Appetizing Events: NYC’s Wine & Food Festival, Part I

Janelle's tickets and catalog to New York City's Wine and Food Festival

By Janelle Carter of CorkChronicles.com and Sanura Weathers of MyLifeRunsOnFood.com

This is the first part of a series of three reviews of the 2011 Food Network New York City Wine and Food Festival. Please visit part two and three for more.

The New City Wine and Food Festival (NYCWFF) held from September 29 to October 2, 2011 was a party weekend, and we–Sanura of MyLifeRunsOnFood.com and Janelle of CorkChronicles.com–covered it all from the Down Home with the Neely’s sex talk, er ummm… cooking demonstration to toasting champagne with Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos of Extra Virgin (Did you know they have a food blog, UndertheTuscanGun.com). In addition to laughing, drinking, and eating with a few of TV’s biggest food stars, we tasted some amazing dishes cooked up by New York City’s star chefs. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Wine & Food festival without the delicious wine and spirits to pair with the food and pastries. We broke our review into three parts because of various events. Part two and three are scheduled later this week.

NYWFF image collage of Chelsea After Dark, Meatpacking Uncorked and SWEET

On Thursday and Friday, we attended three fun events: Chelsea Market After Dark—an evening of tasting their shops’ specialities; Meatpacking Uncorked—an night of high fashion, wine and treats from food trucks; and SWEET—a dessert extravaganza where NYC’s best pastry chefs and bakeries competed to win the people’s choice for best dessert.

Grand Tastings held at Pier 57, NYC

Grand Tasting crowds and vendors

The Top 10 Eats and Drinks of the Grand Tastings

Our days were packed on Saturday and Sunday with the Grand Tastings, panel discussion, and more. We had too many great dishes and wines, so we’re counting down the top ten eats and drinks of the Grand Tastings:

The top 10 favorites of the Grand Tasting

10. New York Insiders with Master Sommelier Laura DePasquale
This panel discussion on wine trends in New York City was hosted by Master Sommelier Laura DePasquale, featuring Laura Manniec, MS (Corkbuzz Wine Studio), John Ragan (Wine Director, Eleven Madison Park), Sam Lipp (GM Union Square Café), Bernie Sun (Wine Director, Jean-Georges Group), Frank Prisinzano (Chef & Owner of Frank, Lil Frankie’s, Supper and Sauce) and Natalie Tapken (Wine Director, Lure and Burger & Barrel). Together, the panelist discuss wine, whiskey and restaurant trends. Overall, customers want good wine at inexpensive prices, for they’re more interested in the experience–or the story behind the label. Small wineries continue to captivate audiences more than the big label brands. When the conversation turned to liquors, Sam recommended Sazerac’s Rye Whiskey for it’s spicy and fiery notes. As for restaurant trends, customers want a holistic experience of a beer program with a wine and food pairing. Small portions at lower price points, such as tapas, are quite popular. And, people are responding well to tasting menus.

9. Palm Beer
Janelle: “I enjoyed a guided tasting of Palm Beer at Sunday’s Grand Tasting. As much as I love wine, I do not drink beer. However, I came to the tasting with an open mind and left a little more open to drinking beer, especially Palm Beer. It is an easy drinking beer that is a versatile pair with many different types of food from cheese pasta to spicy Indian food. I may not have been converted into a beer drinker, but if I had to drink it, Palm Beer isn’t a bad choice.”
Sanura: “Janelle and I were recently talking about our lack of knowledge about beer. It was a pleasure to taste Palm Beer. It had a very clean, subtle taste, in which pairing it with many dishes is easy. Since the tasting, I’ve looked for Palm Beer at restaurants and bars, but I haven’t seen it. I’m looking forward to seeing more of it.”

8. Murai Family of Sake
We both instantly fell in love with g Sake, a crisp sake with apple, pear and melon flavors. Janelle loved the unfiltered Nigori Genshu with a creamy texture. Sanura appreciated the organic Momo Kawa, a medium-bodied sake with tropical flavors.

7. Dream Downtown’s Guinness Braised Kobe Short Ribs

6. North Shore Restaurant’s Shrimp Bisque with Tarragon Cream and Cayenne Crouton

5. Roy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2006

4. Black Duck’s Hudson Valley Duck Confit on toasted brioche, Pomegranate Sparkling Apple Cider Glaze

3. Highpoint’s Lobster Scrambled Eggs

2. Green & Blacks’ Chocolate
We were treated to a fun guided tasting of organic, fair trade chocolate at Saturday’s Grand Tasting. Green & Black’s has a chocolate for everyone’s personal taste. Janelle isn’t a big chocolate eater, but she was convinced after trying a few flavors according to her personal taste. As we tasted flavors such as Maya Gold, Cherry, and Peanuts & Sea Salt, our minds was racing with wine pairing ideas. We look forward to testing our theories.

1. Spice Market’s Shaved Tuna
A simple and refreshing dish of complex flavors such as tapioca, lemongrass, coconut milk, chilies and Asian pear.

Honorable Mentions: Mantinia Nasiakos 2010 Dry White Wine, Cookies and Corks, POM Pomegranate Sorbet and Adult Chocolate Milk Liquor

We partied like food stars at Food Network’s NYC Wine & Food Festival. Were you able to attend? Let us know about your experience in the comment section below.

Part II and Part III are scheduled for later this week. We can’t wait to see you there next year!

Roast pig head at NYCWFF's Grand Tasting


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Chelsea Market, NYC at night