Category Archives: Festival

South Jersey–Italian Since the Civil War and Host to America’s Longest Running Italian Festival

South Jersey looks a lot like rural North Carolina farm country. I know it’s not, though, because instead of shack-like stores on the side of the two-lane roads selling barbecue, they sell ravioli. Instead of large crosses and “Thank you, Jesus” signs, there are monuments to Padre Pio. It is otherworldly to me, a parallel universe where the Italians took over the Heartland of America. I mean, what says it more than the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a John Deere?

Hammonton, New Jersey, was settled by Italian immigrants during the American Civil War. The community was started by one Sicilian immigrant who encouraged others to come. They did, establishing farms, and their descendants now grow Jersey’s famed tomatoes, blueberries and peaches. Each July, Hammonton also hosts the longest running Italian festival in the U.S., the Our Lady of Mount Carmel festival that celebrates the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16. In its 143rd year, the festival runs from July 9-16. There’s plenty of Italian food, and this is probably the one place in America where you can get broccoli rabe added to your sandwich.

The highlight for me is the procession of the statues in front of Saint Joseph’s Church.

If you donate a dollar, you get a prayer card of the saint that is passing by.

If you travel to the area, don’t forget to visit Penza’s Pies for blueberry pie or Bagliani’s Italian Market for Italian products.

–Dina Di Maio, author of Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People

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Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Most Precious Blood Church

Periodically, there’s an article about how Little Italy is dead or dying. Yes, it’s more of a tourist destination and less of a neighborhood where Italian people live. There are still some Italians there, and there are Italian-American-owned businesses there. A recent article in the New York Times made me want to write a series on Little Italy Isn’t Dead and feature some of the businesses there.

Most Precious Blood Church

In 1891, the first part of the Most Precious Blood Church was built by the Scalabrini Fathers and later the Franciscans, who took over funding. It served the local Italian-immigrant community. Mulberry Street became home to immigrants from Naples who celebrated that city’s patron saint, San Gennaro. Most Precious Blood Church is the National Shrine of San Gennaro, and this is the site of the San Gennaro festival that occurs each September.

The church has a mass and the procession of the saint’s statue begins from the church’s front entrance on Baxter Street. There is also a shrine to San Gennaro inside as well as a beautiful grotto.

Another entrance is on Mulberry Street as well as a courtyard where you can pin a dollar on the statue of San Gennaro during the festival. Now, the church has masses in English and Vietnamese.

–Dina Di Maio, author of Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People, available at Amazon.com

***All writings and photographs are the intellectual property of me, unless I’ve noted otherwise, and can only be used with permission. If you are inspired by this blog, please use professional courtesy to note it.***

Weekend Whets 5/30

5th Annual Crawfish Boil, Saturday, May 31, 2014, 1 p.m., 3 p.m. or 5 p.m., Sycamore Flowershop + Bar,1118 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn:  $25 for a large bucket of crawfish and a pint of seasonal Abita Beer.

New Taste of the Upper West Side, through May 31, 2014, Columbus Circle between 76th and 77th Streets, Upper West Side, Manhattan:  Celebrate UWS restaurants and chefs with food tastings and music.

Annual Hawai`i Potluck Picnic in Central Park, Sunday, June 1, 2014, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Summit Rock, Central Park, Manhattan:  Hawaiian style potluck with ono food, kanikapila Hawaiian music and hula.  Bring something to share for the potluck.

Caviar in the Park, Sunday, June 1, 2014, 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Heckscher Playground, 65th Street Transverse, Central Park, Manhattan:  Food from Cafe Habana, No. 7 Sub, Momofuku Milk Bar and more with outdoor games and live music.  $20.

Taste of Times Square, Monday, June 2, 2014, 46th Street between Broadway and 9th Avenue, Restaurant Row, Manhattan:  Enjoy tastings from area restaurants.

Slow Food NYC’s annual (s)low down fundraiser, Thursday, June 5, 2014, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Astor Center, Lafayette Street, Manhattan:  Slow Food’s annual fundraiser with food and cocktail tastings and bluegrass music.  Tickets $130+.

Texas Chili Cook-off, Saturday, June 7, 2014, Noon to 5 p.m., West 79th Street Boat Basin, Upper West Side, Manhattan:  Chili tastings and competition.

Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, Saturday & Sunday, June 7 & 8, 2014, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Madison Square Park, Manhattan:  Sample bbq from well-known bbq restaurants around the country.

Dinner with Ruth Reichl, Sunday, June 8, 2014, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Contrada, East Village, Manhattan:  Four-course dinner with Ruth’s reading and discussing her new book Delicious!.

