Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival

I'm the Media!
This post is a few weeks late, but it took a bit of reflection to decide how I would approach this post.

Although I had heard about the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival and knew it was coming for some time, I hasn't originally intended on going. Mainly as it seemed to be a rather pricey way to taste wine because you have to pay to both enter the festival ($18-30), as well as for sampling coupons ($0.50/each). However, the lovely @michpetersjones (of Food, Football and a Baby) asked if I wanted to go with her. Unbeknownst to me, the festival was offering free tickets to food bloggers to attend their industry event. Basically, media, bloggers and those in food and wine industry could attend for free, and receive $20 worth of sampling coupons if they showed up before 4pm on opening day. How is a bovine to pass that kind of deal up?

Some of the highlights from the festival for moo were:
  • The swag: Consisting of a super cool tasting plate with an opening to hold your wine glass.
  • Whiskey Dave: An extremely passionate, knowledgeable and friendly guy who obviously loves what he does. Enough so to convince me to take a taste of 12 year old Auchentoshan triple distilled malt whiskey. The first and only whiskey I'd ever tasted so far.
  • The Red Piano - The human enjoyed the short rib slider from the Red Piano, a place we'd heard of before, but had thought of more as a bar then a place to eat.
  • Choco Noir - A surprisingly divine tasting chocolate wine that was rich and dark.
Some of the questionable moments from the festival were:
  • Smoked salmon vodka - Although @michpetersjones was pretty excited to try this, vodka and moo do not get along. Although it didn't have a fishy taste like I was expecting, it was somewhat salty for a beverage.
  • Guru Indian Restaurant - It was a bit of a strange sensation to eat butter chicken in samosa form. Separately, the components were fine, but together I wasn't sure what to think.
Some suggestions for improvement:
  • Food and Wine Pairings - It would have been great if they paired wines/beverages with restaurants. Either placing restaurants near wines/beverages that pair well together or assigning wines/beverages to restaurants and having them bring creations that pair well with or are inspired by these drinks. Unfortunately, this didn't seem to be a consideration, and as a result, the layout of the booths seemed random and haphazardly arranged.
  • Tasting menu with sampling coupon information - Similar to Taste of Edmonton, it would have been great if they posted the menu with the number of tickets required per tasting ahead of time. Although they posted the restaurants, dishes, wineries, and beverages that would be available, there was no indication of the number of coupons each tasting would require. Knowing this ahead of time would have helped visitors to plan, particularly considering the cost could range fairly drastically from tasting to tasting. Even though we had gotten our sampling coupons for free, we had trouble figuring out what we wanted to spend them by simply from wandering around from booth to booth to see what was offered and how many coupons it would cost. We just hoped that we wouldn't miss anything we really wanted to try.
  • Standard Tasting Sizes - There didn't appear to be a standard to the number of sampling coupons required and the size of the tasting you received for either food or wine. Some champagnes were 8 coupons for a thimble sized sample while others gave you significantly more for the same number of coupons. I would expect more expensive beverages to require more sampling coupons, same with food, but that didn't seem to be the case.
Overall impressions:
  • I'm not sure that I would attend if I had to pay for both entry into the festival and for sampling coupons. Perhaps if they considered making it more about food and wine together by pairing these items, I would give it another go. However, there were significantly more wines than food and they should consider renaming the festival if both food and wine aren't both equal focuses of the festival.
Check out @michpeterjones' post about the festival.

More pictures at Photo Bucket.

(Note: There was no financial compensation from Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival for this blog post, although they provided free entrance and tasting tickets to the event. Any review provided by me will completely reflect my thoughts and opinions – good or bad, and will not be swayed by having free tickets provided.)

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