Day weekend. Things kick off on Wednesday night with wine dinners held all over town. Most of New Orleans’ top restaurants team up with prestigious wineries to prepare multi-course meals paired with vintage wines.
Thursday there are two events. The Vinola Tasting and Auction, the “experience’s” most upscale offering, takes place in the afternoon. After sampling well over 100 of the World’s rarest, most sought after wines, participants get the chance to bid on more wine, dinners, artwork, trips and more. Later that same night is the Royal Street Stroll. Early Thursday evening, the art galleries, antique shops and retail stores along New Orleans second most famous street dole out sips of fine wine while local restaurants serve samplings of their specialties from booths set up in the avenue. All the while, jazz musicians and street performers keep the revelers entertained. Every year, this event seems to get better and the crowd bigger.
Friday day and Saturday morning a variety of wine, food and lifestyle seminars are held at hotel meeting rooms throughout the French Quarter. Wine experts, celebrity chefs and other nationally known speakers educate and amuse the attendees. This year some of the standouts were:
1) “Charmed by Charcuterie” where local chefs including Donald Link (of Herb Saint, Couchon & Butcher) explained the techniques and tastes of dried, cured and gelled meats and pates.
2) “Gone Gulfing” which showcased fresh Louisiana seafood prepared “live” for our enjoyment by chefs Brian Landry (Galatoire’s) and Tenny Flynn (GW Fins) and,
3) “Wine in HD” at which Doug Reed (Regional Sales Manager for the highly acclaimed Riedel Glassware Company) proved to all that size and shape does matter; at least in wine glasses.
The highlight of the weekend is, of course, the Grand Tastings held Friday night and Saturday afternoon. These are so fantastic that it is only appropriate that they are held at the SUPERDOME. Even with thousands of party-ers, the venue doesn’t get crowded and the lines stay very manageable; almost intimate. Hundreds of wines were poured including such standouts as: Antinori, BR Cohn, Chalk Hill, Frank Family, Grgich Hills, Latour, Lanson, Mumm Napa, Nicolas Feuillate, Ramey, Schramsberg, Silver Oak, Talbott, and Van Duzer.
Over 80 restaurants, confectioners, and catering companies also set up booths and dished out incredible eats. Everything from the traditional shrimp and grits to pulled pork to lamb “cheeks” were being served. The selection was enormous making it almost impossible to stop. ( Between my partners and myself, we’ve attended hundreds of culinary events including most, if not all the major wine festivals and I can say, unequivocally, that the food at “NOWFE” surpasses them all. ) Some of the featured restaurants were: Arnaud’s, Bayona, Besh Steakhouse, Brennan’s, Commander’s Palace, Gallatoire’s, Le Meritage, Mila, Mr. B’s, NOLA,Pascal Manale, Ralph’s on the Park ,and Ruth’s Chris Steak House (just to single out a few).
If you are into delicious wines and succulent food, the New Orleans Food and Wine Experience is not to be missed. Once you go, you will be “hooked”! I know I am.
February 26, 2010 View comments
Bodega Seafood Art & Wine Festival – Aug 2009
The last weekend of August was exceedingly hot in Bodega and so was this a hot event. Most wine festivals come in various shapes and sizes. This makes them all unique and enjoyable with a sybarite feel for life. They are all rewarding because they enrich the mind and the soul. Bodega Seafood Art & Wine Festival was just that.
Janet Ceil and Michael Ecton, a couple of local artists in the area decided fifteen years ago that the area needed a seafood festival and have continued to expand the offerings and all for great charitable causes. This year was no different and the proceeds were targeted for the Stewards of the Coast & Redwoods and the Bodega Volunteer Fire Department. Good for both of these charities because from the looks of things, record crowds were turning out for this very inexpensive festival.
On a critical side this can hardly be put into a “wine festival” grouping. It was more like a carnival without the rides. Yes, everything was there as advertised but the food booths were very much in a street fair setting and the art exhibitors were a hardy bunch but not quite on the marquee level.
