Celebrating Raleigh’s Culinary Appetite at the Raleigh Food & Wine Festival



By Jennifer Primrose

What do you think of when you think of Raleigh? Of course, we’re the "City of Oaks," and the state Capitol – not to mention our craft beer scene seems to be exploding.

But what about Raleigh as a foodie destination? Asheville is well known not just as a foodie-locale, but also a craft beer mecca in the state. Plus, Southern Living magazine has named Durham “The South’s Tastiest Town.” In Western Carolina, Blowing Rock hosts the Blue Ridge Food & Wine Festival, now called SAVOR Blowing Rock.

However, the scene appears, to yours truly, to have picked up a little recognition in the past couple of years here in the Triangle. There are increasing wine dinners centered around the annual Triangle Wine Experience and beer dinners have been springing up left and right just in time for NC Beer month as well as Raleigh Beer week.

We have Restaurant weeks with special 3- or 4-course meals hosted by select local restaurants. Could it finally be that Raleigh is on its way to being mentioned in the same vein as Asheville, Charlotte or even Durham as a food destination?

Related: Triangle Wine Experience celebrates 22 years of fundraising

On Sunday, May 22, the second annual Raleigh Food and Wine Festival grand “tasting celebration” took place at Babylon Restaurant and Melrose Knitting Mill. This is actually a four-day event with food and beverage events taking place across Raleigh, which included Mandolin, Lucettegrace, Midtown Grille, Plates, Rye Southern Kitchen, Babylon and many others. The four-day event concluded with the Grand Tasting on Sunday.

We were fortunate to attend this event for the second year now. There were several food vendors from places such as 18 Seaboard, Babylon, Dos Taquitos, Lucettegrace, Café Helios, Midtown, Oro, Rye Southern Kitchen – the list goes on and on!

Click here for the full list of vendors who took part in the event. They served up dishes in the likes of samosas, shrimp and cucumber salad, Reuben sliders, fresh-made macaroons and shrimp and grits topped with deep-fried okra.

As we traversed our way downstairs, and then upstairs sampling food, we also had the opportunity to sample wine. There were at least five vendors sampling or pouring wine, some glasses but mostly samples.

We enjoyed wines from Ararat Import, Fair Game Beverage, Queen of Wines, Raleigh Wine Shop and Sanctuary Winery. The wines from Queen of Wines, Gem Wines from France, were fantastic – enough for us to pick up a bottle and, due to my “hobby” of visiting NC wineries, I was intrigued to try Sanctuary.

I made an assumption with this winery being located in the Outer Banks that I would be trying the sweet, Muscadine wine that I do not care for. I was pleasantly surprised by the dry wines the vendor was pouring and we are now hoping to visit the winery at some point in the near future.

In addition to wine, as the event so aptly refers to... do not let that fool you! Also in attendance were Bulleit Bourbon, Crude Bitters, Ketel One Vodka, Raleigh Rum Company, Nickelpoint Brewing and the Raleigh Beer Garden. I’m sure I left someone out!

So, everything from wine to liquor, appetizers to meal samples with a little dessert in between!  If you haven’t been, and decide next year is your year. A word of advice – come hungry! Mark my works, you will leave full!