8 tasty American food and wine festivals
Tuesday, April 04, 2017
Food and travel go hand in hand these days, as increasing numbers of travelers plan their trips around food and beverage events. And, with food and wine festivals popping up everywhere across the country, it's becoming easier to celebrate great food and drinks as part of a vacation experience.
Below, we've highlighted eight of America's top food and wine festivals, presented chronologically to provide a platter full of options for the remainder of the year.
Austin Food & Wine Festival
April 28-30, Austin, Texas
Featuring celebrity chefs from Austin's own red-hot gourmet scene, along with others from across Texas and the nation, Austin's annual food fest offers up artisan foods, wine tastings and interactive cooking demos with opportunities for guests to cook alongside the pros.
The event boasts a variety of live music and other attractions, including the Rock Your Taco Celebrity Chef Showdown and a Feast Under the Stars — all geared to keep the party going well after the sun goes down.
May 18-21, San Antonio, Texas
Expect Texas-size flavors and flair at the annual Culinaria festival — a five-day celebration that's guaranteed to satisfy the Lone Star State's hearty appetite for foodie festivals. Staged at La Cantera Resort & Spa, Culinaria brings together local and New World chefs serving up tasty European and Latin-inspired dishes ranging from decadent meals to bite-sized fare.
Workshops, cooking demos and tastings culminate with the Grand Tasting, a Saturday evening feast featuring a mouthwatering variety of cuisines prepared by top rated chefs and paired with high-end wines and creative cocktails.
New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
May 25-28, New Orleans, Louisiana
Universally recognized for its culinary scene, the Big Easy unsurprisingly plays host to a major food and wine event. Celebrating 25 years, NOWFE's four-day fest plays out largely in the French Quarter (where else?) and takes full advantage of the city's long heritage of great cuisine as exemplified at the Grand Tasting.
It's a lavish dinner where more than 1,000 domestic and international vintages will be served with food curated by 75 of New Orleans' best restaurants including the likes of August, Antoine's, Besh Steak, Brennan's, Shaya and Galatoire's.
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
June 1-4, Atlanta, Georgia
Centrally located in Midtown Atlanta, the seventh-annual staging of the city's top food-and-wine event will bring together nearly 200 chefs, pit-masters, sommeliers and mixologists who will focus primarily on food and drink of the American South.
Over the course of the festival, attendees can participate in wine and food tastings ranging from down-home delicacies to the freshest fusion — enjoyed with the most sought-after wines and hot new bar favorites. More than 90 cooking classes, aimed at exploring regional flavors and traditions, will take place at Lowes Atlanta Hotel.
Food & Wine Classic
June 16-18, Aspen, Colorado
Food critics are pretty much unanimous in naming Aspen's Classic the nation's premier food and wine festival. Now in its 35th year, it formed the mold for such events and over the years has been widely copied.
It continues to attract the world's most accomplished culinary experts, celebrity chefs and winemakers who come together in a breathtaking setting at the base of Aspen Mountain to present a jam-packed schedule of cooking demos, wine tastings and panel discussions. To be sure, this is a pleasure-packed weekend of indulgence for guests willing and able to plunk down $1,650 for a three-day pass.
Taste of Chicago
July 5-9, Chicago, Illinois
Billing itself as the "World's Largest Food Festival," Taste of Chicago originated in 1980 and during its early years was staged on a three-block section of N. Michigan Avenue. Successful from the start, it soon found a new home in lakefront Grant Park, known as Chicago's "front yard," where it roars to life each July. Colorful food booths featuring the best cuisine in the city — from pizza to Mexican and Chinese to Indian — line the park.
Local chefs and guest celebrity chefs offer demonstrations and share cooking tips. Complimenting all the fabulous chow are musical performances at the Petrillo Music Shell. New for 2017 is Street Art & Graffiti Alley, where four prominent Chicago artists combine to produce new artwork each day during the festival.
Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival
August 25-28, Los Angeles, California
Presented by founding partners Food & Wine magazine and Lexus, LA's sixth-annual foodie extravaganza presents four busy days of tastings, lunches and dinners at restaurants in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles.
A veritable who's who of local and national chefs will be on hand including New Orleans' Emeril Lagasse, seven-time James Beard Award winner Rick Bayless from Chicago, Andre Bienvenue from Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach, Lexus Culinary Master Stephanie Izard from Chicago, Denver's Alex Seide (named by Food & Wine as "Best New Chef" in 2010) and local favorite Brandon Kida, executive chef at Beverly Hills' Hinoki & The Bird.
Don't get too excited about joining this year's festivities, however, as all events were sold out by the end of March. Plan early for 2018.
September 14-17, Portland, Oregon
A relative newcomer to the food festival circuit, five-year-old Feast Portland is nonetheless one of its hottest rising stars. Forbes magazine calls it "the country's coolest culinary festival," and Fodor's named it one of North America's top 15 food festivals. This should not come as a surprise, given that Portland is a driving force behind the Pacific Northwest food revolution, with its emphasis on farm/boat-to-table fresh ingredients and creative cooking.
More than a celebration of the Rose City's chefs and restaurants, this festival is all about Oregon's bounties as showcased in the main event, the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting in Pioneer Square. Here you'll find locally sourced meat and produce, fish from the Pacific and the Columbia River, wines from the Willamette Valley and craft brews that have made Oregon the number one state for brew artists.
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