Friday Foodstuffs 6.25.10: I Found My Thrill on Blueberry Weekend

Yes, I understand that the Fats Domino version is the one everyone knows, but give me Satchmo any day (no offense to Fats). Not to mention the fact that Armstrong recorded a version of this song years before the Fats Domino version. So there.

And why am I so blue(berry) this Friday? Even though the blueberry season came upon us early here in South Jersey, the big boffo blueberry festivals are happening this weekend – so it’s not too late to get yer Vaccinium caesariense groove on.

Whitesbog and Hammonton. Two places that have become closely tied to the blueberry, and the two places that will be hosting blueberry festivals this weekend. On Saturday, it will be Whitesbog leading this off with its 27th annual Whitesbog Blueberry Festival from 10AM to 4PM. The cost to get into this festival is $8 for parking.

The story of the blueberry here in New Jersey, and in the rest of the country, can not be told without talking about the work done by Elizabeth White and Frederick Coville in Whitesbog almost 100 years ago. By taking samples of wild blueberries growing in the Pine Barrens, they were able to produce the first cultivated blueberry that could be grown for commercial production. Here’s a little video about Elizabeth White:

And yet, the Blueberry Capital of the World is not Whitesbog. It’s Hammonton, which will be hosting its own Red, White and Blueberry Festival on Sunday from 10AM to 5PM. The admission is free for this event.

Now, about this Blueberry Capital of the World business…

In trying to find a definitive reason as to why Hammonton, the only thing I could come up with is that the sandy Pine Barren soil makes it very conducive to growing blueberries. And, if you have ever driven around the farms in Hammonton, you will see acres and acres and acres of blueberry bushes. So, yeah – being able to grow an enormous amount of blueberries could certainly earn a location the right to call itself the world capital.

But not everyone agrees about Hammonton and this distinction.

Evidently, there are some folks out there in Cherryfield, Maine and South Haven, Michigan who are under the misguided notion that they are the Blueberry Capitals of the World. Now I know that Michigan and Maine produce some fine blueberries themselves, but I think we can all agree with what the website Piney Power has to say on the subject:

“Many towns across the country tout the ‘Blueberry Capital of the World’ title, but once you’ve driven by the thousands of acres of blueberry fields, tasted some of the local blueberry pies, muffins, pancake and other gastronomical treats, you’ll know that Hammonton NJ is THE capital when it comes to blueberries!”

So take that, you charlatans in Maine and Michigan! And if you have anything to say about it, Lisa and I will be in Hammonton on Sunday, enjoying Jersey blueberries in every form imaginable.

Even though I am all about the blueberry for this weekend, there are plenty of other things going on around the area. And even slightly out of the area. Case in point: the East Coast Food and Wine Festival, which will be taking place Saturday and Sunday from 12PM to 5PM. This is a pretty big event, and South Jersey wines and restaurants will be there representing us.

Another big annual event going on tomorrow will be the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild Beer Festival on the Battleship New Jersey along the Delaware Waterfront in Camden. The beer festival runs from 1PM to 5PM and is $40 per person.

Here’s the rest of your food event weekend:

Tonight, Passion Vines in Somers Point will be having a Summer Sippers wine tasting event starting at 6:30. High Street Grill in Mount Holly is having another installment of Beer Wars tonight at 7PM.

On Saturday, you can choose from a nice selection: Bally’s Boardwalk BBQ Bash down in Atlantic City, a Feast in the Fields at Pettit Family Farm in Harrisonville, enjoy the grilling and cold beer at Summerbrew on Island Heights, or even the Annual Restoration Fund and Best Island Restaurant Dinner Gala at the Townsends Inlet Civic Center in Sea Isle City.

Sunday’s activities include a Family Fun Day at Casamari Italian Restaurant in Burlington, an Ice Cream Social at the Hancock House State Historic Site in Hancock’s Bridge and a Taste of the Island Porch Party being held at the Long Beach Island Historical Association Museum in Beach Haven.

AND, all weekend long will be the Italian American Festival on Olde New New Jersey Avenue in North Wildwood.

Here’s your farmer’s market report…

Steve and Cookie’s in Margate opened their farm market for another season yesterday. The market is open on Thursdays from 9AM to 12:30PM. Check Jersey Fresh’s website for the dates of other farm market openings.

Sounds like the opening day for the Medford Lakes’ farmer’s market was a big success. And it also sounds like the revamped outdoor market in Bridgeton could still use a few more vendors.

A blueberry baking contest is going to be held this afternoon at the Woodbury Farmer’s Market.

Chef Dave Lavechia of Scaturro’s in Marlton will be doing a cooking demonstration tomorrow at 10AM at the Burlington County Farmers’ Market.

It will be another busy day in the cooking classes down in Atlantic City this weekend. Viking Cooking School at Harrah’s will be having a Grilling Workshop and a Best of Class: Pariscooking class on Saturday. Saturday will also have another Pizza Making Class at Tony Boloney’s. And then on Sunday it’s Girls’ Night Out: The Greek Isles as well as Best of Class: Grilling Seafood at the Viking Cooking School.

Saturday will also be the day (or the evening) for Cooking for Couples – French-Thai Fusion for Couples at Kitchen Kapers in Moorestown and for a Date Night: Dinner at the Bistro at In The Kitchen Cooking School in Haddonfield.

On Sunday, we only have the French Pastry with Chef Monica Glass class at In The Kitchen Cooking School.

Blogging Out Hunger

The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties now has a mobile pantry to further help those in need.

The Commercial Township Food Pantry can thank none other than Wal-Mart for a grant that can help expand their services.

And in the news this week…

A North Jersey grocery store gets fined for labeling corn as being from Jersey, long before any Jersey corn could have been available. Hey, don’t hurt our Jersey Fresh brand!

The oil spill in the Gulf is already having an effect on seafood prices, and it can be felt in the restaurants and seafood stores in South Jersey.

This week’s food police blotter includes: a liquor license suspension, stolen brass sprinkler heads…and roaming gangs of chickens.

Wanna meet a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner and newly-minted millionaire? Delanco’s Sue Compton will be at the ShopRite in Delran this Saturday from 10AM to 12PM.

And finally – since I have been showing videos today, there’s one that I have to post. For those who think we as a nation don’t care about soccer, just watch how we didn’t care when Landon Donovan scored in the 91st minute against Algeria to snatch their group in the World Cup when we were about to be eliminated.

Enjoy your weekend – and let’s keep it going, USA!

– John


3 thoughts on “Friday Foodstuffs 6.25.10: I Found My Thrill on Blueberry Weekend

  1. How dare you speak ill of the Maine blueberry??? Let me give you a small list of things that make the Maine Blueberry a much tastier treat than the New Jersey look a like.*Maine Blueberries, unlike their NJ counterpart are quite a bit smaller in size, but pack a tastier punch. Where the NJ blueberry is bland, the Maine Blueberry is tart and sweet at the same time. You don't see the commercial blueberry industry toting the NJ blueberry… places like Wymans use Wild Maine Blueberries. Perhaps I'm just a tad bit partial- as I'm originally from Maine.. and my uncle has acres and acres of blueberry fields, but I'm with Maine on this one… Jersey has the best Tomatoes though, that's for sure.

  2. Amanda – Relax – just having some fun. 🙂 And Maine blueberries are wonderful; we had some amazing blueberry pie the last time we were up that way. – John

  3. No harm, no foul..I may be a bit passionate about the issue, it's a constant discussion in this household.. my husband's on your side. 😉

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