Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival 2019

 

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The 14th annual 2019 Newport Mansions Food & Wine Festival was held on September 19-22 in Newport, Rhode Island.

The event was hosted by the Preservation Society of Newport county and supports historic preservation in Newport. All the proceeds from the festival go to preservation, protection and presentation of the historic homes.

It was three days of wine dinners, seminars, a Jazz brunch, an after party and a Grand Tasting. The Grand Tastings were held on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. I attended on Sunday afternoon. The events were held at the various historic homes in the area that included The Elms, Rosecliff, The Breakers and Marble House. The Grand Tastings were held at the Marble House.

These “summer cottages” were built for the wealthy industrialists of the Gilded Age in the late 19th to early 20th centuries and no expense was spared. It became sort of “arms race” among the wealthy tycoons to see who would build the more opulent mansion.  The Marble House where the Grand Tasting was held was built between 1888-1892 for William Vanderbilt as a gift for his wife’s 39th birthday at an estimated cost at the time of $11 million. To say no expense was spared would be an understatement.

The Grand Tastings were held in the backyard of the Marble House. Throughout the afternoon there were Chef demonstrations at the Culinary Stage, tasting stations with food from various local restaurants and tables full of wine and spirits scattered under the tents and on the cliffs overlooking Narraganset Bay. A notable feature in the backyard that was used as a seminar space this day was the Chinese Tea House which was modelled on a 12th century Song Dynasty temple.

The crew from Dole & Bailey, a purveyor of fine meat and fish, always have an impressive display of a massive grill with cooks mingling with the rising smoke to grill up various meats and fish for us to sample.

There were sprits from Tito’s vodka, Mount Gay rum, Brockman’s gin, Knob Creek whiskey, Don Julio tequila, hard cider from Angry Orchard and over 100 international wines. This is one of the better consumer festivals, held at a beautiful venue with some nice nibbles and lots of good wine and spirits to wash them down with. I did attend one seminar.

 

Seminar: Elegance and Balance; the style of Palmer & Co. Champagne

NV Brut: Steel aged, medium gold, yeasty, green apple nose, crisp and tart with a lemony finish.

NV Blanc de Blanc: Medium gold, subdued nose of brioche, more pronounced yeast and green apple notes than the Brut with  a stone, minerally finish.

NV Rosé: Medium copper, light strawberry on the nose, medium body with mushroom notes on the finish.

 

Some of what I sampled:

2018 Whispering Angle Rosé

2018 Cuvaison Sauvignon Blanc

2017 Chapellet Chardonnay Calesa Vineyard

2017 Cuvaison Chardonnay Napa Valley

2017 Scarpetta Friulano

2014 Seghesio Vineyards Sangiovese

2015 Seghesio Vineyards Zinfandel Home Ranch

2016 Sojourn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville

2016 Sojourn Vineyards Pinot Noir Gaps Crown

2016 Landmark Overlook Pinot Noir

2015 Smoking Gun Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2017 Olivier Leflaive Pugliny Montrachet

2016 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2015 Ferraro-Carano Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

2015 Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva

2011 La Macioche Brunello de Montalcino

2011 Chateau Musar Red Blend

 

 

 

Scarchella Music Festival

 

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On Saturday, September 14th the Scarsdale Business Alliance hosted the first annual Scarchella music festival which supports local charities to help fund community programs.

The festival was held in the town of Scarsdale in Westchester county which is just under an hour north of New York City via the Metro North rail line and was located in the Scarsdale village center which is conveniently located just off the train station. It’s also where Zachys wine shop is located.

It was an afternoon of live music from various local bands, food trucks for the hungry and more importantly, the Zachys wine shop sponsored Grand Tasting Wine Village.

The wine shop has a good reputation for throwing good wine tastings so I had high hopes for the event. It did not disappoint and was well worth the fee that was charged for the quality of the wines that were offered this afternoon. There were a couple of quirks under the tent this afternoon. One was that none of the vendors pouring provided water to rinse out a wine glass, and the other was that you weren’t allowed (by State law apparently) to use your own wine glass. I always bring a proper wine glass with me when I go to consumer events because I know that sometimes the “glassware” consists of plastic wine glasses as it was in this case. Who knew?

