It seems like this time of year, there is some type of “taste of” food festival happening every day of the week somewhere in the Coachella Valley. In theory, going to an event to check out some local restaurants and enjoy a few tiny, tiny glasses of beer or wine sounds good, but the more I go to these things, the more disappointed I get with them.
Now this isn’t to say that all fests disappoint (Rhythm Wine and Brews and the Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival aren’t your typical food and drink events), but many do. And why? Well, first off, they are almost always pricey – with tickets usually going for at or near a hundred bucks – which I guess has to be that high since everyone I talk to at these things end up somehow getting comp tickets – so I guess they have to inflate the price to pay for all the freeloaders.
And whether you are paying the price or not, there is a weird pressure that you have to get the most bang for your buck, so you load up on calories on food you would never normally eat and sip down beverages you probably wouldn’t normally have either..
Speaking of the food and drink, it’s usually meh to ok. Not terrible, but not anything you get excited about. I don’t fault the restaurants at these things as they have to prepare thousands of tiny portions usually without a kitchen on site, in addition to keeping their actual restaurant open elsewhere. So what you end up mostly getting is tiny, almost all bread sliders or shot of soup or a weird appetizer thing with a tiny slice of beef on a cracker or something.
As for the beer and wine, it’s also just ok. These wineries and breweries know that you are just there to get loaded, so they bring out their basic, low cost stuff. And if you go to one “taste of” event, you will have tried all that will be available at the next one and the one after that.
This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy yourself at these things, especially if you are one of the many who get comped. Sometimes these things are done for charity, and drinking and eating sure beats going to yet another boring gala or auction, so there’s also that. But as for those who cough up the coin for tickets, you would probably better off enjoying a nice steak dinner with all the sides and a rad bottle of wine or craft beer for the same price.