We Ate, We Retreated, We Bit: Our Night at Eat Retreat Bite
Any event that includes fresh cheese, oysters straight out of the shell, and about a gallon of good olive oil sounds alright by us. Hosted by Eat Retreat, Squarespace, and Fair Food Philly, Eat Retreat Bite: Philly reinforced this belief. If you get enough food-lovers in one place, delicious things happen.
The evening was intended to be a way for attendees to connect with local and national food professionals of all types: everything from recent-college-graduates-turned-cheese-mongers to asian pear enthusiasts. Also, to share in each other’s food in a big way.
The night started off with a guided olive oil tasting led by experts from the California Olive Oil Council.
We learned the ins and outs of the olive oil industry and tasted a variety of Californian oils, practicing the proper way that oils are tested: swirl, sniff, slurp and swallow.
Downstairs guests mingled with local food and drink producers and sampled their products.
Outside the venue, the Local 215 Food Truck served up dishes prepared using sustainable ingredients sourced from the vendors inside. The savory bread pudding was rich and satisfying, yet airier than we expected. It came served on a bed of crisp arugula and sprinkled with sharp pecorino cheese.
Piping hot, crisp pieces of pork belly smeared with pungent dijon mustard topped thick, savory pancakes.
Mycopolitan Mushroom Co showed off its finest funghi atop soft-cooked eggs. Each spoon brimmed with a creamy yolk topped by sautéed king trumpet mushrooms and foraged wild chive flowers.
ReAnimator Coffee Roasters brewed pour-over coffee with freshly ground beans.
We Bee Brothers taught guests about the differences between each of their local honeys. Our personal favorite? Either the florally sweet Wildflower or the dark and complex Buckwheat.
Wreckerly’s Ice Cream offered scoops of cajeta and buttermilk-rhubarb ice cream from their trademark white ice box, and even sampled their specialty flavor created in partnership with Bock Beer.
Bobolink Bakehouse and Oasis Creamery teamed up to offer a spectacular array of bread and butter. The rich and delicately tangy butter was the perfect accompaniment to the full flavors of each loaf made from heirloom fife wheat.
And how could not mention their apple biscuits? Made with sweet local apples, hearty Red Fife wheat, NY pastry flour, and tangy grass-fed butter, we couldn’t resist going back for
seconds thirds fourths of these crumbly pastries.
Briny oysters mingled with a tangy-sweet Thai dipping sauce at the Cape May Oyster Cooperative‘s stand, where they enthusiastically shucked oysters on demand.
The infamous Madame Fromage showcased a variety of local cheeses from Birchrun Hill and Meadowset farms. The creamy cow’s milk brie and the sharp sheep’s milk cheeses were definite stand outs.
The Ginger Beer Press Gang (just two dudes making awesome ginger beer) wowed us with… you guessed it… their ginger beer! Each glass of the fizzy and refreshing beverage was crisp, slightly sweet, and incredibly clean tasting.
Guests also enjoyed ice cold beers from Flying Fish Brewery and hot cups of tea from Stonybrook Meadows.
Windridge Brewery poured crisp glasses of hard cider– a welcome change from usually beer-heavy drink offerings.
Kensington Quarters ended the night by auctioning off a whole pig to benefit Fair Food Farm Stand. As each guest named their highest price for different cuts of meat, the butchers pulled out their knives and broke down the hog on the spot.
A last round of apple biscuits capped off the night for us (we’re suckers for buttery, tangy pastries, what can we say).
Is there any better way to kick off a summer of food in Philly? If you’ve got a better idea, we’re always open to more bites.
-Sara Schuster and Chase Matecun