And, lastly, after a brief nap in the car (it’s exhausting eating all that barbecue), we jet setters were off to the Vineland International Food and Cultural Festival (held right on Landis Avenue, the main drag).
Our first impression was that it was a bit…small. In fact, at first glance I was a bit disappointed; but we remembered that this was still a relatively new event for Vineland, so we investigated. Hiding among the too-many vendors selling ordinary foods such as hot dogs and pizza, non-alcoholic tropical drinks, or the Budweiser truck, there were a few stands that looked worth a try. We noted one selling gyros and moussaka (no other Greek specialties, though), and a few that sold tacos, but the only stand we felt we couldn’t pass up was Taste of the Islands (of the nearby Jamaican restaurant). Being still so full of ‘cue, we’re sorry to say we were limited to only 2 items-but, oh, were they good. Curry shrimp (in a light, spicy, tomato-pepper-onion sauce that was perfect for the hot weather) and a beef patty (a delicious, flaky pastry filled with a spicy beef mixture-portable and addictive comfort food).
Afterwards, we strolled and took in the relaxed atmosphere: a live fusion jazz band, a Greek dance demonstration. Just as we were noting that the only “Asian” representation was from the regular Chinese takeout joints in town, one of those amazing culinary (albeit non-international) moments happened. We came across the stand for The Sweet Life Bakery. They were demurely offering free samples of a peach tart, made with local Jersey peaches…and when we tasted it we knew they were something special. As in worth-making-an-hour-trip-just-to-get-some-of-their-stuff special. The man at the stand explained a bit of their mission to us: wholesome ingredients (no shortening used, folks, all butter!), using only the most local, seasonal products they can get for their ingredients, even selling only organic, “fair trade” coffee…but our mouths were already convinced and we high-tailed it over to their shop. We were greeted warmly by the staff as we ordered up some coffees (they have a full menu of lattes, cappuccinos, and the like) and filled a box of goodies to take home. We eventually sampled every last crumb of sweet rolls (filled with fresh strawberry and cream cheese filling), luscious brownies, a berry cobbler (fresh Jersey blueberries and blackberries), and oatmeal raisin and brown sugar cookies. I can assure you that you’ve never had anything this good from your local bakery (and if you have, please let us know!). Check out this husband and wife team of Culinary Institute of America graduates, their story, their mission, and their food on their site.
We left Vineland that day, sated and happy from our adventures, and excited to share our experiences. Yes, it’s nice to check out New York and other culinary capitals of the world, but we urge you to take a little time to see what’s going on in your very own backyard. You just never know! -Lisa