Last week we helped toast our lovely town that is NYC at Wine Enthusiast’s 2011 Toast of the Town. Hundreds of guests packed Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center to try over 500 wines, spirits & beers and 35 local restaurants for sips and tastes from the best food and drink vendors.
VIP guests took to the entrance first after a battle with the super anal security guards. Guards: I know you’re looking out for our safety, but being shuffled through five different entrances and keeping me from my wine and food is going to cause me to become belligerent. After some confusion, I checked in and picked up a wine glass, making a bee-line to the first wine table I could find.
The highlight of the night was the excellent caliber of wines they had on hand. Each vineyard table was so eager to tell you about their assortment of wines and how they are produced, a great opportunity to learn more about the craft of wine making.
There were also a number of liquors and spirits on deck. My favorite was the cucumber vodka by Crop Harvest Vodka presented by Chatham Imports. Amazing! Cucumber is notorious for providing that fresh and revitalizing sensation, evident in the cocktail they poured us: cucumber vodka + lime juice + simple syrup + muddled cucumbers and dill. And for those of you that aspire to sound really pretentious, you can say you now drink an artisanal organic vodka. Thinking about it now makes me wish I was out on a patio with a big summer hat. For more recipes, check them out here.
Underrated was the table of sake where we sipped on a few varieties. I wanted to learn more and asked the differences between chilled and hot sake and if there are guidelines for what to order. There was some mention about filtering and alcohol content and blahblah, but unfortunately I’m useless and forgot.
The food vendors were strategically placed amid the wine tables encouraging to people to eat and drink simultaneously. There was ceviche prepared by Don Coqui and Zengo, meatballs by Resto and Ember, crispy pig feet (??!) from Plein Sud, risotto from Nonna. Not to mention all seafood dishes from BLT Fush, Mulberry Project, The Little Owl, Atlantic Grill, Crabtree’s Kittle House, Juliette Restaurant and Thalassa. Just to name a few! Scroll down below or click here for the full list.
One of the best dishes of the night was surprisingly by Armani | Ristorante. This restaurant sure got a lot of press, but I haven’t heard of anyone actually going there to see what the fuss is about. They served up huge pieces of sauteed sea scallops on a “thousand layer potato” topped with black truffles. You can bet there was a long line waiting for these, which was made even longer due to technical difficulties: Their grill to heat the scallops was broken, and after asking for help from other Lincoln Center departments and running over to the Hotel Empire and other neighboring restaurants for help, they had to go to Bed Bath & Beyond to buy a dorky small electric grill that could only fit a couple of scallops at a time. Nevertheless, they were delicious!
For dessert, Armani | Ristorante was doling out chocolate ganaches across the way from the scallops by a super cool guy in a suit (presumably an Armani suit?), chatting away on his cell phone like he was on really important business call. While giving out chocolates. db Bistro Moderne created a delicious vanilla ginger crème brûlée with rhubarb marmalade topped with oatmeal streussel and basil.
This year, a portion of the proceeds went to benefit RiverKeeper, New York’s clean water advocate, and also reps from Global Giving were present to allow attendees give donations for relief efforts in Japan.
Toast of the Town wrapped up here in NYC and San Francisco, but is also headed to Washington DC, Chicago, and Miami. If you’re there, this is wine and food celebration not to miss! Scroll down to our image gallery for all the sights we saw.
Participating Vineyards & Chateaux:
Barton & Guestier
Clos de Tart
Concha y Toro
Crop Organic Vodka
Domaine de la Vougeraie
Feudi di San Gregorio
Francis Ford Coppola Presents
Louis M. Martini
MontGras Napa Cellars
W. & J. Graham’s
Castello di Gabbiano
Chateat St. Jean
Stags’ Leap Winery
Crabtree’s Kittle House
db Bistro Moderne
Gotta Eat Sweets
Julia Baker Confections
Juliet Supper Club
Pier 9 + 9 Restaurant
T Salon & T Emporium