Friday Foodstuffs 7.9.10: Food Lovers’ Christmas in July

Sorry to be so late with the Friday. Life, y’know. Even Lisa jumped in and lent a hand, bless her little heart. So if any of the parts sound shorter and prettier, Lisa wrote those.

You used to wait for months and months for December to arrive. And then, finally, you reached that day of days when the big jolly fella dropped a bagful of colorfully-wrapped presents of joy under your sparkly tree. What a great feeling.

It’s time to feel that way again. And what’s even better: it’s not freezing out.

Those of us who go all nutty over the arrival of the seasonal crops here in South Jersey are absolutely bonkers now. All of New Jersey’s farmer’s markets are now open (including our little old market in Lacey, finally!), and the harvest is in full swing-zucchini, corn, even the mighty Jersey tomato is starting to crop up in some places. And peaches are early, too. So here are some ways you can dive in and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of the season this month:

If it’s just too hot and you’d rather go out and have someone else make a meal for you, there are various restaurants and festivals doing the fresh locavore thing this month. The two big restaurant events this month at SJ Hot Chefs’ Farm to Fork Week, which will run from July 18th through the 24th, and “Farm Fresh Collingswood” Restaurant Week, which will be from the 26th to the 31st. And Chef Mark over at Tortilla Press is giving you a chance to have his Restaurant Week menu starting on the 18th.

But the freshness doesn’t stop there. For the rest of the month, you can Dine Under the Stars at Springdale Farms in Cherry Hill (7/14) or enjoy a seafood festival in Vineland (7/17) or Ocean City (7/23). Mount Holly’s High Street Grill and Hlubick Farm in Chesterfield team up for A Mid Summer Night’s Farm Fest on the 25th, and then on the 31st it’s Robin’s Nest of Mount Holly providing a Feast in the Fields at 1895 Organic Farm in Lumberton.

Maybe the heat doesn’t bother you, and you would like to get your hands on some local produce and make something delicious your own self. If this sounds like you, then there are a number of cooking classes just for you this month. On the 13th, you have Fresh from the Garden at the Academy of Culinary Arts in Mays Landing and Eating Local: Casual Summertime Dinner at Sur La Table in Marlton. On the 15th there’s NJ Harvest Table at La Campagne in Cherry Hill; on the 18th, Berries and Other Edibles of the Pines at the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford; and on the 22nd, the aptly named Dinner From the Farmer’s Market at In The Kitchen Cooking School in Haddonfield.

So now that I’ve got you all worked up, you’re saying ‘Well, what about THIS weekend?’ Don’t you worry; I’d never leave you hungry. For this weekend, check out the Farm Fresh Weekend event High Street Grill in Mount Holly. On Saturday, you can get a Taste of the Summer at Viking Village in Barnegat Light on LBI, go to the Ten Year Celebration Clambake at the Tuckerton Seaport, or hang out at one of the last Blueberry Festivals of the season on Saturday at Mood’s Farm Market in Mullica Hill (10AM-3PM) or the Central United Methodist Church in Point Pleasant Beach (8AM-3PM). Or maybe you just want a smidgen of blueberries; on Sunday you can go to Whitesbog Village in Browns Mills for their Blueberry Tasting.

Moving beyond the local, this weekend there’s the “big pig” New Jersey State Barbecue Championship in North Wildwood, as well as the BlueBEARy Blast and Celebrate NJ Family Day Festival at the Camden Children’s Garden in Camden. Or maybe you’re in the mood for some suds- Saturday is Beer Wars: Boulder v. Unibroue at the High Street Grill in Mount Holly. Or just enjoy a Traditional Ukrainian Dinner on Sunday at St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church at 77 Hogbin Road, Millville.

And here’s the farmer’s market report…

Evesham now has its own farmer’s market, which will be open on Tuesdays.

Hammonton will be having a Celebrate Italy event at their market this week.

Ever wanted to learn how to can your own? Make it out to Collingswood on Saturday.

Westmont Farmer’s Market is offering their cabbages for $1.00 each this week- take it home and make a fine bit of slaw.

And you’ve got “Market Day” on Saturday at the Medford Lakes Farmer’s Market, with music by The Jays.

And there are even more cooking classes this weekend! This Saturday, you can make An International Breakfast at the Long Beach Island Foundation in Loveladies (LBI); create the air of a French Steakhouse or be Best in Class: Tuscany at Viking Cooking School at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City; chill and grill on Planet BBQ: Recipes from Steven Raichlen’s New Bookat Sur La Table in Marlton; or take a Pizza Making Class at Tony Boloney’s in Atlantic City. Or you can send your grumpy, bored adolescent to Classes for Teens – Teens on the Grill while you have a romantic kitchen session at Cooking for Couples – Small Plates on the Grill at
Kitchen Kapers in Moorestown.

Blogging Out Hunger

The perfect marriage of the bounty of the season and battling hunger in our state, check out the Farmers Against Hunger site.

Subaru of America is holding its annual food drive, which is now open to the public, to help the Food Bank of South Jersey.

And in the news this week….

It may be a good thing crops have been early this season, because the current heat wave and lack of rain is making it tough on local farmers.

Bella Luna in Margate lets you dine under Lucy the Elephant, and is helping to raise funds for Lucy as well.

This week’s food police blotter includes a hefty fine being paid by a local farm and seafood valued at $128 taken with a five-finger discount.

Awesome – a cooking club for kids with autism in Burlington County.

And Happy 30th Anniversary to Five Points Diner in Deptford.

Enjoy your weekend!

– John (with help from Lisa)


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