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Food and Wine Festival at the Providence Flower Show – Are You Kidding Me?

Unfortunately not.

Picture the most ridiculously bad event you can.  Multiple by 100.  Replay it in your head because you can’t believe anything could ever be that bad.  It just couldn’t.  Nothing could.  This was far worse.

Extremely BAD wine tasting this way!

Extremely BAD wine tasting this way!

Let me start by stating that they charged people money for this.  If it was free it would be terrible, but hey, it’s free.  This wasn’t free.  We talked to quite a few people during our amazing hour there, and the universal sentiment was that they had been ripped off.  Blatantly and in public, they had been ripped off.

The Brochure - Wine Part

The Brochure – Wine Part

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First, the propaganda.  This year they expanded to the Ballroom on the 5th floor, ostensibly to accommodate additional people.   The brochure invites you to come to the “Grand Tasting” each afternoon, from 1-6 P.M.  The text concentrates on the visiting chefs that would be giving cooking demonstrations, as well as some doing book signings.  That part is good, because that’s all there is.  They don’t tell you that though.  From the website for the show, at www.flowershow.com comes the following:

“The Food and Wine Festival at The Flower Show® celebrates the best that Providence and Rhode Island have to offer: a local food culture rich in tradition and award-winning chefs.

  • 100 wines from all over the world featured in the expanded Food and Wine Festival area for tasting, sampling and pairing
  • Larger Fifth Floor ballroom area
  • Celebrated chefs, culinary professionals and winemakers
  • Continuous cooking and pairing demonstrations in the Theatre Kitchen
  • Sara Moulton, “Barefoot Guy” Randy Arnold, Claire Criscuolo, Johnson & Wales Chef Educators scheduled to participate
  • …and more!”

I draw your attention to the first statement, the one about there being 100 wines for tasting, sampling and pairing.  Pairing with what?  There was no food.  Maybe you were supposed to pair the wine with a plant you brought over from the Flower Show (which was quite good we thought).  Maybe some bark mulch or a paving stone.  Certainly not any FOOD.  And in reality, you couldn’t find much in the way of wine to pair with the flower show items.  There was something disturbingly, fundamentally wrong about this whole thing.

So what was actually there?  There were four booths pouring wine.  In total they had about 22 wines between them ( I draw your attention once again to the propaganda which claimed 100 wines).   One had wines from Roig Parals in Spain, and these were the creme de la creme of this event.  The 2007 Cami de Cormes old vine Carignan was a nice wine, deep and expressive.  You will not hear those words again.  Then there were some wines from Shelalara in Coventry RI.  We’ve been there.  We’ve blogged about their dessert wines.  We have some of their small lot Amarone.  They had some of their fruit wines and their Merlot. The Merlot was really not very good.

Barefoot, Thorny Rose, Simply Naked and...empty!

Barefoot, Thorny Rose, Simply Naked and…empty!

Here’s a picture of the booth lane where the next, and last, two wine servers were.  Here we have Barefoot Cellars.  Nothing wrong with this, but nothing to write home about either.  This is 3 for $13 in the bin wine.  We drink that kind of stuff all the time, we just don’t go to wine festivals to try it.  Last was a booth that had Simply Naked and Thony Rose wines.  These were thin and lacked any depth or body.  And……we’re done with the wine!  Wasn’t that great?

But wait, there were two beer booths.  The one from Trinity Brewhouse was pouring their Kolsch and their IPA.  The Kolsch was excellent.  Narragansett had a booth as well.

How about food?  Maybe the food could save the day.  Nah.  There were two, I repeat two, booths that had some type of food.  One was Whole Foods, which was serving some spreads from jars on small crackers.  This had a long line, since it was the only thing resembling food in the place.  That’s because the second booth from Millonzi’s Bar & Grill ran out of food as soon as they opened the door.  They brought 200 appetizers.  We got there at 1:10, ten minutes after opening, and the Millonzi’s booth looked like this:

Invisible Food

Invisible Food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So this was depressing.  We spoke to one woman who was waiting when they opened the doors and she found the Millonzi’s table empty when she got in.  Apparently the first twenty people in realized there was no food and they grabbed everything. This was empty by 1:01 P.M.  The wine tasting went until 6:00.  What am I missing?

I thin they realized how sad this looked because a short time later it looked like this:

Invisible Food - with Plants!

Invisible Food – with Plants!

That’s better.  Even if there is no food there are at least some plants, and the main event is a flower show.

Clearly the main event at the wine tasting is the cooking demos.  The cooking stage looked nice.  There were a lot of chairs, which was good since no one could be tasting wine or food, so they’ll all be in the seats.  Here it is:

CIMG1462

The Cooking Stage

 

The chairs

The chairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

In summary, we’ve been to many wine and food oriented events, and I can’t get my head around this one.  Whoever managed this event should have cancelled it, because no one who went there today can possible believe it was worth the time, unless they went to see a particular chef cook.  Maybe that went well.  All I know is that everyone I met there felt they had been robbed.  We actually went to the convention center office to complain, and they gave us some phone numbers to call, but should have given us our money back.

Sad. Pathetic, Misleading, False Advertising –  pick a negative term.  I’d say this was bush league, but that would be giving it a compliment.  Don’t waste your time or your money.  I don’t understand why it was this bad either.  There are plenty of local wineries, great wine shops (think Gasbarro’s on the hill) and tons of GREAT restaurants all around.  Where were they?  Unfortunately, they were not there, and we were.

 

 

 

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