Friday Foodstuffs 6.12.09: Festival Season is Upon Us!

When we started this blog last year, one of the things that I became very interested in doing was creating a seasonal post for food events taking place throughout South Jersey. There are so many places online that list events that it can get a bit confusing. I wanted our blog to provide a service that would allow fellow food enthusiasts to look in one place and know what was going on festival-wise. In doing this, it allowed me to learn more about where I live and to appreciate what is around us. We South Jerseyites are truly blessed with the food resources we have available to us within a one-to-two hour drive.

The first Festivals of Food post I did was for Summer 2008. And now that Summer 2009 is almost here, I can look back on last year’s post and use it as a guide; to see where I’ve improved and where I still need to improve. Even though last year’s post gives me a good head start, there’s still a lot of research I will be doing between now and Monday when I (hopefully) will be posting the next FoF list. But, you know what, I still really enjoy doing it. Seriously.

If you find the list useful (and maybe even enjoyable), I’d love to hear from you. I had a chef recently tell me that a customer heard of an event the restaurant was holding because of our blog, and that made me so very happy.

Now – having looked at least year’s list, I realize that the best time for festivals is now! Or rather, between now and the end of July (Oh, stop your crying August and September…you have nice events, too). You want fruit and vegetable festivals, we got ’em. Seafood festivals? Yes. BBQ festivals? Sure. Ice cream? Oh yes please, maybe some mint chocolate chip with jimmies..oh wait, erm, I meant sure, we have those festivals as well. You will actually find it hard to decide which ones you want to attend every weekend. We know. We tried.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, ‘kay? This weekend, the last official weekend of spring (and man, it has felt like spring so far in June), has some lovely events a-happening. Personally, I’m all chili’d out, but if you’re not, the Delaware Valley ICS Regional Chili Cook-Off Concert and Festival at DREAM Park in Logan Township is going on tomorrow. We will be finding ourselves, hopefully, down in the little hamlet known as Bivalve (that’s wayyyy down in Cumberland County) enjoying Delaware Bay Days along the Maurice River. The food stuff is happening on Saturday; the water stuff is happening Sunday. And on Sunday, there is the Wine and Unwind Tour, via Arrive In Style Luxury Limousine. Tour a number of local wineries in a fine ride – sounds good to me.

And there’s more (there’s always more) to do this weekend: St Barbara’s Greek Food Fest in Toms River starts, whoa, today! But it goes until Sunday, so you’re OK. O-bop-sha-bam – if you like your seafood served on the jazzy side, check out the Jazzy Scallop Festival at Viking Village tomorrow in Barnegat Light. If you like your wine served with a very very VERY large elephant (and who doesn’t?), tonight is the Downbeach Film Festival Wine Tasting Fund Raiser at Lucy the Elephant in Margate. Into wine tasting, but not into elephants? Well, there is a wine tasting taking place at the Abbott House B&B in Mays Landing tomorrow from 12PM to 5PM. It’s $15 at the door, and the proceeds benefit the local food bank.

For your indoor dining options, look who’s cooking? Seriously – I mean the Look Who’s Cooking fundraiser at Christ Episcopal Church in Toms River tonight. At the Renault Winery tonight, you can be Dining with the Chefs in a Tropical Hawaiian Luau. Next week is full of great dining events: A Taste of South Jersey at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden on Monday, Chefs at the Shore VI at the Atlantic City Aquarium and a Farm Fresh Dinner at The Tortilla Press with John Ebert of Springdale Farms on Thursday, and throughout the week: Chef Wars!

School is almost out, but Cook Learn Eat is still going strong! Kitchen Kapers has Cooking for Couples: Vietnamese-French Fusion tonight and Kids in the Kitchen: Fantastic Father’s Day Heroes on Sunday. Monday at the Logan Township branch of the Gloucester County Library will be Is Chocolate the New Health Food? (let it be yes, let it be yes, let it be yes!). Wednesday will be kinda fishy, with Chef Geoff of Copper Fish in Cape May doing a Chef Demo – Clam Bake!, while Kitchen Kapers will be hands-on with Fresh and Fast Fish I. On Thursday, The Pop Shop in Collingswood has a Toddler/Preschool Art Class & Breakfast, Kitchen Kapers has Surprising Twists to Summer Sides, and La Campagne in Cherry Hill will be showing you Barbecue and Southern Soul.

And in the news…

Finally, the farmers markets down here are beginning to open! Toms River (Wednesdays from 11-5) opened this week, and soon there will be markets in Waretown (6/23 – Tuesdays from 12-5), Barnegat (6/25 – Thursdays from 12-5) and Forked River (7/11 – Fridays from 12-5). Can’t wait!

Megan’s Good Grub and Pub opened in Atlantic City – the first ‘gastropub’ in AC?

The state’s budget is working its way through, and it includes a 25% tax increase on wine and liquor. Restaurant owners are not too happy about this.

Also working its way through the state legislature is a bill that would help promote ‘Jersey Fresh’ foods and would allow food labels to say ‘Made With Jersey Fresh’.

Designs and conceptual drawings were presented this week for Burlington County College’s culinary arts institute, which is scheduled to debut in the fall of 2010 in downtown Mount Holly.

Can green tea help stop cervical cancer? A study is now underway in Arizona.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

– John


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