Food and Wine Celebration offers a taste of Cape May’s best

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CAPE MAY – Saturday is the start of a nine-day celebration of food and wine in Cape May, a town many consider to be the restaurant capital of New Jersey.

The 17th annual Cape May Food and Wine Celebration will pay homage to local gastronomic delights with winery tours, food, wine and beer tastings, food demonstrations, Chef’s Dine-Arounds and other events from Sept. 14 through Sunday, Sept. 22.

Sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities, the event will feature a lecture with celebrity chef Joseph Poon, a Harvest Wine Tasting Dinner at the Carriage House, a traditional Cape May clambake, a beer tasting dinner at Aleathea’s Restaurant, a gourmet brunch walk and other activities including a lighthouse adventure and a ghost walk.

Below are some of the festival highlights; for information on other activities offered throughout the week or to make reservations call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278 or see . For most of the events, reservations are suggested.

Saturday, Sept. 14

Delaware Bay Lighthouse Adventure: Come aboard the Cape May Whale Watcher or the Spirit of Cape May to view and photograph historic lighthouses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most of them still operational. Each cruise includes narration on Delaware Bay lore and legend, with information on fishing, spawning grounds and more. Cruise runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are $99 and includes continental breakfast and buffet lunch. A cash bar will be available.

Harvest Food and Wine Tasting: 6 p.m. at The Carriage House Café and Tearoom at the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., will host a sampling dinner to celebrate the harvest inspired by local products. Representatives of the Seaside Cheese Company and the Cape May Winery will discuss their products and pairings. The evening includes hors d’oeuvres, cheese sampling, a salad course, and a sampling of three dinner entrees and two desserts. Each course is paired with wine from the Cape May Winery. Adults only. Price is $85.

Sunday, Sept. 15

Cape May Clambake: Noon-3 p.m. at Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, 600 S. Railroad Ave., Rio Grande. Tour the winery, sample wines and then enjoy wine with a traditional clambake of steamed clams, lobster tail, corn on the cob, shrimp, mussels and more. Includes live entertainment. Price is $50.

Monday, Sept. 16

Favorite Culinary Herbs Lecture: 9:45 a.m. at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. Lorraine Kiefer will present a fun history and background on herbs, show how to make an herbal centerpiece, and talk about the six most popular herbs. Participants will also get to taste an herbal cake. Fee is $25.

Food & Wine Lecture with Chef Joseph Poon: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. Get tips and techniques from chef Joseph Poon of Philadelphia, who has appeared on local and national programs from Jay Leno to Ellen DeGeneres. The first lecture includes a fruit and vegetable sculpture and carving demonstration; the second features some carving and a lot of information about diet and its effect on health. Fee is $25.

Victorian Social History Lecture: 7:30 p.m. at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. An entertaining look at what made the Victorians tick. Fee is $10.

Tuesday, Sept. 17

Herbs in Beverages & Vinegars Lecture: 9:45 a.m. at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. Learn about the best herbs for making teas, how to make herb-flavored vinegars, and how to make herbal liqueurs. Fee is $25.

Consuming Passions: 11 a.m. at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. Richly illustrated presentation on how food preservation, preparation and presentation evolved during the Victorian era. Fee is $10.

Beer Tasting Dinner: 7 p.m. at Aleathea’s Restaurant at the Inn of Cape May. Learn how to pair beer with food in this four-course dinner. Beer authority Gary Monterosso will match each course to a different style beer and discuss the pairings. Price is $65, gratuity included.

Wednesday, Sept. 18

Gourmet Brunch Walk: 10 a.m. Stroll through a portion of Cape May’s Historic District on this guided walking tour ending with a gourmet brunch at the Mad Batter restaurant. Price is $20 for adults and $15 for children age 3-12.

All About Lemon Herbs Lecture: 9:45 a.m. at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. A show and tell about the many lemon herbs. Taste lemon herb cookies, drink lemon herb tea, learn how to preserve lemon herbs, and take home a selection of recipes. Fee is $25.

Victorian Etiquette & Manners Lecture: 7:30 p.m. at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. Confused about which fork to use? Learn the P’s and Q’s of proper etiquette and manners in this illustrated presentation. Fee is $10.

Thursday, Sept. 19

Harvesting and Using Favorite Herbs: 9:45 a.m. at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. Learn how to make herb butter and pesto, and how to dry and preserve herbs. Participants will get a selection of recipes for using herbs. Fee is $25.

Luncheon & Temperance Debate: 12:30 p.m. at the Inn of Cape May, 7 Ocean St. Three-course tea luncheon at the Carriage House Café and Tearoom followed by a debate featuring historic characters from the Victorian era – a saloonkeeper and a representative of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Fee is $25.

Friday, Sept. 20

Cape May Wine Trail: Noon-5 p.m. Spend the day visiting Cape May County’s wineries and sampling the unique flavors of each. Participants will start with lunch at the Carriage House Café & Tearoom, then board the MAC trolley for stops at Natali Vineyards, Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, and Willow Creek Winery in West Cape May, where they will learn about viniculture and visit the tasting rooms. Price is $75 and includes lunch, wine tastings at each vineyard and a wine tasting glass.

Saturday, Sept. 21

Lighthouse Full Moon Climb: 8-10 p.m. at the Cape May Lighthouse in Cape May Point State Park, Lower Township. Climb the 199 stairs by the light of the full moon to the starry top. Tower admission is free for “Friends” members, $7 for adult nonmembers and $3 for children 3-12.

Full Moon Ghost Hunt with Ghost-One: 7:45 p.m. at the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St. hosted by Ghost-One, a paranormal research team based in Pennsylvania. Participants can try out some of the investigating tools and do EVP readings as they explore rooms of the estate. Afterward there will be dessert and discussion of the findings at the Carriage House. Admission is $30.

Bourbon Tasting Dinner: 6 p.m. at Aleathea’s Restaurant at the Inn of Cape May. Learn about the nuances of bourbon and why it is so popular. Includes pairings during each course of a four-course meal. Fee is $75.

Sunday, Sept. 22

A Taste of Cape May: 1-4 p.m. at Cape May Convention Hall, Beach Avenue at Stockton Place. This food and wine extravaganza offers an opportunity to learn about and taste wines from five Cape May area wineries, along with samples of menu selections from various Cape May restaurants. Local artisans and crafts persons will be selling food and wine-related merchandise. Entertainment will be provided by the Herb Moore Trio. Fee is $30.

Throughout the week

Gourmet Lunches: 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. A three-course gourmet lunch will be offered at a different restaurant each day. Price is $25; alcoholic beverages are not included.

Chef’s Dine-Arounds: 6 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Board the MAC trolley for a five-course gourmet feast, with each course served at a different restaurant and paired with wine from the sponsoring winery. A winery representative will explain pairings. Price is $125 and includes transportation and gratuity.

Fisherman's Wharf Tour: 11-11:45 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m.-10:45 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at the Lobster House dock. This guided tour of Fisherman's Wharf at the Lobster House will show participants how seafood gets from the sea to the table and how Cape May has become the second largest commercial fishing port on the East Coast. Tickets are sold 15 minutes before tours begin. Price is $10 for adults and $7 for children 3-12.

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