Friday Foodstuffs 2.6.09 – It’s All About the Chocolate

Forget for a moment your feelings about Valentine’s Day – good, bad or indifferent. I have a funny feeling that, whether you love or loathe this day, the mere mention of it probably makes you think more about chocolate than normal. The one thing most everyone can agree on is that chocolate is wonderful. And the few who don’t like chocolate, well, you’re just weird.

This weekend and all of next week there are going to be a number of chocolate-themed events taking place. I wanted to focus on two in particular because of the sheer number of participants for each event.

The first one is the Wine & Chocolate Weekend happening this weekend in wineries all throughout the state. I have to give the Garden State Wine Growers Association a lot of credit for putting together a number of fun events all through the year, and this one looks like it will be no exception. Here’s the list from GSWGA of participating wineries in South Jersey and what will be taking place at each winery:

Amalthea Cellars
209 Vineyard Road, Atco.
856.768.8585.
“Sip and celebrate — the wines we used to beat Napa and France in two independent blind tastings! The winery’s own expert staff will be present to discuss our new releases along with our library favorites. The fun includes pairing wine with pastries and fine Belgium, Swiss, and French chocolates. There is no charge for the general wine tasting and chocolate pairing; there is a ten dollar charge for the Napa and French face off winners tasting.”

Auburn Road Vineyards
117 Sharptown Auburn Road, Pilesgrove.
856.769.WINE.
“Sip our fine wines. Taste handmade Chocolate for Woodstown’s own Sweet Mary’s including the Auburn Road Merlot Truffle. Dip into an amazing Chocolate Fountain! Meet the Chocolateers themselves, Sweet Mary and Joe Cervino in Auburn Road’s fabulous new Barrel Room. Hear irreverent Live Lectures on Love and Shakespeare by Barrymore Award winning actor Charlotte Northeast accompanied by guitar virtuoso Jeff Nowmos, 2 to 4 pm on Saturday! Or listen to Beatles Love Songs performed acoustic live by the amazing Beatles tribute band, “The Rubber Souls” Sunday, 2 to 4 pm.”
Admission: $5

Bellview Winery
150 Atlantic Street, Landisville.
856.697.7172.
“Be tempted by our fine wines – and chocolates by Amy Barbera, Chief Chocolatier of Barbera’s Chocolates on Occasion, Vineland, NJ. Experience a winery tour and celebrate Valentine’s Day in a savory way this year.”

Cedarvale Winery
205 Repaupo Station Road, Logan Township.
856.467.3088.
“Bring your Valentine to taste our wines paired with some tasty chocolate treats. Experience the romance of our delicious wines.”

Heritage Vineyards
480 Mullica Hill Road, Richwood.
856.589.4474.
“Come enjoy a spectacular display of chocolate pairings with our own unique and delicious wines.”
Tasting: $8 per person. Barrel Room Tasting and Winery Tour: $7.

Laurita Winery
35 Archertown Road, New Egypt.
800.LAURITA.
“Welcome to Ocean County’s only winery, the newly opened Laurita Winery. Share in our first Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail with 17 superb wines on the tasting menu and for sale at our three bars. Taste our homemade soups, freshly made sandwiches, gourmet cheeses. Discover pastas, sauces, jams, pestos and condiments in our marketplace.”

Plagido’s Winery
570 North 1st Road, Hammonton.
609.567.4633.
“A decadent chocolate fondue dessert station, our variety of delicious fine wines as well as savory cheeses are three great reasons to celebrate Valentine’s Day with us. Meet, share and enjoy!”
Tasting fee: $5 (includes a souvenir glass).

Renault Winery
72 North Breman Avenue, Egg Harbor City.
609.965.2111.
“Warm up your weekend with a sampling of our Hot May wine. Take a tour of our historic winery and taste our sparkling pink champagne as you satisfy your sweet tooth with chocolate covered strawberries. Show your wine passport and not only will your tour fee be waived, but in our gift shop you’ll receive a special discount toward a case of wine or champagne!”
Fee is waived with presentation of wine passport.

Sharrott Winery
370 South Egg Harbor Road (Route 561), Winslow.
609.567.WINE.
“Grab your valentine and join us for the Valentine’s Day Wine Trail Weekend. Award-winning wines and delicious ripe strawberries dipped in melted chocolate…mmmm. Enjoy our decadent chocolate fondues and take home the recipes. We will also have wine maker guided tours at 2:00 and 4:00.”
Wine tasting: $5 (includes a souvenir glass)

Swansea Vineyards
860 Main Street, Shiloh.
856.453.5778.
“Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’ll be releasing our Garden State Strawberry and Garden State Blueberry Wines. Come take a delicious taste of these new wines — as well as all our fine wines, which we will be pairing with chocolate and a full spread of tempting desserts.”

Valenzano Winery
1320 Old Indian Mills Road, Shamong.
609.268.6731.
“Sample our new batch of Blueberry Wine, cheeses, appetizers and hand made chocolates by ‘Our Sweet Place,’ a popular candy shop in nearby Medford, NJ. Meet the chocolatier who will be selling her unique chocolates and truffles which pair perfectly with Valenzano Dessert Wines. Let guitarist Lou Flacche serenade you with solo and duet guitar music spanning more than four centuries.”

The other event, which is taking place next week, is Chocolate Week, which is being presented by the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce. From February 8th to the 15th, you will find special offerings and discounts throughout Southern Ocean County, which includes Long Beach Island. Some of the locations participating include:

Country Kettle Fudge
Bay Village – 830 North Bay Avenue, Beach Haven.
609.492.2800.

daddy O
4401 Long Beach Boulevard, Brant Beach.
609.361.5100.

Engleside Inn and Restaurant
30 Engleside Avenue, Beach Haven.
609.492.1251.

Greenhouse Cafe
6th Street & Long Beach Boulevard, Ship Bottom.
609.494.7333.

Sweets N Smiles
21 South Main Street, Barnegat.
609.698.1871.

AND – if that isn’t enough for you to get out and enjoy this weekend, check out these other Festivals of Food events:

Saturday:
Black History Celebration: Let My Stories Tell You Who I Am at the Barnegat Branch of the Ocean County Library.
Soup for the Soul at the Moorestown Friends School.
Cookie Mania at the Cinnaminson Library.
Winter Eagle Festival and Annual Chili Bowl at the Mauricetown Fire Hall in Mauricetown.

Sunday:
Not For Chocolate Lovers Only! at the Newfield Public Library.

Monday:
Soul Food Fest / Motown Spectacle with Jon Turks at the Manchester Branch of the Ocean County Library.

AND AND – just for good measure, let’s throw two more events at you happening down in Atlantic City: tonight at Game On! at The Pier is a fundraiser for Katie’s Krusaders, and Sunday is the ACF Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey President’s Scholarship Ball (that’s a mouthful!) at the Tropicana.

In the news this week:

Scott Selfridge of Glassboro took his ‘Toxic’ Jersey Chili to the Chincoteague Island Chowder and Chili Cook-off…and won!

A coffee company in Mullica Hill and a microbrewery in Cherry Hill got together, and an espresso porter was born.

The Curious Case of Restaurateur Jon Paxton (JP Prime Restaurant) gets interesting as a warrant gets issued for him to appear in court.

And if you can buy your Girl Scout cookies from this troop, do so. This is a wonderful story about helping their ailing troop leader.

Have a great weekend!

– John

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