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Westchester Wine & Food Festival – Grand Tasting, Valhalla, NY, USA

Giovanni's Italian Deli - Fresh Mozzarella photo by Luxury Experience
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Luxury Experience and fellow foodies flocked to the Westchester Wine & Food Festival 2024 Grand Tasting Village at Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla, New York, on June 9, 2024, which was one of the highlights of the six-day festival. We had a full afternoon sampling high end wines and spirits, eating delicious food from top restaurants, attending a wine tasting with Wine Expert and author Kevin Zraly, and a culinary demo with Chef David Burke of Red By Horse by David Burke. It was another “wow” of an experience! If you did not attend this year’s Westchester Wine & Food Festival, make sure you add it to your calendar for 2025!

As we had attended the Westchester Wine & Food Festival 2023, we knew that there was much to experience during the four-hour event, and to maximize our time at the Westchester Wine & Food Festival 2024 Grand Tasting, we divided our time between the Connoisseurs Tent, Chef Demos, the Main Village, and attending a Wine Tasting with Wine Expert Kevin Zraly.

Here is how we spent our time…

The Connoisseurs Tent – Music, Wine, Spirits, and Food

Chris Kalafus - photo by Luxury Experience

Chris Kalafus

We visited the Connoisseurs Tent for great music, from Guitarist Chris Kalafus, to pair with the curated selection of wines, spirits, and food.

 The Wines

High end wines were the order of the day in the Connoisseurs Tent. Here is a sampling of some of the wonderful wines we tasted throughout the day.

Baricci Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli 2019 from Italy 14.5% alcohol, $84.99

Belle Glos Pinot Noir Taylor Lane 2014 from Sonoma County, California, (1.5L), 14.4% alcohol, $135

Castello del Rampolla Vigna d’Alceo Toscana IGT 2019 from Greve, Italy, 14% alcohol, made from a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Petit Verdot, $139

Far Niente - Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 - photo by Luxury Experience

Far Niente – Cabernet Sauvignon 2021

Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 from Napa, California, $97.99

L’Ermitage By Roederer Estate Brut 2017, Estate Bottled Sparkling Wine from Anderson Valley, California, 12.5% alcohol, $66.99

Louis Roederer Brut Vintage 2015, Estate “La Montagne” from France, 12.5% alcohol, $99.99

Querciabella Batar 2021 from Toscana, Italy, 14% alcohol, made from a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Blanc, $119

Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 Alexander Valley, California, made from a blend of 95.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Cabernet Franc, 1.9% Merlot, and 0.4% Petit Verdot, $74.99

Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 from Napa Valley, California, made with 76.61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18.13% Merlot, 2.56% Cabernet Franc, 2.32% Petit Verdot, and 0.38% Malbec, $159

The Spirits

Dulce Vida Tequila presented their selection of tequilas including their high-end connoisseur tequila: Dulce Vida Extra Anejo Tequila, 50% alcohol. Made in Mexico and aged for 5 years in barricas de Napa Valley. $185.

Empress Gin - photo by Luxury Experience

Empress Gin

Empress Gin also offered a selection of their gins including their Empress Cucumber Lemon Gin, Empress Elderflower Rose Gin, and Empress Indigo Gin, $34.99 each.

The Food

A sampling of the delicious delicacies that we sampled during the day and paired them with fabulous wines.

Eastchester Fish Gourmet - Oysters - photo by Luxury Experience

Eastchester Fish Gourmet – Oysters

Eastchester Fish Gourmet in Scarsdale, New York shucked Blue Point Oysters all afternoon and presented them with traditional mignonette, cocktail sauce, and horseradish garnishes. Paired with Louis Roederer Brut Vintage 2015 made for a very decadent and delicious indulgence.

L'Inizio - Chilled Corn Vichyssoise Smoked Crab - photo by Luxury Experience

L’Inizio – Chilled Corn Vichyssoise Smoked Crab

L’Inizio in Ardsley, New York served a delicious Chilled Corn Vichyssoise Smoked Crab & Chipotle Oil. The flavors were exquisite in this “small bite.”

