Not literally of course, more figuratively. This past weekend was the Washington Wine Commission’s 20something event. It was meant to be an event to entice twenty somethings to step into the world of wine and have fun. Ultimately it was an event for thirty somethings to get smashed and have fun.
First heard of this event from a couple of friends; one, because he thought it’d be fun to do. The other, because she volunteered at the spring event and had a good time. So I volunteered for this one. I’m also a Washington Wine Ambassador; the volunteer arm for the Washington Wine Commission. What that means is that I help out local wineries with pouring (amongst other things) and I help the WWC with their events. I’ve poured during Passport and lent a hand during Taste Washington. It’s a great chance to network and learn more about the industry. Plus, you get to go to events for free for helping out. Lend a couple of hours for my time and get into a sold-out event that would otherwise be 50 bucks plus? Holla.
That is what brought me to 20something. I volunteered and helped with the set-up. You know, check out the scene with a gangsta lean; you can see what the restaurants have in store for the night. See their menu, watch the playful, yet competitive banter between chefs. Also able to see the wineries slowly filter in with their goods. A lot of these folks protect their cases like their lives depended on it. If it was my blood, sweat, and tear, I’d do the same.
20something was a lot of fun; great people watching and very interesting. The crowd skewed heavily towards wanting to have a good time and drink. Funny story; while at a table, a rep from DeLille came by to provide us a taste of their Doyenne Syrah. Hell yes we’ll have some! But the other randoms at our table turned it down! This was a $50 bottle of wine that they were turning there nose up at. After a little ha-ha with the wine guy, this illuminated a major point of the evening; lots of people didn’t care what they were drinking. They just wanted to get trashed. Which isn’t bad, just interesting. Although after going to a lot of other events like this, I’m not at all surprised.
One great thing about 20something was the firepower that showed up. For the wineries, it was often the winemakers that were pouring. And the pouring situation was kind of fun; they would walk around the room and pour if you had an empty glass. Basically you could stand still and always have vino in your hand! For the restaurants, the executive chefs actually served. This was the case for Ray’s Boathouse, Cellars (loved the braised lamb and ‘naked’ gnocchi), and Oceannaire. Even Lisa Nakamura and her team from bin vivant were there.
It was also cool because two of Seattle’s most prominent food entrepreneur’s were in the house; Ethan Stowell and Tom Douglas. I loved this because it showed they wanted to see what the pulse of the evening was like, see the vibe of ‘twenty somethings’ and provide some stellar food. They also provided a strong public face to their brand. The food dude in me appreciated it.
Union was Ethan’s restaurant that was featured at 20something. It was cool because Ethan showed up with his business partner, Patric Gabre-Kidan. They served a chickpea, prosciutto, and parmiggiano bruschetta and it was awesome. Going for Seconds went for seconds. And thirds. I love Ethan and Patric’s restaurant because they are making food cool in Seattle. With Union, Tavolata, and How To Cook a Wolf under their belts, they will be introducing a new restaurant in January – Anchovies & Olives opens next in the Capitol Hill area. Exciting for Seattle food lovers.
In the case of Tom Douglas, they had a cushy edge spot with this fun spinning wheel to win prizes. I won all you can eat pistachios at the Palace Kitchen. Sounds great, but the nuts are already on the house. Nuts. Tom was there along with his executive chef Eric Tanaka. Tom and Eric already have five restaurants in their arsenal (Dahlia Lounge, Etta’s, Palace Kitchen, Lola, and Serious Pie), so it was awesome to see them behind the counter prepping dishes for us hungry and thirsty folk. What I loved about their set-up was that every hour they changed up the menu and provided a different wine pairing to go with it – tricky for an event like this, but they pulled it off. The first hour was salmon with a white wine and the second was a chicken wing with a different white to match the spice. At the third hour, they served a meatball with some sangiovese. And for dessert they served Tom’s renowned Coconut Cream Pie with a shot of bubbly. For this, I also went for seconds. By this point I was in food and wine heaven.
I did have fun at the 20something event. The food and wine was excellent, I met fun people, and DJ Darek Mazzone did spin some goodies (Mark Ronson! MIA! Biggie!). And I went for free! A nice little benefit as a Washington Wine Ambassador. Don’t you want to join in the fun? If not, for the chance for free booze and events, you’ll be able to help out local wineries, get an inside look at the goings on, etc. I’d recommend this to anyone that wants to get into the wine industry. See you at a WWC event soon.
Photo courtesy of Christopher M. at Yelp