Â Â Â The NY Times Travel Show on leap day was great fun, with live penguins and other animals, plus dancers and ethnic bands. There was wine to drink, food to eat and countless trinkets for the audience of primarily travel agents. Even though it was 3 degrees when I left the house that morning and snowing heavily that evening, it felt a bit like Summertime in the Javits Center.
Â Â Â I'd never been to the JACOB K. JAVITS CONVENTION CENTER before, but it is easy to get to. I live upstate, 100 miles North of Manhattan. The cheapest way for me to get to NYC is to drive the 45 minutes to Poughkeepsie and than take Metro North into Grand Central Station. It's $2 to park my car and $12.25 one way (off peak) - basically what gas and tolls would be if I drove - but without the hassle of the traffic and the huge expense of parking. At the 42nd street entrance to Grand Central is a bus stop with direct buses (M42) to the Javits center for just $2. (Make sure you have it in quarters!) When there is a big show open (not just to the trade) the next door Hyatt Hotel has a free shuttle. Going home on Metro North's Peak Fare cost $17, so my total expenses to attend were under $40, and that included the sandwich I bought at a kiosk in the Hyatt lobby when I was getting the quarters for the bus! (However, that doesn't count the revenue and good will lost when my customers find my bookshop closed.)
Â Â The show itself was overwhelming in both an auditory and visual way. Besides the steady patter from the food and wine theater, there were 4 or 5 bands playing nonstop, audio/video presentations playing in most booths, and enough background conversations to keep everything at a dull roar. All this played out in Technicolor, with the primary colors of the decorated booths almost as loud as the music!
Â Â Â Receiving my personal award for Most Energetic Young People in a Travel Booth - Taiwan! They won hands down - only their hands were always in the air - cheering, greeting and just inÂ general animation that didn't flag as the day progressed. I wish I had their energy!
Â Â Â Of all the food and wine presenters, I was most impressed with Andrew Fisher, the President of Astor Wines and Spirits. For 30 years he's been "seeking to redefine the nature of wine understanding." To accomplish this, he and his family built a state-of-the-art facility called Astor Center - "a town hall for drink, food and culture in New York City." It houses a 30 station wine tasting room with running water and a sink at each station. Here he and other top wine specialists conduct wine classes and tastings. There is also a full commercial grade kitchen where top chefs teach classes, preparing and serving meals as a way to fully understand the cooking process. They also show how to pair the proper wines with each dish. The place sounds amazing! I gave him my card and told him I wanted a tour of the Center. We'll see.
Andrew Fisher gave us a wine tasting and a lesson from his Wine Tasting 101 Class: How to Know and Describe a Wine's Taste. Here's a quick overview of what questions to ask yourself as you smell, taste and then hold a sip of wine in your mouth:
Smell - FruitÂ -Â Is it bold? Or subtle?
Smell - Oak -Â Any evidence of other flavors? (Vanilla, dessert spices, caramel or toasted nuts?)
Taste - Sweetness - sweet on the tip of your tongue? Or dry?
Taste - Acidity - high acid tastes tart or sharp, low tastes smooth, creamy or round.
Mouthfeel - Body - Is it thick and viscous, or sheer and delicate on your tongue?
Mouthfeel - Tannin - (red wine) Low is soft and velvety, but high is a tight "dry mouth" feel.
Â Â Â We did this tasting with three glasses of the same wine, a Sparkling Red Malbec from Agrelo, located in the Lujan de Cuyo region of Argentina. It was kept and served at 50-55 degrees and had a refreshing, dark berry and very effervescent fruitiness, low in tannin with a light peppery freshness. He said to "serve it with everything, from hors d'oeuvres to roast pork. It would be ideal served with Thanksgiving Dinner, because it goes with everything from gravy-laden turkey to cranberry sauce." It's a reasonably priced everyday wine, readily available at your local wine shop.
Â Â Â That was an hour very well spent. Besides learning about and tasting a good wine, I had a chance to sit down for a bit, and I even ate the sandwich I brought at the Hyatt between the three tastings. Talk about multi-tasking!
Â Â Â A really nice and ego boosting thing happened as I signing in. There were many well-dressed "press" people (I think "faces" for the video shows) in a long line, each clutching reams of paperwork in their hands. When I identified myself to a "greeter" as pre-registered press (but looking for all the world as if I was dressed for a hike) I was directed to the only short line. With no identification at all I announced myself to the clerk and was told - you're not in our system. How deflating! Then, to save the day, a clerk I'd never seen before in the next line said: "Hi Richard. How was your interview with Ed?" It was DJ! We'd emailed back and fourth about press arrangements while he finalized my interview with one of the top supporters of the show. He heard my name and jumped in to help, telling my guy - Richard is in there. If you can't find him make a new one up for him. And that was that! (Thank you, DJ!) With a second look my guy "found" me and I was admitted long before the "suits" made it to the floor.
Â Â Â I also got a chance to renew acquaintances with people I've traveled with before, a couple of them several times. I visited with the public relations person who "discovered" me three years ago, (we first met when we traveled to Zaragoza last November) and at long last I met the head of the tourism office that sends me to Spain a few times a year. She was very nice and expressed the wish that I continue working for them (I was thrilled to hear that!) I had drinks with Jon Haggins of GlobeTrotter TV. We swapped war stories (we were in Barcelona, Costa Brava, Madeira and the Canary Islands together) and advice. I gave him tips on publishing his new book** and he gave me leads on press trips to Texas, Hungary and France. All in all it was a great day off. I had more fun working very hard than I've had in a long time!
Â Â Â Unfortunately, when I came home I spent a day trying to piece together the little video scraps of the music being performed at the Show, but my computer kept telling me it couldn't save it when I was done. So - without titles, and in many pieces - my video clips of the Travel show are here:
Everything About New York
**YES I CAN!
By Jon Haggins Memoir $16.95 plus $4.00 S&H Make check payable to:
Jon Haggins PO Box 20902 New York City 10023
Astor Center http://www.astorcenternyc.com/
NY Times Travel Show http://www.nyttravelshow.com/
Richard Frisbie, FOOD Correspondent:
RICHARD FRISBIE is published twice a month to Gather Essentials: FoodÂ
It is a food junkie's take on growing, raising, preparing and - above all else - eating food. Together we'll explore the trends, addictions, equipment and regional specialties that make up the sometimes mundane and sometimes sublime cooking and dining experience. You can keep up with my other postings and Gather activity by joining my Gather network -- I look forward to hearing from you.
BIO - Richard Frisbie writes culinary travel articles, is a columnist for his local newspapers, and is a regular contributor to the many Hudson Valley, Catskill Mountain and other regional New York publications. His most recent addition to that list is a wine column called "Fruit of the Vine" for Life in the Finger Lakes magazine. Online, he writes frequent articles for EDGE publications and Travel Lady, as well as Gather.
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