Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wine and Food from the Hudson Valley and Berkshire Mountains

There something about a local wine and food festival at a charming county fairgrounds in the middle of spring.  It’s just full of delight.  For your thrills and chills you need to get a goddess to go with you.  I chose Zena, Goddess of Fire to go with me for the 2nd Annual Hudson Berkshire Wine and Food Festival 

We flew down to Chatham in the Fire Mobile, ready to taste the best that the Hudson Valley and the Berkshires have to offer, and we weren’t disappointed. Zena, GOF, has a real talent for watching the Groupons and getting a couple people into places for deep discounts.  It’s almost like that Jedi hand waving thingie and people at the gate are always very friendly.

At the Columbia County Fairgrounds  gate in Chatham we got a tasting glass and a bag with pockets for holding bottles and a whole bunch of brochures.  I’m glad we got the brochures because now, a few days later, I can actually tell you what we tasted and where it came from.  At first this looked like a small (well, dinky) event, but once we got into the hall it became apparent that there were lots of producers there with lots of great things on offer.  I’m hoping they’ll leave the list of vendors up on the website for awhile, because these are names you should look into. 

The various vendors are people who have put their hearts and souls into making lovely food and drink for us. They use locally produced ingredients much of the time and give the local economy life and vigor.  Please consider tasting their products and supporting their efforts.

One of the most memorable tastes among the dozens that I enjoyed was dandelion wine produced by Hummingbird Hills Winery in Fultonville, NY (photo of Ken, above). In my family dandelion wine along with various fruit wines made in the basements of our grandparents’ houses was the butt of many a joke .  Owner Ken bases his wine on an old family recipe and doesn’t produce much, but likes to keep the tradition going. I'm not sure I can describe the taste - Zena says, "grassy" and I'm sure it will provide interesting comments at any party.

Another highlight was tasting Cereghino Smith Winery “Bianca” Riesling, which took me waaaaay back to a wine from Grgich Hills Winery in the Napa Valley of Califorina. What a great wine and a great memory.  I do love a good after dinner wine to put a glow on the evening.

Zena and I thought this stainless cooler (with spigots) was the perfect cider conveyance.

I got into an apple jag because I want to learn all I can about New York apples, so I started tasting the various apple products on the floor, including apple mead from Helderberg Meadworks, apple vodka and applejack from Hudson Valley Distillers, and  Warwick Valley sour cherry and apple brandy.  It was yummers all the way.

Sugar Wash Moonshine from Dutch’s Spirits was meh – they put it in lemonade, which just seemed wrong because it was something like crystal lite lemonade – urk.

 Maple mustards from Hudson Chatham Gourmet and Ioka Valley farms were top notch – Zena, GOF picked up some for a gift, which is an excellent idea. Single malt whiskey from Hillrock Estate Distillery, black raspberry dessert wine from Clinton Vinyards and a pilsner from BarringtonBrewery all went down easy, but all put together tuckered us out. And heaven only knows how many times Zena saved the world while I had my nose in a glass of spirits.

 Carlo deVito wrote about the festival in detail here and did a great job of capturing much of what was going on:

There were a few other products besides food and drink, such as these groovey cutting and serving boards.

After we tasted all we could taste and drank all we could drink, we took ourselves to a bench outdoors to review all we had enjoyed and to wax philosophically about the joys and sorrows of life. All that remained was to fly back to Albany lickety split in the old Fire Mobile. And so we did.

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