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Food and wine festivals coming to Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale and The Carltun in East Meadow

The Raise Your Glass takes place at the

The Raise Your Glass takes place at the Nassau Coliseum on Jan. 25, 2020. Credit: George D. Photography

Oh, January, you can be so cruel. You elicit penance for the sins of the month before, but are also so gray that we go in search of a little cheering up — from Bacchus in a toga, maybe? Or a glass of barolo, or a scoop of mochi ice cream?

A sort of late January ritual that has developed in Nassau County, where two venues — The Carltun in Eisenhower Park, and Nassau Coliseum — mount separate food and wine festival to stave off the winter blues, as well as insert some frisson into what is traditionally a slow season for hospitality. On Friday night, Jan. 24, The Carltun will hold its third annual, and largest to date, Food & Wine Festival, a Baroque hoedown with 23 stations of food and over 300 wines. The next day, the Nassau Coliseum hosts a walkaround event with 80 vendors, mostly of wine and spirits, in the Coliseum's exhibition hall.

3rd ANNUAL CARLTUN FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

On Friday Jan. 24, The Carltun will opens its doors to over 600 people for an event that by most standards can be considered pretty Dionysian, with so many wines from across the world that it'll be nearly impossible to try them all — and ditto for small plates.

Wine director Fadi Yako said that the 300 wines poured as samples by a brigade of distributors pretty much triples the volume of vino from the first 2018 festival, and almost every wine region will be represented, from Portugal, France, Italy and Germany to California, Oregon, Long Island and Argentina. "We had 100 the first year, and 200 last year," he noted. 

Those wine stations will be scattered throughout The Carltun, and this year will include the patio (which will be covered and transformed into Little Italy) and the upstairs cigar lounge, which will become a rum-tasting zone called Little Havana. Down in the Carltun's wine cellar revelers will find a photo booth with a performer in costume as Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. And to wit, the entire Palm Court bar will be laden with desserts, from macarons and profiteroles to apple strudel and bananas Foster.

On the savory side of things, executive chef Stephen Rosenbluth (who joined The Carltun in December) will oversee a massive rollout of 23 culinary stations, each capturing some of the iconic dishes of a different wine or spirit-producing region. For instance, paella and suckling pig will evoke Spain; sauerbraten, dumplings and red cabbage will rep Germany; ropa vieja will be served in Little Havana, and various pastas, as a well as a mozzarella bar, will animate the Little Italy zone. (There will also be a booth for Anchor Down, Rosenbluth's other restaurant in Merrick, which will serve up the chef's signature mini crabcakes).

"[January] is kind of a slow month, and this is perfect timing," said Yako of the festival, which he has organized for three years running." It's the end of January and people are looking for something different." 

The party begins at 6 p.m., and a $100 ticket earns its holder access to all wine and food stations across three floors. (Tickets for nondrinking designated drivers are $55, and includes unlimited soft drinks and food.)

RAISE YOUR GLASS FESTIVAL

The next day, the event now called Raise Your Glass goes down during two sessions — one in the afternoon, the other in the evening — inside the exhibition hall of NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. Some might remember this as the Fine Wine & Food Festival, which has evolved over the last few years to more of a wine and spirit focus — hence the name change, said co-organizer Dan Cohen.

"We wanted to put more of a focus on alcohol vendors, as we've branched out from wine to distilleries, beer and cider," said Cohen. (Note: There is a designated drop-off and pickup area for Lyft and Uber at Nassau Coliseum).

About 80 vendors are set to take part, and include a few Long Island wineries as well as spirits from upstate and beyond. Among the more unusual quaffs is coquito, a coconut-based twist on eggnog, and at least two bars (including Crop & Kettle in Uniondale) will pour cocktail samples. Each $65 ticket gains access to two-ounce samples of each drink, and there will also be circulating samples for those waiting on line, Cohen said.

Among the Long Island vendors are East End wineries such as Sherwood House Vineyards, Pellegrini Vineyards and Lenz, as well as Sail Away Coffee Co., Meltology and A Little Brittle Heaven, which is based in Amityville.

Bites such as hummus, pickles, pretzels, macarons, wontons and grilled cheese sandwiches will be on hand for sale, as well. Ticket holders choose between two three-hour sessions, the first starting at 1 p.m. and the second, at 5:30 p.m., with an after-party taking place at Canz Bar & Grill.

3rd ANNUAL CARLTUN FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

WHEN | WHERE: 6-10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, at The Carltun in Eisenhower Park, East Meadow.

COST: $100 ($55 designated driver)

MORE INFO: 516-542-0700, thecarltun.com

Sample more than 300 wine and spirits from across the world, scattered through The Carltun’s dining and event spaces and accompanied by 23 stations of food from Carltun executive chef Stephen Rosenbluth.

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RAISE YOUR GLASS FESTIVAL

WHEN | WHERE:1-4 p.m. and 5:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale.

COST: $65 ($69 advance VIP tickets (which includes early admission and a bottle of wine), $20 designated driver at the door; $5 parking.

MORE INFO: email liwineandfood@gmail.com, raiseyourglassli.com

This event brings together about 60 food-and-drink vendors, including a few from Long Island. There's a focus on wine and spirits, but food vendors will also be selling small bites.

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