The best thing about wine tastings…

Is that no one under the age of 21 can be admitted.

The worst thing is that people can be annoying at any age. But at least when they’re adults you don’t have to pretend to care or think it’s cute when they get in your way and almost cause you to take a tumble.

For the most part though, the 2011 NYC Wine and Food Festival Grand Tasting (which I attended this past Saturday) was a smashing success. I had a lovely time with my mother–once we managed to rise above the incompetence of the myriad volunteers. However, for edification’s sake, I do have some notes for volunteers of the future:

1.) You are a volunteer. Figure out what the event, for which you are volunteering, is.

2.) Direct people, upon arrival, to the event location instead of letting them mill about in what turns out to be the free-to-anyone area.

The Pith Zester's mother, getting a free, autographed copy of Ming Tsai's new cookbook

3.) When there are only 2 presentation stages, know where they are.

4.) You are a volunteer. Please continue to volunteer your time to assist those who have paid to be there. The tasting tables are not for your grazing; they are for ours.

The next few rules are more for attendees:

5.) When there are obvious, seperate bottleneck areas and relaxation/gathering areas, don’t corral your group of 5 in the middle of the bottleneck area, causing greater traffic headache.

6.) Keep walking. She’ll find you.

7.) Don’t hold seats for people who have gone to the bathroom when you know very well that to get to the bathroom–Port-a-Johns, outside and across the street–and back will take at least 20 minutes.

8.) Don’t drink so much wine that you end up being that guy sitting behind me at the final presentation who asked ridiculous, attention seeking questions.

9.) Don’t drink so much wine that you end up being that girl sitting behind me at the final presentation who kept screaming, “WOOO! THAI-LAND!” every time Andrew Zimmern mentioned said nation.

Other than that, it was pretty standard fare. We entered about thirteen bajillion raffles & there was some seriously delicious food: Strip over Roasted Acorn Squash from BLT Prime, Lobster Scrambled Eggs with Trout Roe and Creme Fraiche with Brioche Toast from Highpoint Bistro & Bar, Truffeled Polenta with Fried Quail Egg from reBar, and Golden Tomato Soup–which we loved–and then realized it was just the new Campbell’s…and much, much more.

We also watched several presentations: Rocco DiSpirito shilling his new, ‘you too can eat low-fat Italian food!’ cookbook, then Paula Deen with hubby Michael Groover–purely for entertainment purposes–her food was/is the dreck–though she did bring out, and subsequently sexually harass, Robert Irvine. Next, Giada DeLaurentis brought people on stage to cook ‘with her’ then left them alone at the stove top and did nothing but vaguely answer audience questions–I will applaud her for one thing, however: when asked if she would be writing a toddler friendly cookbook she answered that she would not as she believes children should eat the same thing the adults are eating. Good for her. Lastly, Andrew Zimmern–probably the least known cook in the bunch–gave the best presentation of the day with the most appetising food, despite the hecklers. WOO! THAI-LAND!

Visit Andrew Zimmern’s website for Lamb Dumplings from Mongolia, “Porcupine” Balls from China or Gai Tom Kha, a coconut chicken soup from Thailand



  1. Say HI! to your mom next time you talk!

    Nice coverage of the event!

    Do you ever give a heads up of these events or do you like to keep the “WOOO! THAI-LAND!” peeps to a minimum by not advertising?

  2. A very fun time was had by all! Thanks Pith Zester for taking Mom along. She’s been telling everyone all about it and she can hardly wait for this event next year!


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