Bastille Day Fête 2019

 

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July 14th is Bastille Day, the national holiday of France. It celebrates the storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789 and the birth of the modern French nation.

FIAF (french institute alliance francaise) is the “country’s leading French language and cultural center” founded nearly 120 years ago to promote French arts and teach French language and is now housed in the heart of Manhattan at 22 East 6oth Street. For over twenty years they have hosted New York City’s largest public celebration of France’s national holiday.

It was a three-block long party on East 60th Street with French themed food booths, French products and a stage with continuous live music throughout the afternoon.

Of course there were a couple of wine tastings as well, a Summer in Provence tasting and a Champagne, Cocktail and Jazz party which I attended. At the party they served five very drinkable Champagne and a specialty cocktail while being serenated by Avalon, a four-piece Jazz band.

 

Champagnes:

Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé

Pol Roger Reserve

Delamonte Brut

Besserat du Bellefon Bleu Brut

Michel Gonet Brut Reserve

 

Cocktail: “La Quatorze Juillet

Made with Routin vermouth blanc, Giffard rubarbe liquour, Giffard Menthe Pastille (a pepperment flavored liquour), a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters and topped with a slice of cucumber. It was very refreshing.

 

 

Westchester Magazine’s Grand Tasting 2019

 

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Westchester Magazine held its 9th annual wine and food festival on June 4-9. It was six days of foodie events that included a Burger & Beer Blast, a Food Truck Fest a tasting tour of Italy and winemaker dinners.

It’s signature event was the Grand Tasting Village which was held on Saturday afternoon, June 8th. The village was an outdoor tented area that saw 50+ local restaurants serving food with over 200 wines and spirits to wash them down with. There was also a “connoisseurs tent”, a separate area from general admission that featured additional high end wines and food.

The event was held at the Kensico Dam Plaza in the sleepy village of Valhalla with its two block long Main Street located in Westchester. It’s about an hour train ride north from New York City.

There was plenty of food to sample with many different ethnic cuisines represented and for a consumer event,  an impressive selection of domestic and international wines. It was a beautiful Spring afternoon for eating and drinking.

 

Some of the wines from the connoisseurs tent:

Laurent-Perrier: NV Cuvee Rosé, NV Ultra Brut, 2007 Brut Millesime

2018 Chateau d’Esclans Rosé Les Clans

2018 Chateau d’Esclans Rosé Garrus

2017 Castello della Sala Conte Vipera

2015 Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva

2015 Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico

2013 Pian delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino

2016 Tenuta Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore

2014 Bodegas Pintia Toro Tinto

2015 Macan Rioja Clasico

2014 Macan Rioja

2015 Bodegas Alion Ribera del Duero

2013 Joseph Drouhin Chambolle Musigny

2016 Joseph Drouhin Chorey Les Beaune

2016 Domaine de la Solitude Chateauneuf du Pape

2016 Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2014 Rombauer Diamond Selection Cabernet Sauvignon

 

 

Best of the West 2019

 

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Best of the West was one of two events held as part of the 12th annual Taste of the Upper West Side. The events were a fundraiser benefitting the upper west side community. Summer in the City was held on Friday evening and Best of the West on Saturday evening. Both events were held under the tents on Columbus Avenue between 76-77th streets in the upper west side of Manhattan, just across the street from the Museum of Natural History.

Both events had 80+ chefs from local restaurants serving unlimited food along with some drinkable wines, cocktails made with the ever present Tito’s vodka and Rums from Puerto Rico, beer and hard cider.

It was a big foodies event, a night of good eating, so much so I couldn’t get to all the food stations but had tried my best. Just wish I had brought a doggie bag.

 

Some of what I sampled:

The Milling Room: Mini Lobster Roll, featuring Maine lobster on Amy’s challah bun.

8th Hill Restaurant: Stuffed beet leaves with meat.

The Loeb Boathouse Central Park: Yuzi cured Hamachi, cucumbers and watermelon salad with ginger dressing.

Leyla: Fava bean bruschetta, fava bean spread, arugula, pickled carrots, dill over sourdough bread.

Lincoln Center Kitchen: Chilled spring pea soup, jumbo lump crab salad, smoked bacon.

Da Capo: Veal meatballs, pan seared San Marzano tomatoes, Sunday Sauce, basil.

Elea: Grilled octopus, fava puree with pepper & onion “Stifado”.

Shake Shack: Cheeseburger topped with Monterrey Jack cheese, double smoked bacon and fiery shack sauce.

Café 21: Mixed seafood Ceviche with miso ginger Asian slaw.

Red Farm: Chicken with truffle Shu Mai.

Tavern on the Green: Confit of Berkshire pork shoulder, pickled julienne vegetables, Sambai aioli.

Dizzy’s Club: Smoked baby back ribs with Carolina BBQ sauce, with jalapeno, peach slaw.

Salumeria Rosi: Pork meatballs, fresh tomato sauce, Parmigiano Reggiano.

