[Gertie is the name of our GPS. She goes everywhere with us now, so we named her. "G" for Gertie - we haven't decided on a middle name (P) or a last name (S) yet, but are open for suggestions! Maybe "Scarborough" for her last name?]
On Saturday, we decided to go to the 3rd Annual "Food and Wine Festival" produced by the Slow Food organization and five New Jersey estate wine growers. Held in Pennington at Hopewell Valley Vineyards, the event promised an opportunity to enjoy top farmers, restaurants, and wineries gathered "to celebrate the Garden State's wealth of summer." I hoped for an opportunity to discover some small family farmers and artisan bakers or cheese makers with products we could use at the Scarborough Inn.
We arrived at Hopewell Valley and were directed to park the car in an upper field. White tents were erected in a large field close to the road and housed registration, the exhibitors, and areas for cooking demos or seminars. It was hot - beastly hot - so we decided to make a fast circuit of the festival grounds.
We headed for the first tent and enjoyed samples of Unionville Vineyards wines. Several of these paid homage to Revolutionary Times with names like "Lafayette's Pride" and "Fields of Fire." But we were very hungry and it was then that we discovered that the entrance fee to the "Food & Wine Festival" did NOT cover food!
A neighboring tent was selling food, thank goodness. Gus selected scallop kabobs - 2 lovely, large scallops on a bamboo skewer - and I had chicken kabobs which included squares of red and green peppers and onions - nicely grilled and tasty. Next, we sampled wines from Laurita Winery from New Egypt, NJ. The "Down the Shore Beachcomber Blush" was light and refreshing on a summer's day. And for our second lunch course, we shared a plate of pork pate with capers, pickled onions, and rounds of two kinds of rustic bread from another vendor.
The Hopewell Valley Vineyards tent was our next stop. The owner's family owns vineyards in Tuscany and, not surprisingly, the New Jersey winery specializes in Italian varietals and vinifera wines. Here we sampled an unfamiliar red wine, "Chambourcin," that was very good.
We circled on around the field and discovered some of the artisan farmers and food purveyors we were hoping to meet. Donna Pinder from Donna & Company crafts artisanal chocolates featuring wonderful ingredients that she will design to be paired with specific foods or wines. The folks from Herbertsville Honey Co. brought along a active bee hive along with jars of their light golden honey. We bought some "Lemon Honey" to try - might be good on Linda's (Scarborough Inn cook) homemade scones for Afternoon Refreshments.
The third course for lunch was our favorite! We enjoyed delectable homemade ice cream that was cool. silky, and full of fresh, natural flavor. The bent spoon: artisan ice cream & good ingredient bakery in Princeton must be a sweet-lover's heaven-on-earth. I'll have to think of a reason why we need to go to Princeton SOON, but in the meantime, we feasted on their Chocolate Orange and Blueberry-Mango ice creams. The "Chocolate Orange" was rich with just a hint of citrus and the "Blueberry Mango" was a deep purple color with rich blueberry flavor delicately complemented with the sweetness of mango. mmmmmmm...words fail
Tents in the middle of the field housed displays from a farm that raises alpacas for their soft, warm wool; a baker who makes his grandmother's recipe cheesecake featuring curd cheese and lemony flavoring; and a baker who features fresh herbs and spices in her scones. Also on hand were representatives from the magazine edibleJERSEY that "Celebrates Local Foods of the Garden State, Season by Season." Sounds like a good addition to the periodicals available at our Bed & Breakfast.
Cape May Winery & Vineyard, New Jersey's southernmost winery and a Scarborough Inn neighbor in Cape May County, was the next stop on our Tour of the Tents. I love the bright, clear flavors of their "Cape May Chardonnay" and we noticed that their new "Issac Smith Apple Dessert Wine" is now available. We'll try it next visit.
We concluded the circuit of the Festival with a visit to the Alba Vineyard tent where we sampled a delicious "Rosa" (blush) wine with an appealing taste and a brightly colored, funky label. I love a good label.
Finally, we decided to attend a wine seminar with Mark Phillips of "Enjoying Wine with Mark Phillips" on PBS. Basically his message is, "enjoy the wines that you like without all of the snobbery and rituals." And if you can honestly say that you "liked the wine at the price you paid, than it was a good price!" Good, sensible advice that makes drinking and enjoying wine much more approachable and fun.
We also spotted Mike Colameco from "Colameco's Food Show" giving a presentation and Mary Ann Esposito, host of "Ciao Italia", preparing to address the crowd. She was very accommodating when Gus approached her about purchasing a cookbook, but the NJN rep would not allow that.
By this time, it was so hot that we dragged ourselves to the car and headed home to Ocean City the back way - using local, blue highways. On Route 206 we were luckier and found a great farmer's market where we selected Jersey Fresh tomatoes, corn, yellow squash, peaches, and blueberries. But the real jackpot was in Hammonton where we found a case of just-picked blueberries at Bagliani's Italian Market and carted it back to the inn. I was already contemplating the delicious omelets, crisps or cobblers, or crudites to be fashioned for our guests!
Of course, we also took home some store-made Sausage with Parsley and Provolone, broccoli rabe, and a small, round loaf of crusty bread for our dinner.
**********SLOW FOOD is a non-profit organization formed in Italy in 1986. The mission includes, "protecting small food producers who make quality products...and working toward safeguarding traditional food and wine heritage."
For more information visit www.SlowFoodUSA.org