at the Provincetown Food & Wine Festival
by Rebecca M. Alvin
There’s no question, after the fun of Halloween weekend, things quiet down in Provincetown at least until the holidays. But this year, Matthew King gives us a new festival the first week in November, to keep the party going. The Provincetown Food & Wine Festival is inspired by the Key West Food & Wine Festival, for which King worked. However, King stresses this is not a carbon copy of that event, but rather very much a Provincetown affair.
“There’s more to Provincetown, you know, and I didn’t want to pick up some expo and just dump it in Ptown just because we can; it had to make sense. So when I first applied for the grant, through the Tourism Board, I really wanted to connect back to the restaurant industry in town,” King explains. “Because of the pandemic, I was kind of trapped in Florida for a couple years, which wasn’t the intent. It was supposed to be seasonal, and then I’d come back. So this gave me some time to really wrap my head around how to really come back in a way that embraces and gives thanks to the businesses, the industries that, you know, they’re the backbone of this community here. I mean, we can have Bear Week, you can have Women’s Week, but everybody needs to eat.”
King comes to this venture with years of experience in a wide range of areas in the hospitality industry. He’s worked in catering, as a food stylist for film and television, in liquor stores, and a lot of restaurants and bars, including, he says, the Crown & Anchor, Ross’ Grill, and the Boatslip. He also briefly owned a restaurant here in town called Castaways, which was at the Gifford House. But wine is his main interest now. A former chemist, he retired from the science field in 2006. It was in 2015 that he began to really study wine in Napa, and he says he’s obtained his WSET level 3 wine certification and is passionate about wine education. And while he doesn’t want people to feel like they are going back to school at this event, he does have a seminar planned at the Post Office Café, which he hopes will help people broaden their understanding of Tuscan wines.
The festival kicks off Thursday with the Uncorked Opening Reception at the Masthead Resort and then runs all weekend with events at various restaurants in town, including an Amalfi Coast wine dinner at Tin Pan Alley Friday Night, pairing five Italian wines selected by Ciro Pirone of Horizon Wine Company; the Winemaker’s Dinner at the Crown & Anchor on Saturday night, featuring winemaker Remy Drabkin of Remy Wines; and the Under the Tuscan Moon five-course dinner at Strangers & Saints, where diners will feast on oysters, sweet potato gnocchi with a roasted wild mushroom sauce, seared duck breast with thyme-fig wine reduction, and many other delicious items paired with fine Italian wines selected by wine expert Jessica Brennan, and capped off with chocolate panna cotta. For a more low-key event, check out the Grilled Cheese & Beer pairings at Provincetown Brewing Company, with three seatings on Saturday afternoon and live entertainment by local duo Donnelly & Richardson.
But the cornerstone event is the GRAND Tasting at Provincetown Town Hall, a kind of wine exposition featuring suppliers, vendors, wineries, and winemakers offering samples of their wares. That event opens at 1 p.m., and requires a paid ticket, however, King says he’s holding a special event for anyone who works in the restaurant business—whether a waiter, bartender, or chef— to come in one hour before the general public for a free tasting as a way of giving back to the community here. (While it’s free to this group of people, it does require contacting King to reserve a ticket.)
Tickets for each event range in price from $50 – $275 and King explains these prices include tax and 20% gratuity, in many cases with a portion of the money going to local charities, such as Soup Kitchen in Provincetown (SKIP) and Helping Our Women (HOW). Nevertheless, there is also a free event for everyone to enjoy, the Friday afternoon art gallery stroll where visitors can sample wines and enjoy fine art at numerous galleries in town.
The Provincetown Food & Wine Festival takes place in various venues in Provincetown, November 4 – 7. For an updated, complete schedule and tickets (even free events require registration) visit ptownfoodandwinefestival.com.