Café Frida: Mole negro cooked for 8 hours, chicken breast, fried sweet plantains, white onions and sesame seeds.

The Leopard: Parmigiana of zucchini with smoked mozzarella, fresh tomato sauce and basil.

Café Luxembourg: Tuna tartare, avocado mousse, rice cakes.

Tessa: Chilled octopus salad, celery, pickled red onions, preserved lemon, smoked paprika oil, micro arugula.

The Smith: Toasted ricotta gnocchi with truffle cream.

The Mermaid Inn: Chilled ruby red shrimp ceviche, charred tomato, avocado, cilantro and old bay popcorn.

Crave Fishbar: Salmon sashimi tostada, avocado puree, Calabrian chili oil, grapefruit, crisp shallot, micro cilantro.

Calle Ocho: Ceviche Demorro, black grouper, pickled vegatables, calle ocho pique.

Alice’s Teacup: Mini pumpkin scones.

Treat House: Sea salt caramels, chocolate peanut butter, cookies and cream.

 

 

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Fest 2019

 

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Brew it. Taste it. Sip it. Pork it. That’s the motto of the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ festival which is a pork-centric, American multi-city tour that began in New York City on January 26th.

The event was held at The Tunnel, a former railroad freight terminal turned nightclub now an event space located at 220 12th avenue at West 28th Street in Manhattan. The festival promised “60+ beer, 40+ Bourbon and lots of BBQ”, though it was an all-American whiskey list that included whiskey other than Bourbon. Beer and hard cider were also served to help wash down all the bbq. Music was spun by DJ Flava.

There were two sessions that day and I attended the “whole hog picking” session in the evening.

 

Seminars:

Bulleit hosted by Adam Geissler

Bourbon, Rye, Barrel Strength, 10yr Bourbon.

Makers Mark hosted by Alexa Amendognine

Bourbon, Makers 46, Private Select.

 

Others I sampled:

Koval (Chicago) Millet, Rye, Bourbon, Four Grain.

Virginia Distillery (Virginia) Port Cask Highland Single Malt Whisky, Chardonnay Cask Single Malt Whisky.

Deadwood (South Carolina) Rye, Straight Bourbon.

Buffalo Trace Distillery (Kentucky) Straight Bourbon, Eagle Rare Straight Bourbon.  

Balcones (Texas) Single Malt, 100°, Brimstone, Baby Blue.

Elijah Craig (Kentucky) Small Batch Bourbon.

Four Roses (Kentucky) Straight Bourbon, Small Batch, Single Barrel.

George Dickel (Tennessee) Rye, Sour Mash.

 

 

 

Pigs & Pizza

 

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Food Network held its 11th annual New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) on October 11-14. It’s New York City’s largest food and wine festival with four days of 80 events and 500 chefs featuring a grand tasting, culinary demos, rooftop parties, late night parties, dinners, cocktails, spirits and classes. A foodies dream with something for everyone concerning food, drink and parties. This is the sister event to the South Beach food and wine fest held in February in Miami. 100% of NYCWFF’s net proceeds benefit the No Kid Hungry campaign and Food Bank for New York City. I was able to get the party rolling by attending some of the late night parties starting with Tacos & Tequila on Thursday night and Rock & Roll Sushi on Friday night. On Saturday I spent the day eating well. I attended:

 

 

The Ultimate Pizza Party presented by Slice and hosted by Jeff Mauro

Who doesn’t like pizza? At this fest several pizza establishments served their wood-fired creations with a wide range of toppings that in addition to the traditional red sauce with cheese included toppings with various meats and cold cuts, cheeses, vegetables, and even egg and with red sauce or no red sauce. Some of the rotating restaurants sending hot slices out of the wood-fired ovens included Motorino, Speedy Romeo, LBK and Sottocasa to name a few.

The event was held at Fornino’s Pier 6 restaurant located at Brooklyn Bridge Park which has a stellar view of lower Manhattan. To keep with the Italian theme I washed down those slices with shots of Fernet.

 

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Pigs & Pours presented by Whistle Pig and hosted by Robert Irvine

Later in the afternoon, I attended the pigs & pour event held at The Standard High Line Biergarten at the Standard Hotel located at 848 Washington Avenue in the Meatpacking district of lower Manhattan.

It was a walk around fest of local restaurants serving all things pork and pork centric that included everything from a whole roasted pig to bacon desserts with everything in between. To wash all that down was beer from Modello, cocktails made with WhistlePig whiskey and surprisingly, a nice selection of pinot noir from Oregon and California that included:

Cambria Julia’s Vineyard, La Crema Sonoma Coast, Siduri Willamette Valley, Willakenzie Estate Gisele and Kendall-Jackson VR.

 

 

Upcoming Wine Event: On November 10, Robert Parker Jr’s Wine Advocate Matter of Taste is hosting one of the best wine tastings of the year at the Conrad New York Hotel. At the Grand Tasting there will be an opportunity to try some of the finest wines of the world.

