Seattle Food and Wine Experience: An Epic(urean) Adventure
February 1, 2011 by Doug Haugen
I am perhaps the only wino that doesn’t care about food. I know, I know. I can hear jaws dropping everywhere. I’m quite open about it, and when I tell people this, they look at me like they just discovered an albino crow or the fabled chimera. Shock and horror. I like food, sure. A guy’s gotta eat, but I’ve just never gotten too excited about it like I am about wine.
There have been, however, a few times when I’ve seen what all the food-fuss is about–when I’ve damn-near been converted to a foodie in road-to-Damascus fashion. One of those times was last year at the Seattle Food and Wine Experience.
Of course, I went to the event for the wine, but I’ve been known to nosh on some vittles from time to time. A Roquefort parfait from the Artisinal Table (now closed, sad-face) with a glass of Gewürztraminer had an effect on me like the Buddha’s first enlightenment–I saw all of my past and future meals and knew that things would never be the same. Add lamb from Ruth’s Chris Steak House, bacon maple bars from Frost Doughnuts, sandwiches and pasta from Maximus/Minimus along with tasty bites from many other Seattle fooderies and I could have died a fat and happy man. The SFWE is like a buffet with three Michelin Stars.
And–egad!–there was the wine. Lots and lots of gorgeous juice. My cup runneth over. You couldn’t throw a kalamata olive without hitting a winemaker pouring vino for the thirsty mob. I started with a striking Merlot from Terra Blanca, and the rest was an odyssey with a golden fleece there for the taking at every booth.
Let me give you an idea of what the SFWE is like. You’re given a glass at the door (you can bring your own special glass if you roll like that) and an encouraging nod and grin that bespeaks the same sentiment given to me when I was forcefully pushed down my first water-slide when I was short and timid: “Trust me, it’s going to be a great ride.” From there, you’re greeted with a pavilion brimming with food and beverage that makes your heart race like a dog with two tails–you just don’t know which to chase first. You can either strategize your approach using the list provided, or you can make your way through like a bee in a clover field. I personally prefer the latter approach, because, hey, time’s a-wastin’. For four hours of unabashed hedonism, you move from one gastronomic sensation to another, learning stuff along the way. I also recommend taking notes or, better, pictures on your mobile device, because there’s plenty you’re going to want to remember to seek out the next day.
Needless to say, I’m really excited about the 3rd Annual Seattle Food and Wine Experience coming up on February 27 at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. Well over a hundred wineries, a dozen breweries, over twenty restaurants and twenty-five other exhibitors in one room is nothing to sneeze at–unless you’re allergic, in which case you’ll be hospitalized indefinitely.
In addition to all the food wine and beer from the individual producers listed below, there are plenty of other great attractions, too, in the form of themed exhibitions by culinary powerhouses from the Pacific Northwest:
- The Taste of Tulalip Lounge will feature all the chefs from the resort cooking their latest creations with individual styles and a new concept roll-out. What’s the new concept, you ask? You’ll have to stop by to see. Drum-roll, please…
- You can take a break for some think-drink at the Caffé Vita Coffee Lounge; Caffé Vita operates five cafés and a roasterie in Seattle, and have become an increasing part of the coffee community. I have to say, too, that Caffé Vita is one of my personal favorite coffee shops in Seattle with great atmosphere and fantastic coffee. I’ve been known to relish a neat quad espresso, and this is one of the few places you can get a rich and delicious quad-shot that doesn’t make you scrunch up your face like a perfumer in a fart factory.
- The “What’s Your Beef Profile” exhibit by the Washington Beef Commission will allow you to blind-taste the same cut of beef from three different sources and learn about different cuts and cooking techniques as you taste chefs’ preparations. This kind of thing is great for the home chef, but even more important for someone like me who can mystically and invariably turn any cut of beef into the soles of a pair of chucks.
- At the Foster Farms Market exhibit, you can meet Kathy Casey, taste her chicken-bacon cupcakes (WHAT?! I’m in!) and pick up a free copy of her book if you’re one of the lucky first 400 in line. A word of advice, this line formed faster and longer than a conga line at a rollerskating party last year, so get there early.
- At the “Chef in the Vineyard” exhibit, you can meet Chateau Ste. Michelle‘s Culinary Director and cookbook author John Sarich who will be preparing four different recipes taken from his book Chef in the Vineyard paired with individual wines. It’ll be like a four-course meal without the hassle of sitting down and making polite dinner conversation.
- At the Tom Douglas Rub with Love exhibit, you’ll meet Oregon lamb producer Reed Anderson and Lola chef Liam Spencer (Lola is a Tom Douglas restaurant), the “Shepard and Chef” team for American Lamb representing the Pacific Northwest. American Lamb is an organization of earnest lamb producers dedicated to raising high-quality lamb from pastoral grasslands to high-country meadows. If it’s true that you are what you eat, you can rest assured that you won’t wake up in the morning to see a dirty vial of antibiotics in the mirror or a bag of hormones like a thirteen year old kid at his first sock-hop.
- Taste Oprah’s favorite Mac-N-Cheese by Beecher’s Handmade Cheese paired with Goose Ridge wines.
Not only is the Seattle Food and Wine Experience fun, educational and swank, but it’s also–if I can take the liberty of phrasing it in the common vernacular–cheap. Tickets are just $49 per person, and includes access to all areas of the event. It’s not like some events where you pay an admission price and then find that you also have to pay for each stop you make inside or that you’re limited to a handful of tastes unless you pay for extra once you’ve quickly run out. For under fifty bones, you can float around for four hours on a Sunday afternoon tasting an astounding assortment of wine, beer and nosh and walk away with an education, a commemorative wine glass and a cookbook to boot. Better than a Sunday brunch, and more calories for your dollar.
This kind of value is par for the course when it comes to events Jamie Peha of Peha Promotions get involved with. For this event, she’s partnered up with Explore Great Wine, LLC and a host of great sponsors, and this is the kind of QPR that makes us at WINO proud to be among them.
And, you’ll feel good knowing that in these tough times, a portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Giving Grapes Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to service industry professionals who have to take time off of work due to injury or illness.
Tickets to the Seattle Food and Wine Experience are on sale now, and can be purchased online. Get them fast before the event sells out. The place was seething with lively imbibers last year, yet–with the exception of the Kathy Casey book giveaway–the array of offerings ensured you never had to wait an inordinate amount of time for any particular taste. Get your tickets now, and we’ll see you there.
Here’s a list of wineries, breweries, restaurants and exhibitors you can expect to see at SFWE: