We have to admit, we had a major case of the Sunday blahs this week. See, we had so much fun at the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival celebrating the best in food and drink from Fairfield County, to Westchester and even a bit of NYC, that we didn’t want it to end. In fact, while we’ve always had a great time, we felt like this year’s events were the best yet! Let us thrown down a recap so you can start looking forward to Greenwich Wine + Food Festival 2016.
GIFFT Wine Dinner with Kathie Lee and Chef Geoffrey Zakarian
In the past, the GW+FF kicked off with a party with passed hors d’oeuvre and drinks, but this year they took things in a new direction, and we loved it. The night started off at the rooftop terrace of J House in Greenwich, sipping some bubbly and noming away on some passed apps. Both Geoffrey and Kathie Lee were hanging out too, talking and getting pics with attendees. The night went on with four very perfectly prepared courses from Chef Conor Horton of J House, including a shaved octopus salad and a a short rib with a risotto on the side. We enjoyed the dinner so much, we vowed to get back there soon. Each course had a GIFFT Wine that both Kathie Lee and Geoffrey introduced. We were pleasantly surprised and actually really enjoyed all of her wines, especially the crisp and bright Pinot Noir Rose that actually delivered the nice punch you get from a Pinot Noir.
Most Innovative Chefs Gala
Some of the best, new, and freshest chefs from Fairfield and Westchester Counties came together to present some killer dishes on Friday night. This event, like every year, sold out, and we can see why. Not only was there a nice selection of wines and a ton of amazing dishes from Chefs Jes Bengston of The Granola Bar, David DiBari from The Cookery, Beck Bolender from One Twenty One, Renato Donzelli from Basso Cafe, Erik Elrichson from Bistro V, Pat Pascarella from Bar Sugo, and Matt Storch from Match, but the night closed out with some amazing music. Oh, just a little band that you might have heard of: The Wailers! Yes, the same band who played with Bob Marley. They jammed all night, playing hit after hit, and the best part for us was when all the chefs came out to the stage and danced with us like Chef Renato.
Greenwich Wine + Food Festival, Tastings + Tents + Music
This was a very exciting day for us because, starting at 1:45PM we moderated a panel of three chefs for a wonderful conversation. With Chefs Jes Bengston of The Granola Bar, Renato Donzelli of Basso Cafe, and Erik Erlichson of Bistro V, we talked about menu creation, staying true to your culinary identify, and the future of their restaurants. Soon after, we went off our separate ways (though we’d meet up again and again during the day) and planned things out: we’d hit up the Grand Tasting Tent, check out the Bud + Burgers Tent, move on down to the Empire City Casino Cocktail Contest, then finish the night off with Tacos + Tequila. Oh, such lofty dreams. Needless to say, we spent the entire day making all of this happen . . .
We were excited to see how much variety there was this year in terms of drinks. We’d be having a Black Hog S.W.A.G., we’d be sipping on a few cocktails from Rye House, and then we’d taste a few varieties of flavors of Full Moonshine. And, in between all of this, we were eating the hell out of all the great food. Some of our faves were the Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad from Harvest (we can’t help ourselves), a Cuban sandwich from Rye House in Port Chester, Ricotta on grilled ciabatta from One Twenty One Restaurant, and the Thai sausage as well as the noodles with pork belly from Thaithentic Catering.
By then we were feeling kinda full, but we were re-energized when we reconvened with our buddies Renato and Alicia from rMedia and Local Food Rocks, Andrew and Robert from Food Dudes, and James from CT Bites. So, we did like anyone else would do: we hit up the Beer + Burger tent that had just opened up for competition. After tasting all the burgers, we all were really digging both Fleisher’s Craft Butchery in Westport and Plan B’s Burgers. Well, wouldn’t ya know it, but Plan B took home the prize again for a third year in a row! Congrats to them.
All of this walking and standing around had made us a bit tired, so we sat down for a spell, well, except for Renato and Dan who needed to check out the beer tent. Our favorite from the day was a special cask of Blue Point’s Pale Ale that was Cascade dry-hopped. Well, the rest helped because we took off to check out the cocktail contest. We liked the setup this year because you could actually taste all the cocktails from the competitors and vote, too. The judges picked Sasha Jarufe from Harvest as their winner, while the People’s Choice Winner was Dimitrios Zahariadis, owner of Highland Brass Co. in Waterbury.
And, finally, we stopped by the Taco & Tequila tent . . . you know it! We dug all the tequila cocktails there like Casamigos, Amate, and Espolon (btw, you need to get their barrel aged tequila). So, of course, you know we had to have some tacos with those drinks. Our top two from the night were from Bodega Taco Bar and Boxcar Cantina. In fact, we were thrown for a loop by Boxcar Cantina when one of the sous chefs asked if we wanted to try his “experimental” hot sauce. We should have known better, but we went ahead and what ensued was some seriously major heat.
From there, we checked out Little Big Town for a bit then said our goodbyes. Like we said, this was our favorite Greenwich Wine + Food Festival ever. We think that the thing that made it so great was not only the variety, but how open the entire saturday was. Your ticket purchase got you into almost every single thing that was going on!
We’d like to extend a special thank you to Shelley at Splash PR for being so helpful and thoughtful over the past few months, Suni Unger of Serendipity Magazine for putting together such an amazing event, letting us get involved, and being such a great host, and all the chefs and vendors who made this event such an overwhelming success.