Food, Fellowship and the Flag

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If you could have seen the sight I had from the Main Stage at the Lewiston Jazz Festival you would have an idea what I am talking about.

As far as the eye could see, on Center Street, the main street of Lewiston NY, people were everywhere. If it was a surface, they were sitting on it…bag chairs, railings, and even window boxes (awkward) provided a base to listen to amazing music and chat with friends. Those without any surface were standing; either trying to find a place to listen or they were trying to move to a place where they could listen to conversation.

Everyone was eating. And, they were drinking.

Local restaurants sold their signature dishes on the street and outside vendors served up everything from brick oven pizza (from a portable brick oven with visible flame) to sushi. There were IPO beers and local wines, red and white sangria and the most delicious Mojito’s that had so much mint you felt like you are getting your daily dose of fiber.

It was noisy, not always easy to navigate and there was zero personal space.

The cacophony of retail, music and conversation would be harsh if heard without context. It was just plain loud but few people seemed bothered. Actually, they seemed invigorated by it. The louder the sound, the more intimate the conversation.

Have you ever noticed how a shared pizza pie or a cold beer act like a binder, providing commonality until conversation can get to shared experience?

And, Western New Yorkers play that game better than anyone I know. We can meet a stranger but know that our Godmother taught their nephew in grammar school in record time. We love the connection.

As I stood on the Main Stage I knew the folks were anxious for the headliners to start their show. I was the last thing between the community service announcements and the music which brought them all together in the first place.

Who could have blamed them for being impatient with the lovely practice of honoring the flags of the two countries sitting side by side?

But honor them they did, standing at attention as I sang the Canadian national anthem. “Oh Canada” their “home and native land” stood just a mile or so behind me. Many Canadians come to our little piece of New York State heaven for this festival as they pour here every day to enjoy the retail and the strength of their dollar.

Clap clap clap. They are sweet with their recognition that I sang their beautiful song with few errors.

Then, as they continued to stand, hats removed and many covering their heart, I began the Star Spangled Banner. I waved my hand as a request for them to join in and to my surprise and delight, they did.

Oh, if you could have seen the view from the stage of bodies everywhere, stopped for just a minute to sing a song that binds us just as an egg binds a meatball, you would have had shivers.

If you could have seen their faces, rapt with pride and a sense of belonging, you would have truly appreciated how food, fellowship and the flag truly represent needs we have as humans to survive not only physically but in our hearts and minds, as well.

 

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Lewiston Jazz Food Crawl: Think Open Container!

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I’m really excited about the Lewiston Jazz Festival for a whole bunch of reasons. First, I’m singing with Accidental Jazz at 1:00 pm at the Orange Cat on Saturday. At 8:00 pm I sing honoring Canada and the United States prior to the headliner on the mainstage. Cool!

But, what I love most is eating my way up and down Center Street. And, better yet, I can hold my glass of wine and walk down the street. Very civilized! To start, I will likely step off the street and walk down those cool steps to Hops N Vines and pick up what ever their glass du jour happens to be.

You can eat everything from sushi from Wegman’s and crepes from Holy Crepe. KAD Vending is making fried dough…fry dough for me and you have a friend forever!

Pigasus Roasters is making sweet corn and sweet potatoes along with something called stout cookies…call me intrigued. If you want a sweet potato pie look no further than Specialty Pies by Shirlene. The Country Popper is serving up kettlecorn, Singer Farm Naturals has dried fruit and you can get nachos, cookies and flavored popcorn from JD Enterprise/The Nut Hut.

20120824-003354.jpgDo you want pizza? No problem. Brio Pizzeria and Pizza Amore will take care of that.

There are sandwiches and sides offered by many of our favorite food vendors. Water Street Landing has sliders on the menu (brisket and crab) and a bread pudding (yum)! Fortuna’s has a marinated grilled chicken breast and Billy’s Beef has a tropical fruit bowl and funnel cakes. The Brickyard Pub & BBQ is serving their famous pulled pork sandwich along with a brisket sandwich. Both the Silo and Melloni’s are serving hamburgers and hot dogs. Each are also serving up sausage and peppers.

20120824-003024.jpgI don’t think there are very many better smelling foods than juicy sausage and fragrant peppers and onions grilling to a perfect crisp on an open fire. Do you agree?20120824-004155.jpg

The new kids on the block, Town Hall American Bistro, are serving Chorizo Lollipops and I cannot wait to try them. Casa Antiqua have their famous rice balls and Artichoke French makes a dish that is best eaten with some crusty bread to sop all the juice. Two of my favorites, filet of beef and ahi tuna are on the Wine on Third menu. Corn Fried Chicken Tenders with Black Bean Dirty Rice and Jazz Sour Cream (that’s the spirit!) can be found at Tin Pan Alley’s food stand. Seas the Day Seafood are preparing coconut shrimp and Louisiana Crab Cakes along with some very decadent dessert items. Macri’s Italian Grille has fried mozzarella along with meatball sandwiches, stuffed shells and rolatini. I am going to save some room for Syros Souvlaki and rice pudding.

Sweet Melody’s will tickle your sweet tooth with Gelato, Sorbert, Chocolate Frozen Bananas. DiCamillo Bakery has their famous ice cream sandwiches.

The Lewiston Village Pub is going to keep us guessing!

Are you going just for the music or are you going to partake in the food and drink? Let me know what you are most looking forward to eating.

Have a yummy Jazz Festival!