Bite of the Best recently attended the 13th annual Hudson Valley Wine & Food Festival, at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, New York. The two day festival showcased a range of New York State wine and specialty foods, along with sample dishes from local restaurants and food trucks. While New York City may be the center of the restaurant world, the Hudson Valley is an epicenter for much of the locally grown food NYC chefs favor in their dishes, as well as a cottage industry of artisanal food producers.

The Festival offered a peek at, tastes of and opportunities to buy many tastes of the region’s bounty, focusing on the vast array of wineries from New York State, along with a smattering of distilleries, cideries and craft breweries emerging in the area.

Food trucks served up pulled pork sandwiches, gourmet hot dogs, plump crab cakes and Black forest flammkuchen. Local restaurants served signature dishes from Reggae Boy’s Jamaican jerk to Le Canard French pastries. Specialty foods filled the three exhibit halls with vendors serving tastes to tempt you to purchase. Some favorites included Crown Maple Syrup, The Peanut Principle gourmet nut butters, Sweet Bee Granola, Ice Cream Castle wine ice cream sandwiches, Cheeky Monkey Goods and ImmuneSchien local ginger elixir.

A side trip included a tour of nearby Dutch’s Distillery in Pine Plains, makers of top rated Sugar Wash Moonshine. Located on the site of a prohibition era bunkhouse with an extensive network of tunnels to hide the hooch, the new distillery features soaring ceilings and second level restaurant opening later this year.

The 14th annual Hudson Valley Wine & Food Festival will take place September 12 and 13, 2015. For information, click here.