The tastings were held in one large tent and the $15 price was an add-on to the $12 admission price for the festival. It entitled you to a glass and tokens which were for the various pours. It seemed like most of the wine and beer vendors did not really get into the collection of the tokens, so you pretty much had free range throughout the tasting tent. Looks like the wineries served in shifts so if you did not plan to stay for most of the day, your selection of wineries was limited. Enough but not the target size. BR Cohn got my attention as one of the better known and better wines, especially their Pinot Noir. Kudos to Dane Cellars’ Chenin Blanc and Crane Brothers’ Rose. Both outstanding. One more thing. Forgive me wineries, but if you are given ice and bus pans to cool down the whites, why on earth would you NOT but the reds in there also?????? My VinTemp read most red offerings at significant temps above 75 degrees and it was only late morning. What happens later in the day when the temp gets even warmer? Go to www.nomorewarmwines.com for your FREE coasters to give back to someone who pours you a warm wine!
The bottom line is that if you are going to be in the area (or live nearby) this is a fun and family oriented adventure. If the weather is going to be as hot as it was in 2009, make sure to take a hat and sunscreen. Besides the tent for wine/beer, there were sparse areas to get out of the sun.
September 1, 2009 View comments
Easy train ride from Paris makes this area of France, the only region that can call what they make, champagne, special. Only a 45 minute train ride gets you from Gare de l’Est station in Paris to Reims. Cross the little park in front of the trains station and you end up in the pedestrian mall with many restaurants, shops and hotels. Let a guide book suggest places to stay, but our take was that any of the 3 star or higher hotels would be fine. You’re here for the champagne not for the 5 star hotels unless it is your honeymoon.
Head over to the tourist office for great maps and a wonderful staff who can assist in making reservations for most of the champagne houses. This is an easy walk from the ped mall and train station but I would suggest getting ride of the roller luggage first. The other great thing about the tourist office is that it is practically inside the Cathedrale Notre-Dame, a must see when you are in Reims.
Like most Americans who never had a French lesson, you will probably never pronounce Reims like the city dwellers, but give it a try and say something like Arntz and you’ll be getting close. Around the center of town you will be able to find some great champagne shops, so feel comfortable in NOT purchasing a bottle or two during any of the tours since they tend to gain weight the more you walk with them.
Remember, they say the region is small, but it is not. I think there are over 5,000 champagne producers and heaven knows how many growers, but it is the soil and the mixture of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier that makes champagne what it is. There are eight champagne houses with Reims. All of them will require a taxi unless you are really into walking. About half an hour’s walk from the center of the city is an area that you can find four of the eight houses; Veuve Clicquot (a favorite visit for us,) Tattinger, Pommery and Martel.
Some of these, like Tattinger, do not have tasting rooms and you must do the tour in order to end up with a tasting. As I said, the city has champagne stores and the prices are, like in Nape/Sonoma, less expensive than the makers own stores.
If you are going to this area, make Reims your first stop. The location is much larger and city like than when you arrive in Epernay. Just a short hop from the train station to the famous roundabout, Place de la Republique, and you’ll feel the difference. Town or village = Epernay. City = Reims.
The tourist office is close by the roundabout as is Moet & Chandon. Further down the same street, but within walking distance is Mercier and De Castellane. Before you head out for a tour and some bubbles, again check the luggage. We found a reasonable priced 3 star hotel tucked right nearby, Hotel Les Berceaux. In addition to being friend and comfortable, it houses one of the areas finer restaurants, P. Michelon. Do try for a dinner at this establishment. www.lesberceaux.com
The real jewel of our visit was when we say a brochure at the hotel to Tour the Vineyards. For a modest price, Nathalie, the co-owner of Champagne Domi-Moreau, picked us up in her large van and for the next several hours delved in the process of making champagne, starting with her vineyards right through the soils, pruning, harvesting and the making of champagne at their own facility. She and her husband own a little B&B, allow the guests to go bicycling or hiking and I would guess, sip some of their own wonderful Champagne. A not to be missed event, cause after a while most of the caves start to look alike and this make the entire process come alive. www.champagne-domimoreau.com
Finally, we were Eurorailing for this entire trip. What we missed most was that the champagne area is large and to do it properly you need wheels. We did not take a hard look to see if anyone has organized transport from Reims or Epernay out to the hinterland, but I guess they pretty much do as their ancestors have done and NOT offer modern convienences like van/mini bus tours. This leads to renting a car and calling ahead for on site visits. We’re saving that for the next trip. Suffice to say, this two person champagne festival was very special!!
R U Syrious & Imma Not Syrious on the road again…….
