I was lucky enough to shoot photos at two related events this past weekend in downtown Albany. In case you are one of the few residents of the Capital District who I didn’t run into (and have been living under a rock), this weekend was the 5th annual Albany Wine and Dine for the Arts, an outstanding culinary event which is rapidly growing into the highlight of what can often be a grey month in upstate New York.
I began the weekend with Friday evening’s Grand Tasting. This event is truly a terrific way to start a three-day weekend and people really seemed to be enjoying themselves. The sizable crowd was wonderfully diverse with couples, both young and old, as well as groups of friends, meandering around the ballroom carefully balancing tasting plates of food and adult beverages. If you’re someone who is intimidated by “haute cuisine,” this would be a perfect opportunity to expand your culinary horizons in a completely low-key fashion.
As I roamed, snapping photos for a Seen gallery, I was able to make connections with old friends and new faces. In all honesty, I didn’t eat or drink because I was
working planning to take an evening run and didn’t want the excess ballast. If I had been indulging, the offerings from Cafe Capriccio, Bake for You and Javier’s all would have attracted my fork and, while I didn’t transition to the Slider Slam, held at 90 State, it looked like quite a party! Next year, for sure.
Saturday, though, was my night to indulge and I do believe I did justice to the fabulous offerings. I had originally planned to attend an old friend’s party in Troy, but the sloppy weather prevented me from making the trek. I like to ski on snow, not drive. I consoled myself by finagling a spot at one of the Gala’s tables and tucked into pretty much every course which came my way. Oh, and there was wine, too! Lots of tastes of lots of wines, including an ’81 Chateau Margaux and a ’66 Talbot. What an evening…
I wish I had been more disciplined about taking notes about the individual courses along with the wine pairings, but Friday had been the time for discipline. Saturday was all about dining with friends and filling my mouth with tastiness. And taking pictures, of course.
There was one aspect of the event which left me a bit disgruntled… This event would be impossible to pull off without the tireless efforts of the committee, the chefs and all of the professional hospitality industry employees. Prior to the start of meal service, there were a number of honors, awards and recognitions which needed to be presented. Unfortunately, there were quite a few tables which lacked appropriate decorum during this time and it was often difficult to hear the individual presenters and recipients. There was no lack of food or beverage served during the one-hour cocktail reception prior to the commencement of the sit down portion of the meal and it would have been nice if the attendees could have closed their mouths for just a short while.
Mark your calendars for mid-January 2015 – this event is going to continue to be the premier food and wine event in the Capital Region and you’ll want to be there.