The Food & Wine Festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center was a celebration of hedonism Italian style. There were Ferraris, Maseratis and Alfa Romeos from all vintages on display, along with wine and food along the same lines.
There were about 100 winery, importer or distributor tables with free-flowing wine. About 20 local restaurants – such as Chianti, Sagamore Hotel, The Meat House, Prime 677 and Hattie’s – and food purveyors presented an assortment of food including grilled long artichokes, pork belly, pork ribs, spaghetti with tomato sauce, duck meatballs with gnocchi, and mesclun greens with raspberry vinaigrette. There were cheese tastings, olive oil tastings and more than enough delicious food to go around. It was fun to pick a food item and find a wine to match with it.
Under another tent, Kevin Zraly gave a wonderful seminar on Italian wine. The topic is big but Kevin’s talent lies in being able to make you feel as if you have an expertise in Italy in just nine glasses. His humor and energy had the crowd laughing and learning all they ever really wanted to know about Italian wine.
There was also a seminar about Italian cheese for the foodies in the house. New York State wine was presented for the locavores. A seminar on sports car design was led by renowned Auto Designer Andrea Zagato. The silent auction offered wonderful items ranging from local sports and culture to cases or 3L bottles of wine. You could also have won a deluxe trip to Italy in a raffle.
The festival started on Friday morning with a private drive and lunch for Ferrari owners. After taking their cars on a scenic – from both the drivers’ and the observers’ perspective – tour of the area between Saratoga and Lake George, a luncheon and boat rides on the lake followed. The evening offered an on-stage fund-raising event celebrating the food and wine of Italy with Lidia Bastiani.
The grand tasting was held on Saturday – food and wine amid the sports cars at the Ferrari Concours. The evening offered a “junior” event from 7-10PM with Italian food and wine. The crowd was a mix of people of all ages. I guess everyone is young at heart after a day of eating and drinking fine Italian fare.
On Sunday there was a lovely Italian-style jazz brunch at the Saratoga National Golf Club. This gorgeous venue was a lovely way to end the weekend.
You can drive up to Saratoga in about 3 hours or take the train. The ride is long but magnificently beautiful. The train follows the Hudson River and is surrounded by gorgeous foliage on all sides.
I took Amtrak at 8:15 on Saturday (arriving at noon) and came back via the Albany station on a 2PM train that arrived at Penn Station at 4:30.
Anyone interested in a quick romantic getaway could do worse than heading up to Saratoga next year for the festivities. The lovely, old-world Gideon Putnam Hotel is located on the grounds of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, where the Saturday activities are held. If you don’t have a car, you would need to arrange transportation to and from the train and to the golf club, but could walk to the Saturday events.
Tickets to the different activities can be purchased a la carte. Here are this year’s prices:
• The Adirondack Road Tour and Luncheon (by invitation) was $50 per person.
• The Serata Italiana Gala on Friday night was $150 per person.
• The Grand Tasting and Ferrari Concours at SPAC were $75 per person.
• The After Party was $40 per person.
• The Italian Sparkling Jazz Brunch was $45 per person.
• The Gideon Putnam Hotel charges around $200 – $225 for the evening.