Spring Food Festivals
,

When you think of winter foods, you probably think of hearty chilis, warms sandwiches and slow cooker recipes. But your probably don’t think of Winter Food Festivals. But what if I told you there is so much more to enjoy at the start of the new year? I’m talking all-inclusive Spring food festivals that showcase the best the season has to offer. Not to mention, they happen all before the weather gets too hot to function. Food, drinks, music, entertainment, and in some cases, a great excuse to travel. What more could you ask for? 

Ready to pack your bags and indulge in mouth-watering eats? Get into all the festivals happening across the country in the upcoming weeks:

January

1. Uncorked Food & Wine Festival

Date: January 4-14, 2018
Location: Florida Keys
Join Miami Chef Phil Bryant, Chef Veronica Valdivia and Chef Michael Bertran for an eleven-day festival featuring wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, live music, food and wine pairings, art shows and so much more.

2. Oakland Restaurant Week

Date: January 11-21, 2018
Location: Oakland, California
Oakland restaurants will come together over two weekends for a festival that celebrates diverse yet delicious food offerings. Participating foodies will indulge in lunch or dinner ranging from $10-50.

3. Brewers Fest

Date: January 13, 2018
Location: Portland, Maine
In support of the Maine Brewers’ Guild, more than 50 brewers will come together for an amazing afternoon at the second largest brewfest in Maine. Including world-class beer from world-class breweries, the festival will feature everything from live music to a variety of food from local food trucks.

4. International Chocolate Festival

Date: January 19-21, 2018
Location: Florida
The International Chocolate Festival is the place where you can learn everything you need to know about chocolate, right from the experts. Fine chocolate samples from artisan chocolatiers, lectures on chocolate making and demonstrations from Miami’s master chefs will finish out the weekend.

5. Napa Valley Restaurant Week

Date: January 21-28, 2018
Location: Napa Valley, California
Through multi-course menus for lunch ($20) and dinner ($36 or $46), guests can try out the latest culinary hot-spots or revisit old favorites all week long.

6. NYC Restaurant Week

Date: January 22 – February 9, 2018
Location: New York
A great winter food event to attend if you’re new to the food scene in NYC. New York Restaurant Week is an event held twice a year where participating restaurants offer prix fixe lunches and dinners.

7. Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue Fest

Date: January 27, 2018
Location: New York
The Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue Fest is a full day of the best beers, bourbon, music and barbecue New York has to offer. Plus, admission buys guests a sampling glass to enjoy an all-you-care-to-taste sampling of beer and bourbon.

February

9. LA Cookie Con

Date: February 10-11, 2018
Location: Anaheim, California
Meet thousands of Californians who share in your love for all things sweet, salty and savory at LA Cookie Con. The festival will feature Celebrity Chef Duff Goldman, Founder of MyCupcakeAddiction Elise Strachan and Chef-Owner Ron Ben-Israel.

10. SOBE Wine and Food Festival

Date: February 21-25, 2018
Location: Miami, Florida
This festival is a star-studded five-day event showcasing the talent of the world’s most renowned spirit and wine producers, chefs and culinary artists. It attracts more than 65,000 guests annually to its 85+ events. Guests can expect uniquely crafted events showcasing world-class wine, spirits, food and lots of fun.

11. Food Tank Summit

Date: February 28, 2018
Location: Washington, D.C.
Food Tank Summit brings together some of the world’s most impactful food system leaders. Each event features incredible speakers in interactive panels moderated by top food journalists. There will also be opportunities for networking while enjoying delicious food.

12. Charleston Wine and Food Festival

Date: February 28 – March 4, 2018
Location: South Carolina
Creating an experience that celebrates the area’s rich flavor through the lens of award-winning chefs, the Charleston Wine and Food Festival is a world-class festival featuring chefs, farmers, beverage professionals and artists with distinct culinary personalities.

March

13. Coffee Fest

Date: March 16-18, 2018
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
The Coffee Fest is where passionate coffee and tea professionals meet to receive education, experience new products, and network with others.

14. Battle of Gumbo Gladiators

Date: March 24
Location: Shreveport, Louisiana
The Battle of Gumbo Gladiators serves as an annual fundraiser for Volunteers for Youth Justice. Teams are encouraged to decorate a 10×10 area with a theme to attract more attention and encourage a fun, food-loving environment.
What are your favorite food festivals to attend? Are any of these screaming your name? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Share
Kosher Food and Wine Expo Wine bottles
,

It’s been over a month since the Kosher Food & Wine Expo but I came across a few products that are still on my mind. In order for an item to be Kosher, it has to be prepared or simply satisfy the requirements of the Jewish Law. A lot of the products were only actually available at Kosher wine and spirit shops but there was such a variety that it would be impossible for it to be just limited to that.

Kosher Food and Wine Expo Wine bottles
Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | © kmendezPHOTOS – 2017 – www.kolinmendez.com
Kosher Food and Wine Expo Guest
Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | © kmendezPHOTOS – 2017 – www.kolinmendez.com

The event was hosted at Chelsea Piers and the check in process was extremely seamless and organized. We were greeted with custom wine glasses which wouldn’t be empty for long. Over 400 wine and spirits would be awaiting us so it’s safe to say the event producers, Royal wine, out did themselves. As we approach passover, the demand for Kosher Wines will be increasing and with products ranging from $6 a bottle to $250 – there was something at the Kosher Food and Wine Expo for everyone.

