Fall’s officially here, so why not plan a cool autumnal road trip? A foodie road trip! Pack a sense of adventure, gas up the car and join festivals glorifying everything from oysters to garlic.
“Our tagline is ‘Eat. Drink. Stink,’” said Jo Moranville, chairwoman and self-described “Stinkin’ Czarina” of the Easton Garlic Fest. “It’s a beautiful day for foodies to just wander around and sample so many delicious foods.” Plus, vote for the best gastric garlic dishes and dangerous desserts.
“I am floored every year,” she added. “It’s unbelievable what they do.”
Chefs also get creative during Cheesetoberfest, “an all-out, no-holds-barred” grilled cheese, mac and cheese throwdown at Dover’s Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company.
“Who doesn’t love beer and cheese?” asked Vanessa Melotti, taproom and events manager. “Area restaurants compete to see who is the ‘Grand Cheezmo’ in each category.”
Chocolate lovers, rejoice! “The Sweetest Place on Earth” puts its spin on Oktoberfest too. Downtown Hershey’s Choctoberfest boasts “bands, beers, bites” and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.
Of “core”-se (apple pun intended), don’t miss the National Apple Harvest Festival in Biglerville. The 55th annual apple extravaganza features apple pie, apple guacamole, apple cider, apple dumplings, apple pancakes – “literally everything apple you can think of,” said Andrew Robinson, publicity chairman. “It’s truly a foodie’s paradise.”
All hail another round, red favorite: the humble cranberry! Commemorate this year’s harvest at the Chatsworth Cranberry Festival, promising “crantastic fun for everyone.”
Or browse the booths at Bordentown’s Cranberry Fest, “one of the oldest and largest juried arts and crafts shows in New Jersey.” Foodwise, find cranberry wine, cranberry hot sauce, cranberry jelly, cranberry cheese, cranberry baked goods and more.
“It shines the spotlight on our restaurants in town,” explained organizer Leon Stanley. “Bordentown has become a dining destination.”
Seafood fans, “shuck and slurp your way” to the U.S. Oyster Festival, aka Maryland’s annual Bivalve Bash.
“It’s been going for 53 years,” said Karen Stone, administrator. “It brings people from all over the country to talk about and eat oysters and celebrate oysters.”
They also vie for top honors at this “nice family, low-key event” with “the most amazing food and oysters you will ever eat.”
Worth the drive? You bet.
Know before you go
“Get your garlic on” at the Easton Garlic Fest Saturday, Oct. 5 and Sunday, Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Easton, Pennsylvania. Festival admission’s free. Tickets for the Gastric Garlic People’s Choice Contest: $10. Dangerous Desserts People’s Choice Contest: $8. www.eastongarlicfest.com
Don’t get “bogged” down! Check out the 30th annual Cranberry Fest Oct. 5 and 6 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Bordentown, New Jersey. Shop for arts and crafts and then relax in the beer garden. Free admission. www.btowncranfest.com
Enjoy orchard tours, contests, live music and more than 300 arts and crafts vendors at the National Apple Harvest Festival in Biglerville, Pennsylvania, Oct. 5 and 6, 12 and 13, starting at 8 a.m. Tickets: $10. Children under 12 are free. www.appleharvest.com
“Many will compete. Only one will win. You get to try them all” during Cheesetoberfest Saturday, Oct. 19 from 12 to 6 p.m. at Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company in Dover, Delaware. Tickets: $30 general admission, $60 VIP. www.cheesetoberfest.com
Craving chocolate? Head to Hershey, Pennsylvania, for Choctoberfest, a “family-friendly fall festival” chock-full of the sweet stuff Saturday, Oct. 19 from 12 to 6 p.m. Admission’s free. www.downtownhershey.com
Savor oysters “all different ways” at the U.S. Oyster Festival in Leonardtown, Maryland, Saturday, Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 20 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Highlights include the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Championship Contest and National Oyster Cook-Off. Admission: $10. Children 12 and under are free. http://usoysterfest.com
And finally, check out the cranberry treats, classic cars, artisans and entertainment at the Chatsworth Cranberry Festival in Chatsworth, New Jersey, Saturday, Oct. 19 and Sunday, Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free admission. www.cranfest.info
Creamy Garlic Chicken Thighs
This is a quick and easy recipe with comfort food written all over it.
6 boneless chicken thighs, lightly tenderized
3 tablespoons olive oil
peeled cloves from one head of garlic
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
3/4 cup chicken broth
fresh lemon, squeeze 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
paprika to sprinkle on top at end (optional)
Lightly tenderize boneless chicken thighs. Coat chicken thighs in flour. Heat olive oil in skillet and add floured chicken. Cook until light golden brown then remove from the skillet. In a cast iron skillet, lightly brown garlic and onions. Add sauce ingredients and stir well until mixed. Add chicken back into sauce in skillet to finish cooking and thicken sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans.
RECIPE COURTESY OF CHEF ARVIDS DANIELSONS
Apple Harvest Festival Pancakes
2 cups Bisquick
1 1/4 cups apple cider
1/4 cup dry milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup peeled, cored and chopped apple
Mix all ingredients except apple with a rotary beater. Stir in apples with a wooden spoon. Bake on a hot, greased griddle.
Note: Complete package pancake mixes or your own favorite pancake recipes may be used, substituting apple cider for required liquid and adding apples.
RECIPE COURTESY OF NATIONAL APPLE HARVEST FESTIVAL
Crispy Fried Oysters Louisiana Poutine Style
8 ounces fresh select oysters
1 to 1 1/2 cups white cheese curds (you can substitute mozzarella)
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups seafood stock
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup bell pepper diced pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomato
1 tablespoon creole or Cajun seasoning
hot sauce to taste
sea salt to taste
1/4 cup green onions, sliced for garnish
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped for garnish
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon club soda
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Etouffee gravy: In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine melted butter and flour until smooth. Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously, for about 10 to 12 minutes until you have achieved desired color. Add the onion, green pepper and celery and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Continue stirring about 2 minutes. Next throw in about 1 cup chopped tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, paprika and creole seasoning and let it cook for 5 minutes. Gradually pour in about 2 cups of seafood stock, bring to a boil and let it simmer. Stir in green onions and chopped parsley.
For fried oysters, line colander with two layers of paper towel. Rinse oysters, drain and put in colander, patting to dry. Egg dip: In small bowl, add egg and club soda whisk to blend well. Flour coating: Put all ingredients in small plastic bag and shake to mix well. Panko coating: in a small bowl, add ingredients and mix well.
Bread oysters. Step 1: Place them in flour coating, shaking to completely coat oysters. Step 2: Place in egg mixture shaking off excess. Step 3: Place them in panko coating bowl. Roll them over and get them completely coated with bread crumbs. With tongs, gently remove them from breadcrumbs and place on a wire rack. Repeat Steps 1 through 3 until all oysters are breaded. Allow oysters to set up for at least 10 minutes
Heat frying oil in deep pan to 375 degrees. With tongs, gently remove oysters from baking sheet and gently drop them into the hot oil. Fry the oysters in small batches to keep from lowering the temperature of the oil too much. Fry about 2 minutes or until golden brown on one side, turn and brown other side (about 1 to 2 minutes). Remove from oil and drain on layers of paper towels. Makes 2 servings (24 fried oysters).
To assemble, place fried oysters in a saucer, sprinkle cheese curds on top and pour on gravy. Serve immediately.
RECIPE COURTESY OF DEBBIE REYNOLDS, 2018 U.S. OYSTER COOK-OFF GRAND PRIZE WINNER