Summer's Best Food, Wine and Smoke Fests

By David Jenison

Summer's Best Food, Wine and Smoke Fests

With the dollar strong and oil prices weak, 2016 is the year of the traveler. The jetsetting options are limitless, but why not peg your next adventure to a food, wine or smoke event taking place in an exciting locale. If looking for something wild and different this summer, these are some of your best bets.

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience
New Orleans, Louisiana
May 26 to 29

What type of wine pairs with crawfish, andouille sausage and alligator? Find out at NOLA’s hottest food and wine experience where the crazy pairings include the Big Gateaux Show, a combination pastry competition and burlesque show. We’re guessing the tagline is “redefining food porn.”

BottleRock Napa Valley
Napa Valley, California
May 27 to 29

Northern California is famed for wine, food and smoke, and all three pleasures (two of them officially) come together at the BottleRock festival. Participating restaurants include Morimoto, Il Posto and Me So Hungry, while the musical lineup includes the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Florence + the Machine, Ziggy Marley, Stevie Wonder, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Cold War Kids and Lenny Kravitz.

Good Food & Wine Show
Cape Town, South Africa
May 27 to 29

The Good Food & Wine Show hits Johannesburg in July and Durban in October, but the best bet is the autumn exhibition in Cape Town, the waterfront city nestled in one of the few recognized floral kingdoms. The event features celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations and hundreds of exhibitors showcasing the latest spirits, wines, kitchen tools and culinary treats. The only negative is that a past event introduced the well.i.am kitchen, which we presume will endorse any utensil for a price.  

Primavera Sound 2016
Barcelona, Spain
June 1 to 5

Barcelona is the new hot spot for green tourism, and the city’s five-day summer music fest fully gels with the sounds of cannabis culture. Performers include Tame Impala, LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead, Holly Herndon, Parquet Courts and Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds in its entirety. Being that this is Europe, the headliners go on around 3 a.m., so make sure to join in on that afternoon siesta.

Auction Napa Valley
Napa Valley, California
June 2 to 5

Are you a rich wino with money to burn? If so, Auction Napa Valley is the place to be. Individual events start at $550, and right now, the only event with tickets left is the $2,000 Saturday's Live Auction Celebration. Everything else, including the $20,000/couple VIP experience, is already sold out. At that price, the tasting pours better be heavy handed! Nevertheless, this swanky soiree represents the height of wine enthusiasm, and proceeds from the wine auction will benefit community health and women’s education. Last year’s charitable haul: $16 mil.

Wally’s Grande Marque Champagne Tasting
Santa Monica, California
June 5

Now in its 24th year, the Grande Marque Champagne Tasting is an annual charity event featuring pours from the top champagne houses. This year, the $175/person price tag ($225 at the door) will benefit the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation and Food on Foot, and the tickets do count as charitable donations. In 2015, champagne houses poured Louis Roederer 2006 Cristal, Taittinger 2005 Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, Dom Pérignon 2005, Henriot 1998 Enchanteleurs and Salon 2002 Les Mesnil Brut, among others, and all the big guns are set to return this year. Likewise, restaurants providing food include Mélisse (owner of two Michelin stars), Drago Centro, Baldoria, Tierra Sur, Cézanne at Le Merigot and others, including a raw bar by Café del Rey.

Seattle, Washington
August 19 to 21

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Hempfest is an educational celebration of cannabis and hemp on the Seattle waterfront. Self-described as “the world’s largest annual event advocating cannabis law reform,” this “protestival” includes live music, speakers and seminars like “No Solvents Needed: How to safely produce rosin and hash.” The fact that recreational cannabis is legal in Washington makes the event that much more inviting.

La Tomatina
Buñol, Spain
August 31

The 1978 film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was a surprise success that spawned three sequels, but the B-movie cannot take credit as the first tomato attack. In August 1945, an overturned vegetable stall at the Giants and Big-Heads parade turned into a spontaneous tomato fight, and the young men who initiated the food fight deliberately started another the following year. A tradition was born, and when arrests failed to stop the momentum, the city eventually conceded. Today, the annual La Tomatina is a tomato-throwing festival that’s arguably the largest food fight in the world. We recommend leaving the designer white threads at home.

Koktebel Jazz Festival
Odessa, Ukraine
August 25 to 28.

Koktebel is a famous nude beach in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula recently annexed by Russia. The 2014 clash between Russia and Ukraine forced the move to Odessa, but the Koktebel Jazz Festival gives music fans the chance to enjoy international jazz artists in an exotic location on the Black Sea. The original location was more interesting, though, because the people grooving next to you might be completely naked, and the hippie vibe and jazz sounds certainly play to old-school cannabis sensibilities. Still, Odessa is a wild party city with a lively scene at Arcadia Beach.

Copenhagen, Denmark
August 28 to 29

If you are a food nerd, you probably know the name René Redzepi, the innovative chef behind the New Nordic restaurant Noma. Redzepi started MAD5 (“mad” is the Danish word for “food”) as a nonprofit and festival that promotes sustainable cuisine. Top names like David Chang and green-friendly Roy Choi participated in past years, and this summer’s event features the theme Tomorrow’s Kitchen. Highlighting the prestige of this event, would-be attendees must “apply” for the $445 tickets, which have already sold out.

Burning Man
August 28 to September 5
Black Rock City, Nevada

You know it, you love it, enough said.

David Jenison (david@prohbtd.com) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD. Burning Man image by JahFae/Flickr.


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