Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Fest Grand Tasting Complete with Blurry-Ass Pictures and my Fuzzy-Ass Memory.

I decided to divide my LV Food & Wine Fest write up in two parts while I was writing the Burger Bash post since it was starting to get too big (that’s what she said). I hit the Grand Tasting event that Sunday afternoon, right when the doors opened; which, for someone who dislikes crowds like I do, was an *excellent* strategy.

Ahh, wide open spaces. I didn’t spring for any “extras”, like the champagne or whiskey tastings, mostly to save on cost, but also because I didn’t have a DD, and setting me loose in a room full of whiskey is just asking for trouble.

I attended the Saturday Grand Tasting last year, and while I had a good time and enjoyed some delicious foods, I noted that there were definitely some better offerings on Sunday, the second day of the festival. And it seemed to be the same this year; a friend of mine attended the Saturday Grand Tasting and alerted me that most of the “better” restaurants would be featured the next day. I was excited to be able to taste foods from many different Lehigh Valley restaurants that I’ve been wanting to try out, including Maxim’s 22, Mesa Modern Mexican, and Cosmopolitan.

But enough exposition, let’s get to the good stuff. And oh, boy, was it good.

This pork tostada from Mesa Modern Mexican in Easton was so good I went back for seconds. Because I forgot to take a picture the first time, you see. Cough. Related: I NEED to go to Mesa, and soon.

The offering from the Hampton Winds restaurant (Northampton Community College Culinary students) was duck confit on scallion pancake, and was of course one of the best dishes of the day. You can always count on something delicious from them.

Pulled pork sandwich from….ugh, somewhere in the Sands. I’m sorry, I need to write shit down. From what I recall, this was the same sandwich that this restaurant (Carnegie Deli?) served at the Burger Bash on Friday, and…meh. Honestly the only thing I remember about it was that the slaw was tasty but the roll was stale as hell.

 

Both of these plates were from Maxim’s 22 in Easton. First up is duck confit over puffed pastry with a cherry demi glace. The duck was good, but not super flavorful, and the puff was too much puff. Smaller puff next time, Maxim’s. Next is a pate with mustard and jelly. The pate was tasty on its own but got a bit overpowered by the mustard.

The offerings from Yianni’s Taverna in Bethlehem. On the left is eggplant and…avocado(?) puree on pita bread, which was quite tasty, and I am not a fan of eggplant. On the right is something else I’ve never been a fan of either, but this was the best baklava I’ve ever tasted, sweet, flaky, moist…amazing. I’m definitely adding Yianni’s to my to-do list.

This chilled pea soup was light and refreshing, with a touch of herbaceousness. Just don’t ask me who made it.  NOTES, JENN. NOTES ARE HELPFUL.

The sausage tortellini from Bravo at the Lehigh Valley Mall was actually quite tasty, just the right amount of spice in the sausage. There was also a yummy dessert offering from them, but my photos unfortunately didn’t do it justice.

The pork nacho & chick pea fritter from Pearly Baker’s were both so good that I was inclined to circle back to the booth & tell the chef how much I enjoyed them. Seriously, Easton restaurants, (most of) y’all brought your “A” game this year. Well done.

Apologies for this crap picture, I didn’t have the greatest lighting here. This was the standard offering from Emeril’s Chophouse, a NY Strip (or was it a ribeye?) with some microgreens & a mini banana cream “pie”. The steak was good but didn’t wow me. Banana cream pie was, as always, excellent. Even if you never go to the Chophouse for dinner, just please go for coffee and dessert and order that damn pie. You can thank me later.

This was an asparagus and arugula salad from Cosmopolitan in Allentown. Another welcome light & refreshing bite in the midst of some richer dishes. Cosmopolitan had my absolute favorite dish last year, a chilled cherry soup. I was a little disappointed not to see it this year but I understand and appreciate the difference.

I had a few other plates before I got full, but none really that memorable. Tuna tartare? Not a fan. Lamb slider and limp/cold fish taco? You did it SO much better last year. Unfortunately it seemed that some of the restaurants I enjoyed the most at last year’s tasting left me a bit in the cold this time around. It was a little disappointing, but the other tasty surprises I found around the rest of the room more than made up for it.