Eat and Drink and Drink and Eat at the First Eat Drink Rhode Island Festival

Did you know that Travel and Leisure magazine rated Providence the best foodie city in America? Yes, pick up your jaw because it’s true. We’ve always known that, unless you’re going to Naples, you can’t beat Rhode Island’s Italian cuisine (take that North End!). Also, let’s not forget that Rhode Island is the only place in the country, perhaps even the world, where you can access such culinary delights as the hot weiner, clam cakes, pizza strips, Del’s lemonade, and coffee milk. Why is this tiny state so damn special? As a native Rhode Islander who’s been all over the globe, I’ve often asked myself this question. Perhaps I can have it answered next month at the Eat Drink RI Festival.

Dave Dadekian, founder of EatDrinkRI.com, put this festival together to pay homage to all the wonderful edibles – and drinkables – the Ocean State has to offer. This three-day festival, which takes place April 19 through April 21, is the first of its kind in Rhode Island, making it all the more enticing. Farmers, chefs, bartenders, and food producers from Southern New England are teaming up to give attendees a sampling of all that’s local and seasonal.

The weekend kicks off with a Food Truck Benefit – all proceeds to go directly to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. Eleven food trucks will offer samples of the tastiest street food, washed down with samples from Narragansett Brewery and Jonathan Edwards Winery. Live entertainment will make this event one hell of a street party. Day Two starts with a series of free demonstrations, ending with the Grand Tasting at the Biltmore, where some of Rhode Island’s most noteworthy chefs are teaming up with local farmers to give attendees a unique spin on farm-to-table cuisine while they try wines, beers, and spirits from New England and beyond. The festival wraps up on Sunday with the inevitable hangover brunch at Gracie’s.

If you’re up for an entire weekend of eating and drinking (and who isn’t, right?) then break out the credit card and go for the festival all-inclusive, which will set you back a mere $200. If you’re really feeling fancy, spend an extra $25 for the VIP treatment, which gets you an extra hour of imbibing at the Grand Tasting, as well as more time at the food trucks.

Go get your tickets (http://eatdrinkri.com/festival/events_tickets) and keep Rhode Island on the global food map. And if you can’t make the festival, salute Eat Drink RI by enjoying a cold ‘Gansett and a gagger.

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