Friday Foodstuffs 5.27.11: Summer is Almost Here

Catchy little ditty, no?

Just like that, it’s hot again. And just like that, the warm weather caught me before I could get the air conditioners into their proper windows. So here I am, typing away in a hot house (as opposed to a hothouse), but thinking about all of the great Jersey produce that is going to be heading our way over the next few months. The asparagus has been great so far, and now the strawberries have arrived – with blueberries not too far behind. And it won’t be too long before the tomatoes and corn arrive, followed closely by peaches. We are a lucky lot to live so close to so much goodness.

Of course, for those of us who live near the shore, this weekend represents the beginning of Traffic Hell, which will last until Labor Day. For those of you just visiting for the summer: we appreciate your business, please be respectful of our shore and of the locals, and make sure you journey off the beach for a moment and sample our wonderful homegrown produce. Maybe even go to a food-themed event or two…

…such as the Morey’s Piers Curly Fry Festival at, well, Morey’s Piers in Wildwood of course. The festival is tomorrow from 12PM to 4PM, and the admission is free. A fry of another kind, a fish fry, will be happening at the West Cape May Fire hall on Saturday as well from 11AM to 6PM. Staying down on that end of the Parkway on Sunday, there will be the Blues and BBQ Wine Festival going on at Natali Vineyards in Cape May Court House starting at 1PM. The 2010 vintages are coming out, so give ’em a try and see if they’re as good as the winemakers were hoping. There’s also the first annual Atlantic City Smooth Jazz & Wine Festival taking place at Lakes Bay Resort Hotel in West Atlantic City. If you like a little sangria with your sun, Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery in Rio Grande is starting its Sangria Sundays this weekend from 12PM to 7PM. They will be held every Sunday through September 11.

Further inland, the Greek Festival at St. Anthony’s Church in Vineland got started yesterday and will continue through Sunday. Admission is free, and the food is yummy. Don’t let me find out that you went and didn’t try any of the Greek food, because we would have to sit down and have a stern discussion.

And this weekend is the Herb Festival Weekend at Triple Oaks Nursery & Herb Garden in Franklinville. Lisa and I will be going there on Sunday to enjoy and to learn some things. If you see us, say hi. Maybe we will give you a sticker.

Here’s the Farmers’ Market Report…

Strawberries are in full gear now! Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford is having two weekends’ worth of strawberry festivals, this one and next. Springdale Farms in Cherry Hill has their u-pick patch for strawberries open.

The farmers’ market in Salem opened yesterday, and the Maple Shade’s farmers’ market gets rolling tomorrow at 8:30AM.

And at the annual Pittsgrove Day celebration tomorrow, there will be an added feature of a farmers’ market.

Yes, it is Memorial Day Weekend, and it’s almost June, but cooking classes will still be in session:

Tonight: Date Night: French Dinner at Viking Cooking School in Atlantic City.

Tomorrow: Best of Class: Thai and Steak, Roast, and Chop Workshop at Viking Cooking School.

Sunday: Sushi 101 at Sur La Table in Marlton, and a Grilling Party and Steakhouse Workshop at Viking Cooking School.

Monday: Best of Class: Tuscany and Girls’ Night Out: In Rome at Viking Cooking School.

And in the news this week…

The legislation to introduce direct shipping of wines in New Jersey was due to be voted on yesterday, but that did not happen as it was postponed. To me it’s simple: passing this bill will not destroy alcohol distributors; not passing it could destroy Jersey wineries.

Ocean Spray leaving Bordentown? Yes, by September 2013.

Even though the grand opening is next week, the upper level of the Landis MarketPlace opened this week.

Something to cluck about: raising chickens in backyards is on an upswing in New Jersey.

Known for being a bit hidden from the street, Chef Vola’s in Atlantic City is now basking in glory after having won a James Beard Award.

Just in case you had money on the outcome, here were the winners of the Chili and Salsa Cookoff last Saturday in Toms River.

It will be Vineland vs Millville on June 24 when the two mayors take on each other in a pizza making contest.

And happy 2nd anniversary to Ram’s Head Inn’s Nights Out at the Inn on Monday nights for the GLBT communities. It’s a great idea that has been successful, and makes you wonder when other places will give it a shot.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

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