So, as you might recall, a couple weeks ago I won free tickets to the Isthmus Food and Wine Festival. (Thanks Yelp Madison!) I had heard about the event before but never bought tickets because even though the event looked like a good time, I wasn’t sure that I would get $40 worth of fun out of the event.
We arrived at around 2:30pm on Saturday (they opened at 2). I’m glad we decided to go early because it was already starting to get a bit crowded when we got there! I wasn’t sure how many people to expect, or even how many vendors to expect, but it was a pretty decent size.
There were a good number of exhibitors including local retailers, food makers, restaurants, and other food vendors. Oh, and of course there were many wine and spirits vendors as well. There were a few vendors that I recognized like Quince and Apple, AJ Bombers, and Yahara Bay distillery (I’m familiar with their rum, but I didn’t realize that they had so many other spirits!), Willy Street Co-Op, and many others that were new to me.
During the show they had many different presentations and tastings and demonstrations going on. The one that really drew me in was the pizza tossing demonstration. A couple of guys from The Roman Candle were there to demonstrate how to toss a pizza, and a pretty good crown showed up to see the demonstration!
Even though I pretty much knew how it is done ahead of time it was still entertaining to see them do it, and I did learn some things about why those things are done as well.
For instance, the tossing of the pizza isn’t done entirely for show. By throwing it in the air, the dough spreads out thinner and more evenly than it would if your rolled it out or slapped it back and forth.
The guys even got a couple of volunteers to try the pizza toss as well which was pretty entertaining.
The spread included a wide variety of dishes from local restaurants - Lilianas, The Roman Candle, Benvenutos, and The Blue Marlin, to name a few. There were also many other food vendors that were sampling cheeses, meats, sauces, chocolate, and did I mention cheese? As for spirits there was a multitude of wine choices as well as other spirits and beer sampling.
Overall it was a fun event – honestly more entertaining than I thought it might be. I sampled lots of cheese and other things and tried a few wines and other spirits. Some of my favorites included Alsum Sweetcorn, Sassy Cow Creamery mint chip ice cream – I’m not a huge fan of vanilla ice cream but this was rich and delicious – Yahara Bay Distillery had an Apple Crisp Liquer that was delicious, and there was a cranberry wine that I tried from one of the vendors that was tasty as well, but of course I can’t remember who it was from. I also enjoyed lots and lots of cheeses. The husband enjoyed many of those same things as well as artisan salami from Underground Meats, and a mini Mad ‘Sconnie Burger from AJ Bombers. I wish I would have taken a photo of the burger because it was definitley a highlight of the show, but it was gone before I thought to take one. Fortunately they were giving out these description cards that have a pretty good image and description of the sandwich.
It was definitely a fun way to spend a few hours of our weekend. Do I think it would’ve been worth the $40 ticket? Eh, not for us I don’t think. The food was delicious and all, and it was fun to walk around and see the different vendors, but I just don’t think that we ate and drank enough to pay $40. (plus another $6 for parking of course, too) If you were planning on spending the whole day at the event, then I definitely think the ticket price would be reasonable. I can see it being a fun event for a group outing like a girls day, or even a bachelorette party!