Summer by the Sea: The 29th Annual Chefs’ Tribute to Citymeals-on-Wheels, Monday, June 9, 2014, 7:30 p.m., Rockefeller Center, Midtown, Manhattan:  Fundraising event featuring food tastings from NYC area chefs.

Food Photography and Blogging Workshop, May & June, 2014, Private Dining Room (PDR) @ Naturally Delicious, Brooklyn: Four classes with Karen Wise on camera fundamentals, shooting in restaurants and editing images. $175 per class or $675 for all four.

Big Apple Barbecue, Saturday and Sunday, June 7 & 8, 2014, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Madison Square Park, Manhattan: Sample barbecue from around the country.

14th Annual Egg Rolls & Egg Creams Festival, Sunday, June 8, Noon to 4 p.m., Lower East Side:  Celebrate the food and culture of the Chinese and Jewish community of the area.

A Night of Film and Food, James Beard Foundation, Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 6:30 p.m., Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Lincoln Center, Manhattan:  Jiro Dreams of Sushi followed by a reception featuring some of New York’s finest chefs, sake, beer and wine.  $50-$70.

The Duckathlon presented by D’Artagnan, Saturday, June 14, 2014, Noon to 5 p.m., Metropolitan Pavilion, Chelsea, Manhattan:  Culinary competition.  Teams or singles.  $54-$60.

Taste of Bushwick, Monday, June 16, 2014 at 6:30 p.m., The Bushwick Starr, 207 Starr Street, Brooklyn:  Party with food from local restaurants.

Solstice Session at the Arrogant Swine, June 21, 2014, The Arrogant Swine, Brooklyn:  Celebrate summer solstice with a pig roast, pulled-pork sandwiches, local beers and cornhole.  $40.

Bryant Park BBQ, Wednesday, June 25th 2014, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Bryant Park, Midtown Manhattan:  Food from ’wichcraft for a summer bbq.  $60-$70.

A California Olive Oil Tasting, June 26, 2014, 3 p.m., SD26 Restaurant and WineBar,19 East 26th Street (between 5th and Madison Avenues), Manhattan: Taste different styles of olive oil and learn how it is produced.  $20-$35.

Brooklyn Eats, Friday June 27th, 2014, 630 Flushing Avenue, South Williamsburg, Brooklyn:  Brooklyn’s first food and beverage trade show.

Ham and Cheese Party, Monday, June 30, 2014, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., The Ides at Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn:  Prosciutto and award-winning cheeses.  Free.

Weekend Whets 9/20

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87th Annual Feast of San Gennaro, Thursday, September 12, 2013 through Sunday, September 22, 2013, Little Italy, Manhattan:  Italian festival with Italian food vendors, games and entertainment.

delicious pizza with creamy mozzarella from Italian Food Center on Mulberry Street

delicious pizza with creamy mozzarella from Italian Food Center booth on Mulberry Street

Culinary Class:  Ravioli, Friday, September 20, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Westchester Italian Cultural Center:  Learn how to make ravioli with four different fillings such as cheese, spinach, mushrooms and squash.  $50-$60.

Viva La Comida!, Friday, September 20, 2013, 82nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Queens:  Celebration of the area’s local businesses.  Food vendors, food trucks, music and pop up shops.

First Annual Lobstah Palooza, Saturday, September 21, 2013, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., The Well, 272 Meserole Street, Brooklyn:  Full lobster dinner and DJs.  $35-$40.

Stone Street Oyster Festival, Saturday, September 21, 2013, Noon to 6 p.m., Stone Street, Lower Manhattan:  Part of New York Oyster Week.  A party with music and oysters.

Taste of the West Village 2013, Saturday, September 21, 2013, noon to 4 p.m., The Yard at P.S.41, Greenwich Avenue and Charles Street, West Village:  Sample cuisine from West Village restaurants.  Tickets $40.

The Ultimate Peruvian Experience, Saturday, September 21, 2013, 7 p.m., Raymi Restaurant, Manhattan:  Afro-Peruvian music and 3-course meal. $65.

A Dinner for Haiti, Sunday, September 22, 2013, Louro, West Village:  Nossa Mesa Supper Club at Louro restaurant features a Haitian-inspired menu.  $65.

Celebrity Chef Benefit Dinner at Hearth, Monday, September 23, 2013, 7 p.m., Hearth, Manhattan:  Seven course dinner with each course prepared by a different celebrity chef, including Michael Symon.  All proceeds will go directly to A Life Story Foundation.  Tickets $325.