Little Italy in the Bronx brought a taste of Arthur Avenue to the WW&FF with Tino’s Delicatessen in Bronx, New York loaded sandwiches. There was fresh mozzarella, crusty Italian bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a variety of cookies, and much more. Mangia!

Saltaire Spicy Tuna Crispy Sushi Rice - Photo by Luxury Experience

Saltaire Spicy Tuna Crispy Sushi Rice

Saltaire in Portchester, New York presented Spicy Tuna – Crispy Sushi Rice – Pineapple Marmalade, Eel Sauce. The combination of crispy rice, spicy tuna, and sweetness of the pineapple marmalade and eel sauce, made this another winning combination.

Town House Kitchen - Hummus Bites - photo by Luxury Experience

Town House Kitchen – Hummus Bites

Town House Kitchen + Drinks in New Rochelle, New York brought appealing “Hummus Bites” which were cucumber rounds topped with hummus, crème fraiche, kalamata olives, and fresh basil.

Seth Greenberg's Just Desserts - photo by Luxury Experience

Seth Greenberg’s Just Desserts

Seth Greenberg’s Just Desserts in Larchmont, New York brought a plethora of delectable desserts to taste including his Caramel Cake (Vanilla Tea Cake layers with homemade caramel between each layer, and outside; Lemon Burst (Almond Sponge Cake with a ring of housemade lemon curd inside; and Cocoa Raspberry Cake (Cocoa Tea Cake layers with seedless raspberry preserves between and outside finished with a dark fudge glaze, served on a framboise sauce with fresh whipped cream.

Debra C. Argen & Seth Greenberg - photo by Luxury Experience

Debra C. Argen & Seth Greenberg

As a bonus, Seth was onsite exquisitely decorating a cake that was cut at the end of the day as a grand finale to the event in the Connoisseurs Tent.

Seth Greenberg Decorating Cake - photo by Luxury Experience

Seth Greenberg Decorating Cake

Wine Tasting in the Connoisseurs Tent with Wine Expert Kevin Zraly

Kevin Zraly - photo by Luxury Experience

Kevin Zraly

Wine Tasting with Wine Expert and Author Kevin Zraly is always fabulous as he throws out wine tips interspersed with tasting great wines. As a way of an introduction, Kevin Zraly is the author of the highly acclaimed Windows On The World Complete Wine Course published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. He wrote his first wine list when he was 21 and the only wines were French. To say that he has expanded his list since then would be an understatement.

There were two wine sessions offered, and we attended the first session where Kevin presented Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, Cuvée de la Pompadour, NV Brut Rosé, a sparkling wine beauty from Napa Valley, California, made with a blend of 58% Pinot Noir grapes and 42% Chardonnay grapes, which gave the wine its lovely salmon color. Very active bubbles, and enough acidity to keep things lively on our palates, made it a winner and would be perfect to serve as an aperitif. Cheers!

Robin Kelley O'Connor - Sabering -photo by Luxury Experience

Robin Kelley O’Connor – Sabering the bottle

Kevin showed how to properly open a bottle of sparkling wine or champagne by untwisting the cage, then covering the top of the capsule with a towel, and then holding the capsule with one hand and twisting the bottle with the other. This prevents the capsule from shooting up into the air. Not content with merely twisting the bottle to remove the capsule, Kevin had his friend Robin Kelley O’Connor show the audience how to open the sparkling wine using a saber, which we decided was a trick better not attempted at home.

Edward F Nesta & Kevin Zraly - photo by Luxury Experience

Edward F Nesta & Kevin Zraly

Food and wine go hand in hand, and Chef Jessica Woodford of Cooking By Jessica, a personal chef from Westchester, New York passed her special crostini topped with whipped ricotta and balsamic vinegar, to pair with the Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, as strawberries and bubbles pair well together.

