Over the weekend, the mouthwatering aroma of fried onions, grilled meats and even freshly baked cupcakes filled the air in Sea Isle City.
The source? An open lot near the intersection of 63rd Street and Landis Avenue where 15 food trucks from around the region parked for the Sea Isle City Food Truck Festival.
Hundreds of people passed through the festival, which offered a wide-ranging menu featuring options from gourmet fare to finger food and pizza, all circling a row of vendors showcasing their wares to hungry patrons.
Kono Pizza, which was one of the first trucks parked near the entrance, served up ice cream cone-shaped pizza.
Anthony Ciangalini, a Kono franchisee and operator of a truck that roves South Jersey and Philadelphia, said the operation started out with a simple cart. The concept of Kono originated with a master chef in Italy, Ciangalini said, and soon exploded into a worldwide craze.
Ciangalini said the reception at the Sea Isle festival was “fantastic” and noted that “a lot of people are curious” about the unique take on a classic food.
Further into the ring of trucks were the bakers of the Princeton-based House of Cupcakes, made famous by their 2011 win on Food Network’s reality show Cupcake Wars.
Ron Bzdewka, the owner, said the operation’s rise to fame started in 2008 when he received a call from Food Network. The House of Cupcakes team won $10,000 and after that, Bzdewka said, “all hell broke loose,” and what was once a small bakery in Princeton became four food trucks with an additional brick and mortar location soon to open in Saudi Arabia.
The House of Cupcakes truck offers 12 varieties. Bzdewka said red velvet is the top-seller by far, but his personal favorite is chocolate chip cookie dough.
One of the most eye-catching trucks at the festival was Pirate Pete’s Soda, adorned with casks spouting seven different flavors of gourmet soda.
Proprietor Eric Shenkus said his drink truck complimented the food purveyors, “There are so many fantastic food trucks and you need something to wash it down with.”
Pirate Pete’s, which services Atlantic County, sells patrons a shiny mug that can be used for unlimited refills.
Right in the middle of the festival stood a line of tents housing vendors with merchandise from hats and stuffed toys to candles, and yes, more food.
Cynful Bliss, a bakery that specializes in alcohol-infused desserts, drew a lot of foot traffic.
Cymande Lewis, the owner, said the bakery offers a line called the “Seven Deadly Sins,” which, as the name implies, consists of seven decadent flavors including the peach cobbler, which is soaked in peach brandy for two weeks.
“It’s a nice combination of flavors,” Lewis said of the array of jarred desserts on her display table.
Lewis said baking started out as a stress reliever for her, but then she shared her creations on social media and the positive feedback led to the creation of Cynful Bliss.
All in all, festival attendees were treated to a beautiful day spent sampling delicious, local flavors that they may never have gotten the chance to taste otherwise.
It was a win-win for guests and vendors alike.
- ero (Top) Feature Image (& Additional Images): © P.J. D’annunzio