June 1, 2009 View comments
Recently we embarked on a whirlwind tour of France and the Benelux countries, primarily to see first hand the Champagne region just outside of Paris. Smooth AirFrance flight out of Miami to CDG arriving mid-morning the next day. This allowed enough time to depart the airport over to the RER and the Metro to the heart of Paris and finally a cab to our hotel.
Hint, it is always nice to have a handful of Euro coins and or some bills so you don’t have to sweat the kiosks for Metro tickets, a touch down beer or a cup of Joe. Also, if you plan to train around on an Eurorail pass or on your own, remember to pack LIGHT. Most train stations still require walking with your luggage down the stairs, under the rail tracks to you platform, which, of course, is back up stairs. Carrying only one carryon back per person makes this much less stressful and we’ve said this before, who are you going to dress to impress – your new friends?
We did decide that perhaps on the next similar trip we would make the Target/Wall Mart stop and just buy as t-shirts as days of the trip plus a few and just discard them along the way. This works if you tend to sweat and/or helps out the locals with a almost new shirt for their homeless.
Another hint. This trip I finally managed to take only those sections from several guides’ books (ripping them out from the spine) and stapling them onto a manila folder (half size) and put them in a 3-ring binder. These guides, along with suggestions from the internet started as a fairly thick binder, but after Paris, I put the guides in my luggage and discarded the stuff from the Internet. By the time we were heading back to the USA, the small binder was completely empty! Yea!
Two words about CDG (the major airport in Paris) and Paris itself. Both very large. Follow the great signage at Charles de Gaulle and get a Paris map ASAP. I always get a city map from the hotel and have them mark their location on the map and take a business card from the hotel. That way, if you get lost, you can at least hand the business card (not the map) to a taxi (never called a cab in Europe) to the driver from a return trip to your hotel.
Easy tip. A great way to get your bearings in a new city, especially if it is large as Paris, is the Hop On, Hop Off buses, some even with those double deck convertible tops. In Paris they were good for two days, so you can make the entire circuit and decide where you want to start on by foot tours. Instead of walking a pretty long way, say between the Eiffel Tower and Norte Dame, just re-hop on you bus. Sweet.
In Paris, at least, they also have one or two hop-on, hop-off Seine river cruise boats. Another easy way to see the sites and get around with wearing out your tootsies.
Noticed two things this trip. Less street vendors then I remembered from prior trips and Mortmare, the artist haven up on the hill, was too busy to enjoy. Of course, the other thing that can be said about almost anywhere in the world, high rent district has high priced restaurants. We have become accustomed to finding our own places to dine; whether lunch, dinner or even for that sweet treat mid-morning or afternoon. Let you nose and eyes do it for you as well. If you pick a restaurant based up on its stars, those do have a way of equating to dollar signs, as well.
Paris, go if you have never been or it’s been awhile. For now, I’ve had enough of the big city, seen the sites and stored away the memories. Now I want quaint. Easy walking cities, towns or villages. Part I of II
June 1, 2009 View comments
Look out Aspen & South Beach, the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience is “gunning” for America’s top “slot”. If you are tired of packed aisle ways and over-crowded venues, NOWFE’s for you. The Grand Tastings (held Friday evening and Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend) are held in the Super Dome and the over 175 wineries and 75 restaurants are spread throughout the entire floor level. So despite the high attendance numbers, there’s plenty of open space and seldom a long line even at the most prestigious wineries (like Chalk Hill, Grgich, Jordan, Mumm’s, Patz&Hall, Schramsberg, Stags Leap, Swanson, Talbott and Tattinger) or famous eateries (such as Antoines, Brennan’s, Cafe Adelaide, Commander’s Palace, Galatoires, GW Fins, MiLa, Muriel’s, NOLA and Restaurant August); just to name a few.
Of course, NOWFE’s much more than just Grand Tastings. The five day long event kicks off Tuesday with Chef John Folse’s Premium Fine Wine Dinner; progresses on to numerous winery sponsored dinners on Wednesday night; includes the extremely popular Royale Street Stroll on Thursday night; as well as various seminars held Friday and Saturday.
This year, early afternoon sprinkles threatened the “Stroll” but by that evening the sky cleared and the weather turned perfect. An enthusiastic throng of people gathered in the French Quarter to enjoy the restaurant booths set up in the middle of Royale Street and sip the wines being poured inside the boutiques, antique shops and galleries along the way.
