Enjoy New York flavors at Wine & Culinary Center

John P. Christensen
The New York Wine & Culinary Center’s architecture blends comfortably with its lakeside setting near the City Pier in Canandaigua.

The New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua is dedicated to the display and promotion of the agricultural products to be found in all of New York State, yet it takes on this task in a far more sophisticated way than traditional county and state fairs or farmers’ markets.

Not content to simply display prizewinning livestock or fruits and vegetables, it is the center’s goal to show what can be done with that produce at its ultimate destination: the table. This task is achieved in an atmosphere of genial hospitality, appealing location, architecture, and design, innovative cuisine, and a desire to educate and expand the public palate.

Conceived in 2002 as a joint venture between Constellation Brands (the world’s largest producer of wines), Wegmans Food Markets (nationally famous grocery chain), the Rochester Institute of Technology (with its highly esteemed School of Hospitality), and The New York Wine and Grape Foundation (the nonprofit organization that promotes the viticulture of our state), NYWCC opened its doors in June 2006.

Upon seeing and entering the building, one is immediately struck by the quality of the design and construction. It has the welcoming feel of a fine lakeshore home, with a view of Canandaigua Lake and the City Pier to match it.

The education of visitors is accomplished in a variety of impressive venues. The Exhibit Hall (sponsored by Pride of New York) has seasonal displays of member farms and associations. The Tasting Room offers “flight menus” tailored to the visitors’ preference for different types of wines, beers, and even juices from producers all over the state.

The Educational Theatre allows large groups to watch master chefs create fabulous meals from local produce, and then sample them with carefully paired wines and beers.

For amateur chefs, there is the Hands-On Kitchen that would be the envy of the best cooking schools in the world. Both offer the most advanced audio-visual aids to enhance the learning process in as many as 30 events per week.

Executive Chef Carlo Peretti oversees the chef instructors as well as the Taste of New York Restaurant’s seasonal menu. His European training and long professional career in New York State combine to the great advantage of any who partake of his meals. It is this mastery of cuisine, appreciation of American tastes, and the intimate understanding of local, seasonal ingredients that make this restaurant of particular note.

To be perfectly frank, only recently expanded to full service, this restaurant has not yet received its due fame. The new Tasting Menu, with paired wines for each of six courses, changes monthly and has already gained rave reviews (to which I now add my own!) Like Chef Peretti, Manager Greg Seibert and waiters like Edward Kinney display more than just knowledge and good training; they truly enjoy their work, feeling both pride and passion for it.  Great hospitality begins and ends with such attitudes.

One of the new features I am looking forward to enjoying is the “Backyard BBQ” on Thursday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m.

Served under the tent in the gardens and featuring live music, this is bound to become a summertime favorite.

2009 Backyard BBQ Featured Music & Breweries

July 9: Soul Express & Ithaca Beer Co.

July 16: Todd East & Custom BrewCrafters

July 23: Craig Snider & Genesee Brewing Co.

July 30: Connie Malone & Middle Ages Brewing Co.

Aug. 6: Johnny Bauer & Flying Bison Brewing Co.

Aug. 13: Connie Malone & Brewery Ommegang

Aug.20: Todd East & Empire Brewing Co.

Aug. 27: Out of the Blue & Dundee Brewing Co.

New York Wine &

Culinary Center

800 South Main St., Canandaigua

585-394-7070

www.nywcc.com

E-mail: info@nywcc.com

Open year round

Through Mon., Oct. 12, 2009:

Wine Tasting Room, Culinary Boutique, Exhibit Hall: Mon.-Sat. 10 am-9 pm • Sun. Noon-9 pm

Taste of New York Lounge Restaurant

Mon.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. • Sun. Noon-9 p.m.

Fall and Winter Hours begin Tues., Oct. 13

Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

The garden at the Wine & Culinary Center is an inviting retreat where special events, like the Backyard BBQs, are held.