Dade City preparing sights, tastes for Kumquat Festival

Candi Glover puts finishing touches on a Kumquat Festival-themed window display at A Matter of Taste in downtown Dade City. Many stores and restaurants decorate for the annual celebration.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Candi Glover puts finishing touches on a Kumquat Festival-themed window display at A Matter of Taste in downtown Dade City. Many stores and restaurants decorate for the annual celebration.

DADE CITY

Before they step into A Matter of Taste to buy slices of kumquat pie, muffins or cupcakes, visitors to this year's Kumquat Festival will be greeted by Grandma and Kaitlin. The two life-size dolls have become regulars in the cafe's elaborate window displays, always with a short narrative telling the story behind the scene. Last year Kaitlin was shown picking kumquats from a tree while Grandma cooked the fruit in her kitchen. This year junior chef Kaitlin will be making kumquat pie at a child-size stove, while Grandma sits in a rocking chair clasping her copy of Best Recipes.

"The continuing story of Grandma and Kaitlin is always an important part of our restaurant. This is our Downton Abbey," said Jim Hendry, who has owned A Matter of Taste with his wife, Carole, since 1997. "And for about the past four years they have been a part of our Kumquat Festival window display."

Spearheading the design is Candi Glover, a waiter at the cafe. She watched with delight this week as a passing group of schoolchildren pointed at her handiwork and grinned with approval.

Many stores and restaurants "dress up" for Dade City's annual Kumquat Festival, celebrating its 16th year in the downtown area. Named the 2012 Pasco County Event of the Year by the county's tourism board and listed among the Southeast Tourism Society's Top 20 Events for 2008, the event on Saturday is expected to draw 40,000 visitors to sample the wares of more than 400 vendors and 50 sponsors.

"This is a wholesome, family values-based event that gives visitors a taste of Old Florida," said John Moors, executive director of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the festival.

And visitors will get plenty of opportunities to taste kumquats, too. Area restaurants often showcase kumquat dishes for the event, and vendors offer samples of everything from festival favorite kumquat pie to jellies and salsas, cookies and ice cream made of kumquats.

"This year we'll have a special health and wellness area, where people can learn about the wonderful nutritional attributes of this fruit," said Moors. The health section will feature free screenings and information from area hospitals and doctors' offices.

The event will also include a children's play area; live gospel, country and bluegrass music; arts and crafts sales; and antique car displays.

>>If you go

Dade City Kumquat Festival

The Dade City Kumquat Festival will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free, as is shuttle bus service from satellite parking areas. For details, contact the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce at (352) 567-3769 or info@dadecitychamber.com or visit kumquatfestival.org.

Recipe contest winners

Betty Cakes on Meridian Avenue — which will sell kumquat cake, kumquat cupcakes, chocolate-dipped kumquats and kumquat pies in addition to its usual sweet-tooth fare — hosted the annual kumquat recipe contest earlier this month. Margie Goodwin won the main dish category with her Kumquat Chicken Chili. Mike Logsdon won the side dish category and Best of Show for his golden ale Kumquat Kolsch. Sarah Harris won the dessert category with her Kumquat Cheesecake with Kumquat and Vanilla Bean Glaze (she also landed second place in the side dish category with her Kumquat Stuffing).

Harris described the kumquat as a unique and flexible ingredient, as it is both sweet and tart. "And since cheesecake is my favorite dessert, I thought it would be a good idea to combine the two," she said.

Harris, a stay-at-home mom who runs Secret Recipe Cakes out of her kitchen, divulged her winning recipe:

Kumquat Cheesecake with a Kumquat and Vanilla Bean glaze

For Crust:

1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnaps

1/3 cup butter, melted

For Cheesecake:

4 packs cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla bean paste

4 large eggs

10-15 kumquats, chopped finely or grated

For Glaze:

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla bean paste

5-7 kumquats, grated

To make cake:

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix gingersnap crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of a 10-inch springform pan.

Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Fold in kumquats.

Pour over crust.

Bake 55 minutes or until center is almost set.

Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim.

For glaze:

Combine all ingredients in sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a light boil. Reduce heat and simmer until it reduces by half (about 35 minutes). Cool slightly and pour over cake.

Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Dade City preparing sights, tastes for Kumquat Festival 01/17/13 [Last modified: Thursday, January 24, 2013 1:55pm]

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