Saturday, June 14, 2014

Drink, Eat, Relax at the Great Tastes of Tysons

By: Laurie Wallin
Capital Cooking Contributor

The first annual Great Tastes of Tysons Wine & Food Festival was held from May 31-June 1, 2014 at Lerner Town Square at Tysons II. This festival had it all – celebrity Chef demonstrations, local vendors, wine, beer, spirits, and food, live music, and – bonus – beautiful Spring weather! I attended the festival on Sunday, June 1 and enjoyed the all-you-can sample affair.

I began the day with a wine tasting. I started at the “Great Tastes from Around the World” table, featuring Alamos Malbec, Apothic Red, Edna Valley Chardonnay, and Starbrough Sauvignon Blanc. My favorite of these was the Malbec – smooth, flavorful, with just a hint of spice, perfect for pairing with food.

I needed something to pair with my Malbec, so I walked over to where Chef Victor Albisu was cooking up chorizo and roasting a lamb for later. I sampled both of his chorizos – one was topped with his tomato-and-onion tapenade and the other with chimichurri.


I filled with my wine glass with a taste of Pinot Noir and headed to the Cedar Hill Farm cheese tent. Cedar Farm is located in Maryland, and I sampled a number of different cheeses, including Cheddar, Deer Creek, Cocoa Cayenne, and Meadow. 

Those who held VIP tickets were treated to a specialty food item each hour. The VIP Tasting Menu’s theme was “Ode to the Orient Express,” with each taste representing a different country. I began with the Flammekekueche – grilled flatbread, crème fraiche, shaved onions, and pork lardons, inspired by Starsbourg, Germany. Later, I enjoyed the Kasespatzle – “Austrian Mac & Cheese” with mild mushroom reduction inspired by Vienne, Austria. VIP ticketholders had access to their own tent with upgraded seating, veggie, fruit, and cheese plates, as well as two additional wine tasting stations. 

Without a doubt, the highlight of the day was the live Chef demonstrations. Sunday featured five different workshops & kitchen demonstrations, including a Super Tuscan Vertical tasting with Certified Sommelier Jessica Nadeau and Mixology with Taha Ismail of Kapnos and Graffiato. Three celebrity Chefs also took the stage – Jonah Kim, Executive Chef of Pabu, Scott Drewno, Executive Chef of The Source, and Michael Friedman, Executive Chef of The Red Hen. 

Chef Drewno demonstrated how to make a shrimp wonton, a staple at his restaurant. Guests were able to see everything the Chef was doing thanks to strategically placed cameras and big-screen TVs providing guests with the inside look. Attendees received samples of everything demonstrated and were able to ask the Chefs questions. The wonton that Chef Drewno prepared was delicious, and this demonstration was quite unique in that Chef Drewno was introduced by Victor Albisu, who then proceeded to pour tequila samples for each attendee to pair with the wonton.

Chef Michael Friedman’s presentation was also excellent. Chef Friedman prepared three dishes using summer tomatoes – tomato & cucumber tea sandwiches, roasted tomato gazpacho, and tomato risotto. His presentation was incredibly informative, showing guests the innovative trick of rubbing a cut tomato against a cheese grater to squeeze out the flesh without having to cut it. I think guests were definitely able to pick up a cooking tip or two from both of these Chefs. 

A day filled with wine, food, music, and local vendors? There’s no better way to spend a Spring weekend. Great Tastes of Tysons certainly did a great job in getting attendees to Drink.Eat.Relax!

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