At this year’s New York Wine and Food Festival, France took center stage. In the middle of the Grand Tasting, an event with dozens of food, wine, and booze purveyors, Taste France set up the French Village, a collection of booths focusing on French gastronomy and art de vivre.
The Perfect Foodie Event in NYC
The NYWFF is New York’s largest culinary festival, with over 45,000 visitors and 80 events throughout the city including cooking demonstrations, private dinners with celebrity chefs, and of course, the Grand Tasting. At Manhattan’s Pier 76, the Grand Tasting is a chance for food and wine lovers to get an insider’s insight into the latest food trends–and meet with chefs, sommeliers, and Food Network culinary personalities. With dozens of booths offering tastings of everything from mochi to mezcal, it’s a foodie fever dream.
I made my way to the tasting on a sunny October afternoon to check out the event. Once I entered, it was easy to find the French Village. Located in the center of the festival, the large tent was set up to conjure an actual village in France: in one corner there was the cheese shop, in another the café, and in another the épicerie. There were even thoughtful touches like a faux-cobblestone floor and blue shutters straight out of Provence.
“I tried escargot today!”
My first stop in the French village was the épicerie. The counter served tasty morsels of familiar (and sometimes daring) French food, including saucisson and macaron in addition to foie gras and even escargot. There were free stickers on the counter for guests to wear that proudly stated “I tried escargot today.” This range of delicacies was brought to the booth by Cuisinery Food Market, a gourmet grocery store selling ready-to-eat French feasts with locations in New Jersey, Florida, and Texas. Francophiles anywhere can also order online and get frozen dishes like hearty coq au vin or rich pain au chocolate delivered right to their door.
Next, I made my way to the prize table, sponsored by Taste France, where guests spun a wheel for the chance to win fun souvenirs like bag hangers or reusable corks. The atmosphere was unmistakably jovial as people lined up for the photo booth and the caricature artist. “Everyone is so happy, and I don’t think it’s just because they’re drunk,” the booth attendant told me.
French Cheese... and French Wines!
Across the village, the cheese shop, brought to us by Entremont, proved to be a popular spot. I waited for a moment when the counter wasn’t crowded with cheese lovers and made my way over. Entremont, started as a family business in 1948, using traditional methods and top-quality milk from the #1 dairy cooperative SODIAAL to produce over 40 types of cheese. The representative manning the booth explained the types of cheeses on offer: an Emmenthal, a smooth cheese from the Alps (and the #1 consumed cheese in France); a luxuriously smooth double-cream artisanal brie; and a sharp comté, ripened for 12 months. He told me the brie has been the most popular at the tasting, “But my favorite is the comté, it’s the most flavor-full one.” I had to agree with his assessment–it was absolutely delicious.
Next was the café, a bustling bar featuring French rosé sponsored by Hampton Water. The brand, backed by Jon Bon Jovi and his son Jesse Bongiovi, has created a playful Hamptons-inspired rosé made by master winemaker Gérard Bertrand in Languedoc-Roussillon, 100 miles from Provence. Of all the spots in the French Village, the café was by far the most popular–and the most raucous, with patrons lingering and chatting at the tables and stools set up nearby. In addition to Hampton Water, the booth also featured some of Bertrand’s other creations, including a pinot noir, a sauvignon blanc, and a red blend.
As I wandered throughout the rest of the Grand Tasting, I met up with two local food writers who said the French Village had been their favorite part of the day. Near closing time, I decided to return. While other booths had begun packing up, the French Village was still lively and fun, with a never-ending supply of rosé and cheese–the perfect ingredients for a good time.