The Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SWFE) 2019 left a good feeling in our hearts thanks to all the money you helped us raise for our event beneficiary, Northwest Harvest. Our pants may be a little tighter, but that’s a price worth paying for four days of all the food and wine we could ever want from the region’s best makers. Returning to cold and dreary post-SWFE life has been hard, but thankfully we live in 2019, so there is a snappy recap and plenty of pictures to take you right back to a time when the venues were packed, wine was flowing and food was plentiful.
- Listen, that grilled cheese from Tulalip was truly delicious. Cheesy crust, a perfect blend of pesto and provolone with a little sweetness from those sundried tomatoes and a delectable dipping sauce. Well proportioned, too, and served by Chef Perry himself.
- Beef kimchi quesadillas from Cantina Lena. Status check on our Korean barbecue obsession: It’s getting worse. Four guys working on one tiny table produced the quesadillas we will be dreaming of for weeks.
- Herban Feast stood out as always with an exceptional Syrah cocktail meatball sandwich, served on their home turf at Sodo Park. The rustic venue lent itself well to the food and brews at Comfort, and DJ Braden supplied some great throwback tunes (nothing like ABBA to make an event great).
Standouts to our aficionados included the Orange Blossom from Perihelion Brewery for something a little different. The Dunkel lager from Buoy Beer Co and the pilsner from Fremont Brewing, two classic PNW brands, received high praise as well. These went over especially well in the tent outside, where guests bounced from Katsu Burger’s fry bar to pulled pork from Licketty’s Barbecue.
POP! Bubbles and Seafood
POP stood out from the rest of the weekend as the most formal event, set in the outstanding Seattle Sanctuary. The invitation to “dress to impress” led to a terrific Seattle fashion show, with lots of sequined attire to match the sparkling wine. At least one pair of bedazzled white cowboy boots graced the scene, bringing fantastic energy to the dance party that formed at the end of the night thanks to DJ Dubreezy. Standouts included the Blanc de Bleu Brut from Bronco Wine Company—turns out blue wine can be a real crowd-pleaser. Guests were raving about the rosé from Anne Amie, and of course the presence of Napa winery Gloria Ferrer. Tulalip’s Ahi tuna burgers with wasabi aioli drew long lines all night, and by the end of the event, everyone was recommending the tuna tostadas from Poquitos back and forth to one another. The ice cream from Acme was a huge hit as well: Their espresso flavor is definitely one of our all-time favorites.
Overheard at POP: “Look at that guy, he has six oysters in front of him. He knows how to live.”
It pretty much goes without saying that the Grand Tasting was an overload of food and wine. Our office still hasn’t stopped talking about the dessert bulbs that Chef Nikol Nakamura of Tulalip concocted, but some of the most fun aspects of the Grand Tasting were the exhibitor experiences. Spoken Barrel really went for it this year, with a seating area populated by giant Connect 4 and Jenga games, and custom-engraved luggage tags available to anyone willing to wait in line for these popular tokens. Visit Central Oregon brought a darling photo backdrop for guests to take advantage of, and their shot ski really helped get the party going. Lexus provided an added sense of luxury as guests tried out two of this year’s models.
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The upper level had hundreds of vendors, and guests found themselves breaking past the Seattle Freeze and making a lot of friends the more time they spent tasting all the fabulous wine. Favorites included J. Lohr and Mark Ryan, with San Juan Seltzer for those who needed a break from wine.
Then there was the food. Seattle magazine’s 100 Best Foods room was an instant hit—who wouldn’t love feasting on Seattle’s greatest hits in a room with stunning views of the Puget Sound? Saigon Siblings had a rapid assembly line going, making Bánh Cuốn Saigon one at a time and handing them off to the line of hungry guests. Those waiting in line had the unique experience of being served Loulay’s famous hot chocolate by the Chef in the Hat himself, Thierry Rautureau. Several people snuck back for third helpings of the pickled mussels that No Anchor brought, and the ube cheesecake from Hood Famous Bakeshop was the perfect finishing note to the event.
The debut of Sunday Supper was a smash hit—attendees relished the chance to get up close and personal with some of Seattle’s best foods. Garlands ran the length of the community dining tables where guests were served six courses, each prepared by a local chef. Many noted how the dishes played to each particular chef’s strengths and were delighted to get an off-menu taste from the minds behind top restaurants. Sawyer’s Mitch Mayers served a pastrami roll with spot prawns and mornay that was the perfect representation of his New American style, and the cappelletti from Brian Clevenger was a welcome treat to fans of Vendemmia. Eden Hill’s Maximillian Petty served up an outstanding Wagyu short rib with truly exceptional flavor. The final course was a light and citrusy yuzu ice from Carrie Mashaney of Mamnoon—a blend of surprising textures that worked as the perfect palate cleanser.
The chef’s after party following the sit-down dinner was an extravagant affair. For those in need of a nightcap, Caffe Umbria and Baileys had a coffee and Irish cream bar with toppings. There was also Dick’s Burgers, Rainier Beer, ice cream sandwiches from Salt & Straw and a lavish table of desserts from Tulalip pastry chef Nikol Nakamura.
And that’s all she wrote, folks. The plates are packed away, the wine glasses are all distributed and the raffle prizes have been won. SWFE is once again a twinkle in our eye and that last five pounds we’re trying to lose. We can't wait for 2020!