I attended a few of the events at the 2014 Wine and Dine for the Arts festival, and I have a few pictures and stories to share.
I arrived part of the way into the Barista Albany competition where a handful of esteemed local baristas each had 20 minutes to fix up three signature coffee beverages. They were vying for a handful of pretty awesome prizes.
After the competition, I took a peek back at the outstanding equipment being used to generate the coffee beverages.
Barista Albany overlapped slightly with the Saturday Grand Tasting, so a few minutes before the doors opened for that, we got in line. Once we were inside, we made it a point to try everything that stood out before the room reached critical mass.
The first bite was shrimp remoulade from Helsinki Hudson, and it pretty much remained my favorite bite throughout the tasting.
The room got a little packed pretty quickly, but I think I hit all of the highlights that I cared to hit.
Then there was the rising star pavilion, which was just a corner of the room that was tied off and only had one way to get in and out. Not only was it packed inside, but people were just standing around dilly dallying at the entrance/exit. I did what I could to try the food from the places inside the pavilion without pushing people around too much.
I only stopped at one of the spirits booths, and that was Bacardi, because they had a spiced rum variant that I’ve never tried (I have tried just about everything else at the table – the benefit of visiting the distillery on a regular basis).
I was getting full, thanks mainly to the two samplings from Salty’s and Illium, and that was good because the room was becoming difficult to manage (about 1 hour in). We headed downstairs to watch the Adirondack Appliance Signature chef invitational challenge, where five chefs competed against each other in an Iron Chef/Chopped style competition.
In the same space, there was a Battle of the Bartenders Bloody Mary competition, and the room was almost packed. With both events happening simultaneously, it was a little difficult to follow what was going on with the invitational challenge. I tried a Bloody Mary from Daisy Bakers; it was good, but I can’t remember what was in it. The other competitors included Yono’s/dP, The Speakeasy, Johnny’s (Schenectady), Tala Bistro, and Athos. Once this started to clear out, the invitational challenge was a little easier to follow.
Apparently, by a landslide, Yono’s/dP won this competition from the judges and the peoples’ choice.
The signature chef invitational was fun to watch, but we had to leave part of the way into the event.
For the rest of the day, all I could remember was the intoxicating scent of Chef Bowden’s cream-basil puree.
Throughout the day, I got to speak with and laugh with lots of friends from the local food scene, which was lots of fun. As we were climbing the stairs to leave, I bumped into Stacey Morris, a local travel writer who has had a bunch of success with DDP Yoga. This was a little fun “worlds colliding” moment. As it turns out, our social circles overlap a little.
All-in-all, it was a fun day. This is definitely the type of event that could become miserable for you if you lose patience with people easily (like me), so it’s best to expect to need to relax a little. There were more wine/spirit stands than food, so having a driver or a room within walking distance (the local hotels are good about offering good rates when this event comes to town) will ensure that you’ll get the most out of the events.
(And I brought my Nintendo 3DS expecting to pick up a few tags and didn’t even pick up one! That made me pretty pissed. C’mon people; start bringing your 3DSs around so I could complete these puzzles.)