Monday, March 31, 2008

Report from ... Hamilton Food and Drink Fest 2008 - March 28, 2008

Hamilton’s Food and Drink Fest is now in it’s 3rd year and I can definitely see that it’s getting bigger … more folks showed up than I saw last year, the place was a sell-out for exhibitors (as every possible corner was filled with a booth), food, wine and beer were all given equal billing and the spacing out of these booths was well managed – meaning that all the wines weren’t in one place and all the beers in another, a good mixtures was to be found in all the aisles – you could sample as you saw fit. A young wine show always has glitches and I noticed two minor issues this year. One, which prevented me from really tasting the wines, was the glass (same as last year) – great little vessel for beer, spirits and port, but not very wine-tasting-friendly. The second was the lack of dump buckets for unwanted/unfinished libations – some very major wine pouring booths (ie: Churchill Cellars with a dozen or more wines) didn’t have a single dump bucket, which meant you had to cross the floor to find a garbage can and by then your attention drifted elsewhere. Good for you, not so good for Churchill. These are minor issues that did not affect the show to any degree for the hundreds that came through the door on this night – in fact, maybe it’s just me being nit-picky.

So this year’s Fest was all about food and beer for me … last year I wrote about the wine and food, this year I decided to focus my attention in a different way. In no way was I able to visit or taste everything, so I went in search of beef and beer.

If you’re a pasta lover there was, what seemed, a pasta dish on every corner, middle and end ... and they all looked good, but, like my ancestors of old, I was in searched for meat. My favourite returning food was from the Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Caterer, they resurrected last year’s mini asiago cheese and Italian sausage burger smeared with a Dijon sundried tomato mayo and topped with a sweet roasted red pepper … and why you may ask did they duplicate their offering this year? According to Lisa-Marie Upton, “It’s because it was such a hit last year we were asked to bring it back again.” And if the line-up at their booth was any indication, it was a hit again this year.

Beef seekers also needed look any further than the front door, where Hamilton Harbour Queen and Cruises caterer were shaving up some roast beef for a simple offering of beef on a bun au jus, taste was simply delicious – with your choice of white or whole wheat bun of course.

Dessert was a toss up between Cupcakes (mint buttercream and a fine assortment of other cupcakes) and a vanilla coconut square created by Dyments Farm Market. The square beat the cupcake by a nose because I just couldn’t stop tasting this delicious confection, even after it had been long swallowed.

Drink time brough about the hankering for a beer, the lighter versions were handled by Nickel Brook, who’s Apple Ale is smooth and refreshing with the bite of crisp green apples. They also produce an award winning red amber ale that went very well with that aforementioned beef on a bun. The need for heavier beer brought me to St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, it’s creamy head, rich coffee flavours and smooth delivery is just what the doctor ordered. I was told they also make a delicious cream ale but it’s only available on tap – St. Ambroise is brewed by McAuslan Brewing out of Montreal, Quebec.

No comments: