Wine festivals are great, don’t get me wrong. So are food festivals. But when you combine the 2 of them it is just exponentially better. Think about it; when you drink, you end up wanting something to eat and when you eat, you need a beverage to rinse it down. Bingo, the Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival held in Banff this past weekend was the best of both worlds.
It was a huge event actually, much larger than I had anticipated. There were restaurant vendors from Banff and Calgary, as well as beverages (alcoholic of course) from all over the place. I love taste testing wine and such because there are typically way too many bottles to choose from at any given liquor store to ever make a dent in trying even 1% of them, let alone all of them. Going to a festival like this is a great way to narrow it down and figure out what you really enjoy. One of my favourite discoveries was Dirty Laundry wine from Summerland, BC. We tried their Gewürztraminer, specifically the “Woo Woo“. They actually have 3 difference Gewurz’s ranging from sweet to dry, depending on when the grapes were picked and how long they are left to ferment. This one was in the middle, although I still found it pretty sweet, which I like.
Even sweeter yet were Field Stone Fruit Wines. That’s right, wine made out of fruit, grown right here in Alberta. No grapes whatsoever, so if you happen to be allergic, it’s your lucky day, you can officially drink wine. They make both what they call “fruit wines” and “dessert wines“, the latter being a bit sweeter and stronger, although both are much sweeter than your average grape-laden varieties. My favourites on each side were the strawberry rhubarb fruit wine (seriously, it tastes like strawberry rhubarb pie in a glass) and wild black cherry dessert wine. We went back for samples twice at their booth, that’s how much we loved Field Stone.
Now, moving on to the food! We started off our tasting with quinoa salad and ribs from the Elk and Oarsman. For a sports bar, I must say they made some pretty good quinoa salad, greek inspired I would call it, with olives, tomatoes and cucumber. The show-stopper of the evening had to be the guacamole from El Toro though. I know what you are thinking, how can simple old guac be a show-stopper? Well thanks to the plantain chips that were shooting out of it like fireworks, it definitely caught your attention. The minute I saw a plate of it in someone else’s hands, I knew I needed my own sample stat!
Being the smart festival goers that we were, we planned to save plenty of room for dessert (which in our case really just meant more fruit wine). Sunshine Village offered a cream cheese brownie with berries. I’m still not really sure where the cream cheese was but it was a pretty good tasting brownie so I won’t complain. Well I will complain, it could have been bigger than one bite! Bernard Callabeut also had plenty of chocolate to sample from, plus it was a great way to use up any remaining tickets as they were only 2 a pop. I am addicted to their habanero sea salt bars, so I was excited to try the similar Rosemary Fusion. It’s basically the exact same chocolate with a subtle hint of rosemary on top of the habanero sea salt flavour. They may have only been 2 tickets each but we sure used up a heck of a lot more than that!
So that’s a wrap on my inaugural visit to the Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival. Lucky for me I don’t even have to wait a full year to go back; they come to Calgary October 17-18! See you there!