A few weeks ago, while doing some research for this blog (yes, I actually have been doing research, this blog is much less lazy than it looks...) I came across an advertisement for the "9th Annual Worcester Food & Wine Festival." This is what I took away from it:
WORCESTER WINE FESTIVAL!!!!!!!!
I was so ecstatic, I could barely contain myself. I jumped from my desk, ran into the next office and announced to my co-worker that that there was a wine festival in Worcester. This was old news to her, (in my defense I hadn't lived in Worcester for over 8 years and I wasn't legally allowed to drink when I was living here, so...yeah), she said it was a good time and told me I should check it out. Little did she know I had already ordered 4 tickets.
In hindsight, it probably wasn't my best idea to order 3 fairly expensive tickets to a festival without actually inviting 3 other people, but my thoughts were as follows: I love wine, everyone should love wine and I can easily find 3 people I know who love wine. I won't keep you in suspense -- my gamble paid off. I took my friend Maria, my mom, and my "auntie" Debbie (Drumgoole, [auto correct keeps trying to make that Drum-GOOGLE heh} not to be confused with my auntie Debbie Odgren, who, no doubt would have enjoyed the event and now that I think of it, I should bring along next year). Anyway, the four of us descended upon the DCU center Monday night ready to drink wine.
Let me start with this. As you remember from above, I only took 3 words away from my research WORCESTER WINE FESTIVAL. So, this was how I advertised it to my companions. So, as we entered the building, the others --who do not wear wine blinders-- read the part about food and were pretty surprised and delighted that they'd be fed as well, so the food was going to be looked at as an added bonus.
We checked our coats and proceeded to registration where we were handed these handy little plates and wine glasses. I have illustrated this here (you will need this for later).
Armed with our "tasting-platter," as I will refer to it from this point forward, we entered the ballroom.
We were surrounded by food and wine Mecca. Okay, major hyperbole... but we were presented by a substantial amount of booths representing most of the best restaurants in central MA. I really can't even begin to list all the great food I tasted, but I'll rate some top picks in no particular order.
1. BT's Smokehouse - Sturbridge MA - Amazing BBQ Reuben. It was delicious! If I am being honest, this was the best booth of the night.
2. Edible Arrangements - Chocolate dipped everything =happiness - this was a favorite of the group
3. Overtime Tap Fantasy Bar & Grille- Grilled cheese and tomato soup!!! WIN! This place is opening where McFadden's was on Front Street. It's a group of young guys who are building the business on their own. I'm thinking there is a future blog post in the making... Also, Debbie made friends with one of the owners, we might have an in.
4. The Publick House - Panini's - they get listed because I got married there... but to be entirely truthful, I didn't even try the panini (I'm sure it was delicious)
5.Vienna Restaurant and Historic Inn- dressed in traditional Austrian costume and had good food
6. Cyprian Keyes had this amazing salad dish (Maria ate the Mandarin oranges for me because she's a good friend)
7. Sweet - mini cupcakes!!
8. Good as Gold Coffee- kept us caffeinated with coffee, chai and hot cocoa
9. Piccolo's - waldorf salad Yum!
10. Boston Chocolate Tours - need I say more?
Those were the food highlights, here are the complaints.
Baba (sushi) ran out of food by 6 p.m. The event started at 5:30...
On the Rise Bakery was there. I have been told that this particular bakery snubbed my mother when she tried to order a bridal shower cake, so we snubbed them.
MezCal put WAY too much onion in their guacamole and my poor mother nearly had a reaction. (She survived)
Now, on to the important stuff... WINE
I have to start out by saying I'm a little disappointed. I tasted at every booth, I tried just about every Cabernet, Pinot Nior, Malbec (and several blends that included one of the 3), and by the end of the night I probably had a total of 2 glasses of wine.
Now I understand that it is a tasting, but some of the pours were ridiculous. I've been wine tasting in Italy, California, Virginia and New England (don't judge) and I've never experienced skimpier pours. And before you start judging my consumption habits -- EVERYONE was complaining. Some people were holding their glasses out two or three times in exasperation. Luckily, you could finish your sip, walk the room and go back for more if you felt so inclined.
There were several great vintages offered. Everyone found something the really enjoyed. Here are a few of my favs
Hardwick - Massetts Cranberry
Carolina Wines - Menage a Trois Red
D'Arenberg Stump Jump Red
Treasury Wine - Greg Norman Shiraz/Cabernet *** FAVORITE***
Treasury Wine- Ch St Jean Cabernet
As most of you know, I only really drink red wine. For all of you who like white, you'll have to contact Maria for her recommendations.
BIG REVEAL: All of these wines are on sale 20% off at Austin Liquors all week! YIPPEE!
Funny story: While walking through the ballroom, I happened to comment to Maria and my mom that there was this good looking "ginger" [red-haired person] who passed me. They both agreed. As we were leaving the event, I noticed there was a table in the lobby we hadn't visited. I noted that their sign announced an Ice Wine. I am a fan of Ice Wines, so I made a B-line for the booth, figuring my party would follow me. I ask for a taste, only to look up and see the "ginger"!! I honestly hadn't noticed he was manning the booth. The wine was great and we were told that if we visit the vineyard in Harvard, that this gentleman would be our guide. Obviously another blog post in the making. I am already planning on he and Maria having little ginger babies, but that isn't the point. After we left the booth my mother and Maria both admit they thought I saw the "ginger" and walked over, not the wine. Their priorities obviously differ from mine and besides, I'm a married woman ;-)
Funnier story: I drew you that embarrassing graphic above and promised you needed it for later. Well, it is later. When we arrived at the festival, my mother mentioned that the "tasting-platters" would be really handy for cocktail parties and that she was going to keep all of ours. We thought she was joking. We were wrong. Please imagine my mother grabbing a few abandoned tasting-platters from the tables, cleaning them off and stuffing them in her purse. I told her it wasn't stealing because I paid a lot for the tickets AND they were going to be thrown away anyway. I got a kick out of her scavenging, but was even more amused when Debbie got in on the project. She strolls up as we are almost to the coat check with about 8 MORE tasting-platters. Again, please imagine my mother's hands full of 16 tasting-platters, trying to stuff them in her purse and looking kind of guilty, because her catholic guilt wasn't entirely sure this was kosher.
In the end, the four of us left very full of delicious foods, having tasted some impressive wines, and 16 tasting-platters heavy. It was a great night. (Even though we didn't win any door prizes...)
I will most-likely return next year and I willingly admit this festival made Worcester a lot of fun Monday night.
Until next week!