Saratoga Wine and Food Festival 2011 [PHOTOS]
I’m sorry this took me a bit of time to gather all of my thoughts together but I’ve finally been able to organize all that I ate, drank and the great people I met. The weekend of September 9-11 was the Saratoga Wine and Food and Fall Ferrari Festival that I mentioned a couple of times in a previous blog entry. The weekend was filled with wine tastings, wine parings, wonderful cars and a brief demonstration by Marcus Samuelsson who I know, from among other things, Food Network’s Chopped. I participated in the Grand Tasting on Saturday, September 10th and if you were there and participated in this gathering of food and wine you would understand why even someone so organized as myself needed time to weed through everything. Usually I write the blogs entries as a fluid piece but with each booth I focused my attention on, everything was so different that I’m gonna have to break this entry up a little bit.
Adirondack Winery: I have family who live very close to the village and therefore pass their location quite often (285 Canada Street, Lake George) but I’ve never been. I was really looking forward to trying their wine because they’re local and I’ve wanted to come to a tasting for awhile. The two wines I tried during this event were their Prospect Mountain White (Peach Chardonnay) and Amethyst Sunset (Blackberry Merlot). I enjoyed the Prospect Mountain but my favorite was by far the Amethyst Sunset. Not only was the aroma from the wine sweet and intoxicating but the flavor was divine. I don’t tend to drink Merlot very often so I’m sorry I can’t give more of a comparison as to other Merlots but I can say that the Blackberry flavor paired with the current flavor was one of my favorites of the day. They mentioned that it paired well with Sharp Cheddar which is my favorite cheese so I’m excited to explore that pairing soon. What I really enjoyed about the winery was that each label is a picture from the Adirondacks, this one being of the balloon festival – one of my favorite activities (happening this weekend!) in the Lake George area. I also really enjoyed the Prospect Mountain as well. I usually don’t tend to like white wine but I really enjoy peaches so I figured it was worth a taste and I’m glad I did. White wines are usually already sweet and then with a sweet fruity flavor they tend, for my palette, to be too much but this wasn’t the case, I really enjoyed the sweetness level of the wine and would be curious to try this wine with Thai cuisine as they recommend. Everyone I met from the Winery was very knowledgeable and were helpful in helping me decide which wine to taste and what to eventually pair them with and I can’t wait to see them again when I go for an actual tasting at their store. The store is open year-round so if you’re interested in trying their wine as well, no reservations are needed except for groups of 8 or more.
Maestro’s at the Van Dam: I’ve heard of this restaurant before but never been before so I was quite excited to see what they had to offer, also at this point after trying a couple different kinds of wines I was starting to get hungry. I saw a bruchetta with what I thought to be prosciutto and apple on it but it was something else. After the first taste, I have to admit I went back for a second tasting because of how great the flavors were together. I ended up asking the chef out of curiosity and it was Duck Confit Bruchetta. I’ve never had Duck Confit before but I didn’t realize that I was eating duck. I just learned that confit is a way in which to prepare the leg of a duck by preservation. The flavors of the apple were very strong and I really enjoyed the pairing because I don’t usually think of apples as the first thing to pair with duck but I really enjoyed it, it was honestly the best snack item that I experienced at the grand tasting, by the time I made it through and wanted to go back for more, they had cleaned up already. The menu said that they offer it with caramelized onions ($12) but I thought the chef there said that what I tried that day had apple butter on it. Either way, the sweetness from which ever was on it was the flavor that pulled the whole dish together, each bite had salt, sweet and the texture of the bread, I thought it to be genius. I’m very excited to experience food from the full menu but I’ll be sure to order this appetizer!
Cabin Fever Whisky: I actually intend on dedicating a whole blog entry to this fine specimen of alcohol but I felt it deserved to be mentioned here so that when I mention it again, you all know where it came from. The reason I plan on soon giving this whiskey its own blog entry because it is fantastic. Not only does it smell like maple syrup but the flavor is something very different and very smooth compared to anything I’ve tasted before. At their booth they had a list of ways to drink this alcohol and I intend on trying a few of those mixologist recipes and see what I think and writing a separate entry for them so look out for that. In the mean time, give this whisky a go – you will NOT regret it!
Dumante: Another different type of alcohol they offered at the Wine & Food Festival. This was a new alcohol that I’d never heard of before but with the crowd around the booth and everyone discussing its praise I had to give it a try. What makes this liqueur different is its pistachio flavor. Their website says that this is meant to be sipped and savored by those who tend to enjoy “fine Cognacs, single barrel bourbons, single-malt scotches, artisan brandies and great Italian wines and spirits.” I don’t tend to drink any of those but I really enjoyed this liqueur, enough to buy a bottle the next day. This is cultivated in Sicily, the only region in Italy where pistachios can be cultivated. I just recently started eating pistachios and if you don’t like them, I wouldn’t rule out this liqueur. The flavor is distinct but not distinctly pistachio. It’s very smooth and I believe the first words I said after tasting it was “this is dangerous.” There wasn’t a strong alcohol flavor and I can see how hard it would be to not realize just how much you drank of it, so remember – everything in moderation!
I didn’t want to give you a three page essay on the great experience that was the Saratoga Wine and Food and Fall Ferrari Festival so hopefully you’ll join me again when I recap Part Two of my experience! 🙂