Winter Food Festivals

Spice House managers Paige and Tracy recently traveled to the Icewine Festival in Ontario, an annual celebration of a rare vintage. This wine, produced exclusively in cold wine-growing regions, is made from grapes that are left on the vine past the

usual harvest time. They have plenty of time to dry and shrivel slightly, concentrating the juice, before winter freezes them. Picked only at night when the temperature drops below -10C, each grape produces one drop of thick, intensely flavored juice. This is fermented into a marvelously sweet and complex wine worth celebrating. The Niagara region, which is covered in small, often German-style vineyards, goes all-out for three weeks in January, with a street fair of food and wine, ice sculptures, and a cocktail competition. Many of the 60+ vineyards in the area participate in the fun, with tastings and food pairings of their own vintages of icewine (including an icewine paired with homemade marshmallows and another served with spit-roasted pig and icewine applesauce). Despite being outdoors in Canada in January, it’s a cheerful if well-coated and -scarfed crowd that moseys from vineyard to vineyard in the fresh frigid air.

Manager Tracy at the Icewine Festival

This is by no means the only winter-specific culinary fun. Most food festivals are held in more clement weather, and correspond with more conventional harvest times, but there are plenty of activities for those who don’t mind a little chill. With the Chicago blizzard behind us and a tang of spring at least temporarily in the air, let’s not write off the last few weeks of winter delicacies.

For those who can travel, there are dozens of festivals held in the winter, usually to showcase foods or beverages that are pushed to the background during the produce-laden summer and fall. The International Pizza Expo will be in Las Vegas March 1-3, while the 23rd Annual Fiery Foods and BBQ Show will be in Albuquerque from March 4-6. Wine and beer are often celebrated in the winter. Cities from Charleston to Portland have Food and Wine Festivals in late February and March; San Francisco is in the midst of its annual Beer Week, running through February 20, in which the San Francisco Brewer’s Guild shows off the incredible variety of beer made in and around the Bay Area; Michigan and Minnesota also hold winter beer fests. In many areas shellfish are at their peak at the end of winter. Fulton Texas has it’s 32nd Annual Oysterfest in March, and Penn Cove Washington will be munching though their 25th Annual Musselfest.

More locally to us, the 17th Annual Twin Cities Food and Wine Festival is held from March 5-6 in Minneapolis, and the 21st Annual Cincinnatti Wine Festival on March 10-12. In our hometown Chicago, Restaurant Week starts today (Feb 18), when 200 of the city’s best restaurants will offer special prix-fixed menus.

Here in the Great Lakes, and across the Northern US, late winter is also Maple Sugar Season. When the first hints of warmth draw the maples out of hibernation, it’s time to tap the trees. In Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana small local festivals spring up, where the public can help out with the sugaring, taste the sap and the fresh-made syrup, and enjoy a range of maple-flavored delights. Medora Indiana hosts the National Maple Syrup Festival on the first and second weekends or March, while smaller events like the Parke County Indiana Maple Syrup Fair run nearly every weekend between now and April all over the region.

Of course, if you’d rather stay snugly at home and hold your own celebration of food, we fully support that. A nice cozy kitchen full of wafting aromas and warming dishes is often the very best way to appreciate the flavors of winter: preserved, slow roasted, long-simmered, seasoned to perfection.Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl + B)Italic (Ctrl + I)Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D)Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U)Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O)Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q)Align Left (Alt + Shift + L)Align Center (Alt + Shift + C)Align Right (Alt + Shift + R)Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A)Unlink (Alt + Shift + S)Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T)Toggle spellchecker (Alt + Shift + N)?
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Spice House managers Paige and Tracy recently traveled to the Icewine Festival in Ontario, an annual celebration of a rare vintage. This wine, produced exclusively in cold wine-growing regions, is made from grapes that are left on the vine past the usual harvest time. They have plenty of time to dry and shrivel slightly, concentrating the juice, before winter freezes them. Picked only at night when the temperature drops below -10C, each grape produces one drop of thick, intensely flavored juice. This is fermented into a marvelously sweet and complex wine worth celebrating. The Niagara region, which is covered in small, often German-style vineyards, goes all-out for three weeks in January, with a street fair of food and wine, ice sculptures, and a cocktail competition. Many of the 60+ vineyards in the area participate in the fun, with tastings and food pairings of their own vintages of icewine (including an icewine paired with homemade marshmallows and another served with spit-roasted pig and icewine applesauce). Despite being outdoors in Canada in January, it’s a cheerful if well-coated and -scarfed crowd that moseys from vineyard to vineyard in the fresh frigid air.

This is by no means the only winter-specific culinary fun. Most food festivals are held in more clement weather, and correspond with more conventional harvest times, but there are plenty of activities for those who don’t mind a little chill. With the Chicago blizzard behind us and a tang of spring at least temporarily in the air, let’s not write off the last few weeks of winter delicacies.
For those who can travel, there are dozens of festivals held in the winter, usually to showcase foods or beverages that are pushed to the background during the produce-laden summer and fall. The International Pizza Expo will be in Las Vegas March 1-3, while the 23rd Annual Fiery Foods and BBQ Show will be in Albuquerque from March 4-6. Wine and beer are often celebrated in the winter. Cities from Charleston to Portland have Food and Wine Festivals in late February and March; San Francisco is in the midst of its annual Beer Week, running through February 20, in which the San Francisco Brewer’s Guild shows off the incredible variety of beer made in and around the Bay Area; Michigan and Minnesota also hold winter beer fests. In many areas shellfish are at their peak at the end of winter. Fulton Texas has it’s 32nd Annual Oysterfest in March, and Penn Cove Washington will be munching though their 25th Annual Musselfest.
More locally to us, the 17th Annual Twin Cities Food and Wine Festival is held from March 5-6 in Minneapolis, and the 21st Annual Cincinnatti Wine Festival on March 10-12. In our hometown Chicago, Restaurant Week starts today (Feb 18), when 200 of the city’s best restaurants will offer special prix-fixed menus.
Here in the Great Lakes, and across the Northern US, late winter is also Maple Sugar Season. When the first hints of warmth draw the maples out of hibernation, it’s time to tap the trees. In Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana small local festivals spring up, where the public can help out with the sugaring, taste the sap and the fresh-made syrup, and enjoy a range of maple-flavored delights. Medora Indiana hosts the National Maple Syrup Festival on the first and second weekends or March, while smaller events like the Parke County Indiana Maple Syrup Fair run nearly every weekend between now and April all over the region.
Of course, if you’d rather stay snugly at home and hold your own celebration of food, we fully support that. A nice cozy kitchen full of wafting aromas and warming dishes is often the very best way to appreciate the flavors of winter: preserved, slow roasted, long-simmered, seasoned to perfection.
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