Occupying the entire 6 acres of Roger Sherman Park, the annual Greenwich Food & Wine Festival busted my preconceived notions of what this Greenwich Connecticut event would be like. Directly on Greenwich Harbor overlooking Long Island Sound, a large Culinary Village tent officially sponsored by Balducci's along with a BBQ Bash & Beer Garden outside set an atmosphere of conviviality and fine eats. A stage large enough to handle the down home rockin' Gregg Allman came to life later in the evening.
But my biggest discovery was that this celebration's tone was all about sharing. 100% of the proceeds was donated to the Hole in the Wall Gang and many samplings showcased artisan foods as well as craft wineries and distillers. Here are the standouts resulting from all the sipping, swirling, and nibbling:
Alaska Distillery - You haven't arrived until you've tasted Purgatory, the U.S.'s first hemp seed vodka by Alaska Distillery based in Wasilla. Of course it's not going to satiate the 420 fans among us but what did you expect from hemp? Even though it contains absolutely no THC, it's rich herbal flavor richly envelopes the palate. I'm open to any cocktail ideas with this one.
Quinn Popcorn– Two years ago owners Kristy and Coulter began their mission of cleaning up microwave popcorn. They stripped the bag down to pressed paper...no chemical coatings like PFOA, PFCs, Poly, etc. Then they filled them with organic non GMO kernels coated with expeller pressed oils high in omega-3′s. The resulting 3 flavors: Parmesan & Rosemary, Lemon & Sea Salt, and Vermont Maple & Sea Salt are still made by hand from scratch in Boston.
Chocopologie – platters overflowed with morsels crafted by Danish chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt... treats like …. truffles seasoned with fresh ingredients ranging from fresh fruit & nuts to herbs. Their fluffy melt-in-your-mouth chocolate brownies were just as well suited to plain-ole munching as well as pairing with a Merlot from Niner Wine Estates or a Rkatsiteli from Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars – a great segue to my ultimate wine favorite of the festival. One of the oldest grape varieties on earth and rarely available in the U.S. outside Upstate New York's Fingerlakes region, Rkatsiteli when fermented at cool temperatures in three and four year old oak yields an elegant dry wine exuding a bouquet of fresh flowers and herbs balanced with fruit and crisp acidity. You get an a steely bite on the finish matching its citrusy undertones to the end.