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Local Eateries Shine at LV Food & Wine Festival

The 9th annual Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival June 1-3 at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center brought together some of the best local restaurants, bakeries and wine and spirits purveyors to create an unforgettable experience for attendees.

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The 9th annual Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival June 1-3 at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center brought together some of the best local restaurants, bakeries and wine and spirits purveyors to create an unforgettable experience for attendees.

If you’ve never attended the festival, it is an opportunity to sample tastes from some of the most innovative and well-known dining establishments in our area, along with wines from around the world, spirits and more.

Some Saucon Valley favorite establishments were among this year’s participants, along with notable restaurants from Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and beyond.

Besides serving up a unique experience for foodies, the proceeds from the festival benefit a good cause: scholarship and externship opportunities as well as hands-on experience for Northampton Community College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality students.

Here are some of the decadent dishes I sampled at the event Saturday.

Paxos Restaurants: The Paxos Restaurant Group owns Torre, Melt and Top Cut at The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley in Center Valley as well as Blue in Bethlehem Township. Paxos was one of several vendors to offer both a sweet and savory option. We first tried the House Cured Salmon which was served over a jicama salad with a grilled lemon vinaigrette. The salmon was fresh and complimented the crunchy salad. The Almond Milk Panna Cotta with raspberry coulis and almond toffee was the star at the table though. The panna cotta was notably creamy for being made with almond milk, and the crunch from the toffee was the perfect pairing.

1774 Grille & Tap: On the menu for 1774 Grille & Tap was Beef Carpaccio, which was thin slices of beef tenderloin with fresh lemon zest topped with parmigiano reggiano. The beef was served on a slice of toasty baguette, which made it the perfect bite. It would have been even better with a touch more parm.


Hellertown Bakery: A tempting selection of cupcakes was put on display at the Hellertown Bakery table. I went with a carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese frosting, whish was incredibly moist. I enjoyed it while viewing some photos of their exquisite custom cakes that were on display.

Steelworks Buffet & Grill: Steelworks served two comfort food favorites: Bacon Mac and Cheese and a Chipotle Chicken Nacho with ancho, jalapeno and chipotle peppers with sweet caramelized onions, tomatoes and roasted corn pico de gallo. The chicken for the nachos was very tender, and the dish had a good balance of flavors. The Mac and Cheese was a little greasy from the bacon, but was deliciously cheesy.

Maxim’s 22: This elegant French eatery served up the perfect finger food with a twist: a Crab Deviled Egg. The filling for the deviled egg was classic, and there was a generous portion of fresh crab on top.

Hampton Winds: Similar to many other vendors, Hampton Winds went with bold Mexican flavors this year and served a Chicken Tostada. The flavors were traditional, but it was lacking some much needed citrus.

The Dime: I was thrilled to see a restaurant serving duck on its menu, since it’s one of my favorite proteins that I rarely get a chance to eat. The Dime was serving peppercorn-seared local duck breast with grilled asparagus, couscous salad, horseradish creme and micro arugula. The duck was incredibly tender and the horseradish creme gave it a nice kick.

Emeril’s Chop House: This Sands favorite was serving up my favorite bite of the day. The Braised Pork Shoulder served on top of a corn biscuit with a collard green tapenade and bacon glaze. It was the perfect flavor combination. I almost went back for seconds, but needed to save room for dessert.

Emeril’s Fish House: The Crisp Shrimp and Beef Taco offered by Emeril’s Fish House was a flavorful twist on a classic taco. The pickled vegetables, radish, cilantro and fresh lime aioli kept the dish from being too heavy.

Emeril’s Burgers and More: I was happily surprised not to find a traditional burger on the menu at Emeril’s Burgers and More, but rather a Grilled Vietnamese Chicken “Banh Mi” served on a steamed rice bun with Asian slaw, ginger slaw, cucumbers and cilantro. It was a great hand-held that was a welcome break from the Mexican flavors I was sampling earlier.

Buddy V’s Ristorante: Miniature Cheese Ravioli was the classic Italian dish Buddy V’s was dishing out to a long line of people. It was tossed in a rich bolognese sauce and micro basil.

The above represent just a sampling of the food prepared by the dozens of participants at the Food & Wine Festival, some of whom participated one day only (either Saturday or Sunday).

Also participating this year were Aman’s Bistro, Amy’s Creative Cakes, Aunt Wendy’s Kiffles, The Bayou, Chocolate Works, Clusters, Grain, Jacqui’s Pastry Cafe, Molinari’s, Mr. Lee’s Noodles, Queen City BBQ, Sette Luna, Sodexo, Two Rivers Brewing Company and Villa Italian Kitchen.

Some other highlights of this year’s festival included a NCC culinary arts student competition and a cooking demonstration with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, the person behind several of the Sands’ most popular restaurants.

Live entertaintment was provided by local favorite The Craig Thatcher Band.

Kristina Gonzalez is a lifelong Lehigh Valley resident who works in the publishing industry. She enjoys dining out regularly and trying new restaurants in the area. Is there a local restaurant you’d like Kristina to review? Please email your suggestion to jo**@sa**********.com.


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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