Story, photos by Brittany Harlow
Attending “Noshhh the Night Away, Local Craft and Food Vendor Showcase” was a dream for foodies, small business owners, party planners, party goers and culturally enthused Philadelphians like myself. Spirit Forward and Home Brewed Events are frequently hosting vendor showcases like this one, and if you’re looking for the newest craft or food trend, attending a local vendor showcase is the way to go.
The showcase is designed to introduce and promote up and coming local Philadelphia vendors and their outstanding companies. Inspired to host a speakeasy themed event, the creative Noshhh the Night Away team sold tickets ahead of time, but kept the venue and location secret until the last minute. Vendors and attendees alike dressed in 1920’s speakeasy fashions, but the dress code was not strictly enforced and many guests simply chose to “dress up”. There were dancers and live jazz music by Ensemble Nova, and throughout the night guests were given clues about another secret event, the “After Party” which was held at City Tap University City. All of the vendors were truly inspired and deeply engaged in their passions, and that level of commitment and passion really spoke to the quality of products. I have featured below a few of my favorites from the evening.
My absolute favorite vendor of the event was the Chocamo Cookie Cups. Owner, founder, baker and self-promoter, Michelle introduced me to her cookie cups about a month ago, and I haven’t stopped thinking about them since. If you can’t tell by the photo or name, the Chocamo Cookie Cups are cookies, baked into the shape of a small cup. They are lined on the inside of the cookie with icing to sweeten the finish and to ensure that the cup doesn’t fall apart in your hand after pouring your drink in. Chocamo Cookie Cups recommends a variety of drink recipes to pair with your cup, including alcoholic beverages and espressos. At the Noshhh event, Michelle sampled me a fruity pebble white Russian into the birthday cake cookie. It was to die for. The cookie didn’t fall apart in my hand, which is something I was sure would happen upon sampling, and I was actually able to reuse my cookie cup for a second drink. I don’t know if the cup would’ve withheld a third drink, because I decided to maybe stop taking shots and check out some of the other vendors, but I have a feeling it would’ve. Michelle offers a variety of cookie cups to choose from, and I asked her what kind she would recommend as a favorite. Confident and sincerely she was fast to reply “Any of them. All of them. They’re all my babies.” I had assumed Michelle’s company operated primarily as a desert specific kind of catering service, but a sweet dancing couple I met later in the evening informed me that she actually sells her cookies to go, and that they had just bought a four pack. So if you or someone you love has a sweet tooth, and you’re looking for a fun idea, you now know what to do.
Spirit Forward craft cocktail company whipped up drinks from a fresh gimlet bar for the crowd, in a design-it-yourself fashion. Inspired by the success of the cookie cup, I was in the mood for a good challenge, so I inquired about with the mixologist about a variety of the ingredients laid out in front of me. Spirit Forward specializes in cocktail classes so I actually learned a lot. I finally decided to request something with a jalapeno in it, skeptical that it could be made into one of the delicious drinks advertised. I believe he added strawberry and thyme to a vodka, crushed, and shook then them. It was incredible. I was blown away. The vodka taste was barely noticeable, the strawberry wasn’t too sweet and the jalapenos and thyme were a perfectly flavorful accessory.
The food truck, Dump-N-Roll were an eager and enthused group of vendors with an incredible product. I tend to be wary of food trucks and ethnic food, but these were incredible and the Dump-N-Roll team knew I would find them to be so. They sampled me their “chipotle turkey bacon cheeseburger tempura wontons”. They specialize in unusual but delicious spins on the classic spring rolls and dumplings.
Bacon in a jar??? Like come on??? The Bacon Jams offer a variety of homemade bacon jams and even sent me home with a bottle on the house to share with my friends. They loved it too.
St. Brian’s Premium Barbeque boasted another creative and delicious product. My date and I went back to this table all night. They also offered a large variety of flavors, and I sampled three different ones. I was amply impressed each time, but the sesame chicken and jalapeno flavors were my favorite.
No one at the Noshhh event didn’t impress me, and that’s what makes a vendor showcase like this so obviously valuable. Each company had something extra special to offer, much due to their local awareness. Philadelphia has developed a reputation as one of the hippest city in the country. And what makes Philly such a “hip” place is its inhabitant’s conscientious lifestyles. Many of these companies represented the beliefs of being intentionally and painstakingly, environmentally, waste and health conscientious.
Local fashion vendors and fair trade coffee retailers, United by Blue, are green team who care about ethical business and incredibly moral and honest consumer knowledge. Agno Grill, The Living Room Café, Pure Fare and Herban Quality Eats all brought delicious samples to promote their cutting edge, farm to table, organic, vegan and gluten free menus. Anyone who has ever been fed by their grandmothers before will know the sin it is to waste food. It is the common nature of every food company to waste large amounts, and at an event like Noshhh, you can get in touch with hardworking and innovative people, breaking these norms in their fields. One of the night’s vendors actually brought sample dishes out of the ingredients their kitchen would typically dispose of as waste. And they were delicious! A real testament to what creative things are happening in Philadelphia restaurants.
Kurant Cider came with samples of its “hangover proof” hard cider. I still can’t tell if that’s a joke or not (not that I could attest to it either way, because I was fortunately trying many different drinks all night). But the vendor did attempt to explain the science and dedication to me, and I decided to believe him. And regardless, it was a delicious drink in itself. There were also beer selections offered by Evil Genius Beer Company, and Saint Benjamin Brewing Company which were great fun to sample.
At the end of the night, the after party details were revealed. The after party provided for an opportunity to speak with many of the vendors in a more relaxed environment, to network, and to share your thoughts on the evening with other guests, bringing the Noshhh the Night Away Craft and Vendor Showcase full circle.