‘A Grand Tasting’
Thirty-two top restaurants from throughout the Lehigh Valley served up samples of everything from yellow fin tuna to lamb sliders to kourabiedes (Greek cookies) at the eighth annual Food and Wine Festival in June at the Sands Event Center.
The weekend fundraiser for the Northampton Community College (NCC) Foundation attracted more than 3,000 food enthusiasts who bought tickets to taste some of the area’s unique cuisines, and sample wines from around the world. The event raised approximately $250,000 for scholarships for NCC students.
“With our low tuition, that’s about 250 scholarships,” said NCC President Mark Erickson.
At each restaurant’s tasting station was a description of the sample foods ingredients. Just reading those descriptions was enough to make your mouth water. Consider the lamb sliders from Burgers & More by Emeril, garnished with goat cheese spread, cucumber, curry-mint aioli and micro watercress.
Or how about the offering from the owners of Sette Luna, Maxim’s and Centro – salmon crudo with rhubarb reduction, served with mini cones filled with rhubarb, seasoned with black Hawaiian salt? The salmon was raw, but sliced thin and seasoned so well, so that if you thought you didn’t like raw fish, you would hardly have noticed.
Paxos restaurants (Blue, Melt, Top Cat and Torre), served up yellow fin (ahi) tuna on a crispy cracker, topped with spicy mustard and a pickle. The tuna was offset with chewy chocolate chip blondies topped with coconut.
The community college’s own restaurant, Hampton Winds, part of the college’s culinary arts program, had its own tasting station serving a hearty version of Feijoada, a traditional Brazilian black bean stew made with beef and pork. It was tempting to go back for seconds.
Buddy V’s, another of the six Sands Bethlehem restaurants participating in the festival, featured “Sunday gravy,” a spicy sausage and lamb mini-meatball in a tomato sauce over creamy polenta.
Other food establishments participating included 187 Rue Principale, 904 West Restaurant and Lounge, Aunt Wendy’s Kiffles, The Bayou, Bell Hall, Broadway Social, Carlo’s Bake Shop, Carnegie Deli, Chocolate Works, The Dime, Fiesta Ole, Grain, Hellertown Bakery, Kingfish, Mitzi’s Table, Queen City BBQ, Sodexo, Steelworks, Spinnerstown Hotel, Villa Italian Kitchen, The Vineyard, Twisted Olive and Yianni’s Taverna.
The wine pairing featured four selections under each of 11 types of wine – sparkling, Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and red blends. The “Spotlight Wine” was Jean Charles Boisset.
Besides the Grand Tastings on Saturday and Sunday, wine seminars and cooking demonstrations were also offered with Sands Executive Chef Victor Bock and Shawn Doyle, chef/owner of Savory Grille.