Since Design New England was a media sponsor for the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, presented by The Preservation Society of Newport County, we had to “work” this weekend. It was a tough assignment, but someone had to report on the splendor of Sunday’s grand tasting event. It wasn’t easy to juggle a notebook and camera AND sample innumerable culinary treats and spectacular vintages from around the country. We did manage, despite the distraction of the opulent and beautifully preserved Marble House, one of Bellevue Avenue’s most spectacular Gilded Age mansions, where the tastings were set up on the sprawling lawn overlooking the ocean. On top of all of that, from among the guest chefs, seminars, and grand tastings, we had to narrow our focus to just a few choice selections to share. Here’s what our taste buds say stood out.
Castle Hill Inn, a luxury Newport hotel on 40 acres jutting into Narragansett Bay, was serving up a black garlic torte with candied citrus created by executive chef Karsten Hart. It was absolutely delicious and made the thought of an overnight stay in Castle Hill’s large main inn, or one of its many cottages by the water, all the more appealing.
We have a sweet tooth, so we had no problem gobbling up the chocolate panna cotta embellished with a macadamia streusel and mango lime pearls presented by Persimmon of Bristol, Rhode Island.
Among the representatives showing off chardonnays, pinot noirs, and sauvignon blancs was Antinori, a Tuscan winemaker named for the family who has been making its wine for 26 generations (that’s more than 300 years). Glasses at the ready, people lined up for a taste and the chance to recount their own memories of time spent in the illustrious Tuscany region of Italy. We tried the Vermentino, an intense fruity red made with grapes grown in Tuscany’s coastal sands, and the peony-colored Scalabrone, which, named after a legendary 18th-century Italian bandit, is made with cabernet, merlot, syrah and other red varietals picked early so the color remains light.
There were also ports, beer, and liqueur, including a natural elderflower liqueur by St. Elder. Very sweet, it paired nicely with prosecco to make a light and simple cocktail.
Weaving our way through all the booths, we were rewarded with the gorgeous water view from the edge of the Marble House lawn.
Were we channeling the kid in us when we found our favorite bite of the day? Perhaps, but the ice cream by New York’s Luca & Bosco seemed very grownup. There were tasty pairings of cream with sauce in creations such as goat cheese ice cream with balsamic syrup and rosemary olive oil ice cream with spicy cashew caramel. We had more than we’d like to admit of the honey lavender ice cream with blueberry sauce. In fact, we gobbled it too quickly to snap a picture, but love the beautiful photography (below) on the Luca & Bosco website.
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An insider's look at must-have products, fresh trends, and inspired spaces from the team at Design New England magazine.
Gail Ravgiala is editor of Design New England and a fan of both the region's historic architecture and its growing inventory of modern houses and public buildings.
Courtney Kasianowicz is associate editor of Design New England who scouts the area for new design, charming products, and local artisans both innovative and daring.
Jill Connors, Design New England's editor-at-large, is an antiques maven and design scout and will post about trends and discoveries in the field.
Bruce Irving, Design New England's contributing editor for architecture & building, is a renovation specialist who will share his insights on design and construction.
Estelle Bond Guralnick, Design New England's style & interiors editor, will post about interior design and interior designers and her favorite finds.