There are a few people who refer to me as "Fanci Brandi". I will admit that, at times, I have a tendency to like "fancy foods, wines, spirits" etc. But what not too many of you know, is that I am EXTREMELY frugal, aka cheap. Which is why I make fanci dinners at home as opposed to going out. My experience has mostly been when I do go ahead and open up my wallet, that the dinner and the service, don't necessarily live up to the "experience".

HOWEVER, there is something here in the Hudson Valley that anyone can take advantage of. A resource for food lovers. A culinary mecca.

The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. One that I did attend. (I attended their 10 month Baking & Pastry Course to add to my culinary degree that I earned at a school in California).

What you might not know about is their "Winter Dining Series". Where you can attend an informative 45 minute session talking about wine, sherry, beer, spirits. What ever the topic of discussion is for that evening and then head to a restaurant and enjoy a meal featuring the items you just learned about. I save up to go to two to three of these per year. (Mostly its the lunch sessions). For a "small investment" 55-70 plus tax and gratuity, the information is just that, informative and presented in a manner that is relaxed and entertaining. Then the meal is finely crafted, well presented and do I even need to mention, delicious?

The one I went to last night was one based around wines from Justin and Landmark Vineyards. I am familiar with the Justin wines, mostly bold Cabernet based blends, (if you can find any of their Syrah, call and let me know, they have discontinued it... It has always been a favorite of mine, but I digress) but had not tried any wines from the other winery that was featured.

The "lecture" consisted of a Master Sommlier from the Justin Winery, talking about the history of the wineries and then sharing info about 5 wines that were in front of us, 1 white, 4 reds. After tasting and talking, we were ready to eat and adjourned to a restaurant on the campus, The American Bounty.

From this point, I will share the photos that I took. Based just on these photos, would you not say that another "Affordable Fanci Brandi" Soiree was had and can be had by all who choose to make a reservation.