Laurie tells us how she enjoys the Food and Wine Festival and gives you tips on making the most of your time there. See what she has to say.
Each group and individual tackles the Festival in their own way so I am presenting you with a checklist of things you need to do. It is up to you on whether you want to spend the day eating, doing attractions, or watching seminars. Assign one person to get a Festival guide, park guide, and a times guide so that there are fewer people getting guides and less congestion. Get 2 if you like souvenirs or write on guides as I do. In the park will be areas with passports to have stamped. Many times there is a person to stamp your passport without you waiting in line.
How much time are you going to spend at the Festival Center? The Festival Center is located next to Mission: Space. There are free samples of Ghiradelli Chocolate, shops, and a snack bar. Noon to 8 pm there are bottle signings, seminars, and pay to participate seminars. Are you going to stay there 8 hours or skip it?
What, if any, events and seminars do you plan to do? Pay to participate seminars have a nosh or tasting included but you can stand at the back for free without the food and drinks. There are events such as Sweet Sunday that take several hours and lots of cash that you sign up for in advance. People tend to forget that getting to the Festival Center, waiting for the seminar to run its course, and exiting the Festival Center takes time that some folks rather use on attractions and eating at the Festival. You need to be realistic on your schedule.
What to eat? There will be previews and reviews as well as item descriptions online. It costs over $500 to try every bit of food and there is no way you can do them all. You can print out the Festival map and circle the ones you want to see and add labels of dishes you want to see. I watched people milling around in a daze with so much being offered. There will be crowds that make it hard to decide what to choose so plan ahead.
Finally there is Eat to the Beat. I skip most of the concerts because of my taste in music. There is the Chase Lounge to check out if you are a cardholder. There is too much to see and do in one day let alone a week. I have the guide from last year so here is what happened on November 1, 2013. Wine/Beverage seminars from noon to 5 pm; 10 am was Robert Irvine in a two hour pay to view session, I stood in the back for that one for free; 3 book signings, half hour seminar on butter; half hour with Nimola; 1 – 8 pm were culinary demonstrations; and a 45 minute mixology seminar at 6:45 pm. Premier offerings were a Mexican tequilla lunch at noon and a French lunch with champagne at noon. As you see there was more than one thing going on at any time. The Festival can be daunting but with planning you can get the most out of the Festival.