Newport Mansions Wine & Food Fest 2018

 

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The Newport Mansions Food & Wine Festival was held on September 20-23 in Newport, Rhode Island which is a three-hour drive north of New York City. It was four days of wine dinners, seminars and a grand tasting. The grand tasting was held on Saturday and Sunday afternoon and featured cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs as well as international wines and food from local restaurants. I attended on Sunday afternoon.

The tasting was held at the Marble House located at 596 Bellevue Avenue, one of the many gilded-age mansions in Rhode Island overlooking Narragansett Bay that were built (for an obscene amount of money) for some of the early twentieth century robber barons. More specifically, the tasting was held in the backyard of the mansion.

The event raised money for the Preservation Society of Newport county which maintains and preserves the Marble House and other mansions which are open to the public.

As far as consumer food and wine events go, this festival is one of the best, with good food, an excellent selection of very drinkable wines and a killer view from the backyard.

I was happy to spend the afternoon noshing on some of the many cheeses available, on any paté from Les Trois Petits Cochons, on any cut of beef that the guys and gals from Dole & Bailey Grill manning the grills out back were serving and an amazingly good dish of seared scallop on a bed of pureed spinach with crispy bacon that was from a restaurant I didn’t write down. Of course, there was wine to wash that all down with.

 

Some of what I sampled:

2014 Miraval Rosé

2017 Chateau D’Esclans The Palm Rosé

2017 Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé

2017 Simi Winery Rosé

 

2017 Duckhorn Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley

2017 Qupé Marsanne

2014 Qupé Roussanne

2017 QTR Vineyards Chenin Blanc

2013 Anselmi Capitel Foscarino Soave

2016 Anselmi San Vicenzo Soave

 

2014 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot Napa Valley

2015 The Prisoner Wine Co. Thorn Merlot

2015 Justin Vineyards Justification

2015 Justin Vineyards Isoscelles

2014 Smoking Gun Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

2014 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville

2014 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Howell Mt.

2011 QTR Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mt.

2013 QTR Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mt.

2014 QTR Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2016 Purple Hand Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyard

2016 Purple Hand Pinot Noir Kropf Vineyard

2014 Sbragia Vineyards Gino’s Zinfandel

2009 QTR Vineyards Dark Matter Zinfandel

2013 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino

 

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Mexico In A Bottle

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Mexico In A Bottle is a website founded in 2014 by Susan Coss and Max Garrone that celebrates “food, art, mezcal, life”. They sponsor North America’s biggest agave spirit tasting, an annual tasting and celebration of more than 500 years of Mezcal history and culture. In 2018 the tour has stopped and will stop in Washington DC, San Diego, Chicago and San Francisco and on September 16th, Mexican Independence Day, the tour stopped in New York City.

The event took place at the House of Yes, a nightclub, performing arts space and event venue located at 2 Wychoff Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Over 50 brands were represented and considering that Mezcal, unlike Tequila which can be made with only with blue agave, Mezcal can be made from up to 30 varieties of agave which means that many producers make a wide range of Mezcal from different varietals as well as from different villages. There were a staggering quantity of spirits at this event. .

I recognized a handful of producers but for the most part many of the producers were “mom and pop” operations that still make Mezcal in the traditional way and most of the labels were unknown to me. Most had the signature smokiness that Mezcal are known for but many had more nuanced flavors of grass, herbs, butter, stone fruit. I would have loved to pick two or three producers and go through their line to taste the differences in the types of agave used. Personally, unlike rum, I like my Mezcal/Tequila joven, clear instead of aged. Interesting food item at the event were crispy Chapulin (aka grasshopper).

Some of what I sampled:

Erstwhile Espadin, Cuishe, Espadin Limited Edition

Los Amantes Joven, Reposado

Wahaka Ensamble, Reposado con Gusano

Amaras Espadin, Cupreata

5 Sentidos Papalomentl, Sierra Negra

Mezcal Union El Viejo

Nuestra Soleda Del Rio, 3 Mezquitos

Los Siete Misterios Coyote, Barril

Mezcal Vago Tobala, Espadin

Nobile Coyote Jabali, Coyote

Mezcal Nacional Tobala, Ciral

Los Nahuales Espadin

Mezcal De Leyenda San Luis Potosi

Amormata Masparillo de La Cruz

Mezcal Los Javis Espadin

Ancho Reyes Chile Ancho Liqueur, Chile Poblano Liqueur

Blue Nectar Tequila Silver

 

USA Today Food & Wine Experience

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USA Today newspaper launched their 2018 Food & Wine Experience on June 16th in Cincinnati, Ohio. The 12 city tour will end on December 1st in Los Angeles, California and on Saturday September 8th, the tour arrived in New York City.

It’s an American culinary tour “showcasing the best food, wine, beer and spirits from local and national Chefs and Mixologists”. At the New York City event, Martha Steward was the featured celebrity Chef.

The festival was held at the Lefrak Center at lakeside in southeastern tip of Prospect Park in Brooklyn. This venue is an ice and roller skating ring when not used for events.

