I’ve never been to Mohegan Sun. Nor have I been to a wine and food festival. I’m a foodie and an aspiring wine enthusiast, so the 7th Annual Sun Winefest, the largest food and wine show in Connecticut (it brought in 15,000 attendees this year), was just the event to tend to my taste buds!
From the time I walked into the lobby, I knew my time here would be a real experience, in food, wine, and design. Here are some of the elements that stood out at Mohegan Sun:
Now, let’s get back to the show. I must admit I was a bit star-struck or should I say chef-struck. I watch most of the cooking shows, own many cookbooks, and yes, I love to cook. But seeing some of these celebrity chefs up close made me excited and nervous at the same time. What do I say? What do I ask? There were chefs left and right–Tyler Anderson, Kevin Cottle, Jasper White, and Betty Fraser just to name a few.
Prior to a wonderful dinner at Bobby Flay’s second outpost of Bar Americain (the restaurant opened at Mohegan Sun in November) I attended a cocktail reception with chef Govind Armstrong (Table 8 and 8 Ounces restaurants) and Ben Ford (Ford’s Filling Station). I was smitten, having been a huge Govind Armstrong fan for a while. I also saw chef Armstrong in action at Sunday’s cooking demonstration making brandade fritters with wood-roasted tomato coulis. Yum.
And the show wasn’t complete without chef, restaurateur, TV personality, and author Bobby Flay doing his thing. He made his dallas burger crunchified, something you could find at Bobby’s Burger Palace. After the demonstration, I tried it out for myself and waiting online for almost 25 minutes was worth it. This burger (probably the best I’ve ever had) along with a pistachio milkshake was a real winning combination.
Bobby Flay was also one of 22 chefs to participate in Saturday night’s Celebrity Chef Dine Around. This event was filling with both great food and wine pairings. Every type of dish was there from Rich Lucas’ braised short ribs of beef with a pumpkin and wile mushroom polenta to Todd English’s lobster rolls to an all-out meal from Lydia Shire with lobster popovers, crab cakes, and tiramisu with Kahlua.
The demonstrations were just part of the show. The other part was of course, the wine! There were seminars from vineyards like Far Niente and Bridlewood Estate Winery; a grape stomp; and even an oyster shucking contest–The Oyster Open. And now for the tastiest wine and liquor–Duckhorn Vineyards’ Paraduxx, Far Niente’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, Apel Eis Apple Ice Wine, Navan’s natural vanilla liqueur, Pearly Bay’s semi-sweet sparkling wine from South Africa, and Soave’s dry white wine from Northern Italy. But taste wasn’t all that caught my eye–so did the bottle and label design. Here are some of my favorites–and yes, even Ed Hardy is now making wine (the sangria was pretty good):
It’s Monday and I’m still full from all the goodness from the weekend. I enjoyed talking to the winemakers and the chefs so much that I feel like I want to become one myself. There was so much passion felt throughout the event—it was very hopeful. Cheers to the thriving food and wine industry!