Tasting Table’s Macaroon Workshop with Danny Macaroons, Monday, September 23, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tasting Table Test Kitchen and Dining Room, 495 Broome Street, Manhattan:  Learn how to make coconut macaroons from Danny Cohen of Danny Macaroons.  $50 ticket includes macaroon demonstration and workshop, reception with small bites and cocktails, a box of your own macaroons and a signed copy of Danny’s new book, The Macaroon Bible.  Must be a subscriber of Tasting Table.

Chef’s Table with Jimmy Bradley, Tuesday, September 24, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Sur la table, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan:  Chef/owner of The Red Cat prepares dishes and serves them as each is prepared.

Fall Feast, Thursday, September 26, 2013, 7:30 p.m., 38 Prince (between Mott and Mulberry), Nolita:  Farm to table dinner featuring Union Square Greenmarket items.  $55.

11th Annual Taste of the Village, Thursday, September 26, 2013, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Washington Square Park, Village:  Over 30 local food and wine vendors and jazz.  Tickets $50.

Savor the Season, Thursday, September 26, 2013, 6:30 p.m . to 10 p.m., Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan:  Celebrate 20 years of Harvest Home Farmer’s Markets in New York City with tastings from chefs and restaurants north of 96th Street, including Marcus Samuelsson.

The Joy of Sake, Thursday, September 26, 2013, 6 p.m . to 9 p.m., The Altman Building (135 W 18th Street), Manhattan:  Sake tasting. Tickets $95.

Le Fooding, Friday, September 27, 2013, and Saturday, September 28, 2013, 7 p.m., Brooklyn:  Time’Mach’Inn dinners with menus celebrating food trends in recent decades in NYC.

Grand Central Oyster Bar’s Oyster Frenzy, September 28, 2013, noon to 5 p.m., Grand Central Oyster Bar.

Smoke @ ICC, Saturday, September 28, 2013, 4:15 p.m. to 8 p.m., Pier 57 at 15th Street, Manhattan:  Teams from around the country compete to smoke the best brisket in 4 categories.  Public tasting, beer garden and live music.  Tickets $65.

The 10th Annual NYC Dumpling Festival Eating Contest, Saturday, September 28, 2013, noon to 5 p.m., Sara D. Roosevelt Park on East Houston Street between Chrystie and Forsyth Streets, Manhattan:  All proceeds benefit the Food Bank For New York City in this dumpling eating contest with men’s and women’s divisions.

Taste of France, Saturday, September 28, 2013, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.,  and Sunday, September 29, 2013, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Bryant Park, Midtown, Manhattan:  A celebration of all things French with cooking demos and tastings.

OCTOBER

The Big Smoke, Wednesday, October 2, 2013, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn:  A menu of smoked meats and beer from Brooklyn Brewery.  Tickets $45.

Plate by Plate: Project by Project NY’s Annual Tasting Benefit , Friday, October 4, 2013, 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., 82 Mercer, Soho:  Charity event showcasing New York’s premier restaurants. Tickets $150.

North:  Nordic Food Festival, October 2 through 7, 2013, various locations, NYC:  Celebrate Nordic cuisine with lunches/dinners by Scandinavian chefs and cooking classes with Scandinavian chefs.

3rd Annual EscapeMaker’s Local Food & Travel Expo in Brooklyn, Saturday, October 5, 2013, noon to 5 p.m., Borough Hall, Brooklyn:  Exhibitors who are within a 50-mile radius of Brooklyn will be exhibiting.  Tastings and a special Made in Brooklyn market.

Slow U – Sustainable Seafood (Sashimi and More), Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 6:30 p.m., International Culinary Center (formerly known as the French Culinary Institute), 462 Broadway, Manhattan:  Enjoy sushi as you learn about sustainable local fisheries and the family fishermen.

Slice Out Hunger, Wednesday, October 9, 2013, 6 p.m., St Anthony’s Church – 154 Sullivan St (at Houston), Soho:  Sponsors match every dollar spent for Food Bank For New York City.  Tickets are $1 each.  Pizzerias include Lombardi’s, Rubirosa, John’s, Grimaldi’s, Joe’s, DiFara, Arturo’s and more.

Italian Restaurant Week, October 10-17, 2013, Brooklyn:  Celebrate Italian Heritage Month and Columbus Day with some Italian food in Brooklyn.

Sugar Skull Decorating Workshop, October 13, 2013, 12:30 p.m., Fabriscope, 41 Willow Place, Brooklyn:  Learn how to make sugar skulls for Day of the Dead Mexican holiday.  $50.

Tasting Table Presents an Evening with Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi, Friday, October 18, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tasting Table Test Kitchen and Dining Room, 495 Broome Street, Floor 2, Manhattan:  Chefs sign their cookbook.  Ticket includes cookbook, canapes, unlimited drinks.  $60.

