Friday Foodstuffs 11.19.10: Wine, Wine, Wine…and Maybe Some Beer

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Yes, yes, yes…and yes, please.

Nothing happens just because it happens. There is a logic to everything – a reason to why things take place. Take the next couple of weekends, por ejemplo. There seem to be an awful lot of events having to do with alcohol, be it wine or beer. Now why would that be? Is it the fact that it’s getting colder outside? Possibly. I think it’s all about the need to relieve stress. Think about it: it’s less than a week away from Thanksgiving, and if you don’t think there’s stress involved there, you clearly haven’t been part of preparing the meal. How early do I have to get up to start cooking the bird? If I make real cranberry sauce from scratch, do I need to still put out the jellied stuff in the can to appease everyone? What do you mean all the stores are sold out of fried onions??? I’ve heard rumors that family members have come to blows over candied yams due to the stress of making The Big Meal. (Well, maybe not, but you get the idea.)

And then…as I switch to my Donald Fagen-like singing voice…when Black Friday comes…

I will never get Black Friday. Ever. There are very few places I want to be at 4AM on Friday – and not one of them would be in a Target battling other sleep-deprived and gift buying-crazed folks. I’d rather sleep and pass the savings on to others, thankyouverymuch. But no matter how you shop for the holidays, there usually is a moment of two where stress does creep into your head, usually around the time when you’ve hit the umteenth store to find they too have sold out of that particular Bakugan that will bring eternal happiness to your child (Can you tell we have kids?).

Folks need a little something to help them relax and enjoy the holidays – and so, here to help out, are a number of events centered around wine (and a little beer)…

It’s Beaujolais Nouveau time! Tonight, specifically, is when oenophiles get all excited over the annual release of these wild kids in a bottle from France, fermented for only a few weeks before they get sent out to the world. In South Jersey, you have a couple of locations that are participating in the celebration. The Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing is having its annual Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Celebration tonight starting at 6:30PM, and the cost is $65 per person. The other celebration will be happening at Renault Winery in Egg Harbor City. Their Celebration Dinner Party will also start at 6:30PM, and is $75 per person. Please call to make reservations! In addition to these events tonight, you can also enjoy a night of Dueling Sommeliers at the Mad Batter Restaurant in Cape May. Banjos are purely optional.

The wine-ing continues on Saturday with the Cape May Wine Trail, which will tour Cape May Winery, Hawk Haven, and Natali as well as have lunch at the Carriage House Tearoom & Cafe (on the grounds of the Physick Estate). Lunch starts at 12PM, and the tour costs $75. Saturday night will be the Wet Nose Wine Tasting at the Mount Holly Library on High Street. The west nose part does not mean that you can stick your nose right into the wine (although taking a good sniff is quite alright); it’s all about supporting the Burlington County Animal Alliance. You can also stop by Canal’s Bottle Stop in Marlton for an in-store tasting of Thanksgiving wines from 1PM to 4PM.

School is in session on Sunday in Cape May, but unlike most schools drinking will be encouraged. The Washington Inn will be holding another session of their Cape May Wine School series from 1PM to 3PM for $30 a person. And then beer finally makes its appearance at 2PM with the newest sessi0n of the Mad Batter Beer School. The cost is $25 per person.

And all weekend long, as well as net weekend, Balic Winery in Mays Landing will be holding a Holiday Extravaganza. Next weekend will also be the big Holiday Wine Trail Weekend for wineries throughout the state, but more on that next week.

If you’re not into all this wine business, you have another chance to Dine Out for Judy tonight at Sweet Tomatoes Café & Catering in Woodstown. OR, you can enjoy the annual Jazz Brunch at The Merion Inn in Cape May on Sunday to help support Animal Outreach.

Cooking Classes

It’s not too late to get your holiday chef groove on, or at least learn a few new moves. This weekend, you can do everything from finally learning the right way to carve that turkey or grab a few skills before prepping for the big day:

Tonight: a Cooking Demo with Chef Michael Scipione at Copper Fish in West Cape May, Celebrate the Holidays with Julia Child at Sur La Table in Marlton, Turkey Carving 101 at Kitchen Kapers in Moorestown, and Cocktails and Cravings at Viking Cooking School in Atlantic City.

Tomorrow: Classic Cakes and Best of Class: Sushi Maki at Viking Cooking School, a Holiday Cooking Class and Lunch at the Mad Batter Restaurant, Professional Garnish and Presentation Techniques at Sur La Table, and Spanish Cooking for Couples at Kitchen Kapers.

Sunday: Bon Appetit: Thanksgiving Desserts at Sur La Table, Kids in the Kitchen – Hanukkah Traditions at Kitchen Kapers, an Open Hearth Cooking Demonstration presented by The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of New Jersey (whew!) at Peachfield in Westampton, and Argentine Steakhouse at Viking Cooking School.

Farmer’s Market Report

Sadly, this Saturday is the last day of the season for the Collingswood Farmers’ Market. A moment of silence, please…

Thank you.

Blogging Out Hunger

Today is the last day of a food drive in Pennsville.

In Pitman, a food drive is being held through December 10.

A new food bank in Tuckerton is already needing a bigger space to meet the demands of the people in the area.

Get your guitar tuned tomorrow for free…and help support area food banks.

The Pleasantville School District is holding a food, coat and toy drive through December 22.

And the Silver Diner in Cherry Hill is hosting a Thanksgiving FEASTival, for the third year in a  row, to provide a holiday meal and some fun to 500 families in Camden County.

And in the news this week…

There are more farms, but less farmland, in the state over the last 20-plus years.

Some restaurant chains are taking a hit in Jersey, like Charlie Brown’s and Denny’s.

Good article from Christina Mitchell in the Courier-Post with some updates on area restaurants…like a new chef at Cork?

And “Top Chef” winner Kevin Sbraga visited students this week at his old school, Burlington County Institute of Technology.

Enjoy your weekend!

– John and Lisa

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