Greenwich 2012 FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL Presented by Serendipity; A Recap from Someone Obsessed with the “Food Obsessed.”
The 2nd annual Greenwich 2012 FOOD + WINE FESTIVAL, presented by Serendipity, put fall into full swing. There is nothing like celebrating the change of the seasons by stuffing your face with fall’s most delicious tastes from Fairfield and Westchester counties – cuisine, beer, wine… bliss. Local residents roamed around the Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich to feast on signature delicacies from local restaurants, wine producers, distilleries, pastry shops, chocolatiers, and the like. Thanks to Serendipity, 100% of the proceeds were donated to The Hole in The Wall Gang Camp, which is dedicated to providing unique forms of healing to children and their families who are dealing with a serious illness. Hundreds of locals filled the crowd for the festival each night. It may be safe to say next year’s camp might resemble a mini Cirque du Soleil – the fest was a complete success.
Friday, October 5th was the FOOD + WINE GRAND TASTING cocktail event, which jump started everyone’s festival mood and prepared their taste buds for what was in store for the weekend. Hosted in a beautiful tent overlooking the water (thank you Stamford Tent & Event), housed sophisticated hors d'oeuvres and cocktails from some of the areas finest chefs and mixologists. My night began with a crisp Bärenjäger Honey Liquor and Prosecco while sampling Eleven14 KITCHEN’s quail and pomegranate dish – so perfect. My favorites from this night included l’escale’s signature martini, The Lady Vanishes, made with St. Germain, pear infused vodka, lime juice, a dash of bitters and garnished with a mini pear ball marinated in grenadine. Then came the show stopper, Chef Rui Correia of DOURO, who served Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder, Home-Smoked Chourico, Little Neck Clams, and Roasted Baby Potatoes in Citrus Demi. The combination of flavors provided a hot, smoky love affair in my mouth. Bill Taibe’s The Whelk served a Creamy Grits and Crab Fondue topped with bright green wasabi caviar; it was certainly a beautiful dish.
My other favorites include Plum’s Vanilla Poached Diver Sea Scallop with smoked chili oil, Aux Délices’ Farro Risotto with butternut squash and of course, Chocopologie’s assortment of sweets such as the indulgent Rose Water Truffles, Chipotle Chocolates and Coconut Marshmallows, which made their way into my mouth every time I passed the table.
Saturday, October 6th was the FOOD + WINE FESTIVAL complete with a Culinary Village, Chef Demonstrations, Beer Garden, Burger Battle, and Live Music. It was a perfect Saturday for anyone food obsessed.
I started my day with breakfast from The Schoolhouse at Cannondale and noshed on a mini brioche sandwich with hen of the woods mushrooms, arugula, shallot marmalade and fontina cheese. I’d be a happy New Yorker if I could start every morning that spoiled, it was delish. I’d still be happy if I can put Sticky-Nuts Fall Festival Nut Blend with walnuts, homemade dried apples and cranberries, spiced pumpkin seeds and pecans on plain Greek yogurt. Fall flavors are my favorite and the Greenwich FOOD + Wine festival provided the best tastes of the season all in one spot. Eleven14 KTCHEN’s pumpkin squash soup served in mini gourds was the best presentation of the day. Morello Bistro served homemade doughnuts and garganelli pasta – any Italian’s dream. Dana from DOURO taught me how to make pasta chips using wheat pasta, which puffs up better than semolina pasta. However, I’m not sure if a personal stash of pasta chips is a good idea. Leslie, owner of Ladle of Love, shared her harvest celebration soup recipe making it known that her staple ingredient in everything is love – how cute is that. Rowayton Seafood’s Sesame Crusted Wild King Salmon with miso broth and bok choy slaw was a refreshing crowd pleaser in a mix of heavier dishes. Chef Yoichi Saito of Hudson Grille took the time to explain to me his take on clam chowder, providing one of the most interesting dishes of the day. He uses a whipped cream dispenser to pipe clam juice and diced potato puree into his homemade clam chowder base, creating a layered look and delicate, light texture. This isn’t New England, Rhode Island or Manhattan clam chowder – it’s Stamford clam chowder.
William Raines, a mixologist at Lolita was serving the signature Lolita Margarita with 100 year and 100% agave tequila reposado. Not your average weak festival cocktail. Napa & Co.’s new Executive Chef Leonardo Marino, who had stints working with Jean George, David Bouley and Eric Ripert, explained he’s about 85% through creating a new menu for the restaurant. Ray Ianucci, owner of The Wine Press, provided samples of wine people made in his winemaking facility, from grape to barrel. Bill Rizzuto of Rizzuto’s made a pork belly porchetta stuffed with fennel and roasted garlic, an Italian staple for the colder months.
Outside in the Beer Garden - brew and BBQ was on the menu. I loved Big Bubba’s BBQ, serving lip-smacking smoked ribs and chicken in delicious sauces. Of course, Shake Shack’s burger was to die for and Dinosaur BBQ’s pulled pork sandwich topped with pickles went down in one bite – both restaurants making their way from New York to Connecticut this year. I washed those down with some of the best fall brews from Long Trail Brewing Company, Otter Creek Brewing Company and Dogfish Head Craft Brews. Surprisingly, Otter Creek’s Oktoberfest was light and delicious.
Some big name chefs that were in town judged the Burger Battle, with Dan Rooney’s Pub coming out on top. I met with Joe Campanale of L’Artusi, Joe Bastianich of Eataly, Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes, Ted Allen from Chopped, George Mendes of Aldea Restaurant and John Stage from Dinosaur BBQ – all talented individuals and having a great time in Greenwich.
Of all the culinary demos I saw, the entertaining culinary demonstration by Neil Fuentes AKA “The Singing Chef,” was my favorite as he cooked a Peruvian vegetarian ceviche while singing and dancing. His tip to the crowd, “hold salt and spices high when sprinkling on the food, to make sure they go everywhere.” While making a risotto, Graham Elliot told us about his hellish time working in Woodstock, VT and according to Joe Bastianich, “the perfect risotto takes 22 minutes.” Laura Foster held a wine tasting and if anything, she got 24 Greenwich-ites to eat cheese whiz on a cracker. Good for her.
As the day turned to night, we continued to graze the tempting bites that came along and definitely got our fill on the finest culinary offerings in the Connecticut and tri-state region.
The evening came to an end sounded by soothing tunes from the legendary Gregg Allman. With my full belly, I’m still hungry and eager for next year’s festival. I was so thankful to have met so any talented chefs, restaurateurs, mixologists, wine makers, etc.
Thank you to all the sponsors and companies who donated something to this event - namely, Vineyard Vines for the bags we used to throw everything in, Greenwich Staffing for the wine opener I’ll use until it breaks, Soul Cycle for the ‘first time free’ pass so I can work off these calories, Zen Bronze who will keep me tan in winter, Big Bubba’s BBQ for my new “Nice Rack” t-shirt that I’ll wear when cooking with your Real Hot BBQ sauce you gave me, and every restaurant’s special offer allowing me to design my own fest through Fairfield County indulging on a dime – thank you.
Andrea Viscuso has been in the hospitality industry for nearly ten years. She has had many roles working in some of Connecticut's best establishments. As a hospitality publicist, handling the PR for restaurants in Connecticut and New York as well as various spirits brands, Andrea is always in-the-know when it comes to the latest trends. She enjoys trying new restaurants and shares her experiences with others on her blog www.richinspice.com.Contact Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @RichInSpice.