What an awful event.
Where to begin?
They take your ticket (I bought mine online and printed it at home) and give you another, smaller ticket. No direction, no brochure, no map or list of vendors, NOTHING.
I give my ticket to the ticket people (who have no idea about anything) and see the ugliest, most rudimentary "festival" I've ever seen. The space is terrible - cold-like, hard, unfinished and simply ugly with little to no signage, balloons or anything that makes a festival a festival.
It's 6:25 and I am excited to hear Max McCallum (USA's cheese whiz) and Terrence Brennan (Artisanal/Picholine) talk about cheese and fondue - scheduled to take place at 6:30. But no one seems to know where they are or if in fact a cheese demo is taking place today. I am then told to come back in a half hour. Okay.
So I check out the booths...apparently there are supposed to be 80 vendors...currently I'd say there are 25 set up at most. Less than half. What the hell did I pay my $20 admission fee for?
So I wait on this unbelievably long line to purchase food/drink coupons. It takes awhile but I have nothing else to do.
A half hour or so later and Josh DeChellis is making a trout is miso marinade which is kinda cool...but he looks like he'd rather be in the weeds at Sumile or Jovia. I wish I was in the weeds at Sumile or Jovia.
An hour later and still no one knows what's going on. And, it turns out, that there won't be a cheese demo tonight. But no one is sure exactly why.
So I go to get some food. And there are some good things here, I must admit. Woo Lae Oak had these chicken drummettes (2 per order for $4) that were delicious. Crispy, soft in the right spots, flavorful and addictive. I actually went back for another order before I left. They were also the best deal of the night.
Aspen had buffalo sliders for $6 each. Mine, and a few others on plates ready for sale, were missing the gonzo sauce - a sign of uneveness that scares me a bit. But the burger was delicious. The bacon on it was amazing. The only good smell in the entire place was coming from the grill it was being cooked on. But this is no deal. They serve 2 of them as an appetizer at the restaurant for $12. No bargain (and actually its more expensive considering the cost to get in). They claimed to be serving three dishes, including a trout taco, but only the burgers were being sold.
Roy's was there and the staff seemed friendly, the cajun crusted tuna looked good but was too "convention center" to purchase.
I took a chance and paid the $5 for a scallop dish from Duvet. This offered the most food...three bay scallops on three scallop shells (so 9-10 bay scallops total) in a passionfruit ceviche or sorts. This was actually pretty good. I was surprised.
They had some wine from Long Island (50, pronounced five oh; and 48, pronounced forty-eight). They were from different vineyards on the same stretch of road on the North Fork. None of them excited me but the 50 was worth trying again in a better environment.
Soup Man was there and offered three soups, the most expensive being $3 (seafood bisque), Artisnal had a cheese plate for $4 that included Bridgid's Abbey (one of my favorites from Cato Corner Farm) and some others that were pretty good, Picholine had a gazpacho of some kind that did look good but the rest was pretty boring. Some bored out of their skulls guys from Brooklyn didn't even try to sell their cupcakes (um, I think you joined the bandwagon a little too late fellas), and neither did the guy from Restaurant Insider magazine (you had to pay $2 for a copy of the magazine).
Poor Nina and Tim Zagat were awarded the first (and hopefully last) ever Golden Fork Award for their Zagat Survey. Alas, they weren't there to accept the award. Their son Ted did the honors.
But before all of this, on the "stage", a comedian with some interesting material was having the worst gig of his career. The emcee of the event actually came out during his performance to give him the "you've got five minutes" talk. The comedian was speechless and couldn't believe that that just happened.
And before that...a Jimmy Buffet Tribute Band played the classics, which though not being half bad...were just lost on a non-existent, uninterested crowd.
I sincerely doubt that Berlin actually took the stage tonight. I didn't stay long enough to find out. But if I were them, I'd give back their appearance fee and leave.
The only interesting thing to see was Mike Verko's fancy fruit carvings. His ice carvings would probably be great but I wasn't waiting two more hours to see the finished result. Save yourself the money and check out his website instead www.mikescarvings.com
Truly the world's worst run event. I've never seen something run so poorly. If this stays open until Sunday I will be extremely surprised. Don't be surprised if more vendor's pull out.
If you already bought the tickets...still don't go. Call it a wash and be happy you stayed home or did something else. Seriously.