The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Selection of wines from Sweet Baby Vineyards. Courtesy photo.

In Good Spirits

When: Wednesday, April 22, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord
Cost:  $35 per person
Event is  21+

A spirited evening
Annual spring social returns to Concord

By Allie Ginwala

Brush off winter at the Concord Family YMCA’s 11th annual spring social, In Good Spirits, on Wednesday, April 22.

“It’s a wine and beer tasting and a top chef cookoff,” Paula Taylor, development director at Concord Family YMCA, said in a phone interview. The evening will include wine samples from Gallo Wines, Candia Vineyards, Sweet Baby Vineyards and Hermit Woods Winery and beer samples from NH Distributors. 
Held in the Governor’s Hall of the Capitol Center for the Arts, the event allows guests to mingle and learn about the wine and beer New Hampshire has to offer.
“It’s a good walking flow so people can walk around the room,” Taylor said. 
The wine and beer vendors will set up in the middle of the room while the four restaurants taking part in the top chef cookoff will flank two and two on opposite sides of the room.
To add another element to the event, chefs from O Steaks & Seafood, The Barley House, The Celery Stick Café at Concord Food Co-op and The Granite Restaurant at Centennial Inn will each prepare an appetizer to serve for the guests to sample and vote for their favorite. 
Robert Cone, executive chef at The Celery Stick Café at Concord Food Co-op, is going to be part of the spring social for the first time.
“I like working with the other chefs, seeing what they bring to the table,” Cone said in a phone interview.
When coming up with his dish, Cone wanted to embrace spring ingredients. Given the setup of the event, he chose to stay away from hot food to make sure that everything is fresh.
“I’m trying to combine three or four different meals, you could say, into the one,” he said. “I’m taking an appetizer, like an hors d’oeuvre, entree, salad.”
Cone’s entry for the top chef cookoff will be a crostini with shaved beef carpaccio, pea tendrils and Parmesan cheese. 
“You’re getting everything in one,” he said.
“I’m trying to stick my foot into it a little bit, get my feet wet into the spring ingredients,” he said.
Taylor sees the spring social as a celebration of the fact that spring is here and it’s time to look forward to summer events coming up. She anticipates that those pouring samples will bring a mixture of patron favorites as well as drinks to look forward to as the weather gets warmer.
Lewis Eaton, owner/winemaker at Sweet Baby Vineyard, will return to the social for the third time with a selection of wines well-suited for drinking in the spring and summer. Pouring six different options, he’ll have a red, a white and four fruit wines. 
“We plan on bringing two brand new wines as well as our four fruit wines offered around the area,” Eaton said in a phone interview.
Located an hour away from Concord, Sweet Baby Vineyard sells wines throughout the state and Eaton sees this as a great opportunity to reach out to new customers. 
“[It’s] a nice range of people to get in touch with,” he said. “I like the fact that it’s more of a high-end tasting, everyone is dressed up — it’s a real tasting event.”
Bob Dabrowski, owner of Candia Vineyards, also appreciates the upscale environment of In Good Spirits. Dabrowski will bring a selection of six wines to try and have something for everybody, like a dry white, dry red and dessert wine.
“What I try to do is cover the full range of the patrons there,” he said in a phone interview. “I will have some pretty unique wines. It’s a perfect setting for us because there will be a lot of wine enthusiasts there.”
One new feature this year will be a salsa and guacamole station prepared by the children involved in the Concord Family YMCA’s after-school and summer camp programs. This is a chance for the kids to showcase what they’ve learned in after-school programs focused on making healthy food.
“It’s nice because it’s really why we’re here. We’re all here for the kids and our community too,” Taylor said. 
The fundraiser includes a live and silent auction. Proceeds from the event help support the YMCA and its services, including child care, summer camps and wellness programs.
As seen in the April 16, 2015 issue of the Hippo. 

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