NYCWFF’s Grand Tasting!

(We were given media passes to attend the Grand Tasting. As always, all opinions are our own.)

New York City’s Wine and Food Festival, presented by ShopRite is celebrating its 12th year! Last year, my husband and I attended the Grand Tasting for the first time and believe me, if you are a wine and/or food lover, you will enjoy this event.

The event is held at Pier 94 and features over 130,000 square feet of food and beverages. The Grand Tasting is the culminating two day event of the four day wine and food festival. Funds from this four day food festival support Food Bank for New York City and No Kid Hungry.

There is so much to eat, so come hungry! Since we don’t get into the city very often, it was a great way to try new-to-us NYC restaurants. While the food samples are unlimited, I don’t think we sampled all of what was available! Some restaurants even had more than one food sample. Some of the tasty bites we had included Housemade Ricotta from Fausto, Elotes from Island Oyster, Haitian Chipotle Pork on a Black Bean Huarache garnished with red and green cabbage from Bridgewater Club and a Kao Yuk Soy-Braised Pork Belly Slider from Bricolage.

Each eatery has a signs with the name of the restaurant and the dish/dishes they are serving. While I’m sure the restaurants that participate in the NYCWFF vary each year, some of the dishes and restaurants we got to try at last year’s event include {Khe-Yo}’s Red Curry Beef Soup, Mamo Restaurant’s Raviolini al Tartufo (yes, that’s shaved truffle!), Print’s Porchetta with Butternut Squash, Chili, Pickled Shallots and Mustard Greens and Ropa Vieja Taco Bites from Los Viajeros.

There was a huge pan of Paella Mixta from La Fonda del Sol.

ShopRite, one of the major sponsors of this event, had a huge setup, featuring samples of dishes made with some of the brands they sell. They also had packaged food samples (granola bars and seasonings) that they were giving out. Coca-Cola, the Food Network & Cooking Channel and Blue Moon also had some of the larger displays.

Although most of the food samples were savory, we did manage to find some sweet treats as well! Mahalo New York Bakery had the prettiest cupcakes and Spoonfuls Inc. had a variety of dessert jars. I might have had more than one sample of 2 Dough Boyz cookie dough, both the original and the chocolate salted caramel pretzel! And I couldn’t pass up a praline from Bernard’s Pralines of New Orleans.

Since this is a wine and food festival, have no worries, there are PLENTY of wine samples. Every wine table has more than one sample to try. We are not big wine drinkers, so unfortunately I don’t have a lot of wine pictures to share with you. If I am going to drink wine, I enjoy a moscato or sweet wine, so I did have to sample the sweet shiraz from Jam Jar.

Don’t be fooled, there are tons of spirits to taste as well. Spirit makers concoct special cocktails for the festival, like Tito’s Zilker Green Lemonade, Four Roses Lawrenceburg Cooler, Maker’s Mark Cucumber Julep and Spring44 Distilling’s Feast for Queens.

For those that don’t drink, there are non-alcoholic drinks available as well. Last year, there beverages from Bai, Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ and La Croix.

When you need a break from all of the eating and drinking, make sure to stop by The Ikea Kitchen to watch some culinary demonstrations. Each day’s lineup features different chefs cooking up a dish in 30 minutes. You don’t get to sample the dishes that are made, but they are fun sessions to get to see some of your favorite chefs in action. We were doing so much eating and drinking that, sadly, the only demonstrating chef we got to see was Robert Irvine. But I was able to get a pic of him and my husband, so I think that’s a win! This year’s chef demo lineup includes Andrew Zimmern, Rick Bayless, Masaharu Morimoto, Rocco DiSpirito, Stephanie Izard, Jeff Mauro, Rachel Ray and many more! Many of these chefs will also be signing cookbooks, for sale in the Flavour Gallery, where you can also purchase other festival merchandise.

As you can see, the NYCWFF Grand Tasting is a delicious event! It’s a great day date or outing with foodie friends!

The Details:
NYCWFF Grand Tasting presented by Shoprite
Pier 94
New York, NY

Date: Saturday & Sunday, October 12 and October 13
Hours: 12 PM – 6 PM
Tickets: General Admission $185, discounted tickets with a Capital One credit card

*Arrive early! This event gets more crowded as the day goes on.
*Make sure you adhere to the bag policy.
*The Tasting ends at 5 PM, however the culinary demonstrations take place until 6 PM.
*You must be 21 to enjoy the Grand Tasting. However, children are able to attend the culinary demonstrations. There are a couple of food and non-alcoholic beverage tastings available in this area.
*Dress comfortably – you will be doing a lot of walking. It’s a huge space!


Mambo Italiano at the Westchester Broadway Theatre

(We were given complimentary tickets to see Mambo Italiano. As always, all opinions are our own.)

I love the theatre! Growing up, I was fortunate that my parents took me and my siblings to NYC to see Broadway shows. Pre-kids, my husband and I were regulars of the NYC theatre scene. But then…..kids! Between busy schedules, ticket prices and having to trek into the city from the suburbs, we just haven’t been to as many shows as we’d like. However, we are fortunate enough to have a theatre close to home that puts on amazing productions.

The Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford has been hosting shows for 45 years, with over 200 main-stage productions. As a family, we’ve seen both Mary Poppins and Annie. Recently, my husband and I enjoyed a rare date night to see the current production, Mambo Italiano.

Photo by John Vecchiolla, courtesy of the Westchester Broadway Theatre.

Mambo Italiano is based on a play and screenplay by Steve Galluccio & Emile Gaudreault and a book by Jean Cheever and Tom Polum. It tells the story of a traditional Italian family coming to grips with change. Maria and Gino Barbieri have raised their two grandchildren, Angelo and Anna, and they all work together in the family’s Italian restaurant. When Angelo and Anna decide to move out of the house and get their own apartment, their grandparents don’t take it very well. Things get worse when Angelo comes out as gay and then discovers that his boyfriend Nino is bisexual and has been sleeping with a girl.

Photo by John Vecchiolla courtesy of the Westchester Broadway Theatre.

This story, set to music composed by James Olmstead, is much more than just a story about sexual orientation. It’s a story about family, identity, love….and, of course, food! “Food is joy. Food is love. Food is famiglia.” This theme is carried out throughout the production and regardless of cultural background, is one that I think most people can relate to.

Photo by John Vecchiolla, courtesy of the Westchester Broadway Theatre.

The show’s cast is outstanding! While several members are making their Westchester Broadway Theatre debut, all of the cast are experienced on stage. Some of them have even performed in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, showcasing the caliber of talent that is chosen for the Westchester Broadway Theatre.

Let’s not forget that the Westchester Broadway Theatre includes dinner (or lunch) and a show. For this show, they are featuring a “Taste of Mambo Italiano” menu. For the Sunday evening show, dinner service starts at 5:30 PM and continues until the show begins at 7 PM. We arrived around 5:20 PM and almost immediately after we were seated our salads arrived. We were finished eating dessert by 6:30, leaving some time before the show to relax….and digest!

Dinner starts with a Caesar salad. They also offer four appetizer options (cold antipasti, mozzarella and tomato, fried calamari and a chilled shrimp cocktail) at an additional cost.

For the main course, I ordered Gino’s Lasagna with Meat Sauce served with sauteed green beans.

My husband had the Roast Prime Rib of Beef served with sauteed green beans and a baked potato and we shared both entrees. Out of the two entrees, we both preferred and recommend the prime rib.

Dessert is their classic peach melba – canned peach halves topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and raspberry sauce. It’s garnished with a cookie that I could have eaten a dozen of! For an additional cost, other desserts are available (tiramisu, lava cake, mini cannoli, chocolate fudge sundae and tartufo) and are served during the intermission.

I’m going to be honest, my husband and I were not thrilled with the food overall. However, I understand that they are cooking for the masses (the theatre when at capacity seats 500, including the couple of luxury boxes available) and are trying to keep ticket prices down. Based on the price of dinner and a show tickets versus show only tickets, the meal breaks down to approximately $19-$34 a person, depending on when you see the show. As I see it, the show itself is worth the ticket price and the meal is a bonus! For those not wanting to have the dinner portion of the “dinner theatre” experience, you can purchase tickets the day of–for just the show.

It is also important to note that beverages, including soda, and gratuities are not included in the price of your ticket. I ordered a non-alcoholic strawberry colada ($8) but they do serve wine, spirits including scotch, vodka, gin and rum and martinis. The current specialty drink is Il Cappello – citrus vodka, orange juice and pineapple juice topped with ginger ale.

One thing I love about the Westchester Broadway Theatre is that there’s not a bad seat in the house. At this production, we sat at table 282, the second to last row in the middle section, directly facing center stage. Even from in the back, I thought our seats gave us a good view.

Many guests visit the Westchester Broadway Theatre for a special occasion. If you are celebrating an event, make sure to let them know, as they announce it prior to the start of the show. My husband and I really enjoyed Mambo Italiano! If you are looking for a fun date night or evening out with friends or family, we highly recommend seeing Mambo Italiano before it ends on September 29. The show will literally have you clapping along!

The Details:
Mambo Italiano
Westchester Broadway Theatre
1 Broadway Plaza
Elmsford, NY 10523
(914) 592-2222

Tickets: (price includes dinner and the show) $61-$91 plus tax, beverages and gratuities, discounts available for children, students and senior citizens at select performances

Performances: August 8 – September 29, 2019

Show Times:
(The show runs approximately 2 1/2 hours, with a 30-minute intermission between acts)
Wednesday, Thursday and some Friday Matinees: 11:30 AM lunch, 1 PM show
Thursday, Friday and Saturday Evenings: 6:30 PM dinner, 8 PM show
Sunday Matinee: 12 PM lunch, 1:30 PM show
Sunday Evening: 5:30 PM dinner, 7 PM show

*Photos are not allowed during the show
*Check out the website for special offers
*The show is recommended for ages 12+ – parental advisory for language and sexual references.
*There is a convenience fee for purchasing tickets online. There is no fee for purchasing tickets in-person or via phone.
*Up to 4 tickets can be purchased online.
* AAA members, AARP members, and military discounts are only given for phone or in-person ticket purchases.
*All seat locations are the same price.