There were several themed areas, you entered through a kitchen mock-up, passing the beer tent and then passing “The Cellar” which hosted the seminars and the meet and greet with Martha Steward. This took you to  the main pavilion which is the skating ring and the pavilion was ringed with restaurants serving samples of sweet and savory dishes with an island in the middle serving wines and spirits. A two-piece string duo and a strolling saxophone player provided the musical entertainment with cooking demonstrations in the main pavilion. As is the case with many of these consumer events when general admission was let in, the lines at many of the popular food and drink stations got a bit too long for my taste but I was still able to sample several food and drink. The expected rains didn’t matterialize and everyone was able to enjoy the event.

 

Seminar: Unsung grape varietals of the world led by Sommelier A.J. Ojeda-Pons

NV Marques de Plata Cava Brut (Penedes): Light yellow with a greenish tint, sweet, funky nose, aged green apple on the finish.

2016 Jean Boisselier Bourgogne Aligote (Burgundy): Light yellow with a greenish tint, ripe honeydew on the nose, moderate, lemony, peachy fruit with moderate to low acids.

2016 Hayton Vineyards Viognier (Calif.): Light gold, canned peaches on the nose, melon and lime notes on the fruit, good acidity.

2012 Bambera Tempranillo (Valdepenas): Opaque dark red, tar, leather and black cherry on the nose, tight and lean with crisp acidity on the red leather and black pepper finish.

 

Some of what I sampled:

2016 Racine Cote de Provence Rosè

2016 Marquis de Bacalan Sauvignon Blanc

2014 Caducseus White Blend

2015 Franciscan Chardonnay

2017 Marchese Antinori “Bramito” Chardonnay

2015 Erath Winery “Resplendent” Pinot Noir

2015 Kenwood Vineyards “6 Ridges” Pinot Noir

2015 Arrowood Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

2016 Girard Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

2015 Chateau Ste Michelle “Indian Wells” Merlot

2016 Michael David “6 Sense” Syrah

2015 El Portal Red Blend

2016 Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon

Ommegang “Rosetta” Cherry Beer

Astral Tequila

 

 

Wine Fest At The Golden Nugget 2018

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On August 25th I attended the 7th annual International Wine Festival hosted by the Golden Nugget hotel and casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Golden Nugget, located at 600 Huron Avenue, is one of a handful of casinos in the Marina district of Atlantic City which is about three miles from the famous boardwalk.

It was a truly international wine event featuring over 100 wines from the United States, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, New Zealand, Germany and even some sparkling wines from England. A live band provided musical entertainment and there was a nice buffet to go with all those wines.

Unlike many consumer wine tastings, the room never became overcrowded and I didn’t have to wait very long to get a sample of wine or to speak with one of the wine representatives that were on hand to answer questions.

Some of what I sampled:

Sparkling

2004 Paul Goerig Blanc de Blanc

NV Paul Goerig Rosé

NV Collet Brut Rosé

NV Coppola Sofia Brut Rosé

Rosé

2017 Mirabeau Classic Rosé

2017 Mirabeau Etoile Rosé

2017 Coppola Sofia Rosé

White

2015 Etude Chardonnay Grace Benoist Ranch

2015 Neyers Chardonnay

2017 Donati Family Chardonnay Unoaked

2014 Andre Brunel Chateauneuf du Pape White

2015 Macon Lugny Les Charmes

Red

2016 Etude Pinot Noir Lyric

2015 Etude Pinot Noir Carneros

2014 Trione Winery Pinot Noir Russian River

2015 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir

2014 Neyers Zinfandel

2013 Trione Winery Henrey’s Blend

2014 Donati Family Claret

2012 Castello di Albola Chianti Classico Riserva

2011 Castello di Albola Chianti Classico Il Solatio

2014 Ruffino Reserva Ducale Tan Label

2010 Arcanum Chianti Classico Reserva

2011 Arcanum Il Fauno

2014 Masi Campofiorin Roso

2012 Masi Costasera Amarone

2014 Andre Brunel Chateauneuf du Pape Les Cailloux Red

 

 

New York Cocktail Expo

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This past Sunday August 19th, I attended the New York Cocktail Expo. This event hasn’t been around very long since the expo first held in April 2016 in Rockville Center, Long Island.

This event showcased beverage trends with 50+ distilleries and Queens (one of the five boroughs of New York City) restaurants and bars serving spirits and cocktails. There was also a “best cocktail” competition.

The event was held at the Melrose Ballroom at 36-08 33rd Street in Astoria, Queens, a couple of blocks from the subway station.

Fortunately for me, I arrived a little early and was able to secure a spot near the front of the line because soon the line snaked around the block. After the mandatory bag check and weapons pat-down, we were let in to the cavernous event space.

There were three floors of spirits and mixed drinks. The main floor was crammed with tables serving the non rum spirits of whiskey, gin, vodka, tequila and even grappa. At each booth you could have sampled a mixed drink made by one of the local bartenders or have the spirit as is. Most of the mixed drinks were a little too fruity for my taste so I sampled most spirits neat. The second floor was the “tiki room” with rum and rum based cocktails while on the third floor the rooftop patio.

