How perfect, especially during my Green Challenge, that this weekend there was a Pride of New York Harvest Festival going on at the Empire State Plaza. And the best part: I was able to attend thanks to All Over Albany! I won two free tickets to the event!
Chris, Chris’ roommate, and their friend from out of town all came with me to this awesome festival. There were so many vendors at the festival, including dozens of New York wineries, a few breweries, and tons and tons other New York farms, orchards, and other food producers. It was glorious!
We also got our free wine glass with admission–for all the wine tastings!
You could also register for seminars, which Chris and I did. We first registered for the first one of the day, called “Riesling Heaven“, can you get any better than that!? In case you were unaware, Riesling is my favorite wine.
I didn’t expect to see this when walking into the seminar: a flight of five different Rieslings from New York State.
The seminar was lead by the Times Union columnist Fred LeBrun, and according to the Harvest Fest website:
Many wine experts have described the Finger Lakes as one of the world’s premier regions for producing the world’s most versatile grape and wine: Riesling. From dry to lusciously sweet, Finger Lakes Rieslings offer a rainbow of colorful tastes. If you’re a Riesling lover, you’ll love this seminar featuring samples and information on the new International Riesling Profile – which can help you predict what to expect in each bottle.
Things I learned in the Riesling seminar:
- Riesling is a cold weather grape, and therefore does extremely well in New York vineyards
- NYS is best at producing a grape with sugar
- The acidity in Riesling drives the flavor of the wine
- Washington is New York’s biggest wine competitor
From left to right and from dry to sweet we tasted: Swedish HIll Winery’s Dry Riesling, Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Wine Cellars’ Dry Riesling, Cascata Winery’s Cascade Riesling, Anthony Road Wine Company’s Semi-Sweet Riesling, and last, White Springs Winery’s Last Harvest Riesling.
I think my two favorite were the last two, which were also the most sweet: the Anthony Road Riesling and the Last Harvest Dessert Riesling: The dessert Riesling was almost too sweet, and had a nose of rotten fruit. But oh so tasty!! It tasted like liquid honey!
After the first seminar, we headed back out to do some more wine tastings at other booths, but there were so many we didn’t get to all the ones we wanted to. And we had seminar #2 to get to! It was called “We Want Clean Food”, a cooking demonstration by Chef Ric Orlando! Ric Orlando is the owner of the New World Bistro, one of my favorite Albany restaurants, and he was also recently on the Food Network show “Chopped”, and won! It was cool to see him do a cooking demonstration.
The theme of his restaurants is “Global Flavor, Local Pride”, which is such an awesome thing. His main ingredient for the demo was local PUMPKIN! How fitting! He made three dishes. The first was Pumpkin Mulligatawny, an Indian lentil soup, with chunks of pumpkin in it. And it was DELICIOUS! Although my bowl didn’t have any pumpkin chunks.
The next dish was Thai Pumpkin Curry, which was awesome too. It was so flavorful! Also served with the curry was my favorite, the Pumpkin Risotto. It doesn’t look very good in the picture, but trust me, it was! It was so creamy and had a really good pumpkin flavor. I wanted more!!
I also learned in this demo that you can make pumpkin stock out of the leftover innards of a pumpkin, did you know that? Pretty neat.
After the cooking demo, we all went back out to do more tastings..but we didn’t get very far! I ran into my friend and other local blogger Courtney!
She was also having tons of fun at the harvest fest, and she got some really good photos of some of the vendors, too!
After Courtney and I parted ways, Chris and I found out there were open spots in the FX Matt Brewing Company Seminar…which was right up his alley, since Chris is a huge fan of beer, and I love learning more about it. I was also excited since it was my first real beer tasting.
We were going to taste five Saranac beers.
First we tried the Adirondack Lager! Chris and I ended up splitting each beer in half and then some, since some tables next to us had some beer leftover and shared.
Next up was the Pale Ale.
Honestly, these two tasted the same to me! But they were both pretty good! My taste for beer has improved a lot lately!
The third beer we had was the India Pale Ale, it was very bitter! IPAs are some of Chris’ favorite beers.
I love the ADK Chair on the bottle!
And there’s more! Ubu ale! Very dark and strong. What is Ubu you ask? Well, according to their website, “The mountain village of Lake Placid was once home to a legendary chocolate lab named Ubu, the biggest dog you’ve ever seen with an uncanny nose for great beer.” Interesting! I liked this one too.
And last but not least, the Imperial Stout. It’s the last one in the row! It was so dark and thick! And had a 9% alcohol by volume…
Needless to say, we had a good time in this seminar!
I had so much fun learning about the NYS Beer and Wines. I’m so glad we signed up the seminars, even if it meant we didn’t get to look and taste from all the vendors. The seminars were so interesting!!! And it was even better since Chris and I can only drink New York beer and wine!
It was around 4:00 when we got out of the Saranac seminar, so Chris and I were both pretty hungry for an actual meal, so we all went to El Mariachi for dinner! I ended up going with my favorite dish, the Enchiladas El Mariachi, where are cheese and mushroom enchiladas in mole sauce.
Since I was so hungry at the time, It was like the best thing I’ve ever tasted!
Dinner was followed by a slice of cherry chocolate cheesecake that Chris and I shared.
It’s days like this when I really learn to appreciate New York and the beer, wine and local food that we produce. Despite all our government problems and economic woes–the state does have it’s perks!