This past Sunday, Mrs. G-LO and I dropped the kids off with their grandparents and headed in to Philly for a couple hours of grazing at the Philly Farm & Food Fest (the organizers were kind enough to give us a couple of media passes). For those of you that are not familiar with this annual event, here is a bit more information taken directly from their website:
In 2011 Fair Food Philly and PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) teamed up to create a new annual marketplace for farmers and local food producers. Our shared goal was to assist small businesses in growing their bottom line by providing a low-cost venue accessible to a diverse audience of potential customers.
Fest is also a fundraising event for Fair Food and PASA, with proceeds going to support our non-profit educational and technical assistance programs for food producers.
The first Fest was held in 2012 and drew nearly twice as many visitors as expected. Since then Fest had grown exponentially each year. 2014 marks a doubling in size from our first show, and will feature:
- Over 150 exhibitors
- Libations Lounge guided tasting of local spirits, beers, wines
- Shellfish Salon guided tasting of local oysters and clams
- A distinguished speaker and panelists
- Cooking demonstrations
- A Marketplace of select restaurants supporting local farms
- Health & beauty products, sustainable service providers, and much more
The event was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Annex on North Broad Street and was spread out across three different areas on the ground floor. It was essentially a huge Farmer’s Market with an incredibly diverse selection of food and drink made in and around the Philadelphia area. Cookies, bread, ice cream, popcorn, popsicles, coffee, tea, soups, pickles, cheese, jerky, jam, candy, and so much more was available to sample. If you’re the type of person that likes to sample a wide variety of food, then this is definitely the event for you.
Going from vendor to vendor and sampling their wares was great fun, but what intrigued me most about the event was the Shellfish Salon and Libations Lounge…
The Shellfish Salon was an opportunity to sample oysters and clams from South Jersey and the Chesapeake Bay via a tasting seminar hosted by Sam Mink of The Oyster House. During the tasting, we were able to try several different oyster and clam varieties while we listened to representatives discuss the many different aspects of oyster and clam farming. Topics ranged from the health benefits of shellfish to the environmental impact of what they do. It was a very well run tasting and as an added bonus, we were able to sample some truly delicious shellfish.
The Libations Lounge took place on the other side of the room and was essentially four different tastings led by representatives from various Philadelphia area based “adult beverage” producers. Our 3PM session featured Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey, Frecon Farms Cider, Sly Fox Brewing Company, Stonekeep Meadery, and Weyerbacher Brewing Company. Each representative was given around 10 minutes to talk us through what we were tasting and to tell us a bit about their company.
While the Sly Fox and Weyerbacher beers were tasty, the most interesting parts of the session involved the cider, mead, and rye whiskey, mostly because they all offered something that was very new to both me and my better half. Dad’s Hat brought a barrel aged Manhattan, Frecon brought two different sour ciders, and Stonekeep brought two different types of mead. All were really interesting and we definitely enjoyed the opportunity to expand our “adult beverage” horizons. My only quibble (love this word!) would be with the format of the Libations Lounge. While I truly enjoyed listening to all of the presenters and sampling their products, I thought that it was a bit too formal. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word lounge, I think comfy seating, dim lights, and a big bar, not banquet tables and upright chairs. Here’s hoping that they tweak the format a bit for next year so that fussy, spoiled, and overindulged people such as myself will have one less thing to whine about.
Overall, Mrs. G-LO and I enjoyed our time at the Philly Farm and Food Fest. It definitely gave us a greater appreciation for all of the hard working and imaginative people that are helping to cement Philadelphia’s reputation as a destination for superb food and drink. We are definitely looking forward to attending it again next year!