Flocking for a taste of Evesham
It seems the largest township in Burlington County tastes like cilantro-flavored hot sauce. Evesham tastes like crab cakes, too. And sushi.
It seems the largest township in Burlington County tastes like cilantro-flavored hot sauce.
Evesham tastes like crab cakes, too. And sushi.
Then there are pizza, Irish stew, chicken marsala, potato-chip cookies, cream of tomato soup, chocolate truffles, and that groan-worthy favorite of carnivals everywhere: deep-fried Oreos.
On Sunday afternoon, the township hosted its fifth annual "Taste of Evesham," drawing 2,200 noshers and wine-bibbers to tents lining Main Street.
"It's my first time here," Pat Suppa of Barrington said, sampling the wares of Hank's Sauce, a restaurant and hot-sauce maker from Sea Isle City.
After dipping corn chips into four of the sauces, including cilantro, she let out an "mmmmm" at the garlic-and-herb version and asked how much.
"I can't sell you any," said Matt Buono, who was staffing the booth. "But you can go online."
The day's 17 vendors ranged from big restaurant chains such as Carrabba's, Bertucci's, and Hard Rock Cafe to little Evesham shops and restaurants like the Marlton Tavern, Sal's Pizza, and Maria's Mom's Italian Cookie Cupboard.
It's an opportunity, most tent managers said, to tickle the taste buds of passersby and win new patrons.
"So many people in the suburbs don't come into Philadelphia," lamented Michael Chrupcala, general manager of the Hard Rock Cafe on Philadelphia's Market Street. "So this," he said, gesturing to the wings and mini-pulled-pork sandwiches, "is a form of advertising."
Chrupcala, who lives in Evesham, might not have much choice. His wife, Thea, is co-chair of the annual event, sponsored by the Evesham Celebrations Foundation.
"It began as a way to highlight local restaurants - to expose residents to restaurants they might not visit," Thea Chrupcala said. In the second year, it began allowing vendors from out of town.
Unlike similar food fairs, one price - $15 for food and wine, $10 for food only - buys access to samples at all booths for the whole three hours.
"It's been very successful," said her co-chair, Angie Patel. "We've grown every year, and most vendors keep coming back."
Proceeds flow to the nonprofit Celebrations Foundation, which hosts public events throughout the year, including the July Fourth parade, and provides scholarships to residents.
"This is our third time," said Michael McGeough, president of Dubh Linn Square, a pair of Irish restaurants in Cherry Hill and Bordentown. The name is the Gaelic spelling of Dublin, and it means "black pool."
"It's a good way for people to see who we are," he said as three employees dished out "Guinness stew" and potatoes dotted with blue cheese.
Sunday's fair was the fifth year for Maria Ritter, owner of Maria's Mom's Italian Cookie Cupboard and baker of the chocolate-lemon pound-cake cookies on display as well as the remarkable potato-chip cookies, all developed by her Sicilian grandmother.
"We do it for the exposure and to give back to the town," said Ritter, who founded the shop with her mother after her mother, Mary Linda Saldutti, survived breast cancer.
"I said I wanted us to do something together for the rest of our lives," she said.
At the far end of the street - and the gastronomic spectrum - was J-Dogs, a West Berlin firm that runs carnival-style events for schools, corporations, and private parties.
Its sole offering was deep-fried Oreos: the familiar chocolate-and-icing cookie dipped in funnel cake dough, deep fried, and dusted with powdered sugar.
"Mmmm, it's very good," marveled Elena Medina, a newcomer to Marlton from California, as she cast her glance down Main Street.
"I have to make another trip here after I get more food."