Spring is still fleeting in New England in April, but one way to cope is to plan jaunts to culinary festivals celebrating strawberries, artichokes, and other goodies in sunnier climes. These next months also herald the wave of wine and food festivals here and abroad. So shake the doldrums and plan to stop by a crawfish festival in Louisiana, or hightail it to Henley, England, for two days of feasting.
Growing strawberries was once the leading business in Pasadena, near Houston, with trainloads shipped daily to Chicago and Kansas City around the middle of the last century. The fruit's prominence in the city's history is celebrated each year with the Pasadena Strawberry Festival , a homespun affair with plenty of berries for sampling, the cutting of the so-called world's largest strawberry shortcake, barbecue contests, and carnival rides. Cost is $10 a day for adults, $5 for children and seniors ; proceeds benefit the San Jacinto Day Foundation.
7603 Red Bluff Road, Pasadena, Texas . strawberryfest.org. 281-991-9500 .
Castroville celebrates its most famous product , and the fun includes parades, musical performances, and children's activities. Artichokes take the starring roles -- fried, sauteed, grilled, marinated, pickled, and creamed in soup. There will be cooking demonstrations on how to use the vegetables; wine tastings to pair with the 'chokes; and a farmers' market with plenty of them for sale. Field trips to farms will illustrate how they are grown, and there is even an art competition where participants can create three-dimensional pieces using fruit and vegetables. Cost is $6 for adults; $3 for children.
artichoke-festival.org. 831-633-2465 .
Some festivals are long established and some are brand new. The initial Rosewood Crawfish Festival is billed as a Louisian a -style celebration with family activities, arts and crafts, and plenty of crawfish . The proceeds from food, beverages, and parking will be divided between neighborhood projects in the Rosewood section of the city and the Louisiana Crawfish Farming Association to help with post-Hurricane Katrina relief.
rosewoodcrawfishfestival.com. 803-361-7692 .
If you yearn for a more whimsical way to experience British food, you might stop by the Cheese Rolling in Stilton, also known as May Day. Villagers, many of them in fancy dress, roll big cheeses down the town's main street in a revival of an old tradition. Music, food stalls, and other events round out the festival.
Restaurant chefs will demonstrate their finesse and amateurs can participate in cookoffs at the Henley -on-Thames festival , about an hour's drive from London . Producers of pickles and preserves, chocolates, and wine will display their wares, and restaurants and food shops will offer tastings. Children's cooking classes will also be offered. Most events are free, with a small fee for the tastings.
henleyfoodfestival.co.uk . 011-44-1491-578034 .
Maybe you've always wanted to delve into Italian cuisine, but felt you need ed a guide. Barbara Lynch, chef and owner of No. 9 Park, B & G Oysters, and the Butcher Shop, is leading a culinary tour of the Piedmont region that combines beautiful countryside with wine dinners, and vineyard visits with producers of Barolo and Barbera vintages . A visit to a carnaroli rice paddy will be followed by demonstrations on making risotto, and visits to specialty food producers and local markets. The trip, which is priced at $3,950 per person, includes accommodations, all breakfasts, and some lunches and dinners.
Events sometimes are canceled, rescheduled, or sold out; call or check online to confirm. Alison Arnett can be reached at email@example.com.