One of the joys of writing for a food blog is the delicious events I am invited to from time to time. On Monday, I attended a “pre” Food Network’s Wine & Food Festival event at the ShopRite of Hoboken. (I bet you never saw a Food Court dressed up like that.)
The event was held to kick off Shoprite’s participation as presenting sponsor in the NYC Wine & Food Festival starting today in Manhattan. Our lunch featured limited edition ShopRite specialty foods and the opportunity to meet ShopRite’s Executive Chef, Faith Alahverdian. We also got to learn a lot more about the origins of ShopRite’s line of gourmet culinary foods like their new line of canned San Marzano Italian Plum Tomatoes. Joe Gozzi, Director of Specialty Foods at Wakefern Food Corporation, the merchandising arm of Shoprite supermarkets is the guy who travels the world in search of food products for Shoprite’s specialty foods line. (I want his job in the worst way and told him so.) He was leaving for Europe right after the luncheon. Can you imagine? He showed me gorgeous photos of the farms in Italy where they hand pick the San Marzano tomatoes and explained the health benefits of the sparkling natural mineral water that they source from the summit of San Lorenzo Monte near Rimini, a former Roman colony known for its spring and therapeutic waters. Are you kidding me? They could pay me in olives and day old bread and I’d do that job.
After I stopped drooling over Joe’s job, a very nice server stopped by to offer me a Campania Grown Cherry Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart. These tarts featured the canned cherry tomatoes Shoprite now carries. I’ve never seen canned Cherry Tomatoes so I was definitely intrigued and they were delicious. I’ll be thinking of ways to incorporate them into future dishes for sure. The generous antipasto platter in the middle of our table was calling my name next, so I made myself comfortable and dug in. While the guests were nibbling on our fare, we heard from the President of the Food Bank for New York City which along with Share our Strength is the recipient of the funds raised from the NYC Wine & Food Festival.
We were then treated to a quick cooking class by Chef Alahverdian who heads up Shoprite’s culinary school. In the end, we all got to enjoy the Creamy Tomato Soup made with the San Marzano tomatoes topped with Fresh Basil Coulis and served with cheese panini. Absolutely delicious. It takes tomato soup and grilled cheese to a whole new level.
Our final course was Easy Cherry Cranberry Cheesecake Tartlets made with Imported Shoprite Cherry Preserves. The chef explained that the cherries are grown in Canada on one farm and when the jars run out, you won’t see the Cherry preserves on the shelf until the next growing season. I learned that this is one of Shoprite’s goals, to single source foods to insure the quality and freshness.
Shoprite is so proud of their line of Gourmet Imported Ingredients that they have donated two $25 Gift Cards to give away to two lucky readers of Jersey Bites. I’m hoping as well as the folks at Shoprite that our winners will use their gift cards to give some of these items a try. And, if you don’t win, you should still give them a try. I am a faithful user of their Imported Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. I can attest to the quality and great prices. I can’t wait to get cooking with those tomatoes too.
So, to enter to win, please hop over to Shoprite’s Imported Specialty Items page and come back to tell me what will be on your shopping list.
Be sure to leave your contact email in your entry if your profile doesn’t include one or I will have to pick another number.
You can also gain an extra entry by Tweeting or Blogging about this Giveaway. You must come back and leave a comment and link to your tweet or blog post to be counted.
Deadline for entries is Tuesday, October 13th at 11:59pm. Winners will be chosen with the help of Random.org. Best of luck.