The Saratoga Wine and Food Festival is by far my favorite event of the fall. With last year being my first year attending the festival (solely due to it being the first year I wasn’t in college and could legally drink), I knew it was the first of many many years to come. When it comes to food and wine, I think it’s a given that I’m absolutely in my element. Sure, I may not be a wine connoisseur and I may not know all there is to know about food, but guess what! I know when things taste good and I know when I do or do not like something. Boom.
I never thought I would be so fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the Wine and Food Festival Gala, but this year my dream came true. Friday night was the Epicurean Exploration – Live on Stage Gala. When I say live on stage, I mean the gala was live, on the SPAC stage, where countless musicians and various talents have performed.
Ever wonder what the artists see from the stage when you’re in the crowd? Here you go –
Sorry it’s a little dark, but it’s still pretty spectacular.
Guests of the event enjoyed an inspired contemporary menu created by Executive Chef Mark Delos, paired to showcase the impressive Antica Cantina di Canelli wine collection. This culinary showcase featured some of the most beautiful plates I’ve ever seen.
When we were seated, this plate of assorted Italian cheeses was waiting for us. My favorite part? The honey. Ever dipped cheese in honey before? Well if you haven’t, you’ve gotta try it. The sweet and salty are beautiful together. The cheese sponsors, Grana Padano and Agriform, actually chose SPAC as the very first stop of its ITALIAN CHEESE ROAD TOUR.
First dish served to us was a cured yellowtail hamachi on top of watermelon, garnished with radishes, avocado and lemon balm.
I’m a little finicky when it comes to textures, and I will admit I was a little hesitant to eat this, but I’m glad I did. While it could have used a crunchy texture in here, the avocado puree was so good and the yellowtail hamachi was fresh and light.
Next up was a fried fresh mozzarella on top of a cannellini bean and baby clam polenta cake, complimented with a fresh tomato sauce, prosciutto stuffed vegetable, sweet pepper, fennel and a pecorino-infused besciamella sauce.
Every component of this plate was like an orchestra of flavor in my mouth. The fried mozzarella was crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside. The stuffed pepper wasfilled with so much flavor, I couldn’t stop eating it. The polenta cake was a beautiful texture and rich yet subtle, the perfect compliment to the fried mozzarella.
Here you see the third dish, fusilli in a creamy grams padano sauce topped with shaved black truffles, prosciutto di parma and english peas. Sure we’re only on dish three, but I’ll tell you right now, this was absolutely my favorite dish. While I’m generally not one to order pasta out, I would order this everywhere if I could. The sauce was velvety and creamy, the prosciutto di parma added a salty crunch, black truffles gave the dish a richness and the peas created a pop of color to the dish! Yummmm.
Here’s the marinated Maine lobster, in a white gazpacho with corn and an heirloom cherry tomato salad, thai basil and shallots. First off, when marinated Maine lobster are the first three words in a caption, you should know it’s going to be good. Also, the thai basil added such a flavorful kick to this dish, I thought it complimented the lobster extraordinarily. Lovedddddd it!
Last but certainly not least, you have before you a pork loin atop a mac and cheese croquette, accompanied with southern turnip greens, a cauliflower puree, apple mostarda and pickled chilies. For me, the star of this plate was definitely the tender and juicy pork loin. I also thoroughly enjoyed the apple mostarda, which I will admit, I had to look up before I tried. My table neighbor leaned over and asked me what it was, and I had to google it immediately before I felt like a total moron. Too late.
But the night wasn’t over just yet. The back stage of SPAC featured a Willy Wonka Dessert Room, including a Moscato Bar and endless sweet treats.
This gala was everything I ever imagined it to be and then some. The food was exquisite, the wine was thirst quenching, and the guests were dressed to impress and great company. I can’t express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to attend this event and experience something so magical. Enormous thank you goes out to Tom Thibeault of Adirondack Appliance for being a fan of me and my blog, thank you SO much!
Stay tuned for the Saratoga Wine and Food Festival, Part Two article, coming soon!