Kosher Food and Wine Expo Glasses
Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | © kmendezPHOTOS – 2017 – www.kolinmendez.com
Kosher Food and Wine Expo Chef
Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | © kmendezPHOTOS – 2017 – www.kolinmendez.com

The room was broken down into two parts. At least 60% of the room was filled with wine and spirits vendors and the other half was the gourmet fare. As much as there was a wide range of wines available, there were also many conversations going on amongst owners, sommeliers and distributors. From lychee flavored wine to spice whiskeys, each table offered something interesting and multiple variations as well.

Kosher Food and Wine Expo Chocolate Liqueur
Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | © kmendezPHOTOS – 2017 – www.kolinmendez.com
Kosher Food and Wine Expo Buzz Balls
Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | © kmendezPHOTOS – 2017 – www.kolinmendez.com

I recently tried a product called buzz balls which is a small packaged punch you can likely get at your local liquor store. What I learned at the Kosher Food and Wine expo was that this delicious product came in a ton of flavors and are perfect for events and hosting guest. The packaging makes it so the product floats so it’s perfect for pool parties and BBQ events which are hosted outdoors. As the industry is changing, the Kosher Food and Wine expo really gives a space for these business’s to showcase what’s next in our world.

Kosher Food and Wine Expo Food Table
Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | © kmendezPHOTOS – 2017 – www.kolinmendez.com
Kosher Food and Wine Expo Wandering Que
Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | © kmendezPHOTOS – 2017 – www.kolinmendez.com

There were also multiple food spreads and chefs live in action. Our friends Wandering Que who won last year’s Brisket King were also showing off multiple dishes. They had a meat based brittle that tasted like the sweetest candy.

Kosher Food and Wine Expo Meatball
Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | © kmendezPHOTOS – 2017 – www.kolinmendez.com
Kosher Food and Wine Expo Vendor
Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | © kmendezPHOTOS – 2017 – www.kolinmendez.com

The highlight of the expo was definitely Walders for me. Their mixologist made two of the best drinks I had all afternoon. Their mixers were so good that I ended up leaving the event after having them because I didn’t want to ruin the experience for myself. I look forward to being back next year.

Kosher Food and Wine Expo Mixologist
Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | © kmendezPHOTOS – 2017 – www.kolinmendez.com
Kosher Food and Wine Expo Walders
Photography Coverage Provided By: KOLIN MENDEZ PHOTOGRAPHY | © kmendezPHOTOS – 2017 – www.kolinmendez.com

Share
Couture Brunch Team Watermelon
,

As a foodie, who’s also picky with her food and was likely a food critic in her after life, I jumped at the opportunity to sit on a panel as a taster for Couture Brunch Team’s upcoming Chef Off competition called “Bon Vivant”. Couture Events is a small Brooklyn based promotional company that focuses on creating fun and festive events that not only brings social networks together, but allow patrons to enjoy cuisines at their finest. Their summer event will feature 2 chefs’ preparing an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for guests to indulge in, with a mixologist creating 2 signature drinks to pair with each meal. I had the honor of sitting on a panel with 4 other food lovers, including Erica of Catering by Elberta (Formerly of Elberta’s restaurant), and giving feedback on some appetizers and entrée choices from each chef.

The first appetizer we tried were Asian styled chicken wings from Chef Dell. I love a good chicken wing and the sweet and tangy sauce on these tasted amazing! They were sprinkled with sesame seeds which added to the overall taste. One of the main criticisms that was heard across the panel was the chicken not being hot enough, temperature wise and an expectation of something different as an appetizer, since you can get wings anywhere.

Couture Brunch Team Watermelon

The next appetizer was a watermelon-jalapeño salad by Chef Lisle. Let me just say, that when I heard the name, I was a little skeptical. I love watermelon, but jalapeños? I wasn’t sure about how this would turn out. As the chef placed some of it on our plates, he then topped it with some pop rocks. Yes, Pop Rocks! The little firecracker candy from when we were just children. You could head the pop rocks start to fizzle as they sat on top of the watermelon. I was still skeptical about what I was getting into, especially with the addition of Pop Rocks, but immediately after the first bite, I was sold. The sweetness of the watermelon paired perfectly with the jalapeño and the pop rock gave it this extra Kick (literally) in your mouth that had me scraping my plate for more after it was done. The pop rocks added a unique sensory experience because you could hear it and feel it at the same time. This was by far my favorite dish of the night.

 

Next up was the main courses, in which both chefs prepared salmon. The first one was an alaskan salmon with a sweet glaze topped with shredded zucchini, and sitting on top a bed of rasta pasta prepared by Chef Dell. The salmon was crispy on top just as I like it, and the glaze really gave it a kick of flavor. The cold zucchini on top really balanced out the flavors well .But the star of the show was the pasta, which was creamy and delicious, with a little spicy kick to it. Everyone raved about this pasta, and one panelist even suggested it could be a separate meal on its own. I’ve had many varieties of rasta pasta before, but this one was packed with so much flavor, and just paired so well with the glazed salmon.

The next salmon dish, by Chef Lisle, was sitting on top of a bed of fingerling potatoes and bok choy, and topped with some type of peppers. The presentation on this entrée was so great that I was almost afraid to dig my fork in. This salmon had a very different taste to it and wasn’t as crispy as the first, but the flavors from the bok choy and potatoes really added on to this dish.

Couture Brunch Team Salmon.JPG

After tasting each dish, all of us tasters were able to give the chefs constructive criticism and useful feedback about what we liked and what could use some change. Both chefs received our feedback well and will use it to prepare for the competition which will be taking place on July 9th at 23 Meadows Street in Williamsburg Brooklyn. This event will give patrons an up close and personal experience to learn about the featured appetizer and entrée, and will also feature music and vendor booths. For more details about the “Bon Vivant” event and their other monthly events, follow them on Instagram at @courturebrunchteam.

Share