Where do I even start with this one? I attended the Cook.Eat.Drink.Live festival this past Saturday, and it was pretty nuts…in a good way. The line wrapped around the block for this event, and people were hungry and thirsty. There were so many different genres of food and drink, it was hard to pick which vendor to visit first. Carmines was right at the entrance giving out little Italian focaccia and mozzarella sandwiches, and Hot Mixology was right behind them offering tastings of vodka and tequila. When I'm overwhelmed by food, drinking always seems to help, so I tried a smooth orange vodka called "V" created by Dave Elger, host of Hot Mixology. It was one of those fruity vodkas you could drink on the rocks it was so good.
As we made our way to the back room, we were told to take a wine glass for tastings. This must be where the real "Drink" part comes in. A huge room was dedicated to wine tasting, and among the vendors were Brooklyn Oenology, Duckwalk Vineyards, Pindar, Glenora, and many more. I tried a 2007 Viognier from Brooklyn Oenology and it was excellent; fruity, dry and smooth. It won the gold medal at the Appellation America BOA Awards in March. I spoke to Alie Shaper, the President & Winemaker of Brooklyn Oenology, and she said that BOE is currently producing their wine at a host winery in North Fork, Long Island, but they are looking to create their own "urban winery" here in Brooklyn. That would be pretty exciting, and not just for them. Imagine being able to go to a wine-tasting at a real winery by just hopping on the L train. Currently, BOE is sold at many of your favorite places in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Among them are Gramercy tavern, City Crab, Astor Wines & Spirits, DuMont Burger, Brooklyn Bowl, Scotto's Wine Shop, Buttermilk Channel, Fat Cat Wines and many more. For more info click here.
Another favorite of mine in the wine department was Glenora Wines. Their quirky Holiday bottles drew me in immediately (see below). So festive. At this point I had tried about five different reds and whites each (and was pretty tipsy), so I asked for something different. They gave me a Raspberry Spumante, which is a sparkling wine with a raspberry twist. It was so fruity and light, it made me think of something you would drink with brunch – similar to a Bellini. And speaking of Bellini, they make a Peach Spumante as well, both sell for $12.99. Click here to order online and see below for deals on their "Red Hot Sale."
Now as far as food goes, there were quite a few vendors that I sampled and enjoyed. Sarabeth's jams and marmalades were so delicious, I bought a jar of their "award-winning" Blood Orange Marmalade (Best Classic at the Fancy Foods Show). I spread it on a few of their shortbread cookies and just stood there, chowing down. I'm pretty sure I was in everyone's way but I really didn't care.
I really liked Pestos with Panache also. Maybe it's because I like the word "panache." Or maybe it's because I eat pesto straight out of the jar. These pestos were different than what I'm used to though, and that's what drew me in. They had Pumpkin Chipotle Pesto, Fig & Gorgonzola Pesto, and Prosciutto & Smoked Almond Pesto. Mmmmmm. Those three were my favorites, because they had such different flavors. The woman at the booth suggested putting a dollop or two of the Pumpkin Chipotle Pesto on top of pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli. Drool. The Fig & Gorgonzola was savory and slightly sweet; I imagine eating it on some baguette slices with a drizzle of honey or caramelized onions. Pestos with Panache are all natural too, and fortunately they were discounted at the event, because they are on the pricier side of pesto.
I rather enjoyed the Cook. Eat. Drink. Live. festival. I tried a lot of food and drinks from places I had never even heard of (Montauk Beverageworks, JD Gourmet, Grandpa Pete's), and I sampled some old faves too (Melba's, Eileen's Special Cheesecake, Spoonbread Too). Even their collection of bottled waters was impressive. I had no idea there were SO many different kinds, but apparently Fiji isn't the only hoity-toity water out there. Good to know.
If you have the opportunity to go to this festival again next year, follow my plan of action: get there early, move quickly, eat as much as you can, and get out before the crowds get in. Amen.