Friday Foodstuffs 6.24.11: In Bridgeton, They’re Gonna Party Like It’s 1686 (Sort Of)

So…what were you doing way back in 1686? Working with a Dutch trading company? Reading the first edition of “Principia” by Isaac Newton? Helping to build the Salem Road in West Jersey?

OK, maybe that’s an unfair question.

If you were Richard Hancock, you were setting up shop with your sawmill along the Cohansey River in 1686, establishing a new settlement called Cohansey Bridge. Later, the name would be changed to Bridgetown. And when the town was incorporated in 1865, it was known (as it is known today) as Bridgeton.

Tomorrow, the city of Bridgeton is having an all-day celebration of the founding of their community. There will be a sidewalk sale, live music, mural painting, a parade, and the official ceremony commemorating the occasion. Check out the city’s website for the the full schedule of events.

While it’s not a straight food event (don’t you worry; there will be food there at the celebration), Bridgeton 325 illustrates another aspect about South Jersey that some may not realize: there’s a lot of history here. If you think 1686 is a long time ago, the town of Salem had been established eleven years before Bridgeton (in 1675) and the port of Greenwich, with its main thoroughfare Ye Greate Street, had been established in 1684. And even my home town of Willingboro, which most people know as a Levitt community, was originally the Constabulary of Wellingborrow when it was formed in 1688. Yep, South Jersey is old, at least by American standards anyway. Just to put our history in perspective: The White Tower of the Tower of London was completed in 1097. And what were you doing in 1097?

More importantly – what are you doing this weekend? Need some ideas?

If you’re looking for some dining out options, today is the last day of Wildwood Restaurant Week, and this weekend will wrap up Ocean City Restaurant Week as well as Seafood Week at Robin’s Nest Restaurant in Mount Holly. Tonight is also the Taste of Bordentown, which starts at 5:30PM. For $10, you can sample the wares of a number of restaurants including Oliver A Bistro and Under the Moon. On Sunday, it is the annual Restoration Fund Dinner Gala at Townsends Inlet Civic Center in Sea Isle City. The cost is $20 per person and $10 for kids.

As previously mentioned, this is the big blueberry weekend here in South Jersey. Saturday is the Blueberry Festival at Historic Whitesbog Village in Browns Mills. The festival runs from 10AM to 4PM, and there is an $8 parking fee. On Sunday, Hammonton has its Red, White & Blueberry Festival at Hammonton High School. Admission is free.

Summertime is also the time for Italian festivals. And the first one to take place is the Italian-American Festival on Olde New Jersey Avenue in North Wildwood. The festivities start today and run through Sunday.

This weekend is the Festival de Aibonito – Puerto Rico Family Festival at the Camden Children’s Garden. The highlight of the event will be the tropical fruits being served.

Saturday in Ocean County you have a choice between the Jazzy Scallop & Seafood Festival at Viking Village in Barnegat Light and Summerbrew 2011, hosted by the Island Heights Volunteer Fire Company.

And on Sunday, Hancock House in Salem County will host its annual Ice Cream Social & Concert from 1:30PM to 4PM. There is not admission fee, but donations are welcome.

Here’s the farmers’ market report…

Plenty more farmers’ markets open up this week and next, including Margate, West Cape May, Point Pleasant Beach and Stone Harbor. Barnegat’s farmers’ market opened yesterday, with a new vendor that’s familiar to many of us: Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford!

$20 vouchers are being made available for seniors at the Burlington County farmers’ market.

Today at the Woodbury farmers’ market there will be a blueberry baking contest. Judgement will be served at 3PM.

Tomorrow’s farmers’ market festivities include a chef demo from Izzie’s Eatery at the Medford Lakes farmers’ market at 10AM and a class about bees at the Burlington County farmers’ market (also at 10AM).

Here’s your cooking class schedule for the weekend:

Tonight: Date Night: Romantic Dinner at Viking Cooking School at Harrah’s in Atlantic City and Date Night: Italian Summer in Venice at Sur La Table in Marlton.

Tomorrow: Best of Class: Mediterranean Grill and Chicago Steakhouse at Viking Cooking School, Cape Cuisine: Cooking with Berries at Cape May Court House Library, and BIG BBQ on the Big Green Egg at Kitchen Kapers in Moorestown.

Sunday: Pies and Ice Cream at Sur La Table, Date Night: In Sicily at Viking Cooking School AND learn about composting at Cape May Organics.

Blogging Out Hunger

The Community FoodBank of New Jersey Southern Branch received a big big big donation of food from Tyson Foods – enough to make 140,000 meals.

Today is the last day to made a food donation to the annual Walters Group food drive in Barnegat.

And in the news this week…

While there’s been a lot of talk about whether or not Ocean City should go BYOB, another dry shore community is considering selling liquor licenses.

The first of a series of public meetings about the current hard clam situation in the coastal bays will be held by the Atlantic Coast Shellfisheries Council on June 30 in Cape May Court House.

Another South Jersey chef claims victory in “Chopped”. This is becoming routine.

This sounds like a good idea: a malt shop at the Doo Wop Experience Museum in Wildwood.

Trouble with my, erm, John’s Incredible Pizza opening in the Moorestown Mall?

And George Zallie Sr., owner of eight ShopRite stores in South Jersey, passed away last Saturday at the age of 84.

Enjoy your weekend!

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