For the third year in a row, I attended with a press pass the Italian Gala food and wine expo at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. This year, I also participated in the advanced "Taste of Italy" wine seminar and luncheon. In a seminar that lasted for over three hours, wine experts, sommeliers, wine producers and even Academics specializing in wine presented 26 different Italian wineries from Sicily, Tuscany and the rest of the country. Although not a wine expert myself, I found the session informative, detailed and to the point while wine media had the time to ask their questions. There was a disagreement from the audience when it comes to what is "the best food to accompany the Nero D' Avola", some noise from bored wine editors who would rather gossip than pay attention to the speakers but overall it was an interesting morning for everyone, wine experts and not. The food came in small portions: a selection of assorted Italian Cheeses (that included montasio and piave), grapes, breads and candied walnuts. A small plate with ravioli followed and also rabbit braised with mustard, creamy polenta and porcini mushrooms. The plate of Italian petits fours had to be shared so some didn't have the chance to taste any of those due to greedy and sugar prone journalists.
At the following seven-hour tasting open first to the media and then to the public, participants had the opportunity and the pleasure to visit more than 50 wine stations and taste an array of Italian specialty foods like cheeses, breads, olives, olive oils, prosciutto, coffees, chocolates and more as well as a cornucopia of culinary delights prepared by 19 of New York's most renowned Italian restaurants. There was also a fashion show in the evening, an exhibition of early works by Giovan Francesco Barbieri and Vespa scooters on display! Finally, there were drawings for prizes for pre-registered guests, including trips to Italy and a Vespa scooter.
What are the food trends?
I can't say that I noticed an emerging food trend from Italy. Italians are traditional when it comes to pasta, cheese, breads and olive. However, I will make a "trend's" note for the increasing interest in nutella-type chocolate products (some of which are looking for distributors in the USA). I also noticed the nutella "triangles" (whole wheat bread cut in triangles with nutella on top), a snack that makes the dessert menu of many New York cafés. I love it!
Not much to be said about Italian wine trends. Italian wine is a classic.