This year I have the distinct honor of being the Artistic Director of Culinary Arts for the Gettysburg Festival taking place June 18th through the 28th. Festival goers will get a chance to take in several culinary events such as: A summer kick-off picnic (June 20), an elegant Father's Day champagne brunch (June 21), a Sheppard Mansion dining experience (June 23), a Pennsylvania "Iron Chef" dinner (June 24), and a barbecue dinner complete with beer and the Blues (June 27).
In addition to these events, Governor Ed Rendell is accepting nominations for the Governor's Award for the Culinary Arts. This award will honor a Pennsylvania culinary artist for his/her artistic expression, use of locally-sourced foods, and their commitment to education. The winner will join me in the kitchen to help create a sunset dinner at Hauser Estate Winery. The location is a spectacular 170-acre property that overlooks forest, farmland, orchards and the National Civil War battlefield. The deadline for nominations is June 1.
In order to gear up for the festival, an exclusive fundraiser called An American Culinary Adventure will be held on Saturday, May 30, 2009. Guests will have a chance to wine and dine while meandering through a beautiful garden. The fundraiser event also includes an opportunity to nab a winning bid during the evening's auction for a weekend at the Indy 500. This event takes place at the Oxford Hil Manor Estate owned by Utz potato chip magnates, Mike and Jane Rice. I hope you can join me for this unique dining experience. I'll get a chance to greet and eat with you as well. Tickets are on sale now at www.gettysburgfestival.org.
Few thoughts lead me back to the kitchen when I am paddling a kayak in the middle of a paradisal sanctuary. This last week I've spent several days with my family exploring, kayaking and fishing on the glassy waters of Sanibel and Captiva Islands in Florida.
Photograph by Cayusa flickr.com
The islands are densely forested and teeming with unimaginable wildlife. Occasional sightings of sea turtles, dolphins and sea cows (manatees) can be seen in the nearby channels between the hidden mangroves. The beaches are a gold mine for seashell collectors, and bird watchers come from all over the globe to capture amazing images inside the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This Floridian paradise has done this fisherman a world of restful good.
Later this year, "Ding Darling" will be celebrating its 20th annual bird and eco-festival during the week of October 24, 2009. The staff at this year's festival promises to give the public the best "Ding" Days ever. Guests will have an opportunity to enjoy discounted birding, kayaking, and sea life boat tours. Visit www.dingdarlingdays.com for updates on this festive event.
Photograph by Sally Lindsay I ran across a certain Mr. Ed during some site visits in Pennsylvania. It turns out that this Mr. Ed has nothing to do with the talking horse of early television fame. Mr. Ed is the local celebrity of Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum and Fudge Shop in PA, outside of Gettysburg. He claims to have the largest and most unique collections of elephants in the world. And, I would concur. I've never seen anything like it. The shop is a collection of elephants, old fashioned peanuts, and candy. In addition to his own elephant claim to fame, Mr. Ed took a little feature role in the independent film, "Route 30."