March and April have shaped up as a busy time for foodies.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Fair Food held its annual Brewers' Plate bash, pairing local and regional breweries and restaurants. This year it was held at the National Constitution Center.
Fair Food has another big event, the Philly Farm & Food Fest, scheduled for Sunday. April 1, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It's an outgrowth of the non-profit organization's Local Grower/Local Buyer event, held in recent years to bring together restaurant and institutional food buyers with farmers and food producers. But where the previous event was limited to "the trade", the new one is open to all. (Though there will be a "trade only" buyers reception as part of it.)
The public event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with about 100 producers exhibiting their food products (many offering sample), ready to discuss what they do and how they do it. You can also learn about the various Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) offerings, wherein you can buy a "share" of a farm's output, guaranteeing yourself a supply of farm fresh foods. Fair Food farmstand staffer Albert Yee, an accomplished foodie fotog, will be on hand to guide you through his "The Hands That Feed Us" photo series.
There will also be a series of workshops (attendance limited) and presentations on a range of subjects, from "Land Use Planning & Policy for Farmers" to "Tasty Small Grains" and "The ABCs of Bee Keeping".
Advance ticket sales are $15 or $20 on the day of the event. You can get them at the Brown Paper Tickets website. General information about the event can be found at the Philly Farm & Food Fest website. The event is co-sponsored by the Pennslvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture.
Later in the month the Reading Terminal Market begins its festival season with its Festa Italiana. It's scheduled for Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At last year's event center court was filled with tables displaying and dispensing Italian goodies, from espresso from Old City Coffee to Italian style beef chuck roast from Dinic's and roast pig.
At last year's festival the roast pig almost wasn't. The city's Health Department insisted that rather than being displayed whole and cut when served the entire animal be pre-cut in a kitchen. This year, according to Paul Steinke, the RTM's general manager, things have been worked out with the Health Department and a whole pig will be served as such. Last year the pig came from the Italian Market's Cannuli's House of Park, but this year the market's own Martin's Quality Meats & Sausages will provide the porker.
Also on tap for the festa, a mandolin orchestra. Steinke says the event is being planned with help from Judy Saye, formerly of the Book and the Cook, who has also helped organize the Italian Market's annual festival.