Also on Thursday were Vinola (which features reserve wines and a fabulous auction) and Festival (a brand new event) which highlighted the culinary skills of celebrity chefs from around the country.
One of the more interesting seminars I attended, on Friday, was put on by Donald Link, Chef/Owner of Herbsaint and Couchon. It was titled “Eat Like a Pit” and focusing on his rural Louisiana background and the frugality and camaraderie experienced when a huge southern family strives to utilize all the food sources available from a freshly slaughtered pig. While discussing this, he also demonstrated several of the cooking techniques used and served up samples of roast suckling pig and “head cheese” paired with four Rhone wines. Also of note were the Women on Wine panel featuring (among others) Susan Spicer (Chef/Owner of the immensely popular Bayonna Restaurant in New Orleans) and Laura De Pasquale of Palm Bay Imports
On Saturday morning, I started my day (pre-Grand Tasting) with the “Bubbles and Bite’s” seminar where vintage Tete de Cuvee champagnes were discussed and sampled.
After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I had my doubts as to whether New Orleans would ever fully recover as a tourist mecca. But, this year’s Wine and Food Experience laid those doubts to rest. New Orleans always was and still is a town that really knows how to throw a PARTY!!!! This is one not to be missed. LAT for wfn……..
May 31, 2009 View comments
This past weekend (October 10-12), I attended the inaugural launch of the New York City Wine and Food Festival. (nycwineandfoodfestival.com) It was sponsored by the Food Network, Food & Wine Magazine and Southern Wine and Spirits and patterned after the enormously popular South Beach Wine and Food Festival (sobewineandfoodfest.com). It started the day before and included seminars, cooking demonstrations, tastings and cooking competitions spread out at various venues around Manhattan’s Meatpacking District and Chelsea Market. Many of these had sold out before we could get tickets. Almost all of television’s top “food” personalities (including Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay, Nigelle Lawson, Paula Dean, Guy Fieri, Alton Brown and Giada DeLaurentis) participated by hosting events and/or doing book signings.
The first event we attended was the private tasting Friday afternoon for the members of the media and trades people (meaning bar and restaurant owners). There, we sampled a large number of wines accompanied by snacks provided by food companies and purveyors such as Allen Bros, Swanson, Bertolli, Del Grosso, Colavita and Shop-Rite (just to name a few). The wine featured such stand-outs as Clos Du Bois, Chalk Hill, Wente, Ferrari Cerrano and many more. We enjoyed a lot of old favorites and found some new ones as well (like the delicious Zaca Mesa Rousanne). Bubbly was also well represented by champagnes (such as Nicolas Feuillate and Lanson), sparkling wines (like Mumm’s Napa Valley) and an assortment of cava’s and prosecco’s.
I was, however, surprised by the preponderance of “spirit” companies present. It seemed like there was almost as much hard liquor being poured as wine. I found that somewhat odd at an event promoted as a “wine festival”and would have preferred to see more wines there. But,I have no idea what percentage of wineries Southern represents in the northeast and suspect that their market share there may be much smaller than in Florida(where I ‘ve gotten spoiled by the South Beach Fest).
That same night (Friday), we participated in the “Meatpacking Uncorked” Event. This gave us the opportunity to browse the area’s chic boutiques while sipping vintage wines and sampling gourmet appetizers. Some of the more prominent shops that participated were Stella McCartney, Diane Von Furstenberg, Scoop NYC, Helmut Lang and Ed Hardy. (As a future hint to all the boyfriends and husbands out there, this event might be a good place to either take it easy on the wine or leave the credit cards at home… if you catch my drift!)
Saturday during the day, in addition to cooking classes, book signings and tv show tapings too numerous to mention, there were two Grand Tastings; a morning and late afternoon session. We chose the earlier one largely because of the aforementioned hard liquor involved and the generous “tastes” that were being dispersed. (I figured it could get a little ugly by late afternoon and we got a preview of that as we were exiting around two o’clock when a rather large man with a Waterford crystal wine glass filled to the brim with beer “slung” around his neck and a “shot” in each hand stumbled into us!)