Chocabaret:  A Chocolate Tasting Set to Music, Sunday, October 20, 2013, 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street, Midtown:  Chocolate tasting and singing by Chef Jackie Gordon.  $60.

Get My Goat, October 27, 2013, 5:30 p.m., The Farm on Adderley,
1108 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn:  The Farm on Adderley and Slow Food NYC feature a dinner menu with goat including roasted goat, goat cheese and goat’s milk. $30.

Plates for Change: Neighbors Together’s Fall Chef Showcase, October 30, 2013, 6 p.m., The Green Building, 452 Union Street, Brooklyn:  Event featuring the signature dishes of New York restaurants, such as David Chang’s Momofuku, Ryan Angulo’s Buttermilk Channel and Jehangir Mehta’s Graffiti.  Event honors filmmakers Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush, co-directors of A Place at the Table, a documentary about the effects of consumer insecurity in the food industry.

Two for Tuesday: San Gennaro Cannoli

Last year, I did a Two for Tuesday on San Gennaro cannoli and compared the cannoli from Ferrara and La Ferrara.  This year, I’m featuring cannoli from Caffe Palermo on Mulberry Street and Caffe Roma on Broome Street.  Caffe Palermo has a sign advertising the best cannoli, and it is also the sponsor of the cannoli man.

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I thought the cannoli cream and shell were good and had a hint of cinnamon.

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Caffe Roma’s cannoli cream was a little less ricotta-y than Caffe Palermo’s and the shell was a bit more cinnamon-y.

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My favorite cannoli in Little Italy would probably be a combination of Ferrara’s and La Ferrara’s.

OK, I know it’s two for Tuesday, but I’m going to throw in the frozen cannoli.  I had wanted to try this last year.  It’s a cannoli shell filled with soft serve vanilla, chocolate or swirl ice cream.  I got vanilla.  The soft serve isn’t the best quality, so I would opt for a real cannoli over this.

Weekend Whets 7/26

Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival, Thursday, July 25, 2013 through Sunday, July 28, 2013, Atlantic City:  Food and wine event featuring Robert Irvine, Rocco Dispirito and The Neelys.  Tickets $40-$150 depending on event.

Ben & Jerry’s City Churned NYC Flavor, Friday, July 26, 2013, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Pier 57, Hudson River Park, 11th Avenue between 14th and 16th Streets, Manhattan:  Reveal and tastings of the flavor NYC created.

St. Ann’s Italian Festival, Friday, July 26, 2013 through Sunday, July 28, 2013, 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., 7th and Jefferson Streets at St. Ann’s Square, Hoboken, NJ:  Try the St. Ann’s Famous Zeppole and other Italian foods along with live music, rides, games and raffles.

Hudson County Restaurant Week, July 29, 2013 through August 9, 2013, participating restaurants in Hudson County, NJ:  Celebrate Hudson County restaurants with discounted prix fixe menus.

Food Truck Mash-Up, Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Overpeck Park, Ridgefield Park, NJ:  Taste the offerings of specialty food trucks along with live music, yoga and a drum circle.

Weekend Whets 7/19

Danish Day at Dassara, Sunday, July 21, 2013, 1 p.m. to close, 271 Smith Street, Brooklyn:  Celebrate Danish cuisine with frikadeller (meatballs) and Copenhagen street food pølser (sausages).

Belgian Restaurant Week, Sunday, July 21, 2013 through Sunday, July 28, 2013:  Celebrate Belgian cuisine with a trip to one of NYC’s Belgian restaurants.

New York City Restaurant Week 2013, Monday, July 22, 2013 to Friday, August 16, 2013:  Celebrate NYC restaurants with $25 lunch and $38 dinner menus.

‘Cue Up Summer Party, Thursday, July 25, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Elizabeth Street Garden, 209 Elizabeth Street, between Prince & Spring Streets, New York:   From Tasting Table, Delaney Barbecue’s beef brisket, sweet-and-smoky pork ribs, giant beef ribs and house-made pickles; bites from TABASCO® Buffalo Style Hot Sauce; Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery chocolate chip cookies, Melt Bakery ice cream sandwiches and Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls; unlimited cocktails from Hendrick’s Gin and Monkey Shoulder, Santa Margherita wines, and Goose Island beers; live bluegrass music by The Defibulators and summer yard games.  Tickets $75.

Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival, Thursday, July 25, 2013 through Sunday, July 28, 2013, Atlantic City:  Food and wine event featuring Robert Irvine, Rocco Dispirito and The Neelys.  Tickets $40-$150 depending on event.