Alexandria, Va.’s second annual food festival brought together local wineries and food vendors on June 22. The event, held in the area’s bustling Carlyle District, near Old Town, saw plenty of sunshine, a few local businesses advertising, live bands, and even a moon bounce for young attendees.
The food vendors (there were a little more than 10 at the festival) were circled around the main grassy area, which was home to a tent where all the wineries were pouring their offerings.
I only sampled a small selection of what was available, but standout dishes included local restaurant Trademark’s candy bacon — a succulent, roughly 2-inch slice of tangy bacon with just a dash of sweet. The Crowne Plaza Hotel’s Railstop Gastropub’s lamb kofta was grilled to juicy perfection, even if the pita bread that accompanied the yogurt sauce as a side dish was a little dry. Local chain Clyde’s dished out a tasty crabcake that fell apart easily, but was complemented well by chilled corn with tomatoes. Tapas restaurant La Tasca handed out empanadas that were just the right amount of flaky with warm, but not too hot, beef inside.
After waiting in line to get my ID checked, I picked up an included-with-price-of-admission wine glass and a bottle of water and started tasting. As all the wineries were pouring inside the tent (instead of facing outward as can be customary at festivals), it did occasionally get a little hot inside and feel cramped, although it was nice to be out of the sun. Later on during the festival, the organizers started capping the number of people inside, which helped.
About 14 Virginia wineries poured local libations. A handful of my personal favorites included Delaplane’s Cobbler Mountain Cellars’ sparkling hard apple cider; Oak Grove's Ingleside’s combination chardonnay and viognier Blue Crab Blanc (which also came in a cute, crab-decorated bottle); Spotsylvania’s Mattaponi Winery’s sweet and tart strawberry wine; and Lovingston’s Democracy Vineyards’ Village View Gold — a wine made out of Ginger Gold apples.
For more on the Alexandria Food and Wine Festival, please visit their website.