The TASTE event at SteelStacks on July 24th was an amazing opportunity for local farmers & producers to join the community for a festival that was about fun, healthy living. Free admission led community members to flock to ArtsQuest to take in fresh produce, bakery items, meat products & even a Zucchini 500 race. A set-up inside the building consisted of tables displaying healthy eating & food access information for festival-goers. United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley was just one of the booths giving out apple stress balls along with Food Access information pertinent to any resident within the Lehigh Valley. Food Respect & Recovery, a Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council working group, had a taste test between “ugly fruit” vs. supermarket fruit to show how much more delicious local produce really is. With a live band, cooking demos, ice cream, beef jerky samples & even blueberry slushies- there was something for everyone!
A farmers’ market fit for a king was stationed outside for the event, with the famous Bethlehem SteelStacks in the background. Easton Farmers’ Market made it even better by having SNAP & Double SNAP tokens at the ready; allowing those with EBT cards the ability take full advantage of all the goods on site. Red Earth Farm had a table showing the amazing greens that can be found in their CSA shares. Subarashii Kudamono was all about Asian pears; with dried samples that tasted like gummy bears. Bethlehem Farmers’ Market’s friendly staff gave out awesome T-shirts & beautiful magnets to visitors. Scholl Orchard had purple peppers- and for someone who owns everything in purple, I couldn’t pass them up. Bechdolt Orchards had possibly my favorite purchase of the day: nectarine butter, to be eaten right out of the jar. No matter which stand you went to that day, you would find tasty, local, nutritious products to sample or bring home for an enjoyable afternoon of grilling.
Purchasing a ticket for the Tasting Room led to a room filled with over 25 participants giving incredible samples of food and drink. Tolino Vineyards, Eight Oaks, 187 Rue Principale, Social Still, Dundore & Heister, and Pearly Baker’s Ale House were just a few of the vendors sharing their delectable local creations. My fellow United Way workers and I were blown away by the combining of different ingredients. Who knew that an earthy mushroom would be delicious covered in dark chocolate and sea salt? Apparently Heirloom Fine Dining knew the secret. None of us were fans of mushrooms, but at a TASTE event with quality food at this level, you can’t not try it. Safe to say, we are all converts and even went back for more before we left. 29 Cooks did a twist on traditional pulled pork; making pulled BBQ chicken with a slice of fresh tomato, a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and smidgeon of microgreens- PHENOMENAL. Bolete was a personal favorite of the day. Fresh mozzarella was made on site, still warm & paired with a fresh heirloom tomato, onion, arugula, and basil salad. Did I mention the fresh piece of bread resting on top? I may have gone back more than once for that one. From corn mousse with blackberry jam and whipped cream to barley salad with a thin slice of beef or a beet and peach tart with honey- the Tasting Room was a great place for foodies to try all different parts of the local food spectrum.
Supporting local farmers, boosting the local economy, shopping for healthy foods, tasting local restaurant creations or just to get out in the community with friends and family- you cannot go wrong when attending the TASTE event hosted by Buy Fresh Buy Local. Be sure to keep this event in your calendar; it is one you won’t want to miss!