If you attended this year’s Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival Saturday and Sunday at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center, you ate and drank for a good cause. The annual event–which celebrated its 10th anniversary–is a major fundraiser for Northampton Community College’s scholarship fund, and over the past 10 years attendees have raised nearly $2 million for education.
Dozens of well-known Lehigh Valley area restaurants participated in this year’s Mardi Gras-themed Grand Tasting; some on both days and others solely on either Saturday or Sunday.
On Sunday, we did our best to try everything–not an easy task given the number of restaurants represented–and the following bites topped our list of favorites.
Two Hellertown area establishments–Hellertown Bakery and Steel Club–participated in the 2019 Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival, which organizers said had record attendance. For the complete list of participating restaurants, click here.
Molinari’s (Bethlehem) – Focaccia Muffuletta
Molinari’s stayed on theme this year with their delicious Muffuletta made with their homemade focaccia bread. The bread was the perfect fluffy vessel for the salty layers of meat, cheese and olives. I could have easily eaten a whole sandwich!
Stoke Coal Fire Pizza (Easton) – Strawberry Gazpacho with Blackened Shrimp
With a ton of New Orleans flavors being packed into many dishes at the festival, the Strawberry Gazpacho with Blackened Shrimp from Stoke was the perfect dish to cleanse the palate. The gazpacho was just slightly sweet from the strawberries, and featured just the right amount of smokiness from the blackened shrimp, making it extremely balanced.
Emeril’s Fish House (Bethlehem) – Seared Gulf Shrimp & Kimchi Fried Rice
If there’s anyone who can do a Mardi Gras theme right, it’s Emeril. The Gulf shrimp in this dish were cooked perfectly, and the kimchi fried rice was layered with flavors. You got the kick from the kimchi, which was lightened up by fresh cilantro.
Momento Pizzeria & Restaurant – Ricotta Gnudi with Black Truffle
Hands down, this was my favorite dish from the festival. And it won First Place in the Best of the Fest competition. The Ricotta Gnudi (ricotta dumpling) was a cheesy explosion of flavor in my mouth that I was not expecting. It was so decadent, and truly a standout item. I’ll be making a trip to Momento in Stroudsburg soon.
Burgers and More by Emeril (Bethlehem) – Salted Caramel Bourbon Brownie Milkshake
We can’t forget about dessert. Especially a boozy one! This milkshake had just a hint of bourbon and fudgy chunks of brownies in it. It was super creamy and rich, and I wish they would have filled my wine glass with it.
Cheers to another great Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival!
Additional photos from around the 2019 Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival