Because of prior commitments, we were only able to attend the Grand Tasting at last year’s Greenwich Wine & Food Festival. So, after having a great time at that last year, we vowed to hit up every event this year…and we did!
Thursday’s kick-off party was held at Miller Motors in Greenwich and featured wine, cocktails, finger food, and lot of goodies up for auction to help benefit the Hole in the Wall Gang. We learned a great deal about the charity that Paul Newman founded to give children with disabilities a chance to attend a great summer camp and met some great people.
And, then there was Friday’s Grand Tasting (see our complete album with descriptions here). This year’s event was in a bigger tent, so there was lots of room to stroll around and go from table to table. This event was amazing and featured some of the best chefs from NY and CT including Michael William Batt from Food Design Catering, Rui Correia from Douro, Clifford Crooks from BLT Steak, Eric Gabrynowicz of Restaurant North, Bryan Gilmore of 121 Restaurant, Frederic Kieffer of l’escale, Michelle Klem of CakeSuite, Fritz Knipschildt of Chocopologie, Eric Korn of Good Life Gourmet, Tim LaBant of The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Debra Ponzek of Aux Delices Foods, and Bill Taibe of LeFarm and The Whelk. There was a nice variety of wine, plenty of great top shelf liquor, and even lots of sweets and coffee to wind the night down with. We finally had the chance to meet Chris Barrett and Brianna Pennel from Steam, so that made us very happy. And, we got to meet and talk with Raphael Palomino, owner and culinary brain behind the amazing Sonora and the newcomer to Greenwich, Bistro Latino. We also finally had the chance to meet Graham Elliot who became part of the auction by offering up not one but two exclusive experiences at his new restaurant in Greenwich, Primary Drink & Food.
We were completely stuffed and wondered how we were going to survive Saturday’s Culinary Village and main event because it sure didn’t seem like there was any room left in our bellies. As we arrived, we saw Michael Psilakis (we’ve seen him demo before and we’ve been to his restaurant Kefi in NYC) and got a picture with him. Kristien told him that his meatballs rival his grandma’s meatballs, to which he replied, “It’s hard to beat grandma’s meatballs.” We checked out the CTbites Blogger Lounge and caught the last few minutes of Duff Goldman’s interview, lead by Matt Storch of Match and The Chelsea. We got a pic with him then caught Graham Elliot’s interview and got a pic with him too. He’s a really funny and sweet guy, but you can tell that when he’s talking about food, he’s serious and all business. The most memorable thing he said was, “Don’t just push the envelope…rip it up.”
By this time we were starving, so we decided to make our way into the Culinary Village (check out our full photo album with descriptions here). It was the same tent used for the Grand Tasting, but inside was a seemingly endless amount of restaurants and shops. We got our drinks and headed out, checking out some of our favorite restaurants and discovering some new ones that we vowed to try. Of great note was the Beef Tongue Crostini from The Spread, the Apple Pumpkin Ravioli from Parallel Post, the Charred Octopus from Char, the chilled passion fruit and shrimp soup from Bistro Latino, the zeppoles from Zeppoleme, and a surprisingly amazing slider from Oak + Almond that featured crispy head cheese. Chef Jeff Taibe said (and we agreed), “You can’t come to a food festival and not try things!” First time having head cheese, not our last! There was plenty of other great food there, too, and we’re proud to say that we tried almost every single dish there! Did you expect anything else from us?
While walking around we saw Joe Bastianich hanging around the Tarry Market table (he’s part owner remember) and got a pic with him, too. When we finished up, we were exhausted so we hung out at the CTbites Blogger Lounge a bit and watched Adam Patrick from Walrus + Carpenter demo a refreshing cocktail. After that, we swung around the outside of the festival to check out the Burger Battle area. Plan B was out in force and stole the show by winning top honors as Best Burger in Fairfield and Westchester Counties. On the voting panel was Michael Psilakis, Richard Blais, Graham Elliot, Duff Goldman, Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe, John Stage, and Dale Talde. Why’d they win? Maybe it was their simple approach: bread, burger, cheese? Maybe it’s their loosely packed patties? Either way, congratulations to Plan B!
Not by coincidence, there were plenty of brews nearby all the burgers, too, such as Half Full, Sixpoint, Two Roads, and Narragansett. On the demo stage nearby was Tim Doherty, pitmaster for Bobby Q’s in Westport, presenting his famous burnt ends. We regret that we were so full that we couldn’t taste them, but people in the audience were moaning when they got samples. On our way out we saw Graham Elliot and Merlin Verrier (he’ll be the head chef at Primary Food & Drink) doing a demo together, highlighting some of the food that will appear in their new restaurant.
While we thought we were full from the Grand Tasting, we left Saturday’s main event fuller than we can even remember. We were so full, in fact, that we could barely eat any dinner later…even at 8 pm. We had such an amazing time at this year’s Greenwich Wine & Food Festival and we thank Serendipity for such a great experience and for inviting us. While the food was amazing and we loved meeting our favorite celebrity chefs, we also savored meeting and acquainting with so many great people! We’ll definitely be hitting up next year’s event!
Links to our photo albums from the 2013 Greenwich Wine & Food Festival: