06 Oct Smithville Oktoberfest
The chill in the air, the changing of the trees, October brings so many wonderful things, including Oktoberfest. This past weekend I ventured off to a quaint town called Smithville as they were hosting an Oktoberfest filled with food, wine, vendors, antiques etc. Even though it was Saturday and my body was urging me to sleep in, I grabbed a Starbucks, my Nikon and made sure I had an early head start to beat the crowd.
Even in the early hours of the morning, Smithville was overflowing with families and groups of friends bouncing around from vendor to vendor. The festival had about over 100 vendors including everything from housewares, to outdoor decorations, to delicious food. One vendor in particular caught my eye, Andrea Johns. She is an artist for over 10 years and has used her passion to create beautiful hand painted glassware including the perky flower stemmed martini glass shown in this post. Her glistening glassware was setup on a table outside the Merry Goldfinch store where it is available for purchase even after the festival is over.
It was also great to see a bright and cheerful lemonade stand with proceeds going to the Hurricane Sandy relief. My parents are still residents of Southern New Jersey and the impact the hurricane had on LBI and surrounding towns is beyond words. No matter how big or small the contribution, it is always an amazing thing to see the efforts of a community continue even months after the event occurred and the news died down.
I spent quite a few hours weaving in and out of the aisles of the festival. I could have stayed there for hours more just taking in the scenic background with families laughing as they steered paddle boats in zig zag lines creating ripples in the lake just off the side of the entrance. But I was starved. It was hard tempting the food stands full of funnel cakes, roasted, corn and butterfly fries. The grills had smoke rising to the sky and every time I would walk by, a wafted scent of seasonings and grilled dishes would fill my nose making my stomach growl even more. I wandered over to the Smithville Inn where I discovered an amazingly flavorful fried tomato dish. It was one of the first items on the menu and I was intrigued by it’s combination so I decided to give it a try. When it arrived, it was ten times more than I had imagined. Three giant thick slices of tomato generously coated in panko bread crumbs filled the plate. It was topped with gorgonzola, roasted peppers and a balsamic reduction. I drove right in with my fork making sure I picked up a piece of each component. First the creamy tang of the gorgonzola hit my mouth and was followed by a contrasting crunch of the panko bread crumbs. The slices of tomato were hearty and thick and the balsamic reduction did the perfect job of bringing all the flavors into balance. I would definitely suggest trying this dish if you ever come across a similar one on other menus. I know I will definitely be trying to recreate this in my kitchen so be on the look out for a similar recipe!