Philly Magazine and Lexus Wine Festival Winners!

I’ve written about this before, but every May at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, there is a wine event that supersedes all other wine events in the area. The Philly Magazine and Lexus Wine Festival is something all wine lovers need to experience at least once in there lifetime.

It’s held inside the Lincoln Financial Field, and wineries from all over the world attend this event. You also have some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia on hand, tempting you with delicious appetizers. One very important thing to remember. If you go, make sure you eat a hearty meal beforehand. The number of wineries that attend this event run in the hundreds, and they all have several wines to sample. Do the math!

We purchase VIP tickets to the event for a couple of reasons. First, you get in an hour and a half before the general public ticket holders. Second, you have access to the VIP lounge, where you can sample extra food and wines not available to the general public. While we were in the VIP lounge, Philly Magazine was holding a contest. Just fill out a card, drop it in a box, and you may win a fantastic prize. We never win anything, but figured, why not?

Fast forward to three weeks later. Eric is at work checking emails on his phone, and the unthinkable has happened. He won! We both could hardly believe it! The prize was an overnight stay at the wonderful Loews Hotel in Philadelphia, and dinner at Iron Chef Jose Garces’ flagship restaurant, Amada.

We obviously chose to stay at the hotel, and have dinner at Amada the same evening. It was an amazing night. The Loews Hotel is one of the finest hotels we have ever stayed at. The staff were so friendly and accommodating. We originally were given a room with two doubles beds. We asked if they had a king or queen sized room, and that we’d pay the difference. They upgraded us to a king size room, no charge! The views from the room were amazing.

After we settled into our room, we had to time to kill, so we headed downstairs to the hotel’s restaurant, Bank and Bourbon for a quick cocktail and snack before dinner. We’ve always wanted to try this place, and now was the perfect time. It was wonderful. Our bartender was fantastic, and the cocktails were delicious. We put in an order for the chicken liver parfait, which was delicious. It was served with boozy grapes, and a fruit and nut bread.

It was time to head to Amada. We have eaten here many times, but never had dinner basically taken care of for us. It was time to have fun and splurge! And splurge we did.  The service and staff at Amada have always been exceptional, and on this night, they were above and beyond amazing. They were all so friendly, and the general manager and wine sommelier stopped by several times to see how we were doing. The sommelier even joined us for a drink, but more about that later!

They started us out with a complimentary appetizer of tuna, capers, and crispy tortillas. Eric only likes ahi tuna, but really enjoyed this dish. It didn’t have a strong tuna taste that can turn off some people. The saltiness of the capers, and crunchy texture of the tortillas made it a light and flavorful appetizer.

Our next dish was the pulpo a la gallega, which is Spanish octopus. It was grilled, and served with slices of grilled potato. It was outstanding! The octopus was perfectly cooked, and seasoned exceptionally well. It’s one of our favorite tapas. We next ordered the lubina, which is Mediterranean sea bass. This was the first time we tried it, and it was delicious. It was also cooked perfectly, and the skin had a nice crispiness to it.

Our third tapas dish is one of our absolute favorites, the albondigas, which is lamb meatballs with shaved manchego cheese,  black truffle, served in a sherry sauce. This is so good that it actually brings tears to my eyes. These may be the best lamb meatballs we’ve ever eaten. Everything about this dish is amazing. The sherry sauce, manchego and truffles all pair so well with the lamb. It’s perfect.

With all of our tapas, we had a bottle of 1995 Caves Sao Joao Quinta do Poco do Lobo Arinto white wine from Beiras, Portugal. It was fantastic! It had a hint of sweetness, and paired perfectly with all of our tapas. It went really well with the lamb meatballs. The wine just elevated the flavors of the food. But the best was yet to come.

For our main course, we ordered the lobster paella. It takes 45 minutes to prepare their paella’s, so if you want this, order it right away to give them time to cook it. The lobster paella came with a cilantro, and an heirloom tomato salad, smoked paprika aioli, squid ink rice, head on shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, split lobster tail, calamari and prawns. Let me tell you, this was Iron Chef Jose Garces’ finest dish. It was the first time we tried it, and it was beyond words. The ingredients speak for itself. It was just delicious! Everything was cooked perfectly. We paired this with a bottle of 2007 Tempranillo, Rioja Reserva, López de Heredia, Viña Bosconia. The wine went perfectly with the paella. This dish serves four, so we were more than happy to take home leftovers!

We were just going to have a glass of sherry for dessert, and we asked the sommelier for a recommendation. He selected, and joined us, for a glass of Lustau East India Solera sherry. It was fantastic! It had a beautiful color, great aroma, and the taste wasn’t too sweet. It was exactly what we were looking for. The restaurant also served us their Pintoxs, which is a selection of bite sized desserts. They consisted of a Spanish cheesecake, almond polvorone, and a chocolate cream puff. The sherry paired very well with these tasty bite sized desserts. 

It was just a wonderful evening at Amada. The staff were so friendly and kind. The wines were amazing, and the food was out of this world. It was the perfect meal. I can’t thank everyone at Amada enough for taking such good care of us, and being so attentive. It’s no wonder why this is one of our favorite restaurants in Philadelphia.

The next morning, we ordered breakfast in our hotel room. We each got an egg white omelet, which you could customize, and it was served with a side of potatoes. The breakfast was very good. It came hot, and was cooked to our exact specifications. We added a bottle of cava to wrap up our amazing staycation.

I have to thank the staff at the Loews Hotel for their exceptional service. This is a hotel I would highly recommend to anyone. I also want to thank the staff at Philly Magazine for making the reservations, and keeping in constant communication with us to make sure everything was going smoothly. We can’t wait for next year’s wine festival. You know who will be entering their contest again!


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