The beverage selections at the Saturday Tastings were identical to the private Friday event. Actually, the only real difference seemed to be that on Saturday, in addition to the food companies there from the day before, a large number of famous (and some not so famous) New York eateries were giving out small samplings of their signature dishes. The food ranged from tuna tartare to pulled pork sandwiches with almost everything imaginable in between.All of it was delicious.”Wine” plates(the ones with the cut-outs to hold your glass while you eat)would have been a welcome addition.
As the tasting lingered on, two interrelated things became apparent. First, the weather was absolutely gorgeous! Perfect for a semi-outdoor event…. sunny with highs in the mid 70’s. But,secondly, (and I’m sure the unseasonably warm temperature was a major contributing factor), a lot of the wine being poured just got too darn hot! My good friend and business partner, David Bradach is currently and enthusiastically,spearheading a campaign in support of “No More Warm Wine” aimed at bars and restaurants that serve ,particularly, their red wines at too high an ambient temperature( often 75 – 80 degrees).
Unfortunately, on Saturday, I found that, in addition to many of the reds being that warm, a large number of purveyors of exceptional white wines were,also, letting them sit out (unchilled) to the point where they were ,also, too hot to enjoy properly.
Saturday night, we attended the “Sweet” dessert Bash sponsored by Ferrero Chocolates, Perrier Jouet Champagne and Absolute Vodka. It was hosted by Duff Goldman of “Ace of Cakes” fame. Surprisingly, since this was one of the more expensive events, it was easily the most crowded one we attended. When we arrived, fashionably late, the line to get in stretched 2 city blocks.But,it moved fairly quickly and soon we were at the champagne bar being rewarded with a chilled glass of bubbly. Then, it was on to the main hall where all the sugary treats were being handed out. The crowd inside there made Grand Central Station at rush hour look deserted. Perhaps next year, a larger venue would be in order. Or maybe, I’m just getting too old for the shoulder to shoulder crowds and “thumping” techno music. Besides, even with over 40 of New York’s best dessert chefs (from restaurants such as Bouchon Bakery, Daniel, David Burke & Donatella, Del Posto, Gotham Bar & Grill, Mesa Grill and Tribecca Grill- just to name a few) presenting their masterpieces, just how many desserts can one stomach handle.Very shortly, we found ourselves back in the Perrier Jouet lounge where we remained until ready to go.
Just as we were about to leave, Food Network star, Bobby Flay made an appearance. The very popular and approachable, celebrity chef graciously signed autographs and posed for pictures with adoring fans. Also in attendance were, of
course, Duff Goldman who presided over the parade of pastries and Susie Fogelson, one of the creators and judges of the “Who Will be the Next Food Network Star”show. Numerous other celebrity chefs ,such as Thomas Keller and Tom Collicchio, were also there supervising the assembly and distribution of their restaurants’ “sweets”.
On Sunday, the seminars, etc. continued and there were also two more sessions of Grand Tastings. However, by then, we were “wined” and “walked” out. Based on both my first hand experience and overall ticket sales (virtually every event sold out), the first annual New York City Wine and Food Festival was a tremendous success.And,I’m sure it will do nothing but get better in the future. Sure, there were a few kinks to work out; but the promoters already have an enormous head start based on their other experience. I was particularly impressed with the way all the exhibitors praised the “behind the scene’s” staff for all their advance preparations; anticipation of and attention to their needs during the events; and, general, hard work.That,alone, will go a long way towards guaranteeing continued success because when you keep the “pourers” and “servers” happy , they’ll keep everyone else happy and coming back!!!
October 19, 2008 No Comments
Subject: Let’s all move Thanksgiving and Christmas this year FOREVER
Okay, the articles are starting to appear about holiday travel. It is going to be ugly. I know, I’ve also been in the travel business since the early 90s. Less capacity, higher fuel costs and their sur-charge for everything means that flying during these upcoming holidays will be about 30% more than last year, according to some reports.
Well, here we go again. Let’s have winefestnews help you recreate these holidays. If you did not know this, FACT, the slowest airline travel time is about a week after Thanksgiving and a couple of days before Christmas. Yep, your right. Salesfolks finally hunker down and refuse to travel during the “holidays” or potentially lose their wife, kids and homes. Now, understanding this and just like Hallmark, let’s not make up new holidays, but just move them around.
