A bottle of red. A bottle of white.
Whatever the mood, Staten Islanders filled their appetites during this year's wine and fine food festival held Saturday on the grounds at Historic Richmond Town. Under a scorching afternoon sun, some 2,000 food and wine connoisseurs feasted on delicacies from local vendors, as they wandered the grounds of the living history village with wine glasses in hand.
Now in its third year, Historic Richmond Town's Uncorked! event showcased food and drink samples from dozens of the borough's best restaurants, bars and winerys. There were mouth-watering riceballs from Papa Perrone's Riceball Shoppe, Tompkinsville; refreshing California rolls from Cucumber Sushi and Salad Bar, Eltingville; and creamy cannolis from Alfonso's Pastry Shoppe, along with many others. "These are the best riceballs I've ever had," said Mary Fargo of Eltingville.
For Dorris Velez, the trip from her home in Westerleigh was well worth it after she tried some guacamole dip courtesy of Maizal Restaurant, Rosebank. "It goes well with the margaritas they're serving," she said, standing in the shade with some friends. "I've come each year and it just gets better. It lets people get a taste of Staten Island."
Flushed-faced patrons -- some the result of a hot sun and others simply from too much wine -- sampled collections from the Staten Island Winery, specialty drinks from Punzone Vodka, and various sangrias, beers and taquillas from the many vendors on site. "I've had a little bit of everything in my glass today," said Jay Taylor of Huguenot, as he held up the empty wine glass given to him with the purchase of a $32 ticket. "I spent the money so I'm going to make it worth my while."
The event also provided Staten Island's small businesses with an opportunity to promote their offerings. "Hopefully more people know about us after today," said Johnpaul Perrone, owner of Papa Perrone's, as he breaded an eggplant for one of his many specialty riceballs. "If someone tells one person about us, then someone tells another, then before you know it everybody's got a riceball in their hand."
Ed Wiseman, director of Historic Richmond Town, said the annual event's purpose is two-fold. First, it promotes the borough's business community, which, he said, helps keep not-for-profits such as his alive. And secondly, it nourishes a knowledge of history, as folks make their way through the sites historic houses.
"Food feeds culture," said Wiseman. "People love to eat their way through American History, and this provides that with different flavors and styles of food."
As Victoria Elliott laid on the grass, all this tourist from England cared about was the Sam Adams in her glass and the shade covering her body. On their first trip to New York, she and her husband called it a "happy mistake" that they found their way to Richmond for the festival after taking a ride on the ferry.
"It's absolutely fantastic. The whole thing is superb and so well-organized," she said reclining onto the grass, her beer in hand and newfound appreciation for Staten Island in her heart. "Everyone said stop by Staten Island. Now I'm glad we did."