The venue was jam packed and people were having a good time.

 

 

Secret Summer Cocktail Party 2018

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On Sunday, August 12th I attended the 4th annual Secret Summer cocktail festival. It’s the country’s only “farm to bar” cocktail festival where this years spirit companies consisting of Suntory Whisky, Brugal Rum, Brockman’s Gin, Hanger 1 Vodka and Blue Point Brewery concocted cocktails using locally grown ingredients.

The event was held at the The Foundry, a restored 19th century foundry located at 42-38 9th Street in Long Island City in the shadow of the Queensborough bridge .

Party goers were able to stroll the open air courtyard plus any of the five rooms in the building and stop at one of the cocktail stations for a drink. A DJ played in the main room while strolling musicians played in the courtyard. Food trucks were on hand to feed hungry patrons.

The weather forecast was not optimal as rain was forecast for the weekend but on this Sunday, the rain clouds stayed away and it was sunny, hot and humid on this August afternoon.

 

Some cocktails I sampled:

Tasogore Toki

Toki whiskey, sparkling sake, Bernard Ranches’ sustainably grown citrus, green tea & koppert cress pequino syrup.

Lavender Lemonade

Hanger 1 vodka, “grow nyc” lavender reduction, Bernard Ranches sustainable citrus lemonade, sparkling water, market lavender stalks.

Spicy Mai Tai

Brugal extra dry rum, market lime, homemade almond Orgeat reduction, Shaquanda hot sauce, Andrew’s rooftop honey, brugal 1888 float.

Perfect Serve

Brockman’s gin, Fentman’s tonic, blueberries, grapefruit peel.

Plum Gose-arita

Chipotle tequila, Umeshu plum wine, lemon, plum preserves, salt, blue point beach plum gose.

 

Musical lineup:

DJ Kieren Taylor

Hungry March Band

Sitar & Tabla

Moon Hooch

Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Drums

 

 

Chefs & Champagne 2018

 

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On Saturday July 28th I attended the 28th annual James Beard Foundation’s Chef & Champagne gala. It’s a huge foodie fest with 35+ Chef tastings washed down with free-flowing wines from Wölffer Estate Vineyards, beer from Heineken and cocktails with Tito’s vodka. This years Champagne sponsor was Boizel which poured their Brut Reserve. At the event they held a silent auction and announced the recipient of the 2018 Christian Wölffer scholarship. The guest host this year was Padma Lakshmi.

The gala is part of JBF’s year-long “rise” celebration; “a salute to the countless ways our food community rises to meet the world’s challenges and make it more delicious, diverse and sustainable place for all”. The foundation was named after cookbook author, teacher and champion of American cuisine, James Beard. They maintain the James Beard House at 167 West 12th Street in Greenwich Village, Manhattan.

The festivities, as usual, were held on the grounds of the Wölffer Estate Vineyards on the South Fork of Long Island just east of the town of Bridgehampton at 183 Sagg Road in Sagaponack.

It was a typically hot and steamy July evening but fortunately the rains stayed away.

Some of what I sampled:

 

Gregory Goudet  SAGE RESTAURANT GROUP: Grilled Oregon Albacore with lemongrass, galangal, chile and lime. (My favorite)

Audrey Villages  2 SPRING: Shrimp Po’Boy with lemon aioli and lettuce cup.

Barbara Sibley  LA PALAPA: Tacos de Barbacoa, guajillo braised brisket tacos.

Alex Baker  YVE’S: Mussels Provencal with cherry tomatoes, garlic croutons and parsley.

Angie Rito, Scott Tacinelli  DON ANGIE: Vitello Tonnato.

Roxanne Spruance  KINGSLEY: Grilled Angus Beef short ribs with pecan Barbacoa sauce, heirloom lettuce, buttermilk and goat cheese.

Janice Booth, Jeff Mcinnis  ROOT & BONE: Wood grilled oysters with greenneck butter and charred bread.

Ayesha Nurdjaja  SHUKA: Whipped Feta with watermelon and pistachio Dukkah.

Patti Jackson  DELAWARE & HUDSON: Duck Bratwurst with spiced peaches, mustard, chowchow and turnip sauerkraut on pretzel roll.

Tom Fraker  MELISSA’S PRODUCE: Tropical crab crostini with mango jelly.

Emma Bengtsson  AQUAVIT: Grilled Isterband sausage sliders.

Stephan Bogardus  NORTH FORK TABLE & INN: Corn soup with truffles.

Hillary Sterling  VIC’S: Marinated Albacore tuna with harissa, black olives, hazelnuts and mint.

Matthew Woolf  RAINBOW ROOM & BAR 65: Olive oil poached King salmon with charred leek emulsion, jersey corn puree, black garlic and corn crackling.

Jessica Craig  L’ARTUSI: Blueberry tartlette with lemon thyme and almonds.