Let’s say it is real important for you to fly to see family or have them come see you. You are going to save a lot of money and be able to buy more wine by having Thanksgiving two weeks before this year’s date of November 27th. So someone has to take a couple of days off. Too bad. Quiet time for enjoying your family and when the official Thanksgiving comes around, you can just set up your home as your cocoon and chill out. Or, go ahead and work the Friday and really p…… everyone off.
Christmas, would be same deal. Move it to sometime between the 5th and 15th of December. You can get away with our newer Christmas being a weekend holiday. Take the Friday and Monday off over one of the first two weekends in December. SAVE big time on flights and hassles. Make a feast for your traditional Christmas meal or just go out. Restaurants will LOVE you. They are also very, very slow this time a year. When the actual holiday comes, pop some bubbly, think about that wonderful time you just had with your family and again chill out.
All of this assumes you go to your loved ones or they come to you. However, saying that, check out the deals during these periods of time. You may just be able to meet up and have a Thanksgiving/Christmas family reunion at a mutual location. Ski territory may start to be pricy, but I bet places like Pelican Cove in Islamorada “FL Keys” Florida would love to have you.(www.pcove.com)
Many of you may already know this, but the Orthodox religion normally celebrates their Christmas a week or two after the Christian Christmas. They always get the after Christmas sales. This sort of evens out their luck with all of us non-orthodox people. R U Syrious……..
September 24, 2008 No Comments
I know I have at least one partner in business who thinks I’m crazy, but if you live your life as one fast and furious roller coaster, try this ride.
While planning on visiting to write about the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend held over Labor Day I came across a couple of other events that held our interest; our being my wife and I. In 2007 we were able to visit the Sausalito Art Festival’s opening formal affair before venturing up to Mendocino for the balance of the holiday weekend. So knowing what a good time the art fest was, I included in the planning for this year.
Lo and behold, I was enjoying reading Saveur magazine and I notice an article for Inaugural Edition of the Slow Food Nation to be held, of all things, in SFO over the same Labor Day weekend.
Should I dare take a chance and try and do all three? Is the pope catholic? Let see, hop on a plane to SFO on Friday in time to have lunch and settle in to our Argonaut Hotel. While this Kimpton hotel is has a great location, it is still on Fisherman’s Wharf and that’s either a good or bad thing, depending on a lot of factors (think crowds would be #1.)
Enjoy an early dinner if you’re coming from the East coast due to the time difference and lay back and think about all you will see and do in the next couple of days.
Saturday morning it’s time for a light breakfast (no serious drinking on an empty stomach) and rent a car near the hotel. This is still early, but the drive over that magic Golden Gate Bridge and up to Sonoma is the one time that speed does not matter.
Sonoma Showcase starts at 11am and we pull in right after the first rush. What a way to start your day with The Bubble Lounge just at the beginning of the grounds of Mac Murray vineyard. Eat and drink (in moderation) and dig the Steel Chef Competition and other cooking demonstrations. Time to take your souvenir wine glass (the $150 memory per person for this one event) with you and hoof it back to Fisherman’s Wharf by mid afternoon. We do miss all of the lunches and dinners and really miss the Sunday auction, but life in the fast lane holds only so many openings.
Dinner may just be room service for most this evening. Some of us were smart enough to visit the Farmer’s Market down on the wharf early this morning, so instead of another big dinner, its charcuterie, cheese, some of that famous SFO sour dough bread and a nice 60 degree bottle of Pinot Noir and some US Open tennis for the night.
Sunday brings more glorious weather and what an idea. The car rental place was closed early so I still had the rental. This is a GREAT IDEA. After coffee I got my wife moving to the garage where is stashed the car overnight (parking fee almost the same as the cost of the rental but it is a holiday, right?) and said let’s go downtown to the Civic Center where a part of the Slow Food Nation is on display. My timing could not be better. It is early (think East Coast folks) and we are on the streets of San Francisco around 7am on a Sunday. Nobody else is. You can really make U-turns at this time of day. We only see the set up at the civic center because they are still closed. We drive right up to Coit Tower and find parking spaces! Drive down through Little Italy and find another parking space for some of that mighty fine coffee and pastries to die for………
All of this in enough time to get the rental back, shower and cab to the opening of the Slow Food Nation close by at the Fort Mason Center. First year for the event, so it’s okay and fun, but not choice. Why worry? We walk back towards our hotel and run into Ghiradelli Square and have lunch at McCormick & Kuleto’s. The good karma is definitely working this day. Later we go on a hunt for oysters and find out that the famous Scomas does NOT allow any food at the bar after 3pm, pity, someone will take my money but just not them.
