22nd annual Taste of New Paltz

Chef Bruce Kazan & his Main Course crew at a previous Taste (photo by Lauren Thomas)

It’s not just that autumnal snap in the air that makes folks in the vicinity of New Paltz start to salivate when the third Sunday in September rolls around. It’s the building anticipation for the Taste of New Paltz, the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce’s biggest wingding of the year. If you were intrigued by Jennifer Brizzi’s meditation on the joys of tapas in Almanac’s pages a couple of weeks back, the Taste is your opportunity to indulge yourself in small-plates mania by sampling the signature dishes of a broad array of the region’s finest restaurants, caterers, farm markets and wineries, all in a single day.

Dozens of eateries from New Paltz and the surrounding area, featuring every imaginable type of cuisine, turn up at the Taste each year, each one offering sample portions of at least two or three popular items from their regular menus, and often many more. It’s a priceless opportunity to shop for your next dining destination or reacquaint yourself with old favorites. And you’re bound to bump into a friend or six.

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The vendors love it too, as the event enables them to network with their peers and schmooze with customers past, present and future. As a marketing tool, some hand out discount coupons at the Taste, so keep your eyes peeled for them as you wander about with small plates full of your latest nibbling choices precariously balanced in both hands. Various local businesses will have display tables, and there’s also a Kids’ Expo that will help keep the little ones happily occupied while Mom and Dad taste a local wine or two.

It all happens on Sunday, September 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. under canvas, rain or shine, at the Ulster County Fairgrounds on the banks of the Wallkill southwest of New Paltz, with the spectacular panorama of the Gunks for a backdrop. Parking space is free, ample and just across Libertyville Road. If the weather is fine, presume that traffic on Route 299, New Paltz’s Main Street, will be backed up from the Wallkill crossing, so take a tip from the locals: The scenic route through Gardiner to the other end of Libertyville Road might save you a bit of time.

Admission to the Taste of New Paltz costs $7 for adults; children aged 12 and under get in for free. Depending on the size of your appetite, you exchange cash for “taste tickets” at $1 a pop, then redeem the tickets for samples of the food or beverage of your choice. The idea is to keep the size of the portions generous but still small enough that you won’t have to fork over more than one or two tickets for each, so that you can try just about everything that appeals to your palate. Note, though, that in past years, some of the more popular items have been known to run out quite early in the afternoon, so latecomers may face some small disappointments.

Proceeds of the Taste of New Paltz benefit the Chamber and its community projects.

Sample food and drink from many regional eateries at the 22nd annual Taste of New Paltz, to be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 16. Admission costs $7 for all over age 12 and parking is free. The Ulster County Fairgrounds are located on Libertyville Road, on the opposite bank of the Wallkill River from New Paltz; the River can be crossed on Route 299 in New Paltz or Route 44/55 in Gardiner. For more information, call the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce at (845) 255-0243 or visit www.newpaltzchamber.org/pages/Taste_of_New_Paltz.php.

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