Cooking By Jessica- photo by Luxury Experience

Cooking By Jessica

Kevin Zraly’s Pro-Wine Tip: Always submerge champagne and prosecco in water and ice to help chill them and keep them super cold.

Grand Tasting Village

A sampling of some of the many wonderful tastes we experienced in and around the main Village.

Giovanni's Italian Deli - Fresh Mozzarella - photo by Luxury Experience

Giovanni’s Italian Deli – Fresh Mozzarella

Giovanni’s Italian Deli in White Plains, New York made fresh mozzarella and gave out samples that were still warm and oh so delicious!

Nothing Bundt Cakes - Photo by Luxury Experience

Nothing Bundt Cakes

Nothing Bundt Cakes tempted patrons with bites of their delicious cakes.

Ghost Spicy Reposado Tequila from Mexico had a spicy kick without overpowering our taste buds.

Hercules Mulligan brought their Eyr & Rye and Rum & Rye, and both were delicious.

Shanky's Whip from Ireland - photo by Luxury Experience

Shanky’s Whip from Ireland

Shanky’s Whip from Ireland – The Original Black Liqueur and Whiskey Blend was a popular tasting spot as well as a photo op with their big bird.

Spring 44 brought whiskey flavored vodka.

Thompson’s Cider Mill from Croton-on-Hudson, New York brought a selection of delicious hard seltzers including their Semi-dry Antique Apple Rose, Semi-dry Apple-Black Cherry, and Semi-dry Apple-Blueberry. Presented in tall “wine” bottles, they make a delicious lower alcohol choice.

Uncle Nearest Whiskey - photo by Luxury Experience

Uncle Nearest Whiskey

Uncle Nearest brought a selection of their tasty whiskeys, and also offered a cocktail.

The Wegmans Chef Demo Tent

Chef Demos are always a highlight of the Westchester Wine & Food Festival.

The Chefs

Emilio Ugarte of RiverMarket Bar and Kitchen
Chef David Burke of Red Horse by David Burke
Chef Peter Kelly of X20 Xaviers on the Hudson, Apropos Restaurant at The Abbey Inn
Chef Anthony Goncalves of Kanopi

Chef Demo with Chef David Burke of Red Horse by David Burke (White Plains, New York and more)

Chef David Burke - photo by Luxury Experience

Chef David Burke

We attended Chef David Burke’s demo of “Chicken Three Ways,” which included a step-by-step chicken butchering lesson! To a chef, throwing anything out means throwing money away, and Chef David demoed how to use all parts of the chicken in interesting and creative ways, which has always been a hallmark of his culinary style. His presentations at his restaurants are always fabulous, so the chance to see him in action at the stove was a real treat. (Read about Chef Burke’s demo and get the recipes in the Chefs’ Recipes section.)

Chef David Burke's Chicken Kebabs Watermelon Gazpacho - photo by Luxury Experience

Chef David Burke’s Chicken Kebabs Watermelon Gazpacho

The Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Festival – Grand Tasting 2024 was a full afternoon of tasting and learning about wonderful wines and spirits, eating fabulous food, and of course, making new friends. After the event, we took a walk up to the top of Kensico Dam to experience the breathtaking view, making it a perfect ending for a perfect day.

Chef David Burke, Debra C., Chef Peter Kelly - photo by Luxury Experience

Chef David Burke, Debra C. Argen, Chef Peter Kelly

Until next time, Cheers and Bon Appetit!

Westchester Wine & Food Festival

For more information or to purchase tickets for the next Westchester Magazine Wine & Food Festival, please visit the website: https://westchestermagazine.com/events/wine-and-food/ or visit their social media pages: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WMWineandFood/ and Instagram:  @westchestermagazine @westchestermagevents

Seth Greenberg - Decorated Cake - photo by Luxury Experience

Sweet memories of WMW&FF 2024

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