Nice dinner on the Embarcadero and home for more wine and tennis before our last day, the actual Labor Day. Pre-arranged via the internet, I had our ferry passes and tickets to the Sausalito Art Fair in hand and boarded the first special ferry out of SFO. What a harbor ride directly past some famous prison (they all give me hives) and get dropped off on a dock that has a direct entrance to the festival. Almost like the Academy Awards red carpet treatment.
Once again I am totally impressed with the art festival. Tons of artists and their finest on display along with enough food and beverage to make the day very grand, indeed. Back to Fisherman’s Wharf and we are even crazy enough to venture onto Pier 39 and find a safe harbor at a wine tasting bar. Heaven again.
Sad to say, but all we have time to do is get ready for our final meal of the trip, but what is not to like since we are in San Francisco. Tonight, to surprise ourselves we get a cab back down to North Beach and Columbus Ave and to a place I spotted when we had coffee and sweets the day before. The restaurant is one of the millions catering to the locals and prices to match. A good bottle of Chianti, an app and a copy of magical Italian dishes puts this trip just over the top.
Limo back to the airport at dark something and a full day of travel back to home. Am I happy that we crammed all of this into one weekend? Hope you can tell by the writing that the overall answer is a very positive YES. In the background please hear that melody that always seems to be playing in my head……..We may never pass this way again……….R U Syrious and Not Very Syrious 2 on Sept 3, 2008
September 3, 2008 No Comments
Being the 56th annual anything, even age, is something special and that is what you get at the Sausalito Are Festival. Just walking around viewing about 300 artists presenting over 20,000 works of art of every description is enough to make you crazy that you don’t have one artistic bone in your body. That’s what this huge event does for me.
But this is Sausalito and this is Labor Day. This is on the water, so cooler temp than up in wine county. Live music, generous wine, beer and other liquid stations plus a host of food vendors (all of them supporting their non-profit club or organization!) makes for a wonderful stay.
Oh, and the art work. May be the best juried art festival in the county. Go and see for yourself. They get about five or six times more applications for the number of booths they have, so that should tell you something.
Some of our favorites for you to Google would be Susan Seymour and her paper mosaic artwork. And Kathleen Lipinski, we think the #1 winner this year for oil painting. Dress up your digs with the likes of Judy Stone’s enamellist light fixture covers, wild and beautiful too. We’ve seen Andrew Myers sculptures before but they always impress. Rainer Lagemann cool torsos will sure to please many and our favorite of the whole show (and we won the silent auction bid for the piece he donated) was Gavin Worth. Brilliant wire art attached to a shiny block of wood. Clever and outstanding and another example as to why I personally hate artists. They are just too good and clever for anyone’s own good.
Travel tip. The absolute best way to see this great art festival is to stay in Sausalito, but if you can’t or rooms are not available, stay in SFO and take the special Blue & Gold Fleet Ferry from Pier 41 right into the festival. Could not be a better way to travel to and from plus NO danger of the black and whites pulling you over after a few glasses of wine mixed in with your art viewing…..RU Syrious and Not Often Syrious on Labor Day of 2008
September 1, 2008 No Comments
If you have never driven through wine county or it has been a long time, why not take a fast couple of days and see Napa and Sonoma? SFO up to Wine County and back in two days with an overnight stay may be fast and furious but it is still well worth it. Start early in the morning and take the Golden Gate out of San Francisco. The road is well marked and with any map you will end up on Hgh 29, the main road of Napa Valley. In less than an hour from your SFO hotel you will start to see the beautiful rolling hills full of grape vines and those awesome wineries. Most wineries do not open until 10am. You need to start with something on your tummy prior to a full day of wine tasting, so do it now that you are in wine county waiting for that first vineyard to open for your tastings.
Your first stop should be the city of Napa. Most people would remember that it was always worth forgetting but that fact is not true today. Downtown is cute, clean and very pedestrian. Stop by the tourist center for a good Napa Valley wine map. A little further east is the place where you can climb aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train and also the home to Copia; The American Center for Wine Food & the Arts (see www.copia.org.)