Promo code for $50 off the Grand Tasting: SVNYC18

 

 

Food Network Grand Tasting & Outdoor BBQ 2017

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The 10th annual Food Network New York Food & Wine Festival was held on October 12-15. It was four days of 100+ events including dinners, wine tastings, classes, seminars and late night parties with 100% of the net proceeds going to the Food Bank for New York and the No Kid Hungry campaign.

I began the festivities on Thursday evening by attending the Tacos & Tequila late-night party held at the boutique Hudson Hotel at 237 58th Street in Manhattan. It was hosted by taco aficionado Aaron Sanchez and featured many styles of tacos and much tequila infused cocktails.

On Sunday I attended a couple of events, I began at the Grand Tasting held at Pier 94 at 55th street and the West Side highway. The event space was a 130,000 sq. foot “culinary wonderland” of food, wine, spirits and culinary demonstrations by Food Network and Cooking Channel stars.

I have covered this event in the past and was somewhat disappointed this year. In past years there was a separate room that featured higher end wines that were not available on the main floor. That was not the case this year, they omitted that room which for me took away much of the excitement of the event. It became just another large consumer event with a lot of mid-level wines.

Afterwards I walked next door to the Coca-Cola Backyard BBQ event held at the top floor of an unused multilevel parking garage. The event was hosted by Andrew Zimmern, Chef and host to the Travel Channel show, Bizarre Foods, and by Pat LaFrieda of Pat LaFrieda Meats. The event had pit masters grilling all sorts of meat, and even squid which was washed down with cold beer, wine and cocktails. An excellent live band provided the music and as this years event was “family friendly”, there were plenty of kids enjoying the event as well.

 

Some of what I sampled at the Grand Tasting:

Tablas Creek Winery. Winery in Paso Robles California that specializes in Rhone varietals.

2012 Esprit de Tablas Blanc: Gold in color, honey notes on the nose, kiwi, melon on the fruit, nice balance.

2014 Esprit de Tablas Noir: black in color, black olives on the nose, chewy dark chocolate on the fruit, nice grip, good balance.

2014 Patelin de Tablas: Dark amber, closed nose of crushed herbs, tight with firm acids and tannin on the bitter red cherry finish.

Kendall-Jackson Winery

2015 Pinot Gris: Medium yellow with cantaloupe on the nose, dried herb on the finish with nice acidity.

2015 Grand Reserve Chardonnay : Medium gold, toasty nose, with big oak notes on the fruit.

2013 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Dark black, slightly closed nose of crushed dark berries, very concentrated with dusty, silky tannins and good balance.

2014 Ferrari-Carano Siena: Dark red to black, closed nose, juicy and concentrated, tree bark on the fruit, good, firm finish.

2014 Ferrari-Carano  Cabernet Sauvignon: Black, crushed ripe plums on the nose, thick and concentrated with some mint notes, balanced.

2014 Cambia Winery Pinot Noir “Benchbreak”: Medium amber, crushed blueberry and mint on the nose, tight, smoky finish.

 

 

Newport Mansions Wine & Food Fest 2017

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The 12th annual Newport Mansions Food & Wine Festival was held September 21-24th in Newport Rhode Island. Newport is about a three and a half hour drive northeast from New York City. The event was a fundraiser for the Preservation Society of Newport County, a cultural organization that protects and preserves Newport’s architectural heritage. Sponsors included Food & Wine magazine and Maserati.

The event was held at the Marble House, one of many gilded-age mansions in Newport at 596 Bellevue Avenue. It was built between 1888-1892 for Mr. and Mrs William K. Vanderbilt at a then cost of $11 million, $7 million of which was spent on marble. Subtle is not a word to describe the interior rooms of the mansion.

The fest was four days of wine dinners, seminars, chefs demos with grand tastings on Saturday and Sunday. I attended Sunday afternoon and the event actually took place on the back lawn of the mansion overlooking Narragansett Bay.

Local and regional Chefs provided food, a favorite of mine was a green gazpacho with jalapeno oil topped with lump crabmeat and any of the beef and pork that the Dole & Bailey meat purveyors were grilling. In the sweltering heat of the afternoon those grill masters manage to sling the meat while maintaining a borsht- belt chatter with the guests. In the authentic Chinese tea house on the lawn, it was “rosé all day” with wines from Chateau d’Esclans.

As far as consumer wine and food fests go, this is one of the nicer ones with a great venue, a good selection of wines and spirits and tasty food from the locals.

The afternoon started out hot and sweltering so I focused on rosé and sparkling wines and managed to try a few reds at the end of the day.

Some of what I sampled:

 

2016 Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel, Rock Angel, Garrus

2016 Notorious Pink Grenache

2016 Martin Ray Rosé of Pinot Noir

NV Gosset Brut Grande Reserve

2012 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino

2010 Pichon-Longueville

2014 Justin Isosceles

2014 Justin Justification