I went to the Saratoga Wine, Food, and Fall Ferrari Festival at the beginning of September. This was my third year covering it, and it featured the addition of the Cast Iron Chef challenge between Chef Jaime Ortiz of Mazzone Hospitality and Patrick Longton of the Wishing Well (you might remember the Wishing Well from their Dark Dinner). The two chefs put on a fierce competition, and the entertaining emceeing skills of Suvir Saran also kept the crowd engaged (he was delightfully snarky with judge Steve Barnes). In the end, Chef Longton won.
The secret ingredients were peanut flour & bitter melon. The chefs tended to have a dish around one of the ingredients, not both. The lighting inside the Hall of Spring wasn’t really conducive to photos, so you’ll have to take my word on it. As a side note, the cooking set ups for the chefs were really sweet. I now am planning my dream kitchen and plan on shopping at Adirondack Appliance for all of their neat kitchen gizmos and some cranked up gas stoves.
Immediately following the Cast Iron Chef, it was time to head out to the Grand Tasting! The Grand Tasting is my favorite part of the Saratoga Wine, Food & Fall Ferrari Festival. Yes, there are tons of wines, but there are also so many different foods to try! If you’re thinking of going to one thing during this Festival, the Grand Tasting is where it’s at.
Caputo flours were featured at one booth cranking out wood fired pizzas.
And now I need to get my own wood fired pizza rig, plus some 00 flour. So good. Best pizza of the Grand Tasting. Perfectly airy crust.
Ahi tuna tacos – Albany John loved this from a photo standpoint, but flavor-wise the flour tacos were too thick for the tuna.
Chicken pate. Mmm, nice and pate-y.
Mama Mia’s Pizza and Cafe was one of the friendliest tables at the festival, and that’s tough because everyone at all of the tables are generally in good moods. They were filling cannoli to order and pulling their own mozzarella.
What a nice pull! The cannoli shells were delightfully crispy and flavorful. Thin, but not thin enough to shatter, and the cheese filling was sweet without being sickly. I need to get up there to try their goods in store.
The Steak and Wine Pairing seminar sponsored by Angus Beef featured a few different styles of beef prepared by chefs from Mazzone Hospitality. Unfortunately none of the beef rested between when it was cooked and when it was sliced, and many were cooked past medium, so a lot of what was served was a bit on the dry side. The folks serving the wine also had no idea what cuts paired with what wines, and had no suggestions for where to start. It was more just like “Here are three different kinds of steak and four red wines to drink in a tent” than a pairing.
The golden Buddhas from the Chocolate Gecko were so pretty! Their table had some chocolates and toffees out. Yum.
The Gideon Putnam had a great spread as well. They usually have an impressive spread, and this year was no difference. Niman Ranch pork belly with an apple cider foam. So fatty (but balanced) and good!
St Germain’s table featured an addictive fruit punch. I just love that elderberry flavored liqueur.
I love that roasting beef was just as much a decoration as it was a dish.
Rounded out the day with some samples from the Hudson Whiskey folks before heading over to the wine tasting with Kevin Zraly.
Now, the wine tasting with Kevin Zraly is where things get interesting. First of all, I learned about covering your wine glass and swirling for a few seconds to release more of the scents. That was really cool, and really effective for drawing out some of the more subtle notes of a wine. A few glasses into the tasting is when the storm really hits and people start heading to their cars from the Grand Tasting. Kevin takes the lead and tells everyone to be calm, because we have more wine to drink. Wind starts flying everywhere, and while we’re under a tent, we can all still feel the elements. He gets us through the tasting, and then we hang out in a sort of limbo with the few vendors and attendees who hadn’t left during the storm. It was like the pre-after-party.