In any case there were some nice wines poured this afternoon while being serenated with live music.

 

As usual I like to start the day with some Champagne.

2009 Dom Perignon Blanc de Blanc

2008 Louis Roederer Cristal

NV Deutz Classic Brut, Brut Rosé

Over 100 wines poured, some highlights:

2016 Dominus Estate Napanook: Decanted. Dark red, dried leaf on the nose, concentrated dark fruit, balanced, long finish.

2015 Spring Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon: Decanted. Dark red to black, crushed red berry and mint on the nose, concentrated with some oak on the firm finish.

2016 Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon: Decanted. Cloudy dark red, crushed black berry on the nose, concentrated, dark dusty, firm fruit.

2016 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia: Medium purple, green herbs and black olives on the nose, tight, smoky fruit and a peppery finish that drops a bit at the end.

2016 Castellare di Castellina Chianti Classico Riserva: Medium amber, tar nose, silky red fruit, dusty, firm finish.

2016 Castellare di Castellina Poggia Ai Merli: Dark red with a purple rim, cooked fruit on the nose, thick and dusty.

2015 I Greppi Greppicaia Bolgheri Superiore: Medium red, sweet cherry on the nose, dusty black cherry on the firm finish.

2015 Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione: Light red, sweet cherry nose with sweet red fruit on the moderate finish.

2014 Ridolfi Brunello di Montalcino: Light amber, sweet tar on the nose, silky sweet fruit on the firm and balanced finish.

2013 Poggio Antica Brunello di Montalcino: Light amber, closed nose of tar, tight with big tannins.

2016 Fattoria Le Pupille Saffedi: Dark red, sweet tar and leather on the nose, starts juicy ending tight and tannic.

2016 Louis Jadot Gevrey Chambetin Poissenots: Medium red, toast and tree bark on the nose, foral,silky red fruit with great balance.

2008 Duhart Milon Rothschild: Medium red, amber rim, sweet perfume, minty black fruit, tight and crisp with dried leaf notes on the finish.

2016 Duhart Milon Rothschild: Medium purple, pretty perfume of tree bark and dark fruit, silky red licorice fruit with crushed nuts on the firm but balanced finish.

2016 Haut Bailly: Medium purple, dusty dried leaf on the nose, tight and concentrated, firm finish.

2010 Marquis de Murrieta Ygay Gran Reserva Limited Edition: Medium red, sweet red tar on the nose, red fruit with a firm, balanced finish.

 

 

Pig Island 2019

 

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The 10th annual Pig Island BBQ fest was held on September 7th.

The event was held on the waterfront at Erie Basin Park in Red Hook Brooklyn. The neighborhood of Red  Hook is an old industrial waterfront area that in the 1990’s Life magazine called “one of the worst neighborhoods in the United States”. That has changed as the neighborhood has been going to a resurgence. Box stores such as IKEA and Fairway have made their way into the neighborhood and many of the warehouses have been converted to galleries, artists lofts, breweries and distilleries.

The event was produced by the Food Karma Project helmed by Jimmy Carbone who along with Josh Ozersky conceived Meatopia back in 2010. That wanted a farm to table event using pigs from small farmers.

With the cancellation of the Big Apple BBQ block party this year, this event was the premier bbq event of the year in New York and “the last great bbq event of the Summer”.

I attended after a two year hiatus. The park is on the waterway with expansive views of the harbor most of the way around. It was a big outdoor bbq with people and families spreading blankets on the grass while strolling from vendor to vendor.

Since my last visit more spirit vendors were in attendance this time around. Some of the interesting ones was Irish Whiskey from Kilbeggan and Tyrconnell which had a wide range of whiskey styles that I didn’t think Irish whiskey had. There were some nice single malts from Laphroaig, Auchentoshan and Bowmore, a couple of nice rye from Ragtime Rye and Knob Creek was on hand to make a smoked to order Old Fashioned.

