Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival Review

It’s Autumn yet again so Nancy and I have once more visited the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival in Calgary. After the ticketing problems we had at last years’ show we were not exactly sure we would attend this year despite my having gone in many years past. Last year we were given only half the tickets we’d purchased and found ourselves running out very quickly, having to then purchase more tickets to make up for what we’d not been given. Now, this is partly our own fault having not counted the tickets at the booth and even more so since while buying there was a man at the next window complaining that he’d not received what he paid for. The people who put the shoe on were very nice and had told us that they’d give us door and sampling tickets to the 2009 show. Unfortunately they never did send us anything and we just believed if we went to the show this year we’d be paying ourselves. I decided to give them one more chance and e-mailed them a copy of the e-mail we’d received and responded to asking for our address to send the tickets to us. I didn’t expect much as the show started the next day. The show staff responded quickly however and it was all arranged for us to pick up a package containing tickets at the event which saved us about $150 and is much appreciated.

We attended the show on Friday evening and showed up shortly after they opened the door in order to see as much as we could before the crowds got too bad. Our tickets were waiting for us so we picked up our sampling glasses and went inside. The floor was laid out as it always is with booths of wine, beer and liquor vendors selling samples of the newest offerings, and booths occupied by local restaurants sampling some of the items from their menus.

We went up and down the rows of booths and tried some nice wines and beers (and some that were not so nice). I sampled a few good whiskeys as well, one in particular that caught my attention was a whiskey that is made in India called Amrut and in particular the peated version which I found very interesting and rather enjoyable despite being such a young whiskey.

AmrutIndia’s largest distillery, Amrut is based in Bangalore. The state of Karnataka is where this distillery is located and was founded in 1948 by Radhakrishna Jagdale who initially produced only liqueurs. Amrut so far is the only Indian distillery with grand aspirations of conquering the European and North American markets. Their first single malt only became available at the tail end of 2004 and this one was only matured for only 3/4 years, and is now quite widely available in many countries.

We also sampled food from many of the restaurants including Char|Cut Roast House which is due to open in December, the new Spur Gastropub and the Blue Dog cafe in Cochrane which offers a New Orleans Cajun influenced menu the samples from which we enjoyed but found somewhat bland for this type of food. Many other local restaurants were present and some of the food was quite good. I like being able to sample so many things in one place which is the main reason I go to this event.

On the whole the show was what we’d come to expect and their was a fair amount of food and booze to sample, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it has become more of a place to be seen rather than a place for food, wine and beer lovers to indulge their passions, far too many of those attending seemed to be more interested in “hanging out”, getting drunk and yapping with friends about their “vast knowledge” of fine wine and haute cuisine then actually getting information on new offerings and restaurants. There were the snobs who seem to believe they are in the know about the latest trendy cuisine which they invariably mispronounced when speaking of it, and the people who don’t know what good food is. One latter such fellow was one we spoke with and was eating his second large helping of Nigiri sushi from the booth for Kinjo because it is so “amazingly fresh” and he loves great sushi. This same guy informed us that aside from Kinjo he also frequented sushi great sushi bars as Sushi BBQ Inn on 16th avenue which has to be the worst sushi in town. I hate to sound like a snob myself but so many of these folks were dressed up and having had several samples of hard liquor were loudly and drunkenly talking in groups that within a couple of hours of opening had clogged the show to the point it was unpleasant to try and move about.

If you love food and enjoy your liquids I do recommend that you give the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food festival a try but go early on either Thursday or Friday and know that you will spend about $100 per person to get a good sample of what is on offer.


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