This tribute to this wine region is a great way to spend a little time from your first winery to many others further up the road. Copia is the home of Julia’s restaurant. This is a worthy the stop all by itself. Cooking and wine classes, demonstrations, art, wine tastings and a bunch of friendly volunteers make it a joyful hour or more.
Upon departing make sure to visit the market on the other side of the parking lot. Even if the outside farmer market shops are not open on the day you visit, the host of wine, cheese, food, knick-knack shops, all wine country related, will get you in the right frame of mind for this lovely getaway. Inside, if you’re wondering what happened to Michael Mondavi, stop by the Folio Enoteca shop (www.foliowinestudio.com) for a tasting and ask about the family. They own the shop and a nearby winery where they also serve other select winemakers in creating their wine at their facility to be shared in the tasting room.
You will be buying wine to drink along the way, so it is always a great idea to stop early like at this market and buy a disposable cooler, a bag of ice, disposable glassware, wine opener and tools to cut and make little treats from the food vendors at the markets. Half of the thrill of this trip is those little rest stops sipping on a cool (never warm!) glass of wine, fantastic bread soaked in locally made olive oil with some of the best cheese and sliced meat you’ll find anywhere.
Make sure you stop on the other side of the market at the Fatted Calf Charcuterie and the cheese shop and bakery next door. Lord knows that your car may break down and provisions would come in handy while waiting for help.
Head north and visit your choice of wineries as you travel through Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St Helena and finally Calistoga. This entire stretch of Napa Valley is magical. Take one of the roads that lead east over to the Silverado Trail, the only other north/south Napa Valley road. There are wineries and the famous Meadowood and Auberge du Soleil hotels worthy of some big bucks and worth every penny. Even detouring to The Silverado Trail, make sure you travel all of Rt 29 in the Napa Valley. This is what most of us come for, so don’t miss even a mile of this road. If you try this, even leaving early in the morning from SFO, on a weekend or holiday day you may not make it all the way to Calistoga! The traffic on 29 creeps along in both directions, so do yourself a favor and try a weekday. Save that weekend for downtown SFO!
Another tip is that the wineries generally charge retail prices to you to take with you. Avoid buying at the tasting room. So if you are visiting a non-boutique winery whose wares you have had back home, visit a big wine store the likes of a Trader Joe and make your purchases there. You can even ask the tasting employees where to find the better prices for their wines. Boutique wineries are, of course, another story.
No finding these wines anywhere but at the winery. These wines make this an ideal trip. Sign up for their members’ club. This guarantees that you’ll get the new releases directly to your door, if your state is on the approved list. If not, find a shipper and tell them that you wish to send your wine box full of dirty clothes back home or he will not be able to help you either. Wink-wink.
Please don’t forget that Napa and Sonoma are equally well known for their cheeses and olive oils, so do yourself a favor and sample these as well. There are more restaurants along the way then you would care to count. No chance in getting into the French Laundry without a res, but lunch at Bouchon, another Keller property located in Yountville, could make you care less about sampling the exquisite and pricy food of the French Laundry.
If you choose to stay in Calistoga for the night, an easy way to start heading back towards SFO the next morning is take the Petrified Forest Road. It is just north of Calistoga and depending upon your travel schedule just stay on 29 when it turns into Rt 128 and head further north to the town of Simi. There you can connect with Hgh 101, Sonoma main north/south road. Now it is time to start back south visiting heralded Healdsburg and Santa Rosa. If you can make it through all of the construction, drive over to Rt 12 which puts you into the better road for wineries, like Landmark Vineyards while heading back to the bay area.
Try to visit less than 4 wineries each day. Pick your favorites or the famous; like Heitz Cellar, which is still a free tasting! Or do your research and most definitely try those small wineries that you never see at home. Most tastings today charge a nominal fee which can be offset by making a bottle or merchandise purchase.
A smart move is to share a tasting with someone you’re with. The pours are about one ounce but they add up. Nobody wants to drive impaired, so taste and do not drink the wines of Napa and Sonoma until you are safely tucked in for the night. Get that cooler out, make a little midnight snack, open and share a bottle of wine and say “does it get any better than this?”…..R U Syrious on Aug 15, 2008
August 15, 2008 No Comments