A few days late.. but better late than never. The Indy Food and Wine Experience was so much fun! I have not been this impressed with a food sampling event in quite some time.
IndyStar Food and Wine Experience
I was invited to attend the IndyStar Food and Wine Event as a blogger. This event took place on October 7th, 2017 at Clay Terrace. I arrived early for the VIP entry. The VIP ticket allowed entry an hour earlier than the event officially started. If you’ve attended any sort of food sampling event, you know this is KEY. I wish I would have purchased VIP tickets for return of the mac, earlier this year. You never know if the event is going to be oversold. If it is, you’ll want to enjoy the event as quickly as possible and get. the. hell. out. Sorry, I don’t do massive hoards of people shoving to get their samples.
Luckily, none of this was an issue at the IndyStar Food and Wine Experience. The VIP line begin to form around 11:30 am. Everyone was super friendly! I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the lady’s conversation behind me when she mentioned the “fast and slow ferries.”. Turns out, she was talking about Nantucket! My favorite place in the entire world. Crazy right?
There were two colors of wristbands. One was for the regular tasting, and the other was for the meet and greet. The staff was polite and got us through the entry way promptly.
Martha Stewart Tent
This was the first Martha Stewart branded installation that was featured in the Food & Wine experience! Who doesn’t love Martha? I would love died to meet her, but she unfortunately did not come to this location for the event. The tent had information on the new cooking program with Marley Spoon, purchase her latest cookbook, and check out samples of her other products. To be honest, I was starving so I did not spend too much time in here.
The placement of the tent made it so that it was required to walk through to get to the food and wine vendors. While I think this is a good move, I also felt uncomfortable walking back in. I’d love to see this in the middle of the event rather than just somewhere to pass through.
I was very impressed with the amount and quality of the restaurants involved in this event. I kept hearing over and over again, “Wow! I’ve wanted to try *insert restaurant name here*, but haven’t got a chance to go there. Let’s try the sample!” To me, this is huge. I’m all about connecting new businesses and restaurants with potential patrons. I was excited enough seeing my favorites like Gallery Pastry Shop and Prime 47.
Shoefly Public House had the privilege of being the first tent. Anything that remotely embodies a pancake, I’m totally here for.
Let’s talk Red, The Steakhouse. I don’t eat red meat or pork, so steak houses aren’t really my thing. I’m also not thrilled about the fact that there are 15 steak houses within mile square in Indianapolis. However, the ahi tuna that Red was serving was fantastic. It tasted fresh and fulfilling. I’d more than willingly give Red a shot.
This picture makes me laugh. The local was serving up a pumpkin foie gras dish. For my readers who aren’t foodies.. foie gras is duck liver. Yeah, a little scary. My plus one blogger boo, Sierra, was quite skeptical. I made her a promise. I’d try it if she did too. Well, turns out we both ended up loving it. It almost tasted like pumpkin pie! Also loved that this was easily served on spoons. I felt guilty throwing away the plates every time I picked up a sample.
Hi, my name is Kate and I have the worst sweet tooth of all time. Nevermind the fact that I was drooling over the videos that Liz Biro posted the night before of the Gallery chef MAKING these tiny treats. This is a mixed berry panna cotta with caramel, chocolate mouse, caramelized hazelnut and baby macaroons. I’m convinced that everything the Gallery touches turns to gold (same with the Cunningham group).
DeBrand had a table full of their delicious chocolates. These were the key lime pecan truffles. White chocolate-key lime truffle with a twist of lemon topped with pecans. I’m drooling. They are opening an Indianapolis location in the keystone area soon! I cannot wait to go visit.
Loved getting to interact with people from the actual restaurants.
Indystar Wine and Beer
The event had everything from local wineries, local breweries to even spirit tasting.
Tanorria Askew is a local celebrity! She was a contestant on Season 7 of Master Chef. She demonstrated a fantastic bourbon salmon dish. I was very impressed with her poise and class. She interacted with the crowd as if it were second nature. She is a personal chef in the area and it’s definitely a dream of mine to hire her in the future to create a delectable dinner. The demonstrations were short and sweet and Liz Biro was a graceful host. She kept the audience engaged at all times.
Is It Worth Going VIP?
Yes. Kroger was a major sponsor. The amount of cheese and even more wine offerings was worth it. I also thought the reserved cabanas for the bigger sponsors were a fabulous idea.
What I Would Change
More seating. They had several high top tables with umbrellas, which were great to set a plate down. I joked with my friends to drink quickly because you need two hands to eat. There were not as many places to sit besides the grass, or the demonstration tents. We ended up meeting several lovely ladies who came up to share our table – so that was fun!
I also would include more signage. There were “event parking” signs but I did not see many “THIS WAY TO THE INDYSTAR FWE!” I saw several signs for a Books n Brews event, so that was a bit confusing.
What Should Stay
The quality of the restaurants was on point. The amount of tickets sold / people in attendance was perfect. I’m not a fan of events that are practically a cattle call trying to get the samples. Everyone had the freedom to move around and the waiting time was extremely short, if there was one. I also loved the location. It was a very smart use of space.
I can’t wait until next year’s event. Did you get a chance to go?