New York Wine and Food Festival

New York Wine and Food Festival

This past Saturday I was lucky enough to attend a Grand Tasting Event at the New York Wine & Food Festival. If you haven’t heard much about this festival in previous years, it’s because this was the first year of the festival in New York. Previously it was in Miami. All the net proceeds go towards helping Food Bank NYC and the Share Our Strength foundation. It’s good fun for a good cause. And I would have written about this earlier as a good blogger should, but I caught a disease. That disease is called Fantasy Basketball. You might not have known about this but it sucks away your free time and totally consumes you. I know this is not a fake illness because Jonathan told me it’s true. He’s a doctor and he’s staying at a Holiday Inn Express right now. So I’ll brave the symptoms of Fantasy basketball (sweaty palms, extreme anxiousness towards the start of the NBA season), and tell you about all the New York Wine & Food Festival.

There’s nothing I like more, than walking into a food tent at 11 in the morning and see a Makers Mark counter with free drinks. Really, Saturday mornings are no longer for cartoons, they’re for getting crunked. I didn’t drink any though because my stomach was not feeling so hot that morning. The best part were these wine glasses that you got as you walked into the event. They first gave you a lanyard to put around your neck, and it comes specially equipped with a wine glass holder. So basically half the people there (me included) walked around with a wine glass dangling from their neck. Imagine the most dangerous bib of all time. Some dude walked into someone else and bloop, his wine glass shattered. Most people seemed ok with their wine glasses though and there was plenty of wine to be had.

Many chefs were on hand to oversee their food samples. Marc Murphy from Landmarc, Dave Martin of Top chef fame, Cesare Casella who used to head up Maremma, and Alex UreƱa from Pamplona were all on hand. Also saw a few other chefs like Ben Pollinger and Anita Lo. And the only reason I knew what they looked like was because their names are on their chefs’ jackets. Pretty useful, those name tags…

Almost every sample at the Grand Tasting was enjoyable. Hill County offered a mini BBQ sandwich that stood out because it was sizeable compared to the other samples offered. Sample size really doesn’t matter that much in an event like this because you could go back for seconds and thirds. It was still refreshing to see a tasty offering that was a good size. The orecchiette from Landmarc was also good; al dente pasta with a light cheese sauce. One dish that really appealed to me was langostine har gau with Peking duck and duck broth. That was from Jonathan Wright from The Setai in South Beach.

It was really nice to see a big event attended by so many people. I wonder how much money get raised for the food bank and other organizations that benefit from events like these. You hear about them often, about these food events where a community organization gets the benefit. Of course the corporate sponsors make it all possible thanks to tax-deductible donations (seriously, let’s not kid ourselves on why they happen). It’s great that you have events where people get something out of it, and at the same time non-profit organizations reap the benefits.

Of course, not all events or conventions are created equal. You think Amex is jumping at the chance to sponsor ComicCon or the Anime festival? It’s great to sponsor events where people are willing to buy AllClad pans for $100, but it’s another when you have a convention hall full of people who sew together Doraemon costumes at home. And I don’t even know what kind of community organizations ComicCon or AnimeFest might help, maybe teenage suicide hotlines or something.

By now this entry makes no sense… but back to the subject of raising awareness about hunger. It’s just weird to attend an event with free food and know that it’s supposed to raise money to feed people. You know? Don’t get me wrong, I love free food but one has to wonder if there’s more. You figure with all the food bloggers around the country and the world, that we could make a bigger dent. Maybe something like this already exists and someone can point me in the right direction… I think it would be cool if there was like a food bloggers call to arms… where we have like a global reduce hunger week or something like that. And every food blogger can commit to just one hour of community service towards a soup kitchen or something of the sort. Just think about how many food bloggers there are out there… just looking at Tastespotting and you get dizzy by the array of blogs. We’re always eating and consuming, and we give back by eating and consuming?

Consider all of this as temporary wondering-out-loud. Tomorrow I’ll go back to eating cheetoes and playing fantasy basketball and wondering why Jamario Moon doesn’t grow three inches and grab 20 more boards a game.

Posted by Danny on October 13, 2008 at 6:23 pm

(I invite you to follow me on Twitter so you can get more updates.)