This is my season.
It starts around Thanksgiving, then there’s my son’s birthday (today!), Halloween, a few more family birthdays (including mine), American Thanksgiving (which we celebrate for my husband and who am I kidding, more pumpkin pie), Holiday parties, Christmas, and New Years! What does this ALL have to do with me? Well darlings, I’m the hostess with the mostess of course! Or, I at least I try. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about the perfect setting, it’s about good company, great food, and delicious drinks.
If I want to be on top of my entertaining game, and I do, then of course I will be attending this year’s Ottawa Food and Wine Festival. I keep my kitchen knives sharp and my wine tasting skills even sharper. The festival is THE place to discover amazing new beers and wines and stock up for the holidays.
What’s in store for you at the Ottawa Food and Wine Festival?
It’ll take 375,000 wine samples, 110,000 nibbles of gourmet fare and a quarter million sips of beer handed out to more than 23,000 visitors, but organizers for the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival promise this year’s 30th anniversary celebrations will put ‘the world on the tip of your tongue.’
- LCBO’s ‘Taste and Discover’ one hour seminars offer everything from a Sparkling Wine Masterclass (Fabulous Fizz!!!) to a once-in-a-lifetime chance to sample six legendary and rare vintages valued at a total of $2300, including the renowned Opus One Napa 2010 and Côte-Rôtie La Mouline (Guigal) 2011.
- Haute Halloween Red Carpet Welcome for those who love the drama and glamour of Oct. 31. Visitors with ‘Arrive After 5 Haute Halloween Welcome’ tickets can dress in their most opulent, outrageous Halloween costumes (no masks or faux weapons) and walk the red carpet in front of four celebrity judges between 6.30pm and 7.30pm. The prize? A chance to swap walking the red carpet for walking the beach on a $7500 trip for two to the Barbados Food, Wine and Rum Show.
- Sip and sample the 90 Ottawa Wine Challenge entries, including the 12 gold and 33 silver medal winning international wines.
- Rod Phillips’ Holiday Wine Bottle Camp, where Ottawa’s beloved grape connoisseur will focus on wine for any emergency, whether it’s unexpected visitors, a bad hair cut or a short notice invite to dine with royalty.
- Caviar and Bubbles Bar…because who doesn’t want guilt-free, sustainable Acadian sturgeon caviar paired with champagne? Sample. Sip. Buy for the holidays.
Expanded Tasting Alley, featuring more than 50 wines along with charceuterie, shrimp, carvery, vegetarian, seafood and noodle bar tasting stations.
Personally, I am very excited to check out the live seminars happening all weekend long on the “Host for the Holidays” and “In the Mix” stages. It promises to be a fantastic and fun place to catch what’s hot this year for holiday food and drink trends. Rumour has it you get to sample everything that is showcased! There is a star-studded lineup of chefs, including Anna Olson, Twice de Spice twins, and Dolce Vita’s David Rocco. You can see the full list of chefs, sommeliers, craft beer experts, and mixologists who will be at the show here.
My husband and I are both wine lovers. We really enjoy trying new wines and discovering pairings that we wouldn’t otherwise have thought of ourselves. The Ottawa Wine and Food Festival is the perfect place to see, smell and taste the best Ottawa has to offer. And with all those takeaways, you’ll be readier than ever to usher in the holiday season.
With that in mind, I’ve got some fun holiday entertaining tips to share with you to make your gatherings fuss-free and incredibly memorable.
5 Fun Tips for Fabulous Holiday Entertaining
- Make a charcuterie board: Create a fun do-it-yourself appetizer experience for your guests with a mix of meats, cheeses and complementary ingredients. For a small gathering 2-3 meats from mild to spicy with 2-3 cheeses (aged to soft) and seasonal fruit is the way to go. Add some olives or pickles and a plate of crackers and breads and voila! For a larger crowd, multiply quantity and add more options, including preserves, spreads, and dips.
- Self-serve drink bar: Let guest do the pouring. A drink bar is a great way to step back from one part of hosting duties and allows guests to take on the bar and mix things up – literally!
- Play that funky music: Light music playing in the background creates an inviting atmosphere and sets the tone for your party. People naturally respond to music and it’s a great to loosen up the mood and make people comfortable.
- Make it personal: Whether it’s a signature cocktail for the evening, place cards, or small gifts for your guests – personal little touches go a long way with party-goers.
- Remember to relax: So everything’s set for a fabulous event, now what? Breathe. Pour a drink. Relax and have a blast!For even more tips make sure to check out the seminars at the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival – you can see the times and topics here.
In preparation for the season ahead, I will be also making a point of stocking up on local goodies at The Taste Local Emporium at the festival. Salsas, chocolates, jams, sunflower oil, honey, chutney, Canadian black garlic and more will be available for purchase from local shops and Artisans. It’s a foodie’s playground friends!
ICYMI, there’s even more happening:
- Ottawa Wine and Food Festival 30th Anniversary Westin Weekend: overnight accommodation, Tasting Floor tickets for two, breakfast buffet for two at Daly’s Restaurant for $139.50
- Cheers to 30 Years Price Discount: Pricing for Sunday is set to the year the festival all began: 1985! For $19.85, enjoy the Tasting Floor offering more than 1400 samples of wine, beers, spirits and food.
- Arrive After 5 premium tickets on Saturday evening for a red carpet welcome, glass of cheer and exclusive hors d’oeuvres
- Dedicated VIP entrance to avoid the line ups
I hope to see you at the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival from Oct.30-Nov.1 – if you see me and I don’t say hi immediately, it’s only because I have my mouth full of wine and food 😉
See you there!