When general admission was let in some of the food lines grew long, it seems that there’s a hierarchy of bbq vendors and some of the lines were longer than others.

 

BBQ to be sampled: 

Puerco a lo Cubano Vietnamese Larb
The Foxy Burger Mixiotes de Puerco
Apple Cider Brined Hog Pulled Pork Tacos
Puerco Ahumado Smoked Chorizo
Half Pig Porcetta BBQ Pigtail
Pulled Pork Bacon Cups Roasted Pernil

 

 

International Wine Fest At The Golden Nugget 2019

 

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On August 24th I attended the 8th annual International WineFest held at the Golden Nugget hotel and casino.

The Golden Nugget casino along with Harrah’s and the Borgata are in the Marina district of Atlantic City in New Jersey. That’s about a couple of miles from the famous boardwalk where the bulk of the casinos are located.

Originally, seven years ago the festival began as the Cal-Ital wine festival. It had paired Italian along wines with California wineries of Italian heritage. Some of those included Sbragia, Mondavi, Sebastiani, Seghesio, Peroncelli and Louis Martini to name a few. Italian immigrants had brought over their wine culture and wine making skills to the early winemaking industry in California. It was an exciting concept and they poured some nice juice.

Unfortunately I believe the organizers of the event found that concept too limiting for a large wine event so they segued into an international festival theme which gave them more product to bring into the fest.

The Wine Fest was a two day event with the grand tasting on Saturday evening which I attended. Over 100 wines from the wine producing countries of the United States, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia were poured.

While there were no trophy wines present, it was a good opportunity for a neophyte wine drinker to experience a broad range of international wines and styles. The room was never overcrowded and there was never a long wait for a pour of wine.

Along with live music, a buffet and their signature attractive wine ambassadors pouring, it made for a fun evening of drinking wine before you got back to the business of gambling.

 

I was in a Champagne drinking mood that evening so my go to drink for the night was Champagne.

Paul Goerg: Brut reserve, blanc de blanc , brut  .

Pol Couronne’s: Brut cuvee, blanc de blanc, brut rosé.

 

Some others I sampled:

Robert Mondavi: Bourbon barrel aged Cabernet Sauvignon, barrel aged Chardonnay, rum barrel aged Merlot.

Rodney Strong: Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Vallery estate Pinot Noir, Sonoma Merlot.

Francis Coppola: Sofia Rosé, Diamond Collection Oregon Pinot Noir.

Heavy Weight: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Knockout Red.

Smoke Tree: Rosé, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir.

Dancing Crow: Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel.

19 Crimes: Hard Chardonnay, Shiraz, The Warden, Red Blend.

Oyster Bay: Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Barossa Valley GSM.

Perrin: Cote du Rhone Rosé, Cote du Rhone Villages Rouge, Vinsobre Les Cornuds.

Louis Jadot: Macon Villages Blanc, Rosé, Beaujolais Villages.

Cavaliere D’Oro: Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva.

Laurennz V: Friendly Gruner Veltlener, Charming Gruner.

Quinta Do Crasto: Douro White, Douro Red.

Montes: Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

 

New York Cocktail Expo 2019

 

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On August 18th I attended the 3rd annual New York Cocktail Expo. The Expo which began in Rockville Center, Long Island in 2016 has grown to be New York’s premier cocktail festival, “the most attended cocktail event in New York”.

The event was held at the Melrose Ballroom located at 36-08 33rd Street in Long Island City, Queens, a short walk from the “N” train. It’s cavernous (and dark) music venue space where on this day all three floors were full of spirits and cocktails.

The 3rd floor held the “Rum Room” which was decorated in tiki style with many wearing an Hawaiian shirt. The floor was full of rum with many of the usual favorites such as Diplomatico, Appleton Rum, Plantation Rum and The Real McCoy and some off the radar brands such as Soggy Dollar, Stroh and Transcontinental Rum Line to name a few. The two other floors in the rest of the venue were packed with various whiskey, gin, vodka, tequila, cachaça, specialty liquor, beer, cider, and quite a few locally made apple brandy.

There was a cocktail competition and a Tiki Throwdown going on with Mixologists from local restaurants and bars participating so every table had a particular specialty cocktail to sample as well as whatever spirit was being poured. Consumers had the chance to vote on their favorite.

The winner of the Best Cocktail of the Year went to Bartender Leah Moss of Tooker Alley in Brooklyn using spirits from Balcones Distillery.

The winner of the Tiki Throwdown was Paradise Lounge in Ridgewood, Queens using Plantation Rum.

The event last year had one long session and was quite crowded, this year they decided to break the event into two sessions which made for a more manageable crowd size, I attended the evening session.

 

 

 

Beer Without Beards

 

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On Saturday afternoon of August 10th I attended the second annual Beer without Beards “stumbling through the stubble of craft beer” festival.

The event which was promoted by Hop Culture is the country’s largest celebration of female led craft breweries.

It’s actually a week of beer dinners and a bottle share event ending with the festival which had 24 breweries owned by women or having women brewers.

The event was  held at The Well at 272 Meserole Street in Bushwick Brooklyn. It’s a bar and performance space in the former Hittleman Brewery which was erected in 1867 in an area that was once Brooklyn’s Brewers Row. At one time there were 17 breweries in 9 blocks! The bar pays homage to that past by serving over 200 different beer.

The neighborhood is ground zero for Millennial hipsters so it’s not surprising that many of the people enjoying the festival were young and tattooed.

The event was held in the outdoor “graffiti garden” where you had the opportunity to sample the beer and chat with many of the women owners and brewers.

 

Breweries pouring:

Austin Street Backward Flag
Drake’s Fort Point
Garrison City Harlem Brewing Co.
King’s Court LIC Beer Project
Mikkeller NYC Moustache Brewing
Resident Culture Rhinegeist
Stone Brewing Superstition
Tales The Rare Barrel
Troegs Twin Elepnant 
Three Weavers

Two Roads

 

 

Secret Summer Cocktail Party 2019

 

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On Sunday afternoon August 4th, I attended the fifth annual Secret Summer cocktail festival. It was promoted as “the country’s only farm to bar festival dedicated to sustainable cocktails” using locally sourced ingredients. The event was produced by High-Life Productions and RAPT Hospitality.

The event was held again for the fifth year at The Foundry, an event space located at 42-38 9th Street in the the industrial waterfront area of Long Island City, a stones throw away from the Queensborough (Ed Koch) Bridge. The Foundry is a restored 19th century foundry, literally a brick fortress with an outdoor courtyard and several rooms.

Each of the rooms (or experiences as they called it) was dedicated to a particular sponsored spirit with mixologists on hand to make several signature cocktails with that spirit. New this year was a travelling trailer from Suntory whiskey which housed a tasting room with a rooftop sitting area.

Spirits used in the many cocktails that were available to sip on included: Suntory Whiskey Toki, Haiku gin, Roku gin, Huku vodka, Westward whiskey, Uncle Nearest whiskey, Aldez tequila, Gem & Bolt mezcal, Aperol, Mr Black coffee liquor, Chinolo passion fruit liquor, Toma Bloody Mary and Blue Point beer.

One of the non alcoholic options available were coffee drinks from Elmhurst Coffee Bar made with various non-cow milk products such as oat milk, walnut milk and hemp milk.

I would say that this is one of the best cocktail parties of the year in the city. You were able to spend the afternoon wandering around the many rooms and courtyard sampling cocktails while being entertained by immersive performances, aerialists, local artists, live music and DJ’s.

It was a typically hot and humid August afternoon so my go-to drink for the day was the classic gin & tonic